Purpose Promise Galatians 3:15-29 Adapted from a Steve Shepherd sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/print_friendly.asp? ContributorID=&SermonID=145784
Galatians 3:15 Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When acovenant has been ratified, even though itis only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, "and to the descendants," referring to many, but "and to your descendant," (Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7; 24:7) referring to one, who is Christ.
17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later doesnot cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise. 18For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, butGod graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise. 19 Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made.
It was administered through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one. 21 Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, thenrighteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given — because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ — to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would berevealed. 24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.
27 For all of you who were baptized intoChrist have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there isneither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female — for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams descendants, heirs according to the promise.
One of golf’s immortal moments camewhen a Scotchman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turfand scattered dirt all over the President’s beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball stayed on the tee. Again theScotchman swung, and again he missed.
The President waited patiently through sixtries and then quietly stated, "There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.“That was a pretty good response. Purposeis what we’re thinking about in this lesson, not the purpose of the golf ball, but the purpose of our lives.
Why are we here? We know how we got here, but what is the purpose for which God put us here? Have you come to a good conclusion for that question? John W. Gardner (Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President LyndonJohnson) said it’s a rare and high privilege tohelp people understand the difference theycan make -- not only in their own lives, butalso in the lives of others, simply by giving of themselves.
Gardner tells of a cheerful old man who asked the same question of just about every new acquaintance he fell into conversation with: "What have you donethat you believe in and you are proud of?" He never asked conventional questions such as "What do you do for a living?" Itwas always, "What have you done that you believe in and are proud of?"
It was an unsettling question for people who had built their self-esteem on theirwealth or their family name or their exalted job title. Not that the old man was a fierceinterrogator. He was delighted by a woman who answered, “I’m doing a good job raising three children;” and by a cabinetmaker who said, “I believe in good workmanship and practice it;” and by a woman who said, “I started a bookstore and it’s the best bookstore for miles around.”
"I don’t really care how they answer," said the old man. "I just want to put the thoughtinto their minds. They should live their lives in such a way that they can have a good answer. Not a good answer for me, but for themselves. That’s what’s important."
I would say that the old man hit on a good thought. What have you done that you believe in and are proud of? Your occupational work in this world? Some may view their work as being more important than others. Is it really? Let me illustrate it this way. Back in the 1980s I worked as a freight pilot.
It was a hard job because of the heavy lifting loading & unloading freight, plus working night hours and not being a gooddaytime sleeper. I did make fair wages but,I didn’t see much of a future in it. I saw this as a stepping stone to an airline cockpit, which it was, so I could be a success in life. But who said we’re supposed to be ’successful’ in life? Where does this idea come from anyway?
I think it comes from the world. We get the idea that unless we’re making a good salary with decent hours and also doing something we like then we’re not successful. But nowhere in scripture do I find that we’re supposed to be successful in the eyes of the world! In fact, if we are, we may not be right in the eyes of God! Here is the purpose of life for the Christianregardless of who we are or what we do for a living.
1 Corinthians 10:31 NET So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Here’s what the wise teacher Solomonsaid: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bringevery deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 NIV
Could I fly a plane hauling freight and do this work to the glory of God? Why, of course, I could! How? Do a good job. Be pleasant. Be a good worker and demonstrate a good spirit to everyone I came in contact with. And even be awitness for Christ whenever I could. Speak a good word for Christ whenever the opportunity arises. THIS APPLIES TO ALL CHRISTIANS!
And when we get the purpose right, the promise will be even more meaningful.What do I mean? When we figure out thatwe’re here for the Lord’s glory (and not our own) then the promise of God will have even greater meaning for us in life.
Now to our text, which is also aboutpurpose and promise, only it deals with thepurpose of the Old Law and the promise of God. Is there a conflict between these two? Let’s discern what Paul is saying. 1- The purpose of the law 2- The promise of God
THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW 19 Why then was the law given? It wasadded because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary.
Mike Yaconelli (Co-Founder of Youth Specialties, a training organization for Christian youth leadersand was killed in an automobile accident in 2003 at age 61) in "The Wittenburg Door" (Christian satire and humor magazine) wrote: I live in a small, rural community. There are lots of cattle ranches around here, and, every once in a while, a cow wanders off and gets lost.
Ask a rancher how a cow gets lost, and chances are he will reply, ’Well, the cowstarts nibbling on a tuft of green grass, andwhen it finishes, it looks ahead to the next tuft of green grass and starts nibbling on that one, and then it nibbles on a tuft of grass right next to a hole in the fence.
It then sees another tuft of green grass onthe other side of the fence, so it nibbles onthat one and then goes on to the next tuft. The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost.“ He said: Americans are in the process ofnibbling their way to being lost. . . We keepmoving from one tuft of activity to another,never noticing how far we have gone from home or how far away from the truth we have managed to end up.
I think this is true. Do you remember theold cigarette commercial (Virginia Slims) that said, "You’ve come a long way, baby"? We’ve come a long way from where to where? We have everything in America,materially speaking. Just think of what you now have in comparison to what you hadwhen you were a kid. It was a different era: Most of us had either no or black & white TV, you played outside, you weren’tworried about many things, life’s pace was slow.
We always had time to be neighborly, etc.Now, look at where we are today! Not only do we have everything, but we also do everything! And everything we do isn’t good or godly! For example, the Gay movement, which is a very acceptable lifestyle by most peopletoday, was unheard of many years ago. If it was heard of, it was not called "Gay."
Have you noticed the difference in moviestoday in comparison to the movies of the 50’s and 60’s? Little sexual activity to MUCH sexual activity. And more.You can’t go see an R rated movie today or else it will be filled with filthy language, extreme violence or sexual explicitness.
What in the world has happened to our world? We’ve gone from bad to worse in regard to sinful behavior. And as somepeople have suggested, "Is nothing sacredanymore?" No, not in Hollywood and not in America.The thought is this: What is the purpose of God’s law? Paul said, "It was added because of transgressions."
Mankind apparently didn’t know it hadsinned until God stated his law. Oh, therewas a certain amount of inborn realization of sin or that something wasn’t right, but God gave man His law so that sin would be specifically spelled out, as in, "Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery" etc.
It’s like when children are small. There are many things they can’t understand and that’s when moms and dads had to say, "no, no" until they learned what a "no, no" meant.God’s list of "no, no’s" was given in the old law. And the people needed it tounderstand where they had sinned against God and man. So, in that sense the law was not bad.
But there was a bad side to the law. What’s that? Galatians 3:10 NET For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of thelaw." (Deu 27:26) 11 Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith. (Hab 2:4)
The bad side of the law was two-fold:First - No person could completely fulfill the law in its entirety. No one could live a perfect life. Second - The law made no one just in God’s eyes. We could only be made righteous BY FAITH!
21 Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainlyhave come by the law. 22 But the scriptureimprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given —because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ — to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. Prisoners to the law.But now that Jesus has been revealed we live by faith in Him.
THE PROMISE OF GOD15 Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only ahuman contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, "andto the descendants," referring to many, but"and to your descendant," (Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7; 24:7) referring to one, who is Christ.
17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later doesnot cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise. 18For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, butGod graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise.
Our inheritance in Christ depends on faith in God’s promise, not the law. A sign in the middle of the Royal Gorgebridge in Colorado, the tallest suspensionbridge in the world, rising 1053 feet above the water level: "No Fishing From This Bridge." How could a person fish from a bridge that high? There is no way!How could a person be saved by a law that is impossible to obey completely?
"How can we achieve a right relationshipwith God? Shall we try to achieve it by a meticulous and even self-torturing obedience to the law, by performingendless deeds, by observing every smallregulation the law lays down? If we take that way we are forever in default, forman’s imperfection can never fully satisfy the perfection of God.
"We are forever frustrated, forever climbing up a hill in which the peak never comes in sight, forever under condemnation; but if we simply abandon this hopeless struggle and bring ourselves and our sin to God,then the grace of God opens its arms to us and we are at peace with God who is no longer judge but our father.“ (William Barclay)
There is no way that any of us could ever fulfill or live up to God’s requirement for righteousness. IT’S FUTILE. It’s a waste of our time andmoney. But as William Barclay said, whenwe open up to His promise by faith, we can become justified before God.It’s God’s plan and it will be done His way or not at all! And when we play the gameHis way, His blessing and grace floods our souls and lives!
"The inheritance was given to Abraham by promise; and ours depends on the promise." (People’s New Testament) All hope is in the gospel. Our only hope is in the gospel!
"The principle of law and the principle of faith are quite opposite; you cannot directyour life by both at one and the same time; you must choose; and therefore the only logical choice is to abandon the way of legalism and to venture upon the way of faith, of taking God at His word and of trusting in His love.“ (William Barclay)
Galatians 3:24 NET Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so thatwe could be declared righteous by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. Fred Brown compared the law to a plumb line. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it’s true to the vertical. But if he finds thathe has made a mistake, he doesn’t use the plumb line to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw.
The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn’t provide a solution.The law is the light that reveals how dirtythe room is, not the broom that sweeps it clean. (Dr. Phil Williams)
26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave norfree, there is neither male nor female — forall of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you areAbrahams descendants, heirs according to the promise.
Someone put it this way:If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior. JESUS! He alone is our Savior. He alone is our hope! What have you done for Christ that you believe in and you are proud of?