God’s Enduring Promise
I once heard a story about the country singing group “Alabama”. In the early days of their musical career they played the circuit in different clubs, fairs and theatres. When they received their record deal and “hit it big” so to speak, they were offered opportunities to perform in sold out arenas and amphitheatres. There was only one problem; they already had a full schedule of dates in smaller venues. From what I understand they honored each and every one of their prior commitments. This spoke of their integrity because the pay was much, much less than they would have received if they had went back on their promises to others.
If we are honest, sometimes we want to break our promises, and sadly sometimes we do just that. But as we saw this morning and will continue to see tonight, when God makes a promise …THAT PROMISE WILL ENDURE! We find in Genesis 12 and here in Galatians 3 that God had made some fantastic promises to Abraham. And Paul is in the midst of revealing that those promises had not …nor could they be broken. The great benefit for us in studying this text is the comfort and assurance that comes in knowing that ALL the promises God has made to us in His Holy Word, WILL NOT BE BROKEN! Let’s return to Paul’s epistle to the Galatians and see some more facts about “God’s Enduring Promise”
In the AM service we examined The Origination and The Illustration of God’s Enduring Promise.
As we continue we will see:
iii. God’s Enduring Promise: An Explanation
iv. God’s Enduring Promise: The Intention
v. God’s Enduring Promise: The Application
In verse 15 Paul shares an illustration that shed some light on the endurance of God’s promise. He used the example of a contract that had been ratified and was legally binding between two individuals. Once a contract is ratified it must be fulfilled and cannot be broken. In verses 16-18 he continues to describe the details of the Abrahamic Covenant. Notice with me if you will:
III. God’s Enduring Promise: An Explanation v16-18
A. The Recipient Of This Promise - v16 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.
By now we know that God made a covenant with Abraham. Along with the personal promise to Abraham, we find that there was a promise to “his seed” - Genesis 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
The term “seed” has far reaching implications but ultimately this refers to the greatest of Abrahams’ descendants, Our Savior Jesus Christ. - This is evident in the genealogy of Jesus Christ found in - Matthew 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren (and on and on it went until the birth of the Messiah)
Those who are saved are “in Christ” and we are “heirs to the promise”. Through faith we are recipients of the promises that were made to Abraham. This concept is reaffirmed in this very chapter! - Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
This promise is as much ours as if God spoke to us literally as He did to Abraham!
- Through Christ we are the “Recipients Of This Promise”. Notice also:
B. The Resilience Of This Promise - v17 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.
God’s covenant with Abraham was not nor could it be canceled by the Law that God gave to Moses. There was a time span of 430 years between the inception of the covenant and the giving of the Law. Paul states that the Abrahamic covenant was “Confirmed before of God” - This means that it was officially ratified by God and could not be annulled by anyone or anything!
Paul wanted the Galatian believers to understand that the Mosaic Law could not and DID NOT void the covenant that God made with Abraham. If the Law could have provided justification in itself, this would have voided the promise that God made to Abraham. The Law did not fulfill God’s promise to Abraham… The Law did not do away with God’s promise to Abraham… But our Savior fulfilled the Law and God’s promises to Abraham! God’s promise is resilient! It is just like He is…NEVER CHANGING!! Regardless of what the Judaizers taught the Galatians and regardless of what you may hear from some legalist… WORKS CANNOT SAVE YOU! And your works CANNOT KEEP YOU SAVED!! But your faith in Jesus can do both!!
The promise of God is amazing! And so far we have seen the Recepients and the Resilience of this promise. Now let’s see its scope.
C. Notice The Reach Of This Promise - v18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
If the Judaizers were correct then we would have to gain the “inheritance” (salvation) by following the Law. This would directly contradict God’s promise!
An inheritance is something that only comes as the result of someone else dying. If the person is still alive then something received would be a gift If it is given for work that has been performed it is a wage. When you receive an inheritance it is not something that you have earned, it is a gift given as because of the relationship you have with the person who has died.
Through Jesus Christ we have been provided with the greatest inheritance of all time! We have a promise of eternal life and a home in Heaven. According to Titus 3:5 (among other scriptures) we find that this is “not by works of righteousness that we have done”
My Father constantly reminds me that everything that he has will be mine (and my sister’s) one day. When he says this, he is speaking of an inheritance. The truck that I currently drive was once his. When he bought a new one, he gave it to me. He did not charge me for it, he did not make me work to earn it, he handed me the keys with no strings attached. It was a free was a gift …not an inheritance.
