Why then the law?

I’m sure you have run across those who claim Paul was speaking to us in the present tense in  Galatians 3:24 when he wrote that the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ. There is a two-fold problem with this understanding: First, the context from the middle of chapter 2 through chapter 5 aligns with the passage in chapter 3 which provides explicit language to clarify Paul’s rhetorical question in verse 19 of chapter 3: why, then, the law? Second, a misunderstanding of the answer to this question can lead to believing just what Paul argued against in this letter.

First, does verse 24 in chapter 3 tell us the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ? Here’s how the KJV reads: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” In case the formatting doesn’t show up, the phrase “to bring us” is in italics, meaning it was added in by the translation team. Read the verse without that phrase: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The law did not, does not, bring anyone to Christ – the Spirit does that through the proclamation of the gospel! But that phrase was added to make it appear the law carried people to the Lord.

It is clear from the context that Paul is speaking of the Mosaic Law here. As is the case in all the New Covenant passages, the Mosaic Law is spoken of as a unit. We don’t read about this part or that division of the law. Simply the law. We read in Exodus that before Moses went up Mt Sinai to get the second set of tablets, he “came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. … He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people.” (Ex 24:3 & 7) And in verse 12 we see YHWH telling Moses “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” All the law and commandments, not just the Decalogue nor everything other than the Decalogue; all the law and commandments. This is what Paul was referring to.

The word interpreted “schoolmaster” is the Greek word from which we get our word “pedagogue.” While modern definitions, such as used by the KJV, claim that word means tutor, the ancient definition referred to one who was a slave guardian of his master’s child, to make sure the child was where he needed to be, when he was supposed to be there. He was NOT a tutor or schoolmaster, but one charged with the safety of his charge.

Here’s how several other translations render that verse: “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.” (HCSB) The law of Moses was “our guardian” – whose guardian? Go back to chapter 2 and verse 15: “We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners”” The law of Moses was a guardian for the Jews by birth – national, ethnic Israel, and not to “Gentile sinners.” Some of the folk in the assembly of saints at Galatia wanted to retreat from the milk of the gospel and embrace the heavy yoke that the council in Acts 15 would overthrow. These were called “foolish Galatians” (3:1), followed up by “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (vs 3) If the law brings people to Christ, why would Paul call people foolish who wanted to live under it?

This brings us to verse 19 and the question – Why, then the law? And the answer: “It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.” Even the KJV agrees with this. The law of Moses was given because of transgressions and only until the promised Seed came. Jesus came and did His work of redemption and is with the Father on high. The law as it was given to national Israel, as a binding legal code with sanctions for violations, was only until Christ came. Paul sums up the condition of his kinsmen of the flesh in verse 23: “Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.” Some translations do not have “this” before “faith.” No matter – the apostle is restating his message from verse 19, explaining why and when the law was given.

The law was added – had not been given before this, not to Adam, not to Abraham – to remain in place until the promised Seed came. And until faith came, for the law granted faith to nobody, Jews were in chains under the law. But when faith came, when the Messiah was glorified, verse 25 tells the good news to those who were in bondage – “we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (verse 26)

Now back to verse 22: “But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” This verse does not say “the law has imprisoned everything under/in sin’s power” – it says Scripture has. Scripture tells us the entire creation was cursed when Adam fell. Scripture tells us there is no salvation except in Christ. Scripture tells us creation groans in anticipation of its new birth, when Christ returns to gather His saints on the new earth. We know that everything IS under sin’s power because of sin. Sickness and death stalk each of us. But the promise given to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations, is incrementally consummated every time one of God’s elect is raised up to new life in Christ Jesus.

This message is given different views in chapters 4 & 5 but the message is the same: present day (in Paul’s day) Jerusalem represented the slavery of the Mosaic Law; freedom from sin comes only in Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem. The law was added until the promised Seed came. Hebrews tells us the religious rites given through Moses served as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb 8:5). When the fullness of time came, the promised Seed came and conquered sin and death and the shadows, those types found in the law, came to their end.

