Saturday, May 23, 2015

The promise of the Spirit - Galatians 3:6-14

"Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham... So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse... Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident... However, the Law is not of faith... Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us... in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:6-14)
The faith Paul is talking about is what he previously described as "hearing with faith." (Galatians 3:5) God has spoken. We have heard and read His promises. It is now ours to chose if we will believe the words and promises of God or not. For those who believe, the fulfillment of those promises await them. For those who do not, there remains only a curse.

Faith is not new. It existed long before the Christian era began. Our participation in the redemptive history of God can be traced back to a man and a woman who exemplified the faith God is looking for. Abraham heard the promise form God, "one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir," (Genesis 15:4) and he believed God. His "hearing with faith" was reckoned to him as righteousness. Centuries later, a people would once again here God but it would be the law they would receive. They would be asked to live by the law and it would be their "obedience to law" that would be accounted to them as righteousness. However, it quickly became clear that no one could ever find righteousness through the law because, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them." (Galatians 3:10) What the law promised it was unable to deliver.

It was always through faith that God intended to impart righteousness to mankind. It started with Abraham and now God is looking for those who have like faith with Abraham that He might impart righteousness to them as well. We have seen the result of those who tried to live by the law, but now we are called to "live by faith" (Galatians 3:11) that the promises and blessings might also be ours as they were with Abraham. Through the death of Christ we have been set free from law and released to faith; we have been set free from death and given over to blessing. The time for the law is in the past, ours is now again the tine for faith as it was once also for Abraham.

The end result of faith is the inheritance of promises. So what is the promise of faith made to Abraham? The Spirit! Our faith in Jesus opens up to us the presence, grace, and help of the Spirit. Christianity is not merely an intellectual or political system where one agrees intellectually with its tenets and chooses to live under its politics. Christianity is a religion of the Spirit. It is for this reason, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit, that Jesus came to live and die. A life without the Spirit is not the life God intends for us, rather, such a life is really a life spent apart from faith.

It is time to leave behind the law; to leave behind all human effort to achieve righteousness and the presence or the Spirit. It is time to be renewed in faith; a faith that leads to righteousness and welcomes the presence and activity of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

David Robison

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