Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unit 8 - The Gospel, the Spirit, and Christian Identity

I. Introduction - very difficult scripture lesson today. It is Paul at his very best (or should I say his very worst).

A. The Experience of the Spirit
B. The Promise to Abraham
C. The Purpose of the Law

II. The Experience of the Spirit

A. Beginning in Chapter 3, Paul turns his attention from himself and his experiences to the Galations and their experiences
B. Doesn't mince words, is very direct and forceful..."You foolish Galations!"
C. What have they done? They have let themselves be led astray by zealous Jews who are saying they must become Jews first and adhere to The Law, before they can become part of God's family.
D. What is Paul's response? Having seen, felt, and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit how can you now believe you must go back to observing and keeping laws fo the flesh to be right with God.
E. Paul asks them if they received the Spirit as a result of doing the works of the law or rather because they heard the good news and believed.

III. The Promise to Abraham

A. Paul now uses experiences of Abraham and God's covenant with him to further show the folly in the Galations needing to revert back to following the law.
B. Paul points out Abraham received God's favor because of his faith, not because he followed a set of laws.
C. Paul also points out that Abraham predates The Law by 430 years.
D. Abraham had no need for The Law because he had faith in God
E. Paul then further bolsters his argument by showing the impossibility of following The Law as a way to becoming justified before God.
1. No one can keep all of The Law
2. To break The Law is to be cursed, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of The Law."
3. Jesus removed the curse from us by dieing on the cross
F. Paul also speaks like a lawyer by saying God's 'covenant with Abraham' can not be superceded by The Law.
G. Paul also says that God's promise extended from Abraham to his 'offspring' (singular) not 'offsprings' (plural). He goes on to make the case that this 'offspring' is singularly Jesus, the Messiah. Paul is saying that the covenant with Abraham finds its fulfillment in Jesus.

IV. The Purpose of the Law

A. Paul sums up the purpose of the law in v.23, "Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed."
B. It seems to me God created the law to keep us safe until we were ready to accept his unconditional love through faith.
C. But what about Abraham's faith? Why was there no need for the law prior to the Hebrews leaving Egypt and becoming lost in the wilderness. After giving it some thought I think it was all part of God's master plan.
1. Abraham and his immediate descendants had faith, did not need the law to know right from wrong.
2. Joseph is sold into bondage and goes to Egypt.
3. Joseph's offspring become slaves of the Egyptians, lose their faith
4. God reaffirms His covenant with them and using Moses leads them out of Egypt.
5. Hebrews have lost their faith (recall the many times they complain to Moses and fear for their lives)
6. Lawlessness prevails, God sees they are too immature for faith, must have laws to guide them
7. Jews eventually pervert the purpose of The Law, God sends Jesus, the Messiah, to show them a better way. The way of faith.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

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