Posted by: Brad Beaman | July 21, 2008

The Gospel: God’s Irrevocable Promise

Be careful not to make a commitment to someone you don’t keep. You might say to someone you will send them a copy of a picture you took and then you forget to do it. We have to be cautious we do not carelessly make a promise we fail to keep. We are prone to forget what we promise. It is part of our human shortcoming.


God is all powerful and perfectly holy. He would never make a careless promise. God’s promise is irrevocable. What God promises in the future is a sure as what happened in history. When God makes a promise consider it done. God made a promise four thousand years ago and it is intensely significant for today.


The Promise Made 


Galatians 15-18

Brothers, 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. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What 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. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.


This passage tells us about God’s promise to Abraham. God made an unconditional promise with great significance for us today. When Paul writes this he is referring to Genesis 12:2-3. It is God’s promise to Abraham and as we will see for all who believe in Jesus Christ. 


In Genesis 12:7 there is a promise to Abraham’s offspring or seed. The promise went beyond the nation Israel and the promise land. The promise is for all the families, all the peoples of the world. Paul builds a case on the word “offspring” being in the singular, the word also translated seed. The plural would mean physical descendents of Abraham. But here Paul says, the word for offspring is singular and refers to Christ. It is also for all who believe in Christ and become people of faith, spiritual descendents.


Seeds – refers to physical descendents

Seed- refers to Christ, and spiritual decedents


The Jews who were the physical descendents of Abraham could not grasp this part of God’s promise. John the Baptist tried to communicate this unpopular truth to them. He told the Pharisees Sadducees Matthew 3:9. Don’t think because you are physical descendents you have Abraham as your father. “God could raise up children of Abraham from these stones.”

It might have been easier for the Jews to accept their being children of Abraham from stones rather than what John had in mind, from the Gentiles. But that was God’s plan and only if they had properly interpreted scripture they would have realized that. That was God’s promise. Once again in Galatians Paul demonstrates salvation by faith alone, not by obeying the law and not by good works.


Galatians 3:15 uses an illustration of a human contract. When parties agree no one else can alter or change the contract. We have a covenant agreement contract with God.


Let me bring this closer to home. We have a contract with family our members. In case of their death we will have guardianship of their children. In case of their death no one, not other family members not the government, can change this. We have this covenant agreement. If that human agreement is unalterable then God’s covenant is absolutely irrevocable


The Purpose of the Law


Galatians 3:19-20

What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.


We have the Old covenant and the New Covenant. The new covenant is the promise fulfilled. The promise was made to Abraham before the law. In that sense the new covenant precedes the old covenant. If that thought doesn’t impact you then consider this, the New Covenant was established before the foundation of the earth. The New Covenant is the oldest one of all. Our God is an awesome God.


So the question is valid. What purpose is the law? The law makes us aware we are sinners. The law makes us aware of the fact that we are transgressors. The law defines right and wrong and we see ourselves in as we are. The law reveals our sin.


The purpose of a bathroom scale is to help me control my weight. Does stepping on that scale make me lose pounds? No. It tells me my condition. It tells me what eating four pounds of chocolate fudge has done to me. Because of the scale I know my condition and now I am ready to take action.


The law reveals my sin. It does not provide me any power to overcome sin. It leaves us powerless with no alternative, but to turn to Christ. The Judaizers distorted the purpose of the law. They said the law is there to follow and thereby make us holy.


No! The purpose is to show us how unholy we are. We are depraved, totally. Recognizing ourselves as sinners prepares us for faith in Christ. To become heirs of God’s promise.


The Purpose Of The Promise


Galatians 3:21-22

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.


God’s promise imparts spiritual life. This promise gives us power for living. Are the law and the promise opposed? No, absolutely not. They are different with different functions. Paul uses the illustration of a prison. The law puts us in prison. The promise releases us from prison.


It is described well in the Charles Wesley Hymn:


Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.


The law is not opposed to the promise. God did not contradict himself by giving the law. We are imprisoned by the law and made free by the promise. We are set free by faith in Christ. The law shows us we need the promise.


The law is actually an expression of God’s Grace. Because of the law we recognize our spiritual condition before God and we are willing to accept the free gift of salvation God offers. Law does not oppose the promise. They are two covenants with two purposes.


 The results of the Promise


Galatians 3:24-25

So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.


The law was put in charge as our taskmaster, our disciplinarian. Have you ever had a disciplinarian? I have and I can tell you it is not fun to have a disciplinarian. As a fraternity pledge I had a disciplinarian.


His role was to ask, are you in line. They point out the shortcomings. They have the power to blackball. To give A negative vote that blocks the admission. They are there to expel you. The law is our disciplinarian and shows us our shortcomings. In this case it makes us aware that we have already received the blackball from heaven. But there is the promise.


Galatians 3:24 says the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ. Then we read in verse  25 we justified by faith in Christ and we are no longer under our disciplinarian of the law. The law is no longer our disciplinarian.


In the fraternity pledgeship analogy the disciplinarian was no longer feared when I become a fraternity member. He was no longer my disciplinarian he was my friend. Now that I was a member we traveled on vacation together.


Once we put our faith in Christ we are free from the taskmaster. The law brings us to a point of despair. But then we call on Christ.


Have you come to the point where you see your condition before God? Consider that a gift from God. Now be willing to accept God’s free gift of salvation. You will be set free. That is the gospel. That is God’s irrevocable promise.


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