Galatians; The Two Covenants

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Please notice in the inspired quotes below that the new covenant came before the old covenant. In Genesis 3 God offered His grace, but man chose to establish his own righteousness. When Paul refers to the old covenant, he calls it old because it is useless, not because it came first. The new covenant was God’s original covenant of trusting in His grace and power instead of our own promises and strength. Please notice too, that niether covenant does away with the ten commandments. Reconciliation to the law is the goal in both covenants. In the new covenant we trust Jesus to reconcile us by His grace and power, while in the old and useless covenant we try to reconcile ourselves by our own strength and effort.

 

                    God’s Plan to Ransom Man

     And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Genesis 17:7.   As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall, there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon, and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.  This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it, and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Genesis 17:1; 26:5. . . .    The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant.    The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant.   There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today. . . . Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the author and the finisher of our faith.                                                                           

                       Man’s Inability to Save Himself

 

     Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:16.        Another compact–called in Scripture the “old” covenant–was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. . . .         God . . . gave them [Israel] His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant, and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. . . .        The terms of the “old covenant” were, Obey and live: “If a man do, he shall even live in them;” but “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26. The “new covenant” was established upon “better promises”–the promise of forgiveness of sins, and of the grace of God to renew the heart, and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. The only means of salvation is provided under the Abrahamic covenant. -The Faith I Live By, pages 77-78 by Ellen G. White.

Galatians; Promises

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS lesson. You may also download the lessons to your cell phone.

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. Galatians 4:22-24

At Sinai, instead of relying upon God’s promises, they made their own promise. “Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear [it], and do [it]. “ Deuteronomy 5:27

Paul makes the contrast between the two covenants. Both involve obedience and the law. One is man promising God, and the other, the one that actually works, is God promising man.  Ishmael was born when Abraham tried to carry out God’s promise instead of letting God make things happen.  This incidentally was why Abraham had to be circumcised. He had to cast away the confidence he had in his body and trust in God. Isaac represents what happens when we trust God and believe in His promises.

Here is another helpful allegory from the Desire of Ages about trusting God’s promises instead of our own works.

The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child
of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth
that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of
doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power
of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the
child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is
begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness.  {Desire of Ages, p 98.3} 

Here are some more precious Bible promises about what can be
accomplished through trusting God’s grace instead of our own strength.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which
[was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than
they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me 1 Corinthians 15:10 Notice when we trust in God’s grace we actually labor more abundantly than when we trust in our own strength!

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father
in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father
that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.Believe me that I [am] in the Father,
and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily,
verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he
do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my
Father.  John 14:10-12Notice by believing Jesus’ promises we do greater works than we do when trusting our own strength and works.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious
promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  2 Peter 1:4

We overcome, not by making promises to God but by trusting
His promises! Also while many argue over exactly what type of human nature
Jesus had, we receive an invitation to experience and participate in His divine
nature!

One last awesome promise from the Spirit of Prophecy. “Just
before us is the “hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world,
to try them that dwell upon the earth.” [Revelation 3:10.] All whose faith
is not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome.
But to those who earnestly seek a knowledge of the truth, thus doing what they
can to prepare for the conflict, the God of truth will be a sure defense.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep
thee,” is the Saviour’s promise. He would sooner send every angel out of
Heaven to protect his people, than leave one soul that trusts in him to be
overcome by Satan.”  {Great Controversy, p.560}

Galatians; Old Testament Faith

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

 

 

 

Here are my thoughts about this week’s SS lesson about Old Testament faith. You can also download the SS lessons to your cell phone.

In Genesis 15:6 God calls Abraham righteous, because He believed God’s promise. In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son Isaac, and thus tested and proved Abraham’s faith to be a real faith, and not just a pretend or fairy tale faith. Real faith leads to real obedience. Earlier in Genesis 12, Abraham showed lack of faith when he asked Sarai to lie about their relationship in Egypt.” God tested Abraham again, even more severely, to demonstrate before the universe, why He was able to call Abraham righteous.  “It is thus that God still tests His people. And if they fail to endure the trial, He brings them again to the same point, and the second time the trial will come closer, and be more severe than the preceding. This is continued until they bear the test, or, if they are rebellious, God withdraws His light from them and leaves them in darkness. “ {Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 437

I had not been back home from college, too long, when I started working for a business forms company. I falling behind on some of my bills. I had been promised a raise which I had yet to receive, so I decided to “work out” my own salvation from these late bills. I was not going to stop paying tithe, but I decided to use my tithe to pay my bills. I recorded how much tithe I owed so I could pay it all back when I got my raise. Weeks later, what I owed on tithe was adding up and I still had no raise. Feeling guilty, I confessed to a friend that I owed tithe, but would pay it later when I got my raise. My friend told me what I already knew. I would not get my raise until I paid my tithe.

We got our pay checks every Friday, but this Friday I did not go into work or pick up check since I had the day off. Still, I went ahead and stepped out in faith and obedience and prepared my tithe check to turn in on Sabbath, which I did. Monday I went into work and picked up my paycheck that had been sitting there since Friday. I opened it up and there was my raise! I will never forget how God tested my faith and I proved Him to be faithful! When God tests our faith He is really asking us to test His faithfulness to us!

This same faith in the Old Testament is seen again in the New Testament, when Jesus tests Philip’s faith in feeding an entire multitude in John 6.

Galatians; Justified by Faith Alone

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson asks the question, “Read Galatians 2:15–17. What is Paul saying to you here, and how can you apply these wordsto your own Christian experience?”

Galatians 2:15-17

New International Version (NIV)

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our
faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

Obeying the commandments will not get me justified, but being justified by faith alone will get me to obeying the commandments.

“We must center our hopes of heaven upon Christ alone, because He is our
Substitute and Surety. We have transgressed the law of God, and by the deeds of
the law shall no flesh be justified. The best efforts that man in his own
strength can make are valueless to meet the holy and just law that he has
transgressed; but through faith in Christ he may claim the righteousness of the
Son of God as all-sufficient. Christ satisfied the demands of the law in His
human nature. He bore the curse of the law for the sinner, made an atonement
for him, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life.” Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ,
and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of
the divine nature, and thus divinity and humanity are combined.”  {Faith and Works 93-94} 

Justification by faith does not mean that Jesus pretends I am an overcomer. Faith makes my justification a reality. The victories are real. By the grace of God I am now partaking and experiencing the divine nature as Jesus lives in my heart. I am, as it says in Ephesians 3:19, “filled with all the fulness of God.”

Galatians; The Unity in the Gospel

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson speaks about unity in the gospel, two quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy come to mind. (Download SS Lesson App to your cell phone.)

Jesus prayed that His followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people.  {Our High Calling 329.3} 

When seeking unity we must use Jesus as the compass and not popular opinion. As we all draw closer to Jesus we will be drawn closer to each other as well. And besides, what is the point of unity if it does not involve Jesus Who is the truth? The Jews were united in crucifying Jesus, but that unity did not profit them. Lets pray we never make the same mistake of denying or Crucifying Truth and Jesus in order to preserve unity. Such unity is self defeating.

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, men of different gifts performed their appointed work. They did not harmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by the Spirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ. {The Great Controversy p. 257}

What this passage tells me is that unity comes, not from trying to win people to my point of view, but by pointing people to Christ. In the first district I ever worked in as a gospel evangelist, in northern Oklahoma, we had a lady who was very conservative and had strong views. One day she was telling me about a man in her church, and his liberal views, which she did not agree with. She was speaking very seriously about how wrong she thought he was. She told me she was very worried about the man. Then she paused and smiled, and told me, with a laugh in her voice, “And I know he is very worried about me!” This told me, that while she “knew” this man was wrong, she did understand that this man was just as sure of his opinions as she was of hers, and that her way was not the only way of looking at things.

When we hear different opinions, let’s not be afraid of being wrong or corrected. Let’s study it out in the Word of God. I once heard of a Sabbath School class, where a visitor expressed a different opinion about the Sabbath and he was quickly told by the teacher to be quiet. I have often wondered why the teacher did that. Was the teacher  afraid of being wrong? Was he afraid of being corrected if he was wrong? There is nothing wrong with expressing opposing views as long as we let God’s Word have the final say.

Galatians; An Overview

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To read the book of Galatians click here.  To read this week’s SS lesson click here.

For the Sabbath School lesson phone app. click here.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

In Paul’s day people were already perverting the gospel. How do you pervert the gospel? Put self in it.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

Notice the pure gospel that Paul preaches has no self in it. He preaches a “Not I but Christ” gospel. So many people pervert the gospel by adding self. I have heard parents tell their kids, “Do the best you can do, and then when you have done your best Jesus will help you with the rest.” That is a me plus Christ gospel. The gospel is not me plus Christ, it is not I but Christ. Zero me. 100% Christ.

While at an Oklahoma Adventist Camp meeting, ,many moons ago, I heard a minister tell a story. Sorry I don’t remember his name, but I will never forget the story. It went like this. A man was on his way to a breakfast diner. There was one parking space left open by the front door. The man started for the space when he saw a man coming the other way who wanted the same space. The first man’s first reaction was to give it the gas and take the closest spot before the other man got there. But he had yielded himself to Christ that morning, so he let off the gas, let the other guy take the spot while he drove farther down and parked. When he got inside, the second man thanked him for letting him have the closer spot. The first man said, “That was not me.” The second man said well then who was it? The first man said, “It was Jesus. I would have taken the closer parking space!” So you see, whenever we do something right, we can be sure of one thing, it was not me. It was Jesus. Not I but Christ.

We also pervert the gospel when we add self effort, which is legalism by the way, and we also add legalism when we replace God’s law with manmade laws. We also pervert the gospel when we add lies. For example, John 3:16 says the unbeliever will perish, but many tell the lie that they will be tormented for all eternity instead. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell.

We also pervert the gospel when we alter our preaching or worship services to please the ego of man. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Gal 2:16

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3

These verses make it clear we are not saved by the works of the flesh but by the faith of Jesus. Notice it is not even our own faith that saves us. It is the faith of Jesus!

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6

Faith does not do away with good works, faith works. It works by love. The legalistic motivation of hoping for a reward or avoiding punishment are gone. We work, but not to get to heaven or stay out of hell. We work because we love Jesus because He first loved us!

 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  Galatians 5:16-17

The spirit gives us victory over the flesh. The flesh is legalism. Some have the idea that legalism is where you keep God’s law. The law is a part of the gospel too. The difference is how it is achieved. With legalism we keep the law by our own power for our own glory. With the gospel we keep the law by God’s power for His glory.

Galatians 4 made this clear. For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.  Galatians 4:22-24

God promised Abraham a son. All Abraham had to do was believe and the son would be born. Some people have told me Abraham still had to do something  as this was not a virgin birth. Think about it. Sara’s womb was dead, so it might as well have been a virgin birth. All God needed was Abraham to trust His promise. This is God’s covenant, where we trust His promises. Abraham though set out to make his own covenant based on his own effort and too Hagar to wife. Abraham had to be circumcised so he could cast away the confidence he had in his own flesh. He trusted his own flesh to do that which God promised to do for and through him. ‘

Notice, the end result is still a child being born. The difference is Abraham’s way had self in it. When Abraham learned to trust God’s promise there was fruit and the fruit was real. So today, when we cast away the confidence in our own flesh, we will have fruit. Some think that when we get rid of legalism that we get rid of standards. The gospel does not get rid of standards. It helps us reach those standards, by trusting God instead of the works of the flesh.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:24-26

Again, with the gospel we put away the effort and pride of the flesh and we reap the fruit of the work of the Spirit for the glory of God.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

Thoughts on Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 1

Guess Where I am writing from today? You guessed it! The beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  John 15:4-5

This week’s Sabbath School lesson speaks of abiding in Christ and bearing fruit. So what exactly is the fruit we bear?  “What is the fruit that we are to bear? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”. {2 Selected Messages p. 236} So Christ is more interested in the quality of fruit and not just the quantity. After all wouldn’t you rather have six really good apples rather than 60 rotten apples? So would Christ! “Ministers who labor in towns and cities to present the truth should not feel content, nor that their work is ended, until those who have accepted the theory of the truth realize indeed the effect of its sanctifying power, and are truly converted to God. God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. These ministers should devote less time to preaching sermons, and reserve a portion of their strength to visit and pray with those who are interested, giving them godly instruction, to the end that they may “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”  {Evangelism p. 320.1}

When you look at a piece of fruit you should be able to tell what tree it came from. So people should be able to tell that we abide in Christ by looking at us. Problem is too many professed Christians have what is called a golf cart relationship with Christ instead of an abiding relationship. A golf cart charges its battery overnight and then runs all day on its own power. The golf cart does not have an abiding relationship with the battery charger. It’s an on and off relationship. That may work for golf carts but not for us. We need a continual abiding relationship with Christ like the relationship a trolley car has with the cable. It stays connected to the cable all day or it does not move a single inch. We must continually abide in Christ or as Christ says, we “can do nothing”. This year let’s remember we are trolley cars and not golf carts. We must continually abide in Christ and not think we can survive with an on again off again relationship similar to a golf cart and battery charger.

Let’s remember as well that as a branch receives nourishment from the vine so we must receive our nourishment from Christ. The branches do not receive nourishment from the other branches. They abide in the vine. Likewise we must not look to the pastor or elder, or grandma for our spiritual nourishment. Remember that is how the dark ages began. People stopped reading the Scriptures and let the church do all their thinking for them. This is not what Christ designed. In Psalms 23:1 David acknowledges the Lord as his Shepherd or pastor. Christ Himself wants to be our Pastor, our True Vine that we may abide in and produce quality fruit which will also influence many others to do the same!

Please also visit my website InLightOfThe Cross.com for more studies and devotionals.