Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. If you turn your Christianity into a law-based allegiance to principles and ceremonies rather than a relationship with God through Jesus, you're not just abandoning the beauty and power of God's life in you, but you are, he says to the Galatians, in effect, returning to the same demons that controlled you when you were pagans that were worshiping idols.
That's a startling thing to say. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series Galatians as presented at Rinaldo Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month made to Alan Wright Ministries.
So as you listen to today's message, you can go deeper as we send you today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Or call 877-544-4860.
877-544-4860. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching. Here is Alan Wright.
You ready for some good news? You can know God. I said, you can know God. I mean, just think about it. If you were just thinking like the person in the world that you like the most meat. And if I said to you right now, I mean, you could know that person.
Wow. I don't know Billy Graham. I'd like to.
Who wouldn't? I love Billy Graham. I've read Billy Graham's autobiography. But I don't know Billy Graham. I have studied Billy Graham. I've studied his place in the history of Christianity. In fact, one of the first courses I took at the University of North Carolina was Religion 29.
Dr. Grant Wacker. And part of what we studied in that course on the history of American Christianity was we studied Billy Graham. And what was interesting was that it so happened that Billy Graham's nephew, Sandy Ford, was in my class.
It was so funny. I remember that day. And Dr. Wacker was going through, was reading through the names in our section there. We were on the Friday section.
We were in a small group. And Dr. Wacker was reading the names. And he was looking at Sandy Ford's name. And he said, hi. He said, I see your middle name is Layton Ford. He said, that's interesting. He said, because that's Billy Graham. That's the name of Billy Graham's brother-in-law. And Sandy said, that's my dad. And so Dr. Wacker said, so Billy Graham's your uncle? And he said, yeah.
That really changed our class around. But I knew him a little bit. Sandy died young.
It was tragic. But I did know him briefly. And I have met Layton Ford. But I've never, I don't know Billy Graham. I studied him.
I read his autobiography. In fact, I guess it was through that connection maybe with Sandy that Billy Graham came and did a crusade at Carolina while I was there. We called it lectures. But it was just the same old Billy Graham crusade. And Carmichael Auditorium filled it up every night.
I was part of the planning team for my dorm. And I went every night to hear Billy Graham. And we started a Bible study in our dorm after that. And people came to Christ.
And that was a wonderful time. And Billy Graham was there at Carolina for that whole week. But I didn't get to know him. I don't know Billy Graham.
And he doesn't know me either. I have a Bible in my house that is signed by Billy Graham. It belonged to my wife's grandmother. And in the front of the Bible it says to Mr. and Mrs. C.P. Bennet signed Billy Graham. And he's got a scripture reference in there from Philippians I think. So I've got a Bible with his name in it.
It's in our house. But I don't know Billy Graham. And he doesn't know me. But I have that Bible. And the reason I have that Bible that was given to who we call Mama Bennet because she was the matriarch of a whole Bennet clan. And my mother's maiden name, she's a Bennet. She was the youngest of the Bennets. And my wife was Ann Bennet Lynch. And we have a son named Bennet.
So we're just surrounded by these Bennets. And Mama Bennet started all this or at least was important to this process. And he actually gave the Bible, Billy Graham did, to Mama Bennet. Now the reason that he gave the Bible to Mama Bennet was because that my wife's uncle Stanley and his wife Joelle, they served at the Montreat Presbyterian Church. Stanley was the pastor there at Montreat for some years pastoring the Graham family. Of course Billy Graham was out of town a lot. But they knew the Grahams well and baptized their children. And sometimes Billy Graham would fill the pulpit for Uncle Stanley when he would be out of the pulpit.
That was some replacement. And Stanley would always say, he said, man, he said, I'd give an altar call until I was blue in the face and nobody would come. And Billy Graham came to my church and coughed and everybody came forward to the altar. And I've got a note that Billy Graham wrote to Stanley after one of the times he had preached there, you know, kind of joking, saying, you know, sorry you had to dig down and get somebody like me to come and preach for you.
But, you know, thanks for the opportunity. You know, the note from Billy Graham. I've got a Bible. I've got a note that Billy Graham wrote. And I don't know Billy Graham.
He doesn't know me. But he would sometimes fill the pulpit for Stanley. Then after Stanley pastored Montreat Prez, then he and his family moved to Brazil to be a missionary literally in the jungles of Brazil. And what happened was that Billy Graham came to Brazil to do a big crusade in 1959. And he visited with Stanley and Joella while they were there.
And they said, do you want me to do anything for you back home? And Stanley said, yeah, my mother wants a new Bible. He said, could you get her a Bible? And that's why Billy Graham got to Mama Bennett a Bible signed by him to Mr. and Ms. Bennett.
And that's how it all came to pass that we've got that Bible. So my uncle and aunt, they know Billy Graham well. But I don't know Billy Graham. Interestingly, I have met Franklin Graham and two of the Graham daughters I've met.
And I've met the brother-in-law, Leighton Ford. But I've never met Billy Graham. To add interest to this, a dear friend of mine, Preston Parrish, has served for years in an executive role in the Billy Graham Association serving so well at the highest level in that organization helping to direct it. And he, of course, knows Mr. Graham. And I know Preston very well.
And Preston just filled the pulpit here and as a friend of our church. And so he really knows him. And I know, but I don't know Billy Graham. And Billy Graham doesn't, to my knowledge, he doesn't know me. All this is to say that there is a vast difference between knowing all about Billy Graham and actually knowing him. There is a vast difference from knowing people who know Billy Graham and actually knowing Billy Graham. There is a vast difference from having a Bible with his signature in it that's in my house versus having Billy Graham in my house. And here's part of the point of this is to say that if I did know Billy Graham, did know Billy Graham, personally as a friend and a person where we shared life and stories and secrets and laughter and knew him as a friend, that knowledge would transcend and in fact trump all other of these pieces of information that are only peripheral to knowing about Billy Graham. In fact, you could say, could you not, that if I actually knew Billy Graham that that so far surpasses every one of these peripheral things, having his Bible, knowing people that know him, reading about him, studying about him, taking a class about him, it so far surpass all that that I would barely even talk about these other things.
In other words, if I knew him, everything else would be of no concern compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing him personally. Galatians chapter 4. This comes at verse 8 like a passionate pastoral kind of heartfelt parenthesis in the midst of this incredible movement of logic and passion and reason to tell the Galatian Christians in many different images why it is that it is essential that they not follow the false teachers of the Judaizers that are saying that you need to have something in addition to the saving work of Christ.
You need to keep the ritual of circumcision or you need to keep certain ceremonial days. And Paul has been saying throughout and you realize that he's so passionate about this because when you mix a little law into the gospel of grace, it not only diminishes the power of that gospel, it not only dilutes it, it actually pollutes it. And the gospel that is otherwise life can become a mixed message that's actually poison. Because as soon as you mix in law, you introduce fear. And the whole point of the gospel is to communicate God's perfect love and His love is covenantal.
His love is not at all rooted in your performance. It is originating from God and is a flow of His own heart towards you and He has made the way possible for you to know Him. And therefore anything that contaminates that and adds to it and says well if you really want to be in the know or you really want to to get it right or you really want to belong, then you also need to keep the Old Testament rights of circumcision. You need to keep certain ceremonial laws or dietary laws and Paul's just screaming. He's saying no, no, no.
Because as soon as you introduce a little bit of law into the gospel, what you've now done is you have introduced doubt and concern about whether I'm really in. That's Alan Wright and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. Ever feel like something's holding you back as if you lack an important key that could change everything?
Is there someone you love who seems stuck? You'd like to help them but how? What's missing? Blessing. We all need a positive faith-filled vision spoken over our lives. You can learn how to embrace the biblical practice of blessing through Pastor Alan Wright's new book, The Power to Bless, which quickly became an Amazon number one bestseller after its recent release. Until now, the hardcover book has only been available through retail sales, but this month, Alan Wright Ministries wants to send you the book as our thank you for your donation. Make your gift today and discover the power to bless. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues.
Here once again is Alan Wright. The whole point of what Paul is saying is that God wants you to know for sure through the covenant that He's made in Jesus Christ that when you accept Him in faith, it's by His grace and His grace alone, and there's nothing else that you can do. And this is the power of the gospel. Otherwise, we wind up with a mixed gospel that introduces a lot of fear, because how will I ever know if I've done enough? This is the general argument. Now, we come to this place in Galatians 4 and verse 8, where Paul is going to say once again in a pretty radical way, here's what happens if you move away from the simple, pure gospel, which is an invitation to know God personally, and instead you start trying to follow after little laws and ceremonies.
This is what's at stake. Verse 8 of Galatians 4. Formally, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you've come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
You observe days and months and seasons and years? I'm afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are.
You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but receive me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of the blessing that you've felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much, talking about the false teachers, they make much of you, but for no good purpose.
They want to shut you out that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for good purpose, and not only when I'm present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you. I wish I could be present with you now, and change my tongue, for I am perplexed about you. So this is Paul. We've seen Paul as the theologian. We've seen Paul as the preacher, and this is Paul as the pastor. This is a pastor's heart that is seeing what's happened with his people. He's seeing that they sincerely received the gospel, were born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, and started down the path of a life of knowing God and walking in the Spirit, and how false teachers have come in and allured them. And the allure has been towards the law, and this is what he's been saying, and he's just entreating them now. He's saying, how could you possibly start in the right way and then go back to this? And he makes in these verses 12 through 20, he's speaking about some personal matters that everybody that would understand it in the churches there, and are not essential for us to understand, but he had some sort of a physical condition that he was dealing with, a trial. Perhaps it had something to do with his eyes, we don't know for sure, but he was just saying, you know, you received me because you were receiving the gospel, and you received me as if you were receiving Christ himself, and you would have given me your own eyes, he's saying. But these people have duped you.
They're trying to make a lot of you, but the fact of the matter is that they really intend ultimately to shut you out. And you see, the longing of Paul, he says, I'm like a mother that's in childbirth, he's saying, and just waiting and longing for Christ to be fully formed in you. So that's what he's talking about, but I want to focus us on verse 9. Now that you've come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world? It's all about knowing God.
You can know God. And the battle has always been to tempt us with ritual and religion and rigorous living as a substitute for knowing God. The Galatians were lured by Judaizers towards ceremonial law, and Paul is just crying out, do you see how you have been lured astray? The implication that he makes here is absolutely startling, and it's vivid. He's saying, essentially, if you turn your Christianity into a law-based allegiance to principles and ceremonies, rather than a relationship with God through Jesus, you're not just abandoning the beauty and power of God's life in you, but you are, he says to the Galatians, in effect, returning to the same demons that controlled you when you were pagans that were worshiping idols.
That's a startling thing to say. But that's essentially what he's saying. That there was a time in your life in which you were deceived, and you were under a kind of slavery to what he calls worthless elementary principles. It is a reference, I think, to not only the ideologies that are empty and void of power, but to the demonic entities that hid behind the idols of Rome. And he's essentially saying that there was a time in which your whole life you were enslaved to these idols. And now you've come to Christ. But if you start mixing into your gospel these little pieces of law, what Paul's saying is that you fall back into the same kind of slavery to these idols that were before. You have fallen, you've been duped in the spiritual battle. For the spiritual battle has always been to move us away from the simplicity of knowing God.
This is accomplished in two equal and opposite ways. One is rebellion, which says I don't care to know anything about God, or have anything to do with God, I'll go my own way. Or with empty religion, which says I'll learn all about God and do the right things for God, but never know Him.
