Friday, December 17, 2010

The Abraham Factor #2

Galatians 3:15-16

The Word

"I speak after the manner of men" points to the fact that men enter into agreement, not with a heavenly language, for that would be unlawful for man to speak (2 Cor. 12:4), and a man has not the capacity to comprehend that which is spoken on a heavenly level. The word must be plain, concise, and complete so that each participant can with complete understanding enter into an agreement. Neither can anyone outside those parties break the agreement or change it in any way. This is an agreement between two men only, and even the law itself cannot interfere with its content or purpose.

The Covenant

Even though the covenant that God makes with man is in human speech, the fact that it is in man's words does not make the covenant void if it is confirmed. Heb 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

A covenant from God is confirmed by two immutable things: God himself and the oath that he has made. God cannot change; God cannot lie. Therefore, any covenant that God makes with man is one that cannot be interrupted or changed by man's doing. It is a firm foundation upon which we can believe and depend. No man can disannul it nor add to it. This is the reason that we cannot add to nor take from the Gospel message concerning Jesus Christ and his righteousness. This is the reason that we cannot add to nor take away from the very words of God, which are written in the Bible. The Gospel and the Word of God are a covenant made with man and confirmed by God and his oath.

The Promises

The promises that were "made" (REO, meaning literally "to flow out" or "to speak") were not here first made as in beginning the promises. The promises of God to his people were made in timeless eternity past and through God's Son, Jesus Christ. Here the promises are reiterated (re-affirmed) through Abraham and his seed (See Genesis 17:7).

These promises were not to many seeds, many Gospels for many people, especially speaking of the Jews and Gentiles, no Gospel for Gentiles with another for Jews, etc. There is only one seed (Christ), and the promises are centered in him alone. The promises were given only to Abraham's seed, and that spiritual seed, since all who believe are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7; Rom. 2:29; Gal. 3:29).

One Abraham, one covenant, one Gospel, one Christ, and one salvation. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Abraham Factor #1

Galatians 3:6-14 -- See also Romans Chapter 4

The Faith of Abraham, 6-7

It is not by accident or a paraphrases that Abraham is known as "faithful Abraham" (Gal 3:9) or "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16). It is because of his sincere faith in Christ that sets him apart from the world, and it is because of this same faith in us that separates us from this same evil world.

This faith in Abraham was accounted to him for righteousness. So then, if any person has faith, he has also the righteousness of Christ, Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Works are not, then, accounted for righteousness; for if righteousness comes by the law (works), then Christ is dead in vain (Gal. 2:21).

So, then, those who are of faith, or those who have faith in Christ, have surrendered to him or have submitted to him and are the children of Abraham. See also Romans 2:29; Gal. 3:29.

The Gospel of Abraham, 8-9

We know from this passage that the Gospel was preached to Abraham "afore," or in a former time than the writing of the book of Galatians, before the coming, dying, resurrecting, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Gospel is an old message. Christ preached it in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, it is preached here to Abraham, and it has been preached through the years to innumerable individuals who have either believed it or rejected it, even to the Gentiles, who were not heirs of the oracles of God.

The Gospel was preached in these words: "In thee shall all nations be blessed." This was a foreseeing of the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles as well as Jews. Christ foresaw through the scriptures (the scriptures by way of an anthropomorphism) not only saw that the Gospel would be preached among the Gentiles but also told it many times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

The Curse Of The Law, 10-12

Those who work the law endeavoring to gain eternal life are under the curse of the law, because everyone who does not continue in all the things that are in the law is cursed. Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

The just are to live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:). This makes it evident that a person is not justified by the law. Paul cannot say this too many times. He is obsessed with this idea: that salvation is by faith and not by the works of the law. The law merely gives commands to every individual on the earth. There is no faith in the law, simply commands from God; therefore, all who are under the law must do everything that is commanded in the law (Gal. 3:12; Rom. 10:5; Deut. 27:26).

