This is the sermon for Sunday, August 29th, 2010.
Galatians part 9
Seed of Abraham.
Galatians 3:15-18 ESV – (15) 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. (16) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. (17) This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. (18) For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
INTRODUCTION: So far in this chapter we’ve seen Paul in his defense of the doctrine of justification by faith. We also saw Paul introduce this as the Blessing of Abraham. Last time we looked at verses 10-14 and preached on the broken curse.
Let’s go over the main points again from last time.
Main points for verses 10-14:
- Reliance on the Law brings a curse, not a blessing (verses 10&12).
- Reliance on faith in Christ brings righteousness (verse 11).
- Christ paid the curse’s redemption price (verse 13).
- The reason: that we might receive the blessing of Abraham (verse 14).
This morning, we are going to see Paul continue to use this reasoning concerning Abraham against the Judaizers. I believe he is showing something that would have shocked them: the doctrine of justification by faith is actually older than the Law! Hopefully I will be able to unpack this truth as we begin to study the text.
A human example.
Galatians 3:15 ESV – 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.
This human example Paul is giving is for the purpose of explaining a powerful truth he reveals.
Galatians 3:14 ESV – (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Paul’s “human example” argument is strong when he says, “even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.”
We live in a day that covenants, contracts, and constitutions don’t mean anything, so we lose the power behind that statement.
The Judaizers would have caught Paul’s strong implication, however. What was Paul forcibly implying? That the Mosaic Law did not super-cede God’s promise to Abraham. You see, if the Law was more important than the promise, it would have come first, but it didn’t. Notice what Paul says in verse 17.
Galatians 3:17 ESV – This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
The Law came 430 years after the promise. If perfect obedience to the Law saves, then why did it come so late? Well, the answer I believe is quite clear: it is belief in the promise that saves, not the Law; so the Law does not make God’s promise void.
Many times people will try to make deals with God. They will say things like, “God, if you will save me, I promise to be, etc… Salvation is not based on our promise to God; but God’s promise to us. And what is this promise? That in Christ, we are the seed of Abraham! I like what the Reformed Expository Commentary says, “Salvation in Christ is not a commercial transaction. My relationship with God is not based on my ability to make a deal or strike a bargain (page 128).”
Who then really is the seed of Abraham?
Galatians 3:16 ESV – Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
Now Paul is using “offspring” different here as opposed to the way he uses the word in Romans. Let’s quickly look.
Romans 4:16-18 ESV – (16) That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring–not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (17) as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (18) In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
In Romans “offspring” refers to a collective group – those who have faith in Jesus Christ, both under the Law, and outside the Law – i.e. Jew and Gentile.
In Galatians 3:16 Paul is referring to one person being the seed or offspring – and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. So the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled through his seed/offspring: meaning this promise was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and we are heirs of this promise. Let’s look at the last point.
We are inheritors through the promise.
Galatians 3:18 ESV – For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
I believe the Reformed Expository Commentary says it so well and concise, that I will try not to improve upon it: “This is the grace of God, that He does not deal with us on the basis of our performance, but on the basis of His promise.”
CONCLUSION: Christ is the seed/offspring of Abraham and through Him we receive justification before a holy God – which is the blessing of Abraham. If you are trying to find favor with God by works, get off that ferris wheel, you are going no where. Trust in Jesus Christ today.