Tag Archive: Context



Galatians 3:16-17, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

image

In a previous entry I discussed the righteousness of Abraham, which he was granted by God because of His faith. This was not only due to his belief in God, but his faith that God’s promises were steadfast. In addition, I discussed the “offspring,” promised and made known to Abraham. This offspring was to be a singular person, and through Him the world would be offered the reconciliation unto God. Here, in Galatians, Paul presents the argument of the singular seed that was to come by and through Abraham’s bloodline. As profound as this is, Paul goes further, dipping a bit into history to reveal the true nature of the covenants.

image

Within the philosophical and theological boundaries of the Christian “religion,” we tend to separate the covenants of Moses and Jesus, and break the Bible down, in a general sense, into both the Old and New Testaments. Man loves to put things and ideas into categories or groups, that by their division, they may be easily sorted and understood. Concerning the division of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the old and new covenant, I conclude there is nothing specifically wrong with this. However, one stumbling block does arise that I have witnessed, but this is the fault of man. It usually concerns those new in the faith or exploring it. It doesn’t seem too uncommon for those whom Christ is calling to be curious about the differentiation between the God of the Old Testament and the New, rather than looking at it as a complete revelation from and of God.

image

We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact everyone, that the Scriptures represent a singular narrative that explicitly shows God and reveals He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Why the wrath shown in the Old Testament? Paul gives us a clear answer:

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us . . .” -1 Corinthians 10:11

image

So am I saying its wrong to refer to old and new? Not at all! In fact, the Lord Himself declared prior to Christ that a new thing was being done, and a new covenant will be established with Israel. The Book of Jeremiah says in Chapter 31, Verse 31:

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.'”

image

Yet, if it was shared with Abraham, what is it that makes it new? Simply, it is new in human, temporal terms. It is not as if man, who is subservient to God, caught God unaware and He had to hatch a new plan to save man. Rather, God’s plan was destined from the beginning. God, let it be known that it is a new covenant, because this is truly what it is in the context of time. Time has no bearing on God, for God controls time, and since time is under God’s belt, to God it is already finished. If anyone believes differently, then one cannot believe in the omniscience of God, for God would be subservient to time. Furthermore, if He is subservient to time, He could not be God, and our faith would be meaningless, for by and out of God came Christ. Yet, to God, it is time that has no meaning. The breadth of its meaninglessness is shown by eternity. We usually think of eternity as it corresponds to time, that time will stretch forever, but in actuality, eternity is a place where time doesn’t exist. The extent of the meaninglessness of time to God is made clear in 2 Peter 3:8:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

image

Therefore, according to time, which we all are subservient, the law came before, and Christ after, and in temporal terms it is new, or more recent. Yet, that’s not all, by this new covenant it gave the law unto the hearts of man, and revealed God unto the world, so that no man or woman is without excuse. Yet, God did promise the new covenant unto Jeremiah and Abraham, and because He refers to it as “new” to Jeremiah, we see that though the promise was made known, and though the revelation of Christ to come preexisted some 430 years prior to the Law, it doesn’t negate the temporal relativity of the coming of Christ and the Spirit. In addition, as Paul says, the two don’t cancel each other out, but instead, they compliment each other to such perfection, they become united and fulfilled in Christ.

image

It is not necessarily disrespectful or wrong to conclude that the two covenants, outside time, represent one great covenant, where man can be saved through faith, as Abraham was. This, I would argue, when approaching this issue in human linguistics, that the covenants represent old and new revelations, through which God’s attributes and power were proclaimed to man. First, His nature, commandments, and wrath. Secondly, His grace, love, and peace.

image

The plan of God was singular, but we can differentiate between the covenants, because of what they revealed to man and by the manifestations of God. Under the old covenant, God spoke through the prophets, yet in the new, God came to earth, became man, taught to a multitude, was crucified, and rose again. By this, man does not need to turn to a prophet to know God, but now, His Son and Sprit dwell within our hearts, upon which the law is now written.

image


“Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ 7Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” -Galatians 3:6-7

20120325-005657.jpg

The apostle Paul was masterful at taking the Old Testament and applying it to the truth of Jesus Christ, of whom he became witness. Both Jesus and Paul, by their words, show the incredible truth behind the Old Testament, that though by the new covenant, we are granted righteousness by faith in Christ, it doesn’t necessarily negate the old covenant, or visa versa. In fact, the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old.

20120325-010646.jpg

A frequent question among believers and the secular community is, if one is saved in Christ, what about all those who came before Christ? Were they not given the opportunity to be saved? I used to struggle with this question myself, but after reading this verse and others like it, and with my own personal discoveries and revelations concerning the nature of faith, I have come to the conclusion that even prior to Christ, man was capable of coming under grace.

20120325-011024.jpg

As Paul says, let us consider Abraham. Abraham was a man of great faith, so much so that when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham complied with the command. Yet, at the last minute, the Lord sent an angel to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac, but provided a ram to take Abraham’s sons place. Not only does this speak of great faith, but also obedience, which springs forth from that faith.

image

Now Abraham was faulty just as any other man, but even prior to the new covenant, his faith was credited to him as righteousness by God. This is due to the nature of faith, which we should all take a lesson from, that by understanding this lesson, one may overcome doubt and worry. Briefly, I will mention as I write this, that it is a lesson that is speaking to me as well.

image

It’s not as simple as having faith in the existence of Christ and our Lord, rather faith runs deeper than this, and it is important to meditate on it that our roots may grow deeper. Abraham not only believed in God, but believed in what He said. This might seem like a small difference, but in reality it is quite large, for to believe in what God says, is to believe in His promises. Therefore, when God told Abraham that his offspring would be the savior of the world, Abraham completely believed and it, again, was credited to him.

image

Within Paul’s letters, Paul elaborates on Abraham’s offspring. Paul tells us in the context, “offspring,” is presented, it is not plural, but rather singular. Thus, a multitude of Abraham’s descendants wouldn’t save the world, but rather one singular man of a divine nature, that is Christ. In Jesus’s time, the prophecy of a savior was no secret, in fact many were looking for the savior, but in their pride, the Jews misunderstood the heavenly nature of the savior. Many expected a mere king and not the King of Kings.

image

Abraham understood this and had faith in God that the savior would come and thereby, put his faith not only in God, but the savior that was to come. This is why we are children of Abraham. Abraham was of a previous generation, before the new covenant and Abraham believed this covenant was to come. Thus, with Abraham coming before, he is our father of those who would be credited righteousness through faith.

image

Abraham was not considered righteous for obedience to any Law (although the Law hadn’t been given unto Moses yet) or by any of his works, but was considered and credited righteousness because of faith and belief. It is akin to this same faith in the Lord and His promises that we become the descendants of Abraham. In Galatians 3:8-9, Paul states:

“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ 7So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

image

Therefore, let us not only believe in God the Father, and the Son, but let us believe in what they make known unto us by the Word and through the Spirit, who counsels us in all things. Anyone who did this under the old covenant was granted a like righteousness, but being under the new, we are witnesses to Christ’s death, by which we are justified, and His resurrection, through which righteousness and eternal life comes. Christ gained the firstfruits of the glorified body, due to His righteousness, but Abraham was the father of righteousness by faith.

image

What the Lord tells us is true and should not be doubted. It is correct to say some promises won’t come to pass until the appointed time, but let us not grow weary of our waiting upon the Lord, nor let it produce doubt within us. The Lord cannot break a covenant, for to do so would make Him imperfect, and we would cease to exist altogether. Thus, all the Lord has said will come to pass, in this age or the next, and this shall not hinder our faith. For even Abraham wasn’t hindered in his faith, but knew the promises of God would be fulfilled even when our father of righteousness by faith had passed from the world.

image


“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

Photobucket

"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

Photobucket

Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

Photobucket

Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

Photobucket

In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

Photobucket

"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

Photobucket

"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

Photobucket

Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

Photobucket

Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

Photobucket

%d bloggers like this: