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Biblical Interpretation
 Shovel Shack : Biblical Interpretation
Subject Topic: Until Christ Be Formed In You
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gregoryfl
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Posted: May-21-09 at 8:22am | IP Logged  

I am trying to help someone understand the verse in Galatians here about Paul laboring as in birthpains until Christ be formed in us. They understand it to mean that Christ is like a fetus who must grow more and more inside us, and that he is not fully formed in us until sometime later.

I want them to understand how this verse relates to the already finished work of Christ, and the fact that in Christ we are already complete. They see this verse as saying that we are not complete yet, that it is a process.

Any ideas? I have one that takes into account the reality of the birth process that I am considering sharing but am mulling it through my mind more before I do.

Thanks,

Ron



Edited by gregoryfl on May-21-09 at 8:30am


      

What do you see when you look at me? Not the visible me that your eyes can see. For in Christ I am dead, yet alive and free. Free to be it all, as he lives in me.
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luvin
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Ron,

Thanks for taking a a chance on sharing about this. It is a scripture that has baffled many of us "laymen" for years. Seems like the only ones who ever got this was the one teaching about it. But did THEY ever really understand it? Or were they just hoping to as well?[who knows] I often was confused by the scripture you referrence even when my Pastor would go to great lengths to describe at what "being formed in you" meant. The usual interps'...like it means " Christ be at home in your heart" [said emphatically]..and then came all the descriptions about how wonderful it meant to have Him living in you and etc... Is it me or do I always have a problem with the contradictory lessons? I never could enjoy what everybody else was learning because I always instantaniously realized the contradictions!

 

So yes..how can one being a living child of God, complete and lacking in nothing and still have some laboring over them until Christ be formed in them? Sounds like we need to look at some context.



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

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the shovel
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Posted: May-21-09 at 12:28pm | IP Logged  

I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--
(Gal 4:11-19)

Yes, context usually helps clear things up a bit. When we consider that one statement by itself we might be straining at a meaning that sends us off on a tangent. What sense does it make to build a case upon the mention of this one small phrase, "...until Christ is formed in you--", when Paul wrote it in reference to HIMSELF being the one in labor? In what sense did Paul labor over the Galatians the first time, and how could he be in labor a second time with the same children? And then, why did he bring it up right at this spot? What is Paul's real message here, a hint about Christ being a fetus ... or Paul's own concerns and position with those he "birthed" through Christ? What had happened to make Paul speculate his fears to them that he may have labored over them in vain? What was going on at the time to make Paul seem to be their enemy?

Paul never experienced labor pains, but he would have been very aware of the intensity of the suffering, as would have the Galatians. Women didn't go to hospitals, so the experience would have been more in the presence of others than for us in our modern, sanitary times. Imagine the picture Paul presented to the Galatians with his suggestion that he labored over them. Consider the ramifications found in the connection between himself and the Galatians. Now imagine having to go through the whole experience over again ... with the same child! "...until Christ is formed in you..." In truth, Christ had been formed in them the first time around, but now he suggests that he's having to go through labor over them until the initial forming completes. What is his message here? How do you think they may have taken it?

Jim :)


      

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Dignz
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Posted: May-21-09 at 1:32pm | IP Logged  

most excellent thread and posts!  i love it!  i am going to be pondering some more.  we do a lot of that around here, don't we?  

i love CONTEXT!  it makes ALL the difference most of the time, doesn't it? 

it is as if paul was saying something similar to the effect of:

QUIT acting like you have not been born free!  i was in labor with you!  i KNOW you were born free!  you were birthed free by the good news of Christ given to you freely by me.  you are children of true freedom!  stop listening to the liars who tell you that you are otherwise ... who convince you that you are born-slaves! 

if the liars can hold claim to us by law and convince us that we are not who we really are, then they can pretty much do anything they want with us and to us, can't they.  like bulls being led around by a ring in their nose.

it is all about birth identity isn't it?  children of bondage or children of freedom  ~  children of flesh or children of faith.  heirs with christ.  or heirs with the children of darkness?  one or the other.  can't be both.

more pondering ...




Edited by Dignz on May-21-09 at 1:33pm


      

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luvin
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Posted: May-21-09 at 1:35pm | IP Logged  

Great context Jim!

Well it would have been a situation of the Galations being led astray into thinking and living through another gospel. One of human[void of the Spirit of Christ] teaching and rules and standards which had no power to restrain the flesh or produce fruit unto life. Is it then possible he [Paul] was just using an anology of going through a birth process like that of "laying aside" the former things which never was powerful enough to live life eternal? Also that he he was saying he was an integral part of this laboring due to the fact that he was the one who was put in charge of there faith in the first place?[his apostolic authority and commission from God] Finally that he [PAUL] was the one who suffered to bring them this Gospel and would AGAIN suffer to make it known to them?[in pointing out there insanity?]



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

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Dignz
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Posted: May-21-09 at 1:37pm | IP Logged  

hey adam, great stuff! 

me thinks we were typing at the same time.  




      

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luvin
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Posted: May-21-09 at 1:40pm | IP Logged  

Good stuff Sher.

