Monday, February 19, 2018

The Purpose of the Law

Galatians 3:19-29

In this section, he makes four statements that help us understand the relationship between promise and Law

1.  The Law Cannot Change the Promise (Gal. 3:15-18)
The word promise is used eight times in these verses, referring to God's promise to Abraham that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). This promise involved being justified by faith and having all the blessings of salvation (Gal. 3:6-9). It is obvious that the promise to Abraham (and, through Christ, to us today), given about 2000 B.C., preceded by centuries the Law of Moses (about 1450 b.c). The Judaizers implied that the giving of the Law changed that original covenant of promise. Paul argues that it did not.

To begin with, once two parties conclude an agreement, a third party cannot come along years later and change that agreement. The only persons who can change an original agreement are the persons who made it. To add anything to it or take anything from it would be illegal.

If this is true among sinful men, how much more does it apply to the holy God? Note that Abraham did not make a covenant with God; God made a covenant with Abraham! God did not lay down any conditions for Abraham to meet. In fact, when the covenant was ratified Abraham was asleep! (see Gen. 15) It was a covenant of grace: God made promises to Abraham; Abraham did not make promises to God.

In the final analysis, God made this covenant of promise with Abraham through Christ, so that the only two parties who can make any changes are God the Father and God the Son. Moses cannot alter this covenant! He can add nothing to it; he can take nothing from it. The Judaizers wanted to add to God's grace (as though anything could be added to grace!) and take from God's promises. They had no right to do this since they were not parties in the original covenant.

2.  The Law Is Not Greater Than the Promise (Gal. 3:19-20)
The account of the giving of the Law is impressive (Ex. 19). There were thunders and lightnings, and the people were trembling with fear. Even Moses was shaking in his sandals (Heb. 12:18-21). It was a dramatic event in comparison with the giving of the covenant to Abraham (Gen. 15), and, of course, the Judaizers were impressed with these emotional externals.

The Law was temporary (v. 19a). "It was added ... until the Seed should come." Now it is obvious that a temporary law cannot be greater than a permanent covenant. When you read God's covenant with Abraham, you find no "ifs" in His words. Nothing was conditional; all was of grace. But the blessings of the Law were dependent on the meeting of certain conditions. Furthermore, the Law had a terminus point: "until the Seed [Christ] should come." With the death and resurrection of Christ, the Law was done away and now its righteous demands are fulfilled in us through the Spirit (Rom. 7:4; 8:1-4).

3.  The Law Is Not Contrary to the Promise (Gal. 3:21-26)
You can almost hear the Judaizers shouting the question in Galatians 3:21: "Is the Law then against the promises of God?" Is God contradicting Himself? Does His right hand not know what His left hand is doing? As he replies to this question, Paul reveals his deep insight into the ways and purposes of God. He does not say that the Law contradicts the promise, but rather that it cooperates with the promise in fulfilling the purposes of God. While Law and grace seem to be contrary to one another, if you go deep enough, you will discover that they actually complement one another. Why, then, was the Law given?

The Law was not given to provide life (v. 21). Certainly the Law of Moses regulated the lives of the Jewish people, but it did not and could not provide spiritual life to the people. (Gal. 3:21 should be matched with 2:21.) If life and righteousness could have come through the Law, then Jesus Christ would never have died on the cross. But Jesus did die; therefore, the Law could never give the sinner life and righteousness. It was "worship of the Law" that led Israel into a self-righteous religion of works, the result of which was the rejection of Christ (Rom. 9:30-10:13).

The Law was given to reveal sin (vv. 19a, 22). It is here that we see the way that Law and grace cooperate in bringing the lost sinner to Jesus Christ. Law shows the sinner his guilt, and grace shows him the forgiveness he can have in Christ. The Law is "holy, and just, and good" (Rom. 7:12), but we are unholy, unjust, and bad. The Law does not make us sinners; it reveals to us that we already are sinners (see Rom. 3:20). The Law is a mirror that helps us see our "dirty faces" (James 1:22-25)—but you do not wash your face with the mirror! It is grace that provides the cleansing through the blood of Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:7b).

There is a lawful use of the Law, and there is an unlawful use (1 Tim. 1:8-11). The lawful use is to reveal sin and cause men to see their need of a Saviour. The unlawful use is to try to achieve salvation by the keeping of the Law. When people claim they are saved by "keeping the Ten Commandments," they are revealing their ignorance of the true meaning of the Law. The Law concludes "all [men] under sin" (Gal. 3:22), Jews and Gentiles alike. But since all are under sin, then all may be saved by grace! God does not have two ways of salvation; He has but one—faith in Jesus Christ.

The Law was given to prepare the way for Christ (vv. 23-26). Here Paul uses an illustration that was familiar to all his readers—the child guardian. In many Roman and Greek households, well-educated slaves took the children to and from school and watched over them during the day. Sometimes they would teach the children, sometimes they would protect and prohibit, and sometimes they would even discipline. This is what Paul means by schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24); but please do not read into this word our modern idea of a schoolteacher. The transliteration of the Greek would give us our word pedagogue, which literally means "a child conductor."

A good example of this purpose of the Law is in the account of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16ff). This young man had everything anybody could desire, but he was not satisfied. He had tried to keep the commandments all his life, but still something was missing. But these commandments brought him to Christ! This is one of the purposes of the Law, to create in lost sinners a sense of guilt and need. The sad thing is that the young man was not honest as he looked into the mirror of the Law, for the last commandment ("Thou shalt not covet") escaped him; and he went away without eternal life.
The Law has performed its purpose: the Saviour has come and the "guardian" is no longer needed. It is tragic that the nation of Israel did not recognize their Messiah when He appeared. God finally had to destroy the temple and scatter the nation, so that today it is impossible for a devoted Jew to practice the faith of his fathers. He has no altar, no priesthood, no sacrifice, no temple, no king (Hosea 3:4). All of these have been fulfilled in Christ, so that any man—Jew or Gentile—who trusts Christ becomes a child of God.
The Law cannot change the promise, and the Law is not greater than the promise. But the Law is not contrary to the promise: they work together to bring sinners to the Savior.

4.  The Law Cannot Do What the Promise Can Do (Gal. 3:27-29)
With the coming of Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel moved out of childhood into adulthood. The long period of preparation was over. While there was a certain amount of glory to the Law, there was a greater glory in the gracious salvation of God as found in Christ. The Law could reveal sin and, to a certain extent, control behavior, but the Law could not do for the sinner what Jesus Christ can do.

To begin with, the Law could never justify the guilty sinner. "I will not justify the wicked," said the Lord (Ex. 23:7); yet Paul states that God "justifies the ungodly" (Rom. 4:5). King Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, reminded God to condemn the wicked and justify the righteous (1 Kings 8:32); and this was a proper request in light of the holiness of God. The trouble is, nobody was righteous! It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that the sinner is justified—declared righteous—before God.

Furthermore, the Law could never give a person a oneness with God; it separated man from God. There was a fence around the tabernacle and a veil between the holy place and the holy of holies.
Faith in Jesus baptizes us "into Christ" (Gal. 3:27). This baptism of the Spirit identifies the believer with Christ and makes him part of His body (1 Cor. 12:12-14). Water baptism is an outward picture of this inner work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44-48).

The Pharisee would pray each morning, "I thank Thee, God, that I am a Jew, not a Gentile; a man, not a woman; and a freeman, and not a slave." Yet all these distinctions are removed "in Christ."
This does not mean that our race, political status, or sex is changed at conversion; but it does mean that these things are of no value or handicap when it comes to our spiritual relationship to God through Christ. The Law perpetuated these distinctions, but God in His grace has declared all men to be on the same level that He might have mercy on all men (Rom. 11:25-32).

Finally, the Law could never make us heirs of God (Gal. 3:29). God made the promise to "Abraham's Seed" (singular, Gal. 3:16), and that Seed is Christ. If we are "in Christ" by faith, then we too are "Abraham's seed" spiritually speaking. This means we are heirs of the spiritual blessings God promised to Abraham. This does not mean that the material and national blessings promised to Israel are set aside, but that Christians today are enriched spiritually because of God's promise to Abraham (see Rom. 11:13ff).

This section of Galatians is valuable to us as we read the Old Testament Scriptures. It shows us that the spiritual lessons of the Old Testament are not for the Jews only but have application to Christians today (see Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11-12). 

In the Old Testament we have preparation for Christ; in the Gospels, the presentation of Christ; and in the Acts through Revelation, the appropriation of Christ.

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - New Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1.

Friday, February 16, 2018

How Long?

Psalm 13

Time is funny.  The same amount of time can seem like an eternity or like a second.  How about when you enter the code for the garage door as you stand and wait for it to come up.  After the door get about 3 feet I bend down and walk through.  I can't wait that long.  How about the last 10 seconds waiting for you food to be ready from the microwave.  Time can seem to drag.  How about the last 30 minutes of work.  You sit there at your desk it is 4:30 on Friday afternoon and you want to leave.  Time slowly creeps by.  What about watching a two hour movie.  The two hours seem like 10 minutes.  What about Thanksgiving dinner?  You sit down after hours of planning and preparation and in 5 minutes everyone is full.

David, ask the question "HOW LONG?" four times in this short chapter.  It reminds me of the kids asking how long until we get there, or how much farther, or are we there yet?  David is expecting God to show up and take care of his problem.  He even ask God, did you forget about me?

Have you ever felt like you were waiting forever for God to hear your prayer or fix your problem?  I think we all have thought God has forgotten us.  Can God forget us?  Is it possible for an all-knowing, all-powerful, God to forget His children? Why would God make us wait?  Is it good for us to wait?  Do we learn anything in waiting?  Are we the only ones that have to wait?

"There are many situations of the believer in this life in which the words of this Psalm may be a consolations and kept to revive sinking faith.  A certain man lay at the Pool of Bethesda who had an infirmity thirty eight years (John 5:5).  A woman had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years (Luke 13:11).  Lazarus, all his life long labored under disease and poverty, till he was released by death and transformed to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:20-22).  Let everyone, then, who may be tempted to use the complaints of this Psalm assure his heart that God does not forget His people, help I'm come at last, and in the meantime, all things shall work together for good to them that love Him."
~ W. Wilson

"As night and shadow are good for flowers, and moonlight and dews are better than continual sun, so is Christ's absences of special use, and that it hath some nourishing virtue in it, and giveth sap to humility, and putteth and edge  on hunger, and furnishth a fair field to faith to put forth itself, and to exercise its fingers in gripping it teeth not what, that I know." 
~ Samuel Rutherford.

David asked four times, HOW LONG?  He was anticipating and expecting God to come to his rescue. The tone of his complaint quickly changes.  We are not given the information that cause such change of heart and emotions.  David simply gives his complaint before God and then rest in his experiences of God's faithfulness.  He places his faith in the goodness and mercy of God.  We don't see an answer to his prayer, but he does receive peace and displays faith.  Prayer with God reminds us that He is in control and that He has not forgotten us.  God is big enough to handle your complaints.  In His complaining David is reminded to trust in God.

Psalm 13:5-6 (NKJV)
5  But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6  I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

You may be in a season of WAITING.  You maybe asking the same question, HOW LONG?  As David was reminded through prayer to trust in God, I pray you will also place your faith in God.  He has got this.  He has not forgotten you.  He has a plan and a purpose.  Trust while you wait.

"I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all turns, and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, etc., as I have found Him since I came in hither; for look how fears have presented themselves, so have supports and encouragement; yea, when I have started even as it were at nothing else but my shadow yet God, as being very tender of me hath not suffered me to be molested, but would with one Scripture or another strengthen me against all; insomuch that I have often said, were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, for the greater comforts sake."
~ John Bunyan

I would not recommend praying for more trouble to come upon me, but you get the point.  You will never know the depths of God's grace and mercy until you go through the valley of the shadow of death.  In those moments you can then say, I WILL FEAR NOTHING, FOR THOU ART WITH ME. (Ps 23)

Psalm 27:13-14 
13  I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.
14  Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tell Your Story

Galatians 1

The greatest tool you have for Jesus is your story.  You need to tell your story. I feel that most believers underestimate the power of their story.  I often hear people say, my story is boring.  NO IT IS NOT.  Think about what happened for you to receive Jesus in to your life.  God chose you, Jesus saved you, and The Holy Spirit sealed you.  How can this be boring?

Every story should have three parts to it.
You will see this pattern each time that Paul tells his story.
1.  Before Christ
2.  The Moment you surrendered to Christ
3.  After Christ.

Every believer should be able to tell their story quickly and then be able to expound from there if needed.

I grew up in a Christian home.  I struggled with having peace in my life as a teenager.  I did not have confidence that I had given my life to Jesus.  I was 17 years old and attending a christian youth camp in Brownwood, Texas.  The last night of camp around 2AM I woke my youth pastor up and told him I wanted God's peace in my life.  I knelt down on the cement floor on an old metal bunk bed and placed my faith in Jesus.  I immediately had God's peach in my life.  That was 27 years ago and I am thankful I still have peace that I know where I will go when I die.

How about you?  What is your story?  Do you have a story?

1.  Before Chris,t Paul killed and persecuted those who called on the name of Jesus.  (Acts 7,8)  He placed people in prison for following Jesus.

2.  Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He was going there to persecute followers of Jesus.

Galatians 1:11-12,15
11  But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
15  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 

You can read about it in Acts 9, Acts 22, Acts 26.

3.  Saul the persecutor became Paul the Preacher.
What a transformation.  What a powerful example of a changed life.
God completely changed the direction of his life.  He called him to salvation and Paul placed his faith in Jesus.  He was never the same.  He followed Jesus the rest of his life.

So how about you?  Are you willing to share your story?  If you have enough knowledge to get saved you have enough knowledge to share your story. I would encourage you to write it out.  Think through it.  Practice telling it and then share it with someone.  People can argue with a lot of things, but they can't argue with your story.

Tell your story so people will know Jesus and God will be glorified.

Galatians 1:23-24 
23  But they were hearing only, "He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy."
24  And they glorified God in me. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

3 Things we never have enough of

James 5

There are three thing in James 5 that most of us would say we can't have enough of.  I wonder what came to your mind as you read the title of this blog?  What would be on the top of your list?  Time? Love? (It is Valentines Day) Faith? Hope? Money?  Let's look at the three different things and see if it is good or bad that we don't have enough.

1.  MONEY. (James 5:1-6)

If money talks," said a popular comedian, "all it ever says to me is goodbye!" But money was not saying "goodbye" to the men James addressed in this section of his letter. These men were rich, and their riches were sinful. They were using their wealth for selfish purposes, and were persecuting the poor in the process.

~ Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series)

I seem to identify with this comedian.  My money quickly says good bye.  This passage talks bout getting money by cheating others and taking advantage of the poor. This passage deals with gaining wealth dishonesty.  This passages also deals with the lack of generosity.  The wealthy mentioned in James stored up their treasure and did not use it to bless others.  They were greedy.  They were selfish.  They misused their wealth.

The tendency for those of us who read this passage are to think of others.  Oh, It is talking about rich people, not me.  You thought that didn't you?  You may even have thought of someone you know.  This surely does not apply to you, because you are not rich.  The reality is you are probably reading this on a phone which cost more than a years wages for 2/3 of the world.  So, yeah, this applies to you.

You want to see how rich you are?
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Wealth is not the problem.  What you do with your wealth is.  One of the 7 Pillars of Hallmark is UnSelfish GENEROSITY.  We want to be known for our generosity.  God has blessed us with so much how can we not give back?

Under the O.T. law a tithe of the first fruits was required.  The N.T. talks about generosity and giving cheerfully.  I personally believe that you can't consider your giving as generous if you don't give at least a tithe. How can I give less under GRACE than they did under the LAW?

PERSONAL SOAP BOX: It amazes me that according to statistics only 1/3 of the people in American, who attend church, tithe.

We seem to never have enough do we.  If I can't make a little more. If I can get one more raise.  If I can.... Ok, you have probably checked out by now, but the question is simple.  Are you Generous with your "wealth"?

2.  PATIENCE (James 5:7-12)

I hope you have been told that you should not pray for patience.  The only way you can develop patience is by going through struggles.

James 1:2-4
2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

As you review this section, you can see the practicality of it. James wanted to encourage us to be patient in times of suffering. Like the fanner, we are waiting for a spiritual harvest, for fruit that will glorify God. Like the prophets, we look for opportunities for witness, to share the truth of God. And, like Job, we wait for the Lord to fulfill His loving purpose, knowing that He will never cause His children to suffer needlessly. And, like Job, we shall have a clearer vision of the Lord and come to know Him better for having been in the furnace of affliction.
"Be patient, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh!"

~ Bible Exposition Commentary 

You may be going through a tough time or a struggle.  Hang in there.  Trust in God.  Rest in Him.  He is in control.  He has this.

God an turn your TEST in to your TESTIMONY.  He can make your MESS your MESSAGE.

We can never have enough patience, but wow it is takes suffering to get it.

3.  PRAYER (James 5:13-20)

My honest opinion is that we don't pray enough.
My personal confession is I don't pray enough.  There is power in prayer.

James 5:13-16 
13  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all."

Prayer requires more of the heart than the tongue.”-Adam Clarke

No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil, not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.”-Guy King

The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.-F.B. Meyer

The reason we obtain no more in prayer is because we expect no more.  God usually answers us according to our own hearts.”- Richard Alliene

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?

Corrie ten Boom

There are 3 things we never have enough of and 3 things Godly maturity produces...

1.  Generosity.
2.  Patience.
3.  Prayer