Why, then, the law? To show the nation of stiff-necked, loop-hole finding, law-loving Jews how wicked they were; to keep them as a nation to display God’s holiness to them and the pagan nations; to make sure they were around when the fullness of time came and the promised Seed arrived. The law was Israel’s guardian until faith came, because Israel could not keep itself. Their history shows that, if left themselves, they were every bit as wicked as the Syrians, or you and me before we were redeemed.

Once the promised Seed came, the guardian is no longer needed. Faith and the promise do not depend on fleshly procreation. By faith we become children of Abraham. Now that Christ has come, the Spirit keeps His people. The law fulfilled its role, its time is past. The covenant based on shadows and types, with fire and threats of punishment for violations of its law has ended. Faith has come in the person of the promised Seed. The law and all the other shadows of the Old Covenant no longer bind anyone with chains but, as the Spirit gives the light of understanding, serve to instruct us about our innate weakness and need for humility before God and fellow man. Just as we read with New Covenant clarity from Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John.

No need to “un-hitch” the Old Testament from our faith – all of it is from God for us. We belong to heavenly country which has different laws; given by the same God but intended for a people with hearts of flesh, not stone; people who, having been loved by God can and will love Him and one another. No need to tell one another, “know the Lord” for we all know Him. The Mosaic Law was chains for a people who needed to be told “know the Lord.” We in the New Covenant are not that people. We can see the law did not restrain national Israel from doing evil. So God gave His Spirit to will and equip us to do what is pleasing to Him.

Not under the yoke of law, which could not save nor can it lead us to Christ; it can only condemn. Therein is the danger of wrongly interpreting this passage.

New heart, new mediator, new priesthood, new covenant, new law from the new Lawgiver.  That’s the difference being in the New Covenant makes.

Till He Bids, I Cannot Die!

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(Samuel Davies, “The Nature and Universality of Spiritual Death”)

Psalm 121
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber.
The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going, both now and forever!”

God is the guardian and deliverer of His people!
From how many dangers has He preserved us!
From how many calamities has He delivered us!

Dangers, distresses and deaths crowd upon us–and surround us in every age and every place! The air, the earth, the sea, and every element–are pregnant with numberless inlets of pain and death ready to seize and destroy us!

Sickness and death swarm around us! Nay, they lie in ambush in our own constitution, and are perpetually undermining our lives–and yet our divine Guardian preserves us for months and years unhurt, untouched. And how many ‘salvations’ of this kind has He wrought for us! Salvations . . .
from accidents,
from sicknesses,
from pains,
from sorrows,
from death!
Salvations from seen and unseen dangers!
Salvations in infancy, in youth, and in maturer years!

These things we cannot deny, without the most stupid ignorance, and an atheistic disbelief of divine Providence.

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in Your hand,
All events at Your command!

His decree, who formed the earth,
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by Him.

He who formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb.
All my times shall ever be,
Ordered by His wise decree!

Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty, and of wealth;
Times of trial, and of grief,
Times of triumph, and relief.

Plagues and death around me fly;
Till He bids, I cannot die!
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit!

(John Ryland)

Psalm 91:3-7
“Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear . . .
the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you!”

Worse Than Covid-19

Before you read any further, stop and take note of the time.

Write it down if you have to in order to remember. It is important because the next week is going to change the lives of millions.

1,209,600

This is the approximate number of people who will die from something worse than Covid-19. The coronavirus has nothing on this disease. There is no human cure or government intervention that can change what is going to happen. Not one single medical mega-corporation will ever find a cure to this deadly disease.

In fact, the number above is a close representation of the number of people who died since this exact time last week and the week before.

The Spanish Flu took the lives of approximately 50 million people in the three years between January 1918 and December 1920.

This disease I speak of is even worse.

The Black Plague or Bubonic Plague that ravaged the world from 1347-1351 took the estimated lives of 25-200 million.

But the disease I speak of is even worse.

If you had paid close attention to the news, you would still have missed the reality that in the last eight weeks, almost 10 MILLION people have died around the world. This is more than the population of New York City, New York. It is more than the population of Mexico City, Mexico. Actually, the approximate number of people who have died from this disease is the same as the population of Seoul, South Korea.

From March 17, 2020 until March 17, 2021, approximately 63 MILLION people will die from this ancient disease.

That is the combined population of: Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beijing, China; New York City, New York; and Sao Paulo, Brazil!

Here is the worst news anybody in the world could ever read. Forget all of the statistics. This disease has a 100% mortality rate to anybody who contracts it. The news channels, magazines, government organizations, and not even the United Nations wants to talk about this because it is so scary.

Tragically, the news DOES get worse.

Everybody in the world has the disease and there is NOTHING that can be done about it from a human perspective. My friend, you have the disease in your body and you may not even know it. However, it is not a respecter of persons. I have it on perfect authority that you and I WILL die from this disease, although we do not know when death will visit us.

The symptoms are horrible and at the heart of each symptom is the brutal reality that the underlying issues are too blatant, gross, and vulgar to even print. The symptoms of this disease grow worse with each passing day, but are so subtle at times that the overwhelming majority of the world will never stop to think about what is happening in their body.

The disease I am speaking of is SIN.

Sin is a curse that has come upon all of mankind through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Regardless of what modern psychology, humanistic philosophies, or even government mandates may try to dictate, they cannot stop the 100% mortality rate from taking place.

The effects of sin are evident all around for those with eyes to see. What seems like tragedies, illnesses, terrorist activities, natural disasters, and rampant disease are all the result of sin entering the world.

Further, because the disease of sin has entered the world, there is an even greater problem. Man has been separated from a holy God. God cannot bear to look upon sin and yet, man thinks he can become like God. This is the lie that has been the longest in existence and it comes from Satan.

Satan blinds the eyes of men, women, and children around the world. He does not want them to see the wonder of who God is. He does not want them to hear the good news that there is but one escape from this dreadful disease that has killed more people than all the wars and plagues to ever befall mankind.

Satan wants people to think that they can believe what they want, do what they want, live how they want, and then eventually die with no fear of eternity.

The Bible is clear though that there is a time that is appointed for ALL to die, and after death will come the judgment.

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE! The ravages of this death stare at you every day in your bathroom mirror, but you are ignoring them. Yet, they will not go away. Your flesh will decay until your body becomes dust in the grave.

But, there is a beacon of hope. It does not require hoarding toilet paper or food supplies. It does not require that you self-quarantine yourself in your home and hope for a better day.

The ONLY beacon of hope that you can escape is found in Jesus Christ ALONE. The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Further, it proclaims that the wages of your sin is death.

Tired of the bad news, then hearken to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Do you realize what this means?

For those who place their faith in Christ alone and plead to God for mercy, He will not reject them. He will grant forgiveness to those who ask for their sins to be forgiven. His love will and does extend to all who realize that Christ is the only escape.

John 3:16, 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The ravages and effects of your sin will still end your life one day. It may not be this month, this year, or even this decade. But death is still coming and it comes to all.

However, for those who become true believers in Jesus Christ have the promise that there is NOTHING to fear when death comes. We will pass from this life into eternity where we will forever be with the Lord.

If your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then rejoice in this truth.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Today is the day of salvation though. Tomorrow may be too late. Over the next week, another 1,209,600 people will pass from this life into eternity and you may be one of that number. The results for those without Christ will be far worse than Covid-19, the black plague, or anything found in a chemical warfare lab.

Come to Christ while there is still time. Do not worry about the effects of Covid-19 if you have a right relationship with God.

If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then rejoice and lift up your eyes for our redemption draws near. Our Lord is, has been, and always will be sovereign and in control of this world. If we get sick, or grow old, or die in an accident, death has been swallowed up in victory because Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again so that we too can have the eternal hope that we will be raised to newness of life when this life is over.

Covid-19 Virus and It’s Implications For the Christian

This is quite the world we’re living in right now. Talking with my family on occasion regarding the various ‘Apocalypse’ style scenarios one could live through and how best to navigate them, one never really thinks he’ll actually find himself in that sort of trial.

But here we are. The Covid-19, or more commonly called ‘Coronavirus’ is sweeping the earth and many have been affected and many more will be before this is all over.

That’s fine, and I’m not really concerned about the virus, because we as a family are already very clean and do more than most people to keep it that way. I am more concerned with society as a whole and how the Christian will be regarded after everything calms down.

I hear about how companies, governments, sports teams and just about every institution out there is closing down and cancelling events and that means a whole lot of money and business down the drain.

I see myriads of people in the stores fighting over toilet paper and food, and can only imagine it getting worse.

Here’s the scenario I see: Lock-down of our towns and cities. Businesses close, schools close, no one is allowed to go to work but some, only some will be able to telecommute. Most will not have enough money to pay their bills, and after their credit cards have been maxed out, most will either walk away from their homes, declare bankruptcy or worse.

We as a family own a janitorial business, and just today, our biggest contract was cancelled on us. What is going to happen when more and more businesses we cater to, close their doors? We won’t have work either. My wife teaches piano and has been scrabbling to set up online lessons for those who are too afraid to leave their homes anymore. Yes, it’s getting that bad. This, if it works, will be our only source of income. It won’t be much, but if we are not allowed to leave our homes, what good will it do?

We saw images in China where food was being hoisted up on ropes to people who were trapped in their homes. Can this sort of thing happen in Canada? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Yet, with all the trials and tests we, as a people, and we as Christians are facing now, we have to remember that God is sovereign. He is supreme and He is in control of this virus and the implications surrounding it. Its invention/discovery didn’t catch God by surprise. He’s not losing sleep, wringing His hands in worry. He is in control of this! God is not a worried and tense bystander downing Rolaids and milk trying to calm His ulcers. He is the majestic God of all, King of heaven and earth and is moving His chess pieces across the board where He wants them to go. Not one thought, word or action from the whole of mankind is beyond His control (Proverbs 16). Not one death escapes His notice. Not one germ is allowed to proceed unless He gives it permission.

How does this apply to us as Christians? We read in various places in Scripture where God promises us protection through trials, yet we also see where He allowed His children to suffer horribly. Psalm 23 and 91 come to mind where we can derive great comfort knowing that God will take good care of us. We read in Proverbs where He controls everything from the big to the small. From turning the king in the direction He wants him to go, to the rolling of the die. Everything that happens in this world of ours is under His constant control. EVERYTHING! Not most things. Not the big stuff. But everything.

We can count on God to guide us through the valley of death. We can trust that He will open His arms to us when we run for cover and need His sanctuary. We can rely on the fact that no matter how big the giants of life are, God is the biggest giant of all!

Yes, we may suffer. We are told in Acts that the road to heaven is paved with many tribulations. The narrow way is losing its elbow room, and we as His children are feeling the pressure.

As we see inevitable changes to society and how things are run, where do we put our trust? If we are forced to live in a cashless society and most business is run online, then what? Then we trust in God and adapt.

As the store shelves empty, as our so called freedoms wain, and as society inches closer to a one world government run by an all-seeing computer generated dictator, we will continue to give and sacrifice as God calls us to. We will continue to love and serve, pray and forgive and live out this life of Christ to the best of our ability.

If this virus leads to us being persecuted and martyred for God’s glory then so be it. It won’t be nice to live through, but it will bring us to our Lord’s protective side early.

 

Sanctification by the law – where is that found?

I’ve looked and looked and don’t find any New Covenant context teaching telling us to go back to Moses. Everything I have found shows me otherwise.
Take Romans 12, for example. First chapter after a bunch of theology, including a bunch of “law” talk. Much encouragement for the saints to walk a certain way and not a hint of law-keeping, other than the exhortation to not take vengeance but leave that to God.
What we see is a continual teaching to live by the grace of God, be transformed by renewing your mind, be humble. In the section on body-life Paul tells us how to love one another with specific teachings – but no law-keeping.
Here’s the bottom line: The Mosaic Law and other laws like it (found in many Fundamental fellowships) are intended for those who are unregenerate. What we are taught in Romans 12 is fit only for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who wills and equips us to do what pleases the Father.
While all Scripture is for our edification and benefit, the law of the Old Covenant was for those in that covenant. The Law of Moses does not and never has bound people outside that covenant community.
If you are in Christ, there is a better law, fit for a spiritual people. We have a covenant built on better promises, mediated by a better priest, with a new law meant only for the saints.
Rejoice! God’s grace was sufficient to save you and by it He is sufficient to renew your mind and sanctify your soul until Christ returns or He takes you home.

Forgiveness in the Age of Rage

The Bible has a great deal to say about forgiveness. The world, and even many in evangelicalism, justify their anger. As MacArthur notes, anger is fueled by psychology and narcissistic self-centeredness. Our churches today are now even telling their members that in order to extend forgiveness to others that true believers have to forgive themselves.

Further, preachers intone that it is a necessity to forgive yourself for your own sin or shortcomings. This is a dangerous teaching that quickly borders on heresy for it leads to the teaching that we have to forgive God.

Forgiveness is necessary in order for true believers to portray the Christ by which we are named. He forgave us when we were unloveable and did not deserve to be forgiven. To NOT forgive is to make ourselves to better than Christ.

Dusty Bibles Lead To Dark Souls

bible-dust-read-me-6-29-15(“Pleasant Readings for the Home” Author unknown)

A traveler one day called at a cottage to ask for a drink of water. Entering, he found the parents cursing and quarreling, with the children trembling and crouched in a corner. Wherever he looked, he saw only marks of degradation and misery. Greeting the family, he asked them, “Dear friends, why do you make your house like Hell?

“Ah, Sir,” said the man, “you don’t know the life and trials of a poor man! Do what I can–everything goes wrong!”

The stranger drank the water, and then said softly (as he noticed a Bible in a dark and dusty corner), “Dear friends, I know what would help you, if you could find it. There is a treasure concealed in your house–search for it.”

And so he left them.

At first the cottagers thought it a jest, but, after a while they began to reflect. The whole family tried to find the “treasure”–but in vain. Increasing poverty brought only more quarrels, discontent, and strife.

One day, as the woman was thinking upon the stranger’s words–her eye fell on the old Bible. It had been a gift from her mother, but since her death long ago–it had been unheeded and unused.

A strange foreboding seized her mind. Could the stranger have meant the Bible? She took it from the shelf, opened it, and found the verse inscribed on the title-page, in her mother’s handwriting, “The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” It cut her to the heart. “Ah!” thought she, “this is the treasure which we have been seeking!” How her tears fell fast upon the pages!

From that time she read the Bible every day, and taught the children to pray–but without her husband’s knowledge. One day he came home, as usual, quarrelsome and in a rage. Instead of meeting his angry words with angry replies–she spoke to him kindly and with gentleness. “Husband,” said she, “we have sinned grievously. We have ourselves to blame for all this misery, and we must now lead a different life.”

He looked amazed. “What are you talking about?” was his exclamation.

She brought the old Bible, and, sobbing, cried, “Here is the treasure. See, I have found it!”

The husband’s heart was moved. She read to him of the Lord Jesus, and of His love. She continued to read the Scriptures daily, as she sat with the children around her, thoughtful and attentive.

So time went on.

It was a year later that the stranger returned that way. Seeing the cottage, he remembered the circumstances of his visit, and thought he would call and see this family again. He did so, but he would scarcely have known the place–it was so clean, so neat, so well ordered. He opened the door, and at first thought he was mistaken, for the family came to meet him so kindly, with the peace of God beaming upon their faces.

“How are you, my friends?” said he.

Then they recognized the stranger–and for some time they could not speak. “Thanks, thanks, dear Sir–we have found the treasure which you spoke of! Now the blessing of God dwells in our house–and His peace in our hearts!”

So they said–and their entire condition, and the happy faces of their children, declared the same more plainly!