Our heavenly inheritance is a gift that we receive because of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. There is no charge for it, we can’t work to earn it, and there are no strings attached …IT IS A GIFT!
- Now that we have seen the explanation of God’s Enduring Promise let’s Consider:
IV. God’s Enduring Promise: The Intention - v19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. “22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
With all of the time we have spent recently examining the inferiority of the Law; one might as the question…WHAT IS IT’S PURPOSE? Obviously this was a question among the Galatian believers. This is a question that we will answer in greater detail when we arrive at Chapter 4. But to summarize the answer - It was added because of transgression
God gave Moses the Law to show the people what was wrong and what was right. And the Law did this until the “promised seed” arrived. The Law served a great purpose, it revealed man’s sinfulness but it was never intended to be a way of salvation. There are some vast differences in the Law and the Abrahamic Covenant.
1) The law “was added” after the covenant and thus was subordinate to it.
2) The law was temporary; being in effect only “till the seed” [Jesus] “should come.”
3) Unlike the covenant God gave directly to Abraham, the law “was ordained” (handed down) indirectly by God through “angels” to its “mediator,” Moses (Acts 7:53).
There was great benefit in the Law. The Law showed us our need for a Savior. Every sacrifice was a type (or picture) of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Moses was the mediator that is mentioned in verse 20 "Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one."
A mediator is a go-between. Moses represented God to mankind and he represented mankind to God. A mediator is required when more than one party is involved. There was no need for a mediator in God’s Covenant with Abraham…. God Himself confirmed that promise!
- In verse 21 Paul asks a rhetorical question - v21a "[Is] the law then against the promises of God? - He wants to know if the Law contradicted the promises of God. He then answers his own question - v21b God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."
If the Law could have given us life then we would have received God’s approval because we obeyed them. If would could have successfully obeyed the law, it would have brought life. But as we as we have seen if we were guilty of one offense, we would be guilty of them all! We never would have been able to keep every aspect of the Law. This is covered in verse 22 “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin”
Law can’t give us life, but we can receive His approval through faith in His Son. Jesus did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill the law. He took care of all the sacrifices and the ordinances for us. Jesus sacrifice at Calvary took care of all sacrifices for all time for everyone who will believe. We are justified (made right with God), because we have been washed in the blood of Jesus. Because of this we have been clothed in His righteousness.
*We have seen much about God’s Enduring Promise, but I would like to consider one final element in verses 23-25. Notice:
V. God’s Promise: The Application - v23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Before the arrival of the Messiah the law served as our guardian.The term that Paul uses is “Schoolmaster”. A “schoolmaster” was a family slave who led a boy to and from school, overseeing his conduct. Some schoolmasters were very strict individuals. They were stern disciplinarians and the pupils who were under their control longed for the day when they would be free from their control.
The Law was our schoolmaster… It revealed our sinfulness and “escorted us to Christ”. Now that Jesus has come we are no longer under the control of the “schoolmaster” or “the Law of Moses”
Go read the Law for yourself… It will show you just how unworthy of grace you really are. The Law will bring guilt and shame into your life! The Law will show you that there is no way for you to live good enough to be considered righteous….The Law will show you that you couldn’t pay your own sin debt… The Law will show just how much you need a SAVIOR!
Through the Savior, God’s promises are applied to those who believe. And those promises WILL ENDURE THROUGHOUT ETERNITY! And God’s promises are promises that you can count on!
“Everything He said…In His Word”
“He Will Do It … For You!”
“Every Prophecy He Gave”
“Every Promise He Made”
“My God Will Do It For You!”
If you have never been saved, I hope you grasp the fact that God has made a way for you to be redeemed through faith in His Son. I hope you comprehend the fact that Jesus is the only way of salvation. But for those of you who are born again children of God, I hope that you can live in full assurance that the promises of God are true, certain and everlasting.
Like the hymn says we can live our lives “Standing on the Promises”:
“Standing on the promises I now can see”
“Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me”
“Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free”
“Standing on the promises of God”
“Standing on the promises I cannot fall”
“List’ning every moment to the Spirit’s call”
“Resting in my Savior as my all in all”
“Standing on the promises of God”