Preached at a Sunday Morning service
Paul is developing the five solas cited by the reformers in the Protestant reformation: salvation Sola Fide – by faith alone; as proclaimed Sola Scriptura -- by Scripture alone; Solus Christus --through Christ alone; Sola Gratia -- by grace alone; Soli Deo Gloria -- to the glory to God alone. A testament once ratified can't be annulled or changed. A law decreed by a king could not be changed. Think of the Persian king in the book of Esther. A father normally bequeathed a double portion of his estate to the eldest son. In the story of the prodigal son, he still received the promised inheritance upon his return from riotous and dissolute living. An established testament is all the more unchangeable in God's providence for His people. God made a promise to Abraham and his offspring (singular). In Jesus, this covenant of grace was fulfilled, with the transfer of our sin to Christ and His righteousness to us. God moved on from the promise to Abraham to the law given through Moses. There are three aspects to this law: ceremonial law (which pointed to Jesus and thus has passed), the civil law (how the nation of Israel, God's people through whom the Redeemer would come, would be ruled, and thus has passed), and the moral law, which is eternal. Note that God made the covenantal promise 430 years before the law was given. The law did not change the promise; the law gives understanding to the promise. There are three uses of the moral law: telling us how we are to live, restraining evil and the wicked, and showing us our need for a savior. The law defines the promise. Before Christ, we were prisoners, captive in sin, needing a savior. The law was a warden; a guardian to us, steering us away from sin. Martin Luther said the law leads us to acknowledge our sin, humbles us, leads us to Christ and teaches us that we are justified only by faith in Christ. The law feeds us to grace. In this, we are all brought to Christ as one family. Salvation through the promise made to Abraham which he believed by faith, applies to us in Christ.
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Galatians 3:15–29 (Listen)
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Psalm 19 (Listen)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean,
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.