That is what always bothered me to be honest. The fact that this portion of scripture on it's own, was somehow implying that what was done, was not indeed done.[namely my birth..my "born-again-ness"] Scriptures like this caused me terrible uncertainty, and confusion for many years mainly because of my sensitivities coming into the world of the Gospel to begin with.[things I was taught when first coming to faith]



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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gregoryfl
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Posted: May-21-09 at 1:55pm | IP Logged  

It relates to the deception they were buying into, which was thinking they could complete in the flesh what was birthed, or begun, in the spirit. Christ was indeed formed in them, the seed planted in them of the very life of God. That spiritual seed is complete, and since what is birthed by the spirit is spirit, the forming of that seed, of bringing what is contained in the seed in its totality to full formation by revelation, can only be done by spirit, not by flesh.

I also see that by using the idea of labor and forming he was again bringing them back to the reality of it not being about their added efforts to make it happen, but that it was indeed a spiritual happening. I note that he did not say, "until I form Christ in you," or "until you form Christ in you." There is only one who is responsible for that, and it is the Spirit himself.

I also see the tender side of Paul, who just got through letting them have it, so to speak, in the very beginning of chapter 3. He intimately connects himself with them, which is totally the opposite of what his opposers were interested in, which was in merely gaining more followers after them. They could see in Paul what they could certainly not see in those who opposed him and were trying to deceive them.

What do you all think?

Ron


      

What do you see when you look at me? Not the visible me that your eyes can see. For in Christ I am dead, yet alive and free. Free to be it all, as he lives in me.
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gregoryfl
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Posted: May-21-09 at 2:06pm | IP Logged  

When I posted I saw you guys snuck some posts in just before. :) Having read them, I see what I am thinking confirmed, especially when going back over the entire letter again. I was mainly concerned with whether trying to use the seed analogy, how it is complete in and of itself, same with a fetus, yet over time what is complete in it is revealed, or formed, would be taking away from why Paul was saying that. I kind of see it as Christ himself, who when he was conceived and born, had to grow in his understanding of who he was over time, all the while God keeping him by his spirit in and through that. Yet, in that conception and birth, Christ lacked nothing. He was complete, and time bore that truth out.

Ron


      

What do you see when you look at me? Not the visible me that your eyes can see. For in Christ I am dead, yet alive and free. Free to be it all, as he lives in me.
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luvin
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Posted: May-21-09 at 2:06pm | IP Logged  

Yeah I guess no matter what word we use[or they used]..whether "formed",renewed,refreshed, reset,recreated or whatever it still can easily come across as erasing the work that was already completed by CHRIST. As far as the shipwrecking of there faith and the direction of the attitudes and minds, that was something apparently Paul took responsibility for. They obvioulsy were led into some really different teachings and had become as one lacking any peace or joy. I guess it was his LOVE ofr them, and not wanting to see them suffer and wanting to protect them that drove him to labor over them again. Paul got to be part of the very workings of God Himself.

 

just some thoughts I have.



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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ShannonC
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Posted: May-21-09 at 2:28pm | IP Logged  

"Labor" - I LOVE that word used in this context.  I have, I think, experienced those feelings of labor to see another in Christ come to rest in Him and in his finished work.  Years ago, not long after I got a grasp, a taste of the finished work of Christ, i had a dear friend who was struggling with Who he was in Christ, what Christ expected of him - we were in a very legalistic IC at the time.  Anyway, I took him to another friend's house - the one who shared with me the grace of God, the finished work- and that friend shared with him the same things.  I know to me it felt like birth pains seeing him struggle under legalism and then AHH the pure joy of seeing the scales come off his eyes and him KNOWING THAT HE WAS COMPLETE. He'd always been complete, he just didn't realize it.

I am a Mom, as everyone knows, and I remember the birth pain somewhat.  I mostly remember the JOY in seeing my son for the first time.  So I can relate to Paul in the fact that I would labor again and again and again and again to finally see Alex in the flesh.  It is a JOY to see a brother/sister have the scales fall off be "birthed" so to speak into WHO they are.  Gosh, I cannot express this right.  Alex was Alex when he was in the womb but now we get to see each other face to face and that edifies both me and him.  It is the same thing when a brother or sister KNOWS who they are, it results in the edification of the BODY.

Wow, what a tangent...I don't think even Sherri can beat that!  



      

ShannonC
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Dignz
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Posted: May-21-09 at 2:40pm | IP Logged  

    funny shannon, but i bet i can ... and have ... and do ... and will ... and ...

i absolutely love what everyone is sharing!  refreshing!  thank you ~ thank you ~ thank you!

ron, thank you especially for starting this!  great thread!  great thoughts!

let sweet sweet freedom RING!!   prrrrrnnnng  prrrrrnng  hear it?  it calls to us!! 





      

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luvin
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Posted: May-21-09 at 4:18pm | IP Logged  

Dignz wrote:
hey adam, great stuff! 

me thinks we were typing at the same time.  


 

ha ha! yes we were!



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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nyagali
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Posted: May-21-09 at 9:39pm | IP Logged  

When I see this passage I see what Luvin was saying about them being "led into some really different teachings". If we are children, and Paul spoke to them as children in the first verse of Ch. 4 and again here in this part Jim quoted, then we are under the control of those over us. Children have to always go back to those who are over them. So if you are under the teaching of someone who keeps you a child (or tells you the law and how to live) then you never really grow up, do you?  They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. I think this verse says why Paul spoke to them as children. They had gone back to listening to those who kept them in bondage, teaching them to be servants FOR God. It wasn't just about the law, Galatians is about the flesh: going back to thinking you can live for Christ, not Christ in you, the hope of glory! Not everyone knows this truth. Paul was perplexed (is that in verse 20?) because he thought they DID know this and have now gone back to living through the flesh to get to God....which is what they were listening to by the preachers who came when Paul wasn't around (I think?)

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realrestisbest
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[QUOTE=gregoryfl]It relates to the deception they were buying into, which was thinking they could complete in the flesh what was birthed, or begun, in the spirit. Christ was indeed formed in them, the seed planted in them of the very life of God. That spiritual seed is complete, and since what is birthed by the spirit is spirit, the forming of that seed, of bringing what is contained in the seed in its totality to full formation by revelation, can only be done by spirit, not by flesh.

I also see that by using the idea of labor and forming he was again bringing them back to the reality of it not being about their added efforts to make it happen, but that it was indeed a spiritual happening. I note that he did not say, "until I form Christ in you," or "until you form Christ in you." There is only one who is responsible for that, and it is the Spirit himself.

I also see the tender side of Paul, who just got through letting them have it, so to speak, in the very beginning of chapter 3. He intimately connects himself with them, which is totally the opposite of what his opposers were interested in, which was in merely gaining more followers after them. They could see in Paul what they could certainly not see in those who opposed him and were trying to deceive them.

What do you all think?

Ron


   Encouraging!!!
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mary
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Posted: May-22-09 at 9:10am | IP Logged  


    Enjoyed that too, Ron!


      

Mary
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luvin
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the shovel wrote:
I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--
(Gal 4:11-19)

Yes, context usually helps clear things up a bit. When we consider that one statement by itself we might be straining at a meaning that sends us off on a tangent. What sense does it make to build a case upon the mention of this one small phrase, "...until Christ is formed in you--", when Paul wrote it in reference to HIMSELF being the one in labor? In what sense did Paul labor over the Galatians the first time, and how could he be in labor a second time with the same children? And then, why did he bring it up right at this spot? What is Paul's real message here, a hint about Christ being a fetus ... or Paul's own concerns and position with those he "birthed" through Christ? What had happened to make Paul speculate his fears to them that he may have labored over them in vain? What was going on at the time to make Paul seem to be their enemy?

Paul never experienced labor pains, but he would have been very aware of the intensity of the suffering, as would have the Galatians. Women didn't go to hospitals, so the experience would have been more in the presence of others than for us in our modern, sanitary times. Imagine the picture Paul presented to the Galatians with his suggestion that he labored over them. Consider the ramifications found in the connection between himself and the Galatians. Now imagine having to go through the whole experience over again ... with the same child! "...until Christ is formed in you..." In truth, Christ had been formed in them the first time around, but now he suggests that he's having to go through labor over them until the initial forming completes. What is his message here? How do you think they may have taken it?

Jim :)




Hi Jim,
I think they might have said to themselves something like "why are we again so unhappy? So bound up? Could Paul be right? Have we been deceived?" I guess it would depend on there sensitivity level at the time.[that God would work in them] Then again, that inner voice, that inner leading of God speaks irregardless. Don't know if Paul was the timely voice of sanity or not. Maybe it wouldn't be until much later that they got any clarity? Sometimes when all you have around you convinces you otherwise, you just can't see clearly. So who knows? I will admit that hearing Paul say Christ needed to be formed in them again was a scary prospect because of the way in which we are often reading that description through the eyes of our assumptions.[given to us or imagined by us] Maybe Christ was formed in them but, needed to be clarified to them again? They had picked up some real garbage through the law keepers apparently and they totally lost that sense of blessing. Sense of joy. Christ had become a drudgery I bet.[to them] They had no single mind on Christ, they only had a mix of there former testimony of Paul's and this different gospel. Christ was being deluded in there minds, they were losing there joy of salvation. To restore that, Paul would have to most likely go through some painful work to untangle there thinking. Eventually Christ would be all they clung to once again. I am sure of that being his intent anyway. Lots can happen with all that. People can struggle for years and years even when they are faced with reality. Then again maybe he really knew how to get through to THEM in a way they could understand best? Dunno...

A


Edited by luvin on Jul-06-10 at 3:50am


      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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the shovel
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Some excellent considerations, Adam!

Off to work for me. :)

Jim


      

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luvin
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Wow Jim,

It has been a while since I have seen spam here. See
you leave for a week and all heck breaks loose!


A

      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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the shovel
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But I can get rid of it so quickly and easily.  

Jim :)


      

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luvin
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Posted: Nov-23-10 at 9:00am | IP Logged  



      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

http:newthatsliving.blogspot.com
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mary
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   I saw that spammer last night and thought, "well, you'll be out of here in the morning."


      

Mary
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