Summary: God never changes and God keeps His promises. We come to faith through the promise as people of old came to faith through the promise --- and the promise is Jesus Christ.
While I was waiting for my coffee I struck up a conversation with a college age woman about Christianity. It turns out that she had grown up in the church and had some great memories of the church…but as she grew older she had lost interest in church. She cited various issues in the church that she had difficulty with, but there was one thing that seemed to overshadow all her other concerns – She felt that God changed over time, He acted one way in the Old Testament and then, He acted another way in the New Testament.
She felt that in the Old Testament, God required something different from people than he required in the New Testament. It was as if God changed the rules midstream. In the Old Testament a person needed to do one thing to be saved and in the New Testament a person needed to do something completely different. In her mind, the God is not consistent, and so she had no reason anymore to place her trust in Him.
Is this young woman correct? Has God changed over time how he treats people, is God inconsistent with how He treats people?
Our Scripture today, helps us with these questions.
Last week we saw that Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, was saved by faith and not by any good work he did, now, in the Scripture we are looking at today, Paul gives us an example from everyday life to further illustrate and give deeper meaning to what he means.
In Paul’s example we see that God does not change and our understanding of who God is does not develop as time passes. God remains the same.
Starting here in verse 15, when Paul speaks of a duly established covenant, he is referring to the Galatians knowledge of how a last will and testament is handled in their city. The Galatians knew that once a last will and testament was created, it could not be changed. Under Greek law once a last will and testament was written and deposited with the cities municipal records, it could never be changed. Nothing could be added to it, nothing could be taken away from it – even if the original writer submitted an updated version by his own hand – it would be rejected. Once written, the last will and testament could never be changed, even by the rightful owner. It was written and submitted once, and that was the end of it.
Now the Galatians were no longer living under Greek law, they were living under Roman law. Roman law was similar to Greek law except, if an heir died, another could be added, but upon death it was the same as Greek law – it was irrevocable. Paul is informing us that the promise of God has been made…and that’s it. With God, a promise is a promise. It is a done deal. It will never change, and with God, a promise is eternal. Further, God makes his promise by choice. God can choose to work any way He desires, (He is God after all) and He desires to make a promise that never changes.
Years ago I received a call from a member to stop on by her house. I could tell by the call that she was fairly shaken up. She was a lady who was quite advanced in years, and was quite wealthy, well, she was phenomenally wealthy. It turns out that granddaughter had stopped by and threatened her. The granddaughter wanted a larger share of her last will and testament. I’m not sure all that was said, but believe me, this woman was quite shaken up.
Now, I made a quick call to a relative of hers who firmly dealt with this granddaughter. Then, I reminded this very sweet lady that when the time came for her last will and testament to be read, she would not be around anymore. She would be long gone. When her last will and testament would be read, this granddaughter would have no real recourse and she would have no ability to threaten or harm her. This realization delighted the lady a great deal.
I went on to remind her that it was her choice and her choice alone about what was to happen with her estate. She could give all the money to one individual or spread the money out to many people, in fact, she could give all her money to her cat if she wanted to.
There was an amazing chance of countenance with this woman. All the fear drained out of her and she met the next week with her attorney. She expressed her choice, and her choice would not be changed by anyone, even a nasty granddaughter (who by the way was no spring chicken). Some time later, the granddaughter would receive what she deserved and don’t worry, the lady didn’t own a cat….though she did have a dog.