Summary: Paul anticipates the Judaizers next objection since they were huge fans of the law of Moses. In general, they recognized the importance of the Abrahamic covenant, but they gave priority to the Mosaic covenant. This led them to emphasize law over faith.
INTRO: We have seen the interrogation of faith and the illustration of faith and today we’ll see the importance of faith. Next week is the identity of faith.
What Paul has been hammering home in Galatians is that we are saved by faith and not by works. This is the distinguishing hallmark of Christianity. Religion is man doing something to earn the favor of God. Christianity is God doing something for man that man can’t do for himself. Religion says do, but Christianity says done.
Paul anticipates the Judaizers next objection since they were huge fans of the law of Moses. In general, they recognized the importance of the Abrahamic covenant, but they gave priority to the Mosaic covenant. This led them to emphasize law over faith. The next question is: “Why did God give Moses the law if the law doesn’t do anything for our salvation?
I. The Promise of God (15-18)
– We are always looking for a better deal. We have all driven all over town looking for the best price and the best deal on an item we wanted or needed only to go back home and order it on Amazon. We wanted the best deal.
– We have looked extensively at Abraham and the covenant or deal that God made with him. He didn’t have to work for it, he only had to believe God by faith and it was counted to him for righteousness. It was a good deal! But then, 430 years pass and along comes another deal. This time it comes to another Jewish man named Moses and it is called the Mosaic Law. Abraham and all his descendants were saved by faith, but then God gave Moses the law on Mount Sinai. It’s now a question of which one? Do we follow the plan of Genesis 15 and Abraham’s faith or do we follow the rules of Exodus 20 and the law of Moses? Which one is more important? Does the law given later nullify the promise made earlier to Abraham?
– To answer this, Paul highlights the Person who is making the promise. He wants to emphasize the reliability of the covenant God made with Abraham. The illustration given is that when a contract or agreement is made by people involving obligations and promises, no one can add to it of take from it. It will remain as it was originally made.
– Illus: Let’s say that Aunt Wilma dies and has put in her will that she wants to leave all her money to Uncle Fred. No one can go back and argue, “I wonder what Aunt Wilma really wanted.” She has given her word because that is what her last will and testament said. No one can come along later and change it.
– The idea is that if we expect this to be true in man-made contracts, how much more reliable and unchangeable is a God-made contact! If man honors his word, then we can certainly count on God to honor His word.
– In fact, verses 17-18 make the point clearly. Just because the Law was given 430 years after the promise to Abraham that he was justified by faith does not nullify the contract or the promise. God is a God who cannot lie. God made a promise that He would enter into a relationship with sinners through faith alone. Just because some religious organization comes along several hundred years later with their laws, it does not nullify God’s promise.
– I want to make sure we all understand. The Judaizers implied that the giving of the Law changed that original promise. Paul argues that it did not. But then he takes it one step further...
– This promise was not just made to Abraham, but also to Abraham’s seed. (16) Notice it is singular; not “seeds.” It was not found in a bunch of Jewish “seeds,” laws or attempts to keep the Law. The promise was made to one seed or one descendant in particular – Jesus Christ.
– In the final analysis, God made this promise with Abraham through Christ, so that the only two parties who can make any changes are God the Father and God the Son. Moses cannot alter this covenant! He can add nothing to it, he can take nothing from it. The Judaizers wanted to add to God's grace (as though anything could be added to grace!) and take from God's promises. They had no right to do this since they were not parties in the original covenant.
– This is not a biological promise to all Jewish people; this is a Christological promise made to all who put faith in Jesus. You can be biologically related to whatever religious founding father you want to and still end up in hell, but if you are spiritually related to Christ by faith, that is how you go to heaven.