Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Curses and Blessings Part 7

We’re continuing our study of God’s blessings and curses. In the Old Testament God said that those who keep the law will be blessed and those who don’t keep it in its entirety will be cursed. There are many Christians who are trying desperately to keep the law so that God’s blessing will be on their lives. They do this because this is the message to the people in Deuteronomy and Joshua. What we’ve learned in this study is that as Christians, we are children of Abraham and therefore recipients of the unconditional promise made to him and to his seed. Christ took the God’s curse on himself so that the blessing of Abraham could be ours. Galatians 3:14. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

What I’m trying to encourage you with is to realize and believe that God will not add conditions to the blessing He is giving you through His promise to Abraham. The law that came 430 years after the promise cannot annul the promise. If you’re a Christian, the discussion of God’s curse does not apply to you. Christ became the curse so that you won’t be the recipient of it.

The next question though is what purpose does the law serve? This is more than just an academic question for theologians. It has important implications in your lives and the way you choose to live your life.

The first thing the law does is to confine all people under sin. According to Galatians 3:22, God did this so that he could offer the promise of Abraham to all that believe. There is no boasting, no way for one person to do better at law-keeping than another. All are confined under sin so that anyone who believes can receive the unconditional promise God made to Abraham.

We’ll pick it up there next time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Memorization Monday

It’s week 5 and we’re ready for our next memory verse from the Navigators original topical memory plan.
The Christian Life, B. Christ the Center

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 NKJV

Monday, September 22, 2008

Memorization Monday

We’re into week four of our Memory Monday series

This week’s verse and outline are:
1. The Christian Life; B. Christ the Center

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Curses and Blessings Part 6

We’re going through a very important study on God’s blessings and curses and how we fit. If you haven’t read the previous posts, it’s very important that you do so.
Last time we concluded that we as Christians are heirs of God’s promise of blessing to Abraham and his seed. This promise predates the law and the law cannot mitigate in anyway that promise.
An interesting question that Paul foresees then is what is the purpose of the law. He answers that question in verses 22-24 of Galatians 3. First he says that it confines all under sin. In other words, the law lays down the standard and no one lives up to it. Therefore all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.
Second, before faith came we were kept under guard by the law and kept for the faith that should be revealed afterward. Before faith came the law had a guardianship role to keep people under control. A question you should ask yourself is what is the timeline involved. In other words the law guarded before the faith came. When did the faith come? When did that guardianship end?
Third, the law was a tutor to bring us to Christ. Again he says that when faith came, the tutor relationship ended. When did that faith come? We’ll look at the timing of this more later. What I want us to see now is that the purpose of the law had nothing to do with giving salvation because it can’t do that. It doesn’t even have anything to do with spiritual growth. As you will recall, Paul asked that question in verse 3. His conclusion was that the law does not perfect us. The law’s responsibility was to confine all under sin and to guard and serve as tutor until the time that faith comes. Next time we’ll look at that timing more closely.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Memory Monday

We’re into week three of our Memory Monday series.

This week’s verse is for the same outline point as last week:
1. The Christian Life; A. The Life in Christ.

Colossians 2:9, 10 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Curses and Blessings Part 5

My goal in sharing this Bible study with you is so that as faithful men we might be able to understand how some of the crucial teachings of Scripture fit together. If we are to be the kind of leaders God wants us to be in our homes and churches, but can’t accurately interpret the Scriptures, how can we be faithful to what is handed down to us from previous generations? So we continue our study of the curses and blessings.
The point in the last post was that God had made a promise to Abraham and his seed. Nothing could cancel that promise, not even the law. But what does that have to do with us?
To answer this I’d like to put Galatians 3:26 and 29 together. Basically God is saying that we are sons of God by faith in Christ. If we are Christ’s then we are heirs according to the promise. He had summarized this earlier in verse 14. “…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The blessing of Abraham… That blessing is ours!
So let me summarize what we have so far. God has issued blessings and curses. Those who don’t keep every bit of the law are under a curse. God’s blessing was upon those who obeyed perfectly. There are basically two ways to live, either by faith or by law. That’s what we learned from Galatians 3:10-12. These are mutually exclusive. Living by law puts you under the curse because there is no one who can keep it perfectly. We can’t be under it and then somehow claim exceptions because we are a Christian.
The Christian answer is that God blessed Abraham and his seed unconditionally. The law that came later could not cancel that blessing otherwise God would have been a liar in making such promises to Abraham. If I’m a Christian, I am an heir of that blessing because I am part of Abraham’s seed. That means that the promise that I am a recipient of supersedes and precedes the giving of the law. There’s nothing in the keeping or the not-keeping of the law that can affect my status of blessing given by the promise of God. There is no curse hanging over the Christian. Let your mind and spirit think on this.
We’ll explore some of the repercussions of this truth next time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Curses and Blessings Part 4

It’s really important that you follow Paul’s logic for the teaching we are developing from Galatians chapter 3 so I encourage you to go back and read the previous posts.
In Galatians 3:15 we read that even men’s contracts are binding. We know that to be true in our culture. When you sign a contract, it is a binding agreement. Therefore it is even more so if God makes the contract. God made a contract with Abraham and his seed. It’s interesting here to see that Paul says, “It does not say seeds as to many.” Doesn’t that show something of the importance of words in the Bible? Paul assumes that when he reads “seed” it means seed and not “seeds”. Nothing can void the contract which God gave to Abraham and his seed.
This is where the real crux of the argument begins to come into play. This is such an important truth I hope that you will take the time to really think about what is happening here. Galatians 3:17 tells us that the law which came 430 years after the promise to Abraham cannot annul or cancel the promise which God had made. Why? Because God’s Word and promises are certain and binding. If man’s contracts cannot be abrogated, how much less can God’s? What Paul is saying is that if God were to give the blessing of the inheritance based on the law, then it wouldn’t be the result of a promise any more, but God gave it as a promise and so the law has nothing to do with it.
The question arises though in what that has to do with us. God had made these promises to Abraham and his seed, so where do we fit in and why should it matter?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Memorization Monday

This is the second in the Monday series encouraging scripture memorization and meditation.

This week’s verse is for the same outline point as last week:
1. The Christian Life; A. The Life in Christ.

Colossians 2:6, 7a “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him.”

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Curses and Blessings Part 3

We’re continuing our study on God’s blessings and curses and our relationship to them. It will work best for you if you have your Bible open in order to follow the logical discussion that the Apostle Paul is presenting in Galatians 3. According to verse 10, what is the standard for avoiding the curse? The standard given there is that we must continue in all of the things written in the book of the Law. We’re not allowed to deviate from it to either side. We must hit the nail on the head every time. That leaves us in a precarious situation, doesn’t it?
Basically there are two ways to live life. Paul explains this in verses 11 and 12. In verse 11 he tells us that one way is to live by faith. The just shall live by faith. The other way, given in verse 12, is to live by the law. He says very clearly that the law is not of faith because those who does them shall live by them. The “them” I take to mean all of the commandments in the law. So you can live “by faith” or “by them, the commandments”.
What’s interesting to me here is that Paul seems to be saying that these are two mutually exclusive ways of living. We’re not going to get into a long discussion here about whether we should be obedient to the law of God because I think Scripture obviously says we should, but there appears to be a way of living which is law based and it not right for the Christian. I think this will come out as we go along, but you read in verse 10 that those who are of the works of the law are under a curse. So that can’t be where God wants us to be.
Verses 13 and 14 summarize the upcoming argument. This argument is the Christ became the curse so that the blessing of Abraham, which includes the promise of the spirit would be ours through faith.
We’ll pick up here next time.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Memorization Monday

I realized lately that I have to get back into the Scripture memorization/meditation routine. I’m going to start by reviewing verses I learned during my college years.

The outline and verses I’ll be using are taken from The Navigators Topical Memory System that I used as a college student. You can find their current system here. (I’m using the New King James Version in all of these verses.) The roman numerals and letters indicate the position of the verse in the topical outline.

I. The Christian Life
A. The Life in Christ

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.