Either way, we remain distant from the One who made us and loves us. Either way, we don't know God. See, hell would be quite satisfied for people to know all of God.
To know all about God and try to do all the right things for God, but not know God. Because the heart of God is and always has been that He wants to be known. This is God in paradise.
He's walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He is fellowshipping with His creatures that He made in His own image. He is not hiding, He is revealing Himself.
He wants to be known. And when sin enters the world and there is this massive gulf of separation that our sin has brought, where we have been separated from God and would be eternally separated from God, had not God made a way for us in Jesus Christ. And you can see the passionate heart of God painted in a thousand pictures throughout the Old Covenant. You can see Him calling up Abraham out of the Ur of the colonies and revealing Himself to Abraham for He wants to be known. You can see God hearing the cry of the poor and calling forth a murderer named Moses and revealing Himself to Moses, even to the point that Moses says, show me your glory. And God says, well, I can't show you my full glory because you would die, but I'll show you my backside.
I'll show you. And He hides him in a cleft of a rock, just painting a picture, a shadow of what is to come. That it has always been God's heart that He wants to be known. He calls a man named David as a man after his own heart who just loves to worship God. And He says, this is the kind of man that I love. I want him to know me and worship, and I'll never remove my steadfast love.
Someone from your throne will always be on the kingdom. He's painting this picture in a thousand different ways in the Old Covenant shadows, and He speaks it through His prophets. Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah chapter 31, verses 31 to 34. He says, there's a day that is coming in which there will be a new covenant that I'll make with my people.
And it will not be like the Old Covenant, but in this new covenant, I'll write my law upon their hearts. And He concludes it, verse 34, by saying, no longer will man say to his neighbor, know the Lord, for they will all know me from the greatest to the least. Everything was pointing to the time in which Jesus, having made the way possible, would send the Holy Spirit who could come and be poured out into our hearts, into our lives, so that we would know Him in a very real way. This is what Paul is referring to in Galatians, the earlier part of the chapter, when he says, the Holy Spirit comes into your life, and by Him you cry out, Abba, Father! He bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God, because God wants to be known.
It's what He's always wanted. It's what Jesus talks about in His discourse with the disciples in John chapter 14, 15, 16, and 17. From now on, Jesus says, you do know Him. And Paul says elsewhere in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, I've decided to know nothing among you except to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Everything else pales in comparison. He says elsewhere that I count everything else rubbish to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus. He's everything. He's everything. God wants to be known.
He wants to know you. And hell is attacking. This is the urgency of this pastor's heart to the people of the Galatian churches, because he knows that there is an attack.
What's missing? Blessing. We all need a positive faith-filled vision spoken over our lives. You can learn how to embrace the biblical practice of blessing through Pastor Alan Wright's new book, The Power to Bless, which quickly became an Amazon number one bestseller after its recent release. Until now, the hardcover book has only been available through retail sales, but this month, Alan Wright Ministries wants to send you the book as our thank you for your donation. Make your gift today and discover the power to bless. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries.
Call us at 877-544-4860, that's 877-544-4860, or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Alan, in this series on Galatians, and we're studying the writings of Paul here, and in today's teaching, knowing God, what is our takeaway in this particular teaching? Such a big difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone. And there are a lot of people, famous people, that I could tell you some things about. And it's like I use the illustration of Billy Graham, who I, like so many others, had so much love and respect for Billy Graham, but I didn't actually know him. But I knew many people who did know him. Some people were very, very close to me. My wife's uncle was his pastor for a number of years. One of my dear friends was the executive director of his organization for many years. But I didn't know him. Well, there's such a big difference between knowing about someone, knowing other people that know that person, versus knowing him. And you can know God, not just know about him, not just be close to other people who know him, but any person can know God because of the gift of Jesus Christ. Wow. Today's good news message is a listener supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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