Friday, February 17, 2012

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 19, 2012

THE LAW AND GOD’S PROMISES
(We become GOD’s children through our faith in CHRIST)
(Galatians 3:15-4:7)

JESUS CHRIST is the one person in whom GOD’s covenant with Abraham was consummated. GOD told Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8 that “HE would establish HIS covenant between HIMSELF, Abraham, and his SEED” (seed being singular, not plural). Therefore, this “Abrahamic Covenant” is not consummated in a group of people (the Jews), who were descendants of Abraham, but rather, it was promised to CHRIST, WHO was GOD’s OWN SEED, through the genealogical line of Abraham.
In Galatians 3, taking up at verse 15, the Apostle Paul calls on his own Rabbinic training to get his point across to the Christian Church at Galatia. Jewish rabbis were proud of how they could base their arguments on the use of a single word, in this case “seed”. Part of a Rabbis training was in how to build their theological debates around a single word, and, here in this passage, Paul masterfully does just that. Paul goes on to explain how the agreement GOD made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when HE gave the Law to Moses, because if GOD did that, HE would be breaking HIS OWN Covenant Promise (Vs.17-18).
The Law was given to us to show us how far we had strayed from the glorious standards that GOD instilled within us when HE shared HIS nature with us, creating us in HIS OWN spiritual image, way back in the beginning (Gen. 1:27). However, this divine system of law was to last only until the first advent of CHRIST JESUS, the SEED to whom the promise was made (Gal. 3:19).
There is no conflict between GOD’s Law and HIS promise. If the Law could have brought us new life, we could have been saved simply by just obeying it. However, since we are all prisoners of sin, the only way that we can receive GOD’s promise, is by believing in what CHRIST has done for us (Vs. 21-22). And so, actually, the Law was used by GOD to keep us in a sort of “protective custody” until the day when JESUS completed HIS unique earthly assignment, by way of HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross (v. 23). And when that mission was completed, all who have sinned, and thereby, been cursed by the Law of GOD (Deuteronomy 27:26), can be removed from that curse, simply by believing in CHRIST JESUS.
All throughout Paul’s ministry he returned again and again to the same point; The solutions to the enigmas of human life has always been in having and maintaining an experiential relationship of friendship with GOD, and, in continued faith in GOD. GOD’s covenant with Abraham was made possible because of Abraham’s faith in GOD, as the Law, at that time, did not yet exist. The Law served only as our guardian and teacher, guiding us until CHRIST came, and now that HE has come, our salvation lies in our faith in HIM. We no longer need the Law as our guardian, now the HOLY SPIRIT guides those who believe in Christ JESUS (Vs. 24-25).
We are children of GOD, only through our faith in CHRIST. When we become one with CHRIST in baptism we are made like HIM, and are expected to emulate HIM through our behavior at all times. And weather we are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, male or female, becomes irrelevant. Also, when we belong to CHRIST, we become the true children of Abraham, and the heirs to all of the promises that GOD gave to him (Vs. 26-29).
In Galatians chapter 4, verses 1-7, Paul continues to expound on his point that we are children of GOD only through our faith in CHRIST. In first century Israel, the process of growing up was far more definite than it has ever been in American life. Back then, on the twelfth birthday of a Jewish male, his father would take him into the synagogue, and on that day, the boy would become a “Son of the Law”, after certain religious oaths and rituals. He would then, quite literally, become responsible for his own actions before GOD. There was then established, a clear boundary line between the boy that was, and the man that now is. Literally overnight, the boy became a man.
When the male was under the age of twelve, he was a mere child in the eyes of the Jewish Law, and therefore, under the rule or dominion of the Law of his parents. But when he becomes of age, he is freed from under their rule and becomes fully responsible for making his own decisions and can also claim his inheritance from them. That’s how it was with us before CHRIST came. We were under the spiritual rule of this world, literally slaves to sin. But when GOD sent CHRIST to be born of woman into sin, and subject HIMSELF to the Law, HE also represented for us, the one and only chance we had to be freed from under the dominion of sin, death, and the Law. HE made it possible for all mankind to be adopted into the family of GOD as HIS OWN children, and thus, as heirs to everything that CHRIST HIMSELF has.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


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