THE PRIORITY OF THE PROMISE. Lesson 6 for November 5, 2011. DIVINE PROMISES. Contrary to human promises that are not worthy many times, a divine promise is a firm vow from God of doing what He promises .
Lesson 6 forNovember 5, 2011
Contrary to human promises that are not worthy many times, a divine promise is a firm vow from God of doing what He promises.
Divine promises in the Old Testament are presented in the form of unilateral covenant that God makes with man, promising to do something in his favor.
He promised Noah and his family to save them and the animals from the Flood(Genesis, 6: 18-20)
He promised Noah that there would be no other Flood(Genesis, 9: 11-17)
“Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Isaías, 46: 11)
He promised Abram the land of Canaan, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates (Genesis, 15: 18)
He promised Abraham a great offspring that would begin with Isaac’s birth(Genesis, 17: 1-21)
The promise Abraham accepted by faith was given as an unconditional promise from God.
The promise “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis, 22: 18) would have been fulfilled regardless of how Abraham and his descendants acted. That is, Christ (the Seed according to Galatians, 3: 16) would come as a blessing for everyone independently of how man would act.
After the promise, God explained Abraham which law he should observe as receiver of the promise.
“Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis, 26: 5)
430 years after the promise, God gave the law to the descendants of Abraham in Mount Sinai when they needed to remember what God wanted from them.
The law didn’t invalidate the promise (that is, faith) because God’s promise was unconditional. The law was an expression of what God expected from the receivers of the promise.
“And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect” (Galatians, 3: 17)
Paul taught that the law wasn’t a prerequisite for salvation, but man is justified by faith without the works of the law.
If it is that way, why do we need to keep the law?
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans, 3: 31)
Jesus didn’t come to destroy (abolish) the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew, 5: 17-20)
If justification by faith abolishes law, then there was no need for the atoning death of Christ to release the sinner from his sins, and thus restore him to peace with God.
Paul tells us that the law “was added because of transgressions” (Galatians, 3: 19). That is, the first purpose of the law is to point out what sin is and to show us our sinful condition.
Through moral laws, the law shows us our sin. If it wasn’t for the law, we would never know we’ve sinned. But the law doesn’t solve the problem of sin.
Through ceremonial laws, we were taught the way we must follow to solve the problem of sin.
So the second purpose of the law is to make us feel the need of coming to the feet of Christ, the only One who can provide forgiveness of sins by His grace.
“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians, 3: 24)
“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one”
(Galatians, 3: 19-20)
“Thepromise of thepactwasnot “added” toanything; itwasgivenpersonallybyGod. Therefore, the verse 20 couldbeparaphrasedlikethis: “However, a mediator involvesanagreementbetweentwoparts; butthepromise of thepactwas unilateral: it depended onGodalone and, therefore, itdidnotrequire a mediator”. Theoldpactwas a contractbetweenGod and thechosenpeople, withMoses as a mediator; butthe new or eternal pactthatGodmadewith Abraham wasjust a promise. In theoldpacttherewasanagreement of thepeopletoobey; but in the new pact, itisonlynecessarytoacceptthepromisebyfaith, and obedience comes in a natural way” (SDA Bible Commentary, on Galatians, 3: 20)
Many people think that the law given on Mount Sinai was only for the Jewish people. If we study the Bible carefully, we can see that the law was in force much before Sinai and it still is in force nowadays.
Christ can do what the law could never do—provide a true remedy for sin; that is, justify sinners and, by His Spirit, fulfill His law in them (Romans, 8: 3-4)