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. The 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. 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 a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 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. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one. 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. But 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.” (Galatians 3:15–22 NIV)
The Gospel is not just an experience with the Risen Christ, but it is what sustains us for life. Therefore, we must know the Gospel, and we must experience the Gospel of Grace. The Gospel is our foundation. We need to be Gospel centred people.
It is so easy, if we are not careful, to become like the foolish Galatians were believe a lie. When we agree with a lie, then we agree with the father of lies, this agreement is what caused sin to enter the world.
Are we sure that believing the Gospel can saves us? Yes we are, accepting the Gospel and by placing our trust in Jesus Christ he becomes the only bridge, the only passage that leads us to be sons and daughters of the Living God.
So, I would like to make it clearer today that what we have here in Galatians 3 is the core of the Gospel. The very essence of the Gospel is here, in these verses.
” 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. 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.” (Galatians 3:15–16 NIV11-GKE)
Paul is bringing us back to the Gospel. The Judaisers were convinced that to become a follower of Jesus, people needed to contribute to their Salvation, this was a must! ( By observing the food laws, keeping the sabbath and circumcision)
Paul’s argument is solid and compelling. In the first fourteen verses, he explains why Salvation is by Faith and by Faith alone. This principle of believing in the promises of God, is what the book of Hebrews tells us what faith is about “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
In his heart, Abraham believed the very words of Promise, the words of the covenant that God spoke to him. The first time God and Abram met was back in Genesis 12 and he believed God.
This Promise that God made with him was repeated at least three times.
This is the very first encounter that Abram had with God who calls him to leave behind his people and to journey with God.
“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.””
(Genesis 12:1–3 NIV-GK)
This is God’s call to Abram. It is a call full of blessings, and it is a promise that will outlast him for generations. “I will make you into a great nation.”
Then we have this same Promise but with more details.
“And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
(Genesis 15:4–6 ESV)
God says that Abram’s servant was not to be his heir, but Abram and Sara will have a son, an offspring. He asked Abram to look at the immensity of the night skies saying “that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars above”.
Because Abram believed the Lord, then Abram was credited righteous.
The last Promise takes a more practical and biding approach. It is a covenant.
“”Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”
(Genesis 17:4–7 ESV)
Now, God is making a covenant with Abram, and his name changed to Abraham, father of many nations. The sign of this covenant is circumcision.
There are at least three important elements in all these promises
Descendants, that is offspring
Let me take you the last one “Your offspring, your descendant”, Paul being the Hebrew scholar that he called “The Seed”, which is the right meaning of the word “offspring”.
This is crucial to understand, and Paul says that the Gospel of Grace alone has its origin on the Seed of one man, a man whose inheritance will be a blessing to many nations.
Paul said that “Seed is Christ”, yet its origin can be traced back to the unrelenting, unequivocal declaration of Genesis 3.
“I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15 MESSAGE)
Christ is the Seed by which we are born again, and that Seed now lives in you and me.
“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. Why, then, was the Law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the Promise referred had come. The Law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.”
(Galatians 3:17–20 NIV11-GKE)
The big issue that Paul is addressing here is the importance of the Law within the plan of Salvation.
If we are saved by Faith in Christ Alone, by an act of Faith which was enough to declare Abraham righteous, what is the place of the Law?
Paul says the Law was introduced 430 years later to the Promise and covenant God made with Abraham. So the Law cannot take the place of the covenant that God made him, it cannot replace because if it does then the covenant made through a “promise to Abraham”, which is the SEED then is nullify or at best come under the Law.
It will no longer be an act of the Grace of God, but it becomes an act of pleasing God by observing the Law. This was never the plan of God.
So, what is the purpose of the Law? Paul gives us the answer.
“Why, then, was the Law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the Promise referred had come. The Law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.”
(Galatians 3:19–20 NIV11-GKE)
The law was given because to show us who we are, a people bound in transgressions, iniquities and sin. But it was also given so that we can hope and yearn to be free from our transgression’s bondage and therefore the Law points to the Seed, Jesus.
Paul points out that the Law was given through angels and it was entrusted to a mediator, Moses. But Paul makes a very interesting point, which seems obscure. He says that a mediator, implies more than one party, and then he says “But God is one. Which is a reference to Deuteronomy 6:4 “”Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
(Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV).
What is Paul saying? The Law needed a mediator, Moses, but the covenant God made with Abraham, the Mediator was God.
In Genesis 15, we see another aspect of the Promise and covenant that God made with Abraham. In this chapter, God made a covenant with Abraham while he fell into a deep sleep. This shows us that this part of the covenant is not just external but internal. God was speaking and sealing a covenant with Abraham’s inner self.
“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates”
(Genesis 15:17–18 ESV)
The smoking fire pot and the flaming torch is the Presence of God. God is the pillar of Fire. The fire pot and the flaming torch walked between the pieces.
This refers to a sacrifice, the pieces of a torn animal. Texts like Jer.34:18 indicates that by passing between the torn animals was a symbol of punishment due to those who break the covenant. In other words, God is taking upon himself the curse if he fails to keep his part of the covenant. Why? Because he can swear by no higher authority, God swears by Himself to keep the covenantal terms. God is one!
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
(Hebrews 6:13–14 ESV)
What is so moving about this, is that back in Genesis, God was willing to take upon himself the curse, if he fails to keep his covenant. He became the Mediator!
I hope we can see this! Paul is saying that the foundation of the Gospel of Grace was made with Abraham and by doing so God was establishing the eternal Seed. That Seed is Jesus and Jesus is our Mediator. The Law points to Jesus, the Seed, he has become our Mediator. The one who was ready to take upon himself the Curse of the Law.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”
(1 Timothy 2:5–6 NIV11-GKE)