Friday, November 23, 2018

The Apostle Paul's Letter To The Galatians. Day 8, God Keeps His Promises

In yesterday's passage Paul told the Galatian church that God preached the gospel to Abraham. (Galatians 3:8) How did God preach the gospel two thousand years before the birth of Christ? By promising Abraham, "All nations will be blessed through you." God was telling the childless Abraham not only that He was going to provide him an heir (Isaac) but that He was going to provide him with many descendants, and that one of these descendants was going to be the Redeemer who would bring salvation to all people.

God is a promise keeper. Some of the promises He makes to us in the Scriptures are dependent upon our obedience to Him, but others are dependent only on His unbreakable word. The covenant God made with Abraham is an example of a promise that depends only on God's word and not on man's performance. Before God ever created the first human being He already had a salvation plan for the human race. This plan could not be overthrown by anything humans do or fail to do, for the promise stands on God's unbreakable word. Paul is going to expand on this subject in today's passage to prove that the Redeemer came not because man observed the law, but because God's promise was not dependent on the law. (And it's a good thing it wasn't, since no one could perfectly keep the law.) Therefore, as Paul has been saying throughout the letter to the Galatians, salvation depends not on works but on faith in the Redeemer. Paul tells the Galatian church that Abraham, in faith, believed what God said about the coming Redeemer even though he lived a long time before the birth of Christ. The Galatians, in faith, believe on the Redeemer even though they are living after His death and ascension to heaven. The same faith that made Abraham right with God is the same faith that makes the Galatians right with God.

"Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case." (Galatians 3:15) When one person enters into a legal contract with another, and it is duly witnessed and considered valid, no one can take away from it or add to it. This is the case with the covenant God has made with mankind concerning Christ. We can't take anything away from the gospel message. We can't add anything to it. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves more saved. Adding the keeping of the law to their salvation is going to do nothing for the Gentile believers but frustrate them and cause them to focus on works instead of focusing on their relationship with Christ.

"The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: the law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise." (Galatians 3:16-18) God made His covenant with Abraham before the law existed, so clearly the keeping of God's promise did not depend on the keeping of the law. When the law came 430 years later, it did not change God's promise. The covenant was still legal and valid; no man could add to it or take away from it. The proof that the law, and man's failure to keep it, did not change the covenant is that the Redeemer still came. God never said, "You have failed to keep the law, so I don't have to keep My promise. I know I told you a Redeemer was coming who would save you from your sins, but I've changed My mind. You've been so disobedient that I no longer want to save you."

If God had said such a thing, then the grace Paul credits Him with never existed and the covenant He made with Abraham was never valid. But God sent the Redeemer because we are so sinful, not because we aren't. God sent the Redeemer because we are lawbreakers, not because we are law keepers. This is grace! This is the promise God already knew He was going to make before He ever spoke the universe into existence. There is nothing anyone could do or not do that was going to prevent Him from keeping this promise. And if we could not prevent Him from carrying out His promised plan of salvation, then obviously there is nothing we can add to it, because His plan never depended on us in the first place.

God loved us before He ever created us. God knew we were going to sin and mess up and fall short, so He intended all along to provide a means of redemption for us. This plan depended solely on Him, not on us. This plan depended on His righteousness in keeping promises, not on our ability to follow the law or perform enough good works. God made a covenant with Abraham and He kept it, and it didn't depend in any way on what man would or would not do. God kept the covenant not because we did what was right, but because we didn't. He kept the covenant not because we were righteous, but because we needed a Redeemer. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for u. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!" (Romans 5:6-10)

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