Summary: Galatians 3:15-29, Standing on the promises
Standing on the Promises!
Intro. (From Guy Calley – sermon central)
In the early 1930’s the US had a problem. Crime had run amok. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s had given rise to pervasive organized crime. A frightened public demanded a response, and the government wanted to send a message to criminals. Their message was named Alcatraz. A tiny island in San Francisco which had previously been used as a military prison. From 1934 to 1962 Alcatraz housed some of our nation’s most notorious outlaws including Al Capone.
Thirty-six prisoners were involved in escape attempts: 7 shot and killed, 2 drowned, 5 unaccounted for, the rest recaptured. 2 prisoners made it off the island but were returned, As for the June 1962 escape, Morris and the Anglin brothers were successful in escaping both the institution and the island, but survival is very questionable.
The rock was one of the most successful examples ever of an escape-proof prison. But there is one prison even more inescapable and it is the one referred to in the Scripture we just read in Galatians: The bondage of sin.
Some teachers said that the way to escape sin’s shackles was through obedience to a strict set of rules known as the law of Moses. We call these teachers the Judaizers, because basically they were teaching that to become truly Christian one must conform outwardly to the Jewish law.
Paul’s response to these teachers is that the law is not a way to escape the bondage of sin, rather faith in Christ, trusting in His sacrifice on the cross as a payment for sin is the only way to be set free from sin’s bondage and consequences. In today’s text he furthers that argument by pointing out that his teaching isn’t a new concept, but the same thing God has always asked for.
I. The giving of the law could not change the promise v. 15-18
A. Proof from civil transactions v. 15
* Paul picks an illustration from life after the custom and practice of men.
* He uses an example taken from civil transactions.
* If an agreement or bond be signed, sealed, and witnessed, and, in this country, duly stamped; No man disannulleth
-- It stands under the protection of the civil law, and nothing can be legally erased or added.
* No one can "make it void"(athetei
* Both parties can by agreement cancel a contract, but not otherwise.
* No one can change it. No new conditions can be added; nor can there be any drawing back from its terms.
* It is/was unlawful to add (epi) fresh clauses or specifications (diataxeis).
Barnes –" … the promise made to Abraham was by no means made void by the giving of the Law. The Law had another purpose, which did not interfere with the promise made to Abraham. That promise stood on its own merits, irrespective of the demands and the design of the Law. It is possible that Paul may have had his eye on an objection to his view. The objection may have been that there were important acts of legislation which succeeded the promise made to Abraham, and that that promise must have been superseded by the giving of the Law. To this he replies that the Mosaic law given at a later period could not take away or nullify a solemn promise made to Abraham..."
Barnes – "Though it be but a man’s covenant" -
* An agreement between man and man.
* Even in such a case no one can add to it or take from it.
* The argument here is, that such an agreement must be much less important than a promise made by God. But even that could not be annulled. How much less, therefore, could a covenant made by God be treated as if it were vain.
* JFB - it could not add as a new condition the observance of the law, in which case the fulfillment of the promise would be attached to a condition impossible for man to perform.
* It is not lawful to break covenants and contracts which are justly made, and are according to law among men, neither may anything be added to them.
M. Henry -
* The covenant which God made with Abraham was not vacated nor disannulled by the giving of the law to Moses
W. Wiersbe -
* Once two parties conclude an agreement, a third party cannot come along years later and change that agreement. The only persons who can change an original agreement are the persons who made it. To add anything to it or take anything from it would be illegal.
B. Proof from the life of Abraham v. 16-18
Wiersbe - The word promise is used eight times in these verses, referring to God’s promise to Abraham that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen_12:1-3). This promise involved being justified by faith and having all the blessings of salvation (Gal_3:6-9).