Thursday, February 16, 2012

Understanding Values

In our lesson last week Paul continued defending the doctrine of justification by faith as versus the doctrine of works of law. He presented his followers a series of questions which lead them to respond with a correct answer of "the great truth of the Gospel". Jesus is the truth. They had been taught through Christ alone they would be saved. Jesus is the way and not Jesus plus something else. Paul also argued that Abraham was the father of the faithful. His faithfulness was credited to him by God as righteousness at least four hundred years before the law was given. God promised to bless all nations through Abraham's seed (not seeds). Christ was the seed of whom God spoke. He was born under the law, came not to break the law, but to fulfil it. (Mat 5:17) Christ redeemed man from the curse of the law by hanging on the tree. (Deut 27:26) In doing so, all who believe in His death, burial, and resurrection may obtain everlasting life and have access to God whether Jew or Gentile, black or white, etc. Our lesson this week is a continuation of Paul's defense of the doctrine of justification by faith. We shall focus on Gal 3:15-18; 4:1-7.

'Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.' Gal 3:15 In keeping our twenty-first century understanding of estate law out of the context, we understand Paul's teaching as stating that a witnessed and notarized will (covenant) is considered irrevocable (not changeable) by choice of the maker. That is for a human will. What about the covenant with God? Actually a covenant is simply an agreement. The agreement between God and Abraham on behalf of the human race was also a testament because it was divine. Do you think Christian believers are able to come to the negotiating table with God, to change the covenant made with Abraham? No! We can not add the doctrine of the works of the law. It did not exist when God made the covenant with Abraham. Gen 12:2-3 We accept the promise, the blessings, and benefits God has bestowed upon us through the covenant.

'Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.' Gal 3:16 Abraham had many sons. Everyone knows about Isaac, but there was also Ishmael by the bondwoman Hagar and 6 more sons by his 2nd wife Keturah. Now all of these sons and their descendants were seeds of Abraham, but they were not the seed to which the promise was given. The Bible tells us the promise was given to Abraham and his seed which was Christ. Abraham died along with many of his descendants. But the inheritance did not depend upon the law. The law would seek the next heir of Abraham's Jewish loin. The inheritance depended upon the promise given to Abraham's seed, Christ, who was foreseen by God as the Redeemer of all believers and from whom all nations would be blessed.

'And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.' Gal 3:17-18 The law followed the promise to Abraham and was given by God in the interim. It had purpose in that it pointed to sin. But it could not save and, thus we see its limits. The coming of the law over four hundred years later could not affect the promise of salvation. Therefore, the law served to point believers to Christ and His authority to save. The inheritance must be by faith. It is impossible to work to receive salvation.

'Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.' Gal 4:1-2 Paul painted the picture of children under the law receiving an inheritance. Even though the child was presumed to be the heir, the estate would be managed by a trustee or conservator. The child would be told what to do, similar to a servant, until a certain appointed time. 'Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:' Gal 4:3 Both the Galatians and Jews were enslaved to a great number of burdensome rites and observances, by which, as by a kind of first rudiments, they were taught and instructed, and whereby they were kept in a state of subjection, like children. This kept them in bondage to the "elemental spirits of the world".

'But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.' Gal 4:4-5 In due time, as prophesied, God sent forth His Son. Jesus was truly a God, but allowed Himself to be born of a woman. This was the incarnation. He was born under the law that we might be saved from the law. Christ delivered believers from the bondage of the elements of the world. The believer is adopted into the family of God as a son without respect to gender. Every Christian is a child immediately and has a sealed inheritance for which he is an heir.

'And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.' Gal 4:6-7 Upon receipt of Christ in our hearts as believers, God sends the Holy Spirit to regenerate and indwell within us. The believer is no longer a servant under the doctrine of law. He is now a son of God. Since Christ is God's Son and heir of all His riches, the Christian is an heir of God through Christ.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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