Summary: What does the Bible have to say concerning faith vs. the Law?
How many of you have made out a will? How would you feel, after you have taken the time to make out a will, paid a lawyer, or had it witnessed and notarized, would later have the executor of your will throw it out and instead add his or her ideas as to the disposition of your estate? That would be disturbing, a betrayal of what your intentions were to be wouldn’t you agree?
That is what Paul was contending in the passages of Galatians we are studying. The Judaizers were attempting to change the will, the plan and purpose of God, to add what they thought would be the best way for people to find salvation, as if they had a say in the matter. That brings us to today’s passage, Galatians 3:15-22.
Reading from the New Living Translation, verse 15 says Dear brothers and sisters, here’s an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. Paul is speaking from a situation which was common in everyday life. People make out agreements and expect those agreements to hold up. Legal documents are legally binding. A third party cannot come along and say there are things I don’t like, or there are things I want to add to what has been written, some new conditions. The legal document must be fulfilled the way it was written.
Making this point, Paul now continues to give a clearer understanding of the covenant God has made with mankind. Lets look beginning at verse 16…
God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn’t say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child--and that, of course, means Christ. 17This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. 18For if the inheritance could be received only by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a promise.
God set forth a covenant with Abraham which was fulfilled in the birth of God’s Son Jesus Christ, the Promised One. A covenant which was not just for Abraham but for all men women and children. A covenant is always made with 2 or more parties though it can be fulfilled by just one of the parties to the covenant.
What is this covenant with Abraham? Lets look at Genesis 15:1-7. 1Afterward the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."
2But Abram replied, "O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since I don’t have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir." 4Then the LORD said to him, "No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you." 5Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that--too many to count!" 6And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith. 7Then the LORD told him, "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land."
The response of Abraham was similar to what you and I might have. God lays something out, and our first response is when. Who here is waiting for a promise to be fulfilled? Have you talked to God about it? Abraham did and God brought the answers to the questions of his heart in verses 12-17 of Genesis 15. That evening, as the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. He saw a terrifying vision of darkness and horror.
13Then the LORD told Abram, "You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. 14But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15(But you will die in peace, at a ripe old age.) 16After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course." 17As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.