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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Why Then the Law?" -- Galatians 3:15-25

The Fifth in a Series of Sermons on Galatians

One of best ways to refute error is to proclaim the truth.  This is what Paul does throughout the Book of Galatians.  The error Paul must refute is doctrinal and public.  A group of false teachers, the Judaizers, had come to the Galatians shortly after Paul had left the region.  They challenged Paul’s authority and began undermining the gospel which the Apostle had preached previously.  The Judaizers were zealous for the law and the tradition of their fathers.  When Gentiles responded to the gospel after Paul preached it to them, and then came to faith in Jesus Christ, the Judaizers became insistent that these Gentiles believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but, they added, Gentile converts must also submit to ritual circumcision, keep certain dietary laws, and obey the law of Moses.  If they failed to do so, they would forfeit their right standing before God.  This was the great error of the Judaizers; faith in Christ, plus . . .

Publically placarding Jesus Christ crucified before his hearer’s eyes through his preaching (Gal. 3:1), the truth is also out in the open.  Justification comes through faith in Jesus Christ (“hearing with faith” as Paul calls it), not through obedience to the law of Moses, not through submission to ritual circumcision, or through keeping dietary laws.  The blessings of the promise that God made to Abraham comes to all of Abraham’s children–whether Jew or Gentile–through faith and not by by works.  This is Paul’s gospel.

Paul was angry about the errors of the Judaizers.  He was also angry at their deceptive methods.  Apparently, the Judaizers were infiltrating the Galatian churches and spying on Gentiles exercising their freedom in Christ.  Any possible instance of the abuse of Christian liberty was turned into an argument against Paul’s gospel.  As Paul saw it, since we are justified (given a right standing before God) by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, any departure from this gospel was a different gospel, which is no gospel.  Paul’s gospel had been revealed to him personally by Jesus Christ, and it was through this same gospel the Galatians had trusted in Christ alone through the “hearing with faith,” the means by which the Galatians received the Holy Spirit and witnessed God work miracles in their midst.
Making his case that justification and God’s promise to Abraham (the gift of the Holy Spirit) both come to Abraham’s children through faith alone, in verses 15-18 of Galatians 3, Paul points out that even though the promise to Abraham was given chronologically prior to giving of law to Moses, this does not mean that the law nullifies the prior Abrahamic promise.  After discussing the death of Christ in verses 12-13–Jesus Christ become a curse for us to redeem us from the curse of the law, bearing that curse for us in his own body hanging upon the cross (tree), so that Jew and Gentile alike can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit–Paul moves on in verses 15-18 to discuss the nature of the promise and its connection to the different covenants made with Abraham and Moses.  Paul will give a lesson in redemptive history.

Using Abraham as his example, Paul is able to prove that his understanding of the gospel which is centered in the public placarding of Christ crucified for sinners, is the very same gospel that God preached in advance to Abraham as recorded in Genesis 15:6.  Paul is no innovator.  The promise God gave to Abraham that he would justify Abraham and all of his spiritual children, Jew and Gentile, through faith alone, is the same gospel taught throughout the Old Testament.  The substance of the promise was that through the means of faith, God would give the children of Abraham the gift of the Holy Spirit and so having received the Holy Spirit, they were now heirs to the promise.

Paul’s main point in this section is really a simple one.  The promise given to Abraham as recounted in Genesis 17, preceded in time God’s giving of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.  The law cannot nullify the promise.  In Galatians 3:15, Paul puts it this way.  “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.”  Paul’s example points to the covenant (diatheke) which God had previously established with Abraham as recounted in Genesis 15-17.  This first covenant cannot be set aside by a later covenant, because the covenant God made with Abraham is unconditional in the sense that it is God himself who swears the oath to Abraham to bring to pass what is promised–“I will be your God and you and your descendants after you will be my people.”

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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