The Redemption of Christ, 13-14

Christ, then, has redeemed us "from the curse of the law" (vs. 13). This word for "redeem" is the Greek word EK-AGORAZO, which means "out of the marketplace." We were all in the marketplace of sin under the tutelage of the law. We were hopelessly dead to Christ and his eternal life. But Christ Jesus purchased us "out of the marketplace." He took us out of the marketplace never to be on sale again. His purchase is effective and final.

This redemption was done by his becoming a curse for us, being hung on a tree (a tree of death), which was a curse for us. He did this that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith in Christ. This promise we will consider shortly.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Obeying The Truth

Galatians 3:1-5

There has been much said and written about obeying the truth. Some, who are bent on teaching that a person is saved by works, think that this obedience to the truth is a work such as those of the works of the law or of the works of the flesh, that man can physically work in order to attain salvation; but this section of scripture denies that, and so do many other passages in God's word.

The Galatians had been "bewitched," or fooled into thinking that they need not obey the truth but that they need rather to produce some good work on their own part in order to inherit eternal life. This was, no doubt, offered by some false teachers who had come in that through envy they might change the simple Gospel into that which is subversive to true faith and an alternative to the true grace of God. This Paul sets to the proper standard as he continues through this chapter. The truth of which Paul speaks is the doctrine of justification by faith, which Paul is vindicating throughout this book, placing it against the teaching of the shadows of the Gospel, the Law of carnal commandments.

A Clear Gospel

Paul first brings notice to them that Jesus Christ was crucified among them, being eye witnesses of that crucifixion, not in a literal sense, but through the eye of faith, since the true Gospel had been preached clearly to them so that they could see with their faith the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in their midst, a significant practice of Paul; that is, of making Christ vividly clear to the hearers of the Gospel, as he was determined to preach nothing else but the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ in presenting the doctrine of biblical justification.

Concise Questions

To those who have the Spirit of God to hear the truth, Paul introduces the first concise question: "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?" The law was preaching incessantly in old times, and Israel would not hear, though God outstretched his hands to them, Romans 10:21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. But here the Spirit of God, which indwelt the believers at Galatia, was received, not by the preaching of the law, but by the hearing of faith: Romans 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So, the question is asked and answered. The Spirit did not and does not come by the works of the law but by the hearing of faith.

The second question is "having begun in the Spirit, are ye made perfect by the flesh?" The answer is NO. If we begin in the Spirit, we must continue and culminate our lives in the Spirit. Phil. 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: This is the drawing, convicting, justifying, and keeping work of the Holy Spirit, not of the works of the law.

The third question is "have ye suffered so many things in vain?" The Galatians have suffered reproach and persecution for Christ and the Gospel. Was it all in vain? They suffered for the true Gospel, not so that they may deny obedience to the truth. They, of course, have not suffered, and neither do we suffer, in vain for the truth of the Gospel.

The fourth question deals with whether the "minister" of the Spirit of God (meaning Christ) ministers the Spirit or performs miracles by the works of the law or the hearing of faith. The Spirit is given to everyone who believes, and it was given through the hearing of faith, not by the works of the law. Jesus Christ used the law to manifest to us our depraved condition and our need of a Savior, but he gives the Spirit by the hearing of faith. When Christ works miracles among them, it is not by the works of the law but through the hearing of faith.

Thus neither the works of the law nor the works of the flesh can bring justification or preserve the saints of God. It must be by faith, as is stated many times in scripture. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

For those who believe that there is a third work besides the works of the law and the works of the flesh, i.e. the works in obedience to faith, it must be said that there is no mention of such in the Bible, nor is there any intimation of it or even an implication of it. There is no work that can redeem a soul no matter what it is called. Gal. 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

So, how do we obey the truth? We obey the truth by believing it, submitting to it, and living by it. There need be no action on our part physically to obey the truth: no baptism, no church membership, no good works. Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.