VERSE 1.Ofoolish Galatians.
The Apostle Paul manifests his apostolic carefor the Galatians. Sometimes he entreats them, then again he reproaches them, inaccordance with his own advice to Timothy: "Preach the word; be instant inseason, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort."
In the midst of his discourse on Christianrighteousness Paul breaks off, and turns to address the Galatians. "Ofoolish Galatians," he cries. "I have brought you the true Gospel, andyou received it with eagerness and gratitude. Now all of a sudden you drop theGospel. What has got into you?"
Paul reproves the Galatians rather sharply whenhe calls them "fools, bewitched, and disobedient." Whether he isindignant or sorry, I cannot say. He may be both. It is the duty of a Christianpastor to reprove the people committed to his charge. Of course, his anger mustnot flow from malice, but from affection and a real zeal for Christ.
There is no question that Paul is disappointed.It hurts him to think that his Galatians showed so little stability. We can hearhim say: "I am sorry to hear of your troubles, and disappointed in you forthe disgraceful part you played." I say rather much on this point to savePaul from the charge that he railed upon the churches, contrary to the spirit ofthe Gospel.
A certain distance and coolness can be notedin the title with which the Apostle addresses the Galatians. He does not nowaddress them as his brethren, as he usually does. He addresses them as Galatiansin order to remind them of their national trait to be foolish.
We have here an example of bad traits thatoften cling to individual Christians and entire congregations. Grace does not suddenly transform a Christian into a new and perfect creature. Dregsof the old and natural corruption remain. The Spirit of God cannot at onceovercome human deficiency. Sanctification takes time.
Although the Galatians had been enlightened bythe Holy Spirit through the preaching of faith, something of their nationaltrait of foolishness plus their original depravity clung to them. Let no manthink that once he has received faith, he can presently be converted into afaultless creature. The leavings of old vices will stick to him, be he ever sogood a Christian.
VERSE 1.Whohath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?
Paul calls the Galatians foolish andbewitched. In the fifth chapter he mentions sorcery among the works of theflesh, declaring that witchcraft and sorcery are real manifestations andlegitimate activities of the devil. We are all exposed to the influence of thedevil, because he is the prince and god of the world in which we live.
Satan is clever. He does not only bewitch menin a crude manner, but also in a more artful fashion. He bedevils the minds ofmen with hideous fallacies. Not only is he able to deceive the self-assured, buteven those who profess the true Christian faith. There is not one among us whois not at times seduced by Satan into false beliefs.
This accounts for the many new battles we haveto wage nowadays. But the attacks of the old Serpent are not without profit tous, for they confirm our doctrine and strengthen our faith in Christ. Many atime we were wrestled down in these conflicts with Satan, but Christ has alwaystriumphed and always will triumph. Do not think that the Galatians were the onlyones to be bewitched by the devil. Let us realize that we too may be seduced bySatan.
VERSE 1.Whohath bewitched you?
In this sentence Paul excuses the Galatians,while he blames the false apostles for the apostasy of the Galatians.
As if he were saying: "I know your defection was not willful. The devilsent the false apostles to you, and they tallied you into believing that you arejustified by the Law. With this our epistle we endeavor to undo the damage whichthe false apostles have inflicted upon you."
Like Paul, we struggle with the Word of Godagainst the fanatical Anabaptists of our day; and our efforts are not entirelyin vain. The trouble is there are many who refuse to be instructed. They willnot listen to reason; they will not listen to the Scriptures, because they arebewitched by the tricky devil who can make a lie look like the truth.
Since the devil has this uncanny ability tomake us believe a lie until we would swear a thousand times it were the truth,we must not be proud, but walk in fear and humility, and call upon the LordJesus to save us from temptation.
Although I am a doctor of divinity, and havepreached Christ and fought His battles for a long time, I know from personalexperience how difficult it is to hold fast to the truth. I cannot always shakeoff Satan. I cannot always apprehend Christ as the Scriptures portray Him.Sometimes the devil distorts Christ to my vision. But thanks be to God, whokeeps us in His Word, in faith, and in prayer.
The spiritual witchery of the devil creates inthe heart a wrong idea of Christ. Those who share the opinion that a person isjustified by the works of the Law, are simply bewitched. Their belief goesagainst faith and Christ.
VERSE 1.Thatye should not obey the truth.
Paul incriminates the Galatians in worsefailure. "You are so bewitched that you no longer obey the truth. I fearmany of you have strayed so far that you will never return to the truth."
The apostasy of the Galatians is a fineindorsement of the Law, all right. You may preach the Law ever so fervently; ifthe preaching of the Gospel does not accompany it, the Law will never producetrue conversion and heartfelt repentance. We do not mean to say that the preaching of the Law is withoutvalue, but it only serves to bring home to us the wrath of God. The Law bows aperson down. It takes the Gospel and the preaching of faith in Christ to raiseand save a person.
VERSE 1.Beforewhose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth.
Paul's increasing severity becomes apparent ashe reminds the Galatians that they disobeyed the truth in defiance of the vividdescription he had given them of Christ. So vividly had he described Christ tothem that they could almost see and handle Him. As if Paul were to say: "Noartist with all his colors could have pictured Christ to you as vividly as Ihave pictured Him to you by my preaching. Yet you permitted yourselves to beseduced to the extent that you disobeyed the truth of Christ."
VERSE 1.Crucifedamong you.
"You have not only rejected the grace ofGod, you have shamefully crucified Christ among you." Paul employs the samephraseology in Hebrews 6:6: "Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an openshame."
It should make any person afraid to hear Paulsay that those who seek to be justified by the Law, not only deny Christ, butalso crucify Him anew. If those who seek to be justified by the Law and itsworks are crucifiers of Christ, what are they, I like to know, who seeksalvation by the filthy rags of their own work-righteousness?
Can there be anything more horrible than thepapacy, an alliance of people who crucify Christ in themselves, in the Church,and in the hearts of the believers?
Of all the diseased and vicious doctrines ofthe papacy the worst is this: "If you want to serve God you must earn yourown remission of sins and everlasting life, and in addition help others toobtain salvation by giving them the benefit of your extra work-holiness."Monks, friars, and all the rest of them brag that besides the ordinaryrequirements common to all Christians, they do the works of supererogation, i.e., theperformance of more than is required. This is certainly a fiendish illusion.
No wonder Paul employs such sharp language inhis effort to recall the Galatians from the doctrine of the false apostles. Hesays to them: "Don't you realize what you have done? You have crucifiedChrist anew because you seek salvation by the Law."
True, Christ can no longer be crucified inperson, but He is crucified in us when we reject grace, faith, free remission ofsins and endeavor to be justified by our own works, or by the works of the Law.
The Apostle is incensed at thepresumptuousness of any person who thinks he can perform the Law of God to hisown salvation. He charges that person with the atrocity of crucifying anew theSon of God.
VERSE 2.Thisonly would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or bythe hearing of faith?
There is a touch of irony in these words ofthe Apostle. "Come on now, my smart Galatians, you who all of a sudden havebecome doctors, while I seem to be your pupil: Received ye the Holy Ghost by theworks of the Law, or by the preaching of the Gospel?" This question gavethem something to think about, because their own experience contradicted them.
"You cannot say that you received theHoly Spirit by the Law. As long as you were servants of the Law, you neverreceived the Holy Ghost. Nobody ever heard of the Holy Ghost being given toanybody, be he doctor or dunce, as a result of the preaching of the Law. In yourown case, you have not only learned the Law by heart, you have labored with allyour might to perform it. You most of all should have received the Holy Ghost bythe Law, if that were possible. You cannot show me that this ever happened. Butas soon as the Gospel came your way, you received the Holy Ghost by the simplehearing of faith, before you ever had a chance to do a single good deed." Luke verifies thisstatement of Paul in the Book of Acts: "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heardthe word." (Acts 10:44.) "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." (Acts 11:15.)
Try to appreciate the force of Paul's argumentwhich is so often repeated in the Book of Acts. That Book was written for theexpress purpose of verifying Paul's assertion, that the Holy Ghost comes uponmen, not in response to the preaching of the Law, but in response to thepreaching of the Gospel. When Peter preached Christ at the first Pentecost, theHoly Ghost fell upon the hearers, "and the same day there were added untothem about three thousand souls." Cornelius received the Holy Ghost whilePeter was speaking of Christ. "The Holy Ghost fell on all of them whichheard the word." These are actual experiences that cannot very well bedenied. When Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem and reported what they hadbeen able to accomplish among the Gentiles, the whole Church was astonished,particularly when it heard that the uncircumcised Gentiles had received the HolyGhost by the preaching of faith in Christ.
Now as God gave the Holy Ghost to the Gentileswithout the Law by the simple preaching of the Gospel, so He gave the Holy Ghostalso to the Jews, without the Law, through faith alone. If the righteousness ofthe Law were necessary unto salvation, the Holy Ghost would never have come tothe Gentiles, because they did not bother about the Law. Hence the Law does notjustify, but faith in Christ justifies.
How was it with Cornelius? Cornelius and hisfriends whom he had invited over to his house, do nothing but sit and listen.Peter is doing the talking. They just sit and do nothing. The Law is far removedfrom their thoughts. They burn no sacrifices. They are not at all interested incircumcision. All they do is to sit and listen to Peter. Suddenly the Holy Ghostenters their hearts. His presence is unmistakable, "for they spoke with tongues and magnified God."
Right here we have one more difference betweenthe Law and the Gospel. The Law does not bring on the Holy Ghost. The Gospel,however, brings on the gift of the Holy Ghost, because it is the nature of theGospel to convey good gifts. The Law and the Gospel are contrary ideas. Theyhave contrary functions and purposes. To endow the Law with any capacity toproduce righteousness is to plagiarize the Gospel. The Gospel brings donations.It pleads for open hands to take what is being offered. The Law has nothing togive. It demands, and its demands are impossible.
Our opponents come back at us with Cornelius.Cornelius, they point out, was "a devout man, and one that feared God withall his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed God always."Because of these qualifications, he merited the forgiveness of sins, and thegift of the Holy Ghost. So reason our opponents.
I answer: Cornelius was a Gentile. You cannotdeny it. As a Gentile he was uncircumcised. As a Gentile he did not observe theLaw. He never gave the Law any thought. For all that, he was justified andreceived the Holy Ghost. How can the Law avail anything unto righteousness?
Our opponents are not satisfied. They reply:"Granted that Cornelius was a Gentile and did not receive the Holy Ghost bythe Law, yet the text plainly states that he was a devout man who feared God,gave alms, and prayed. Don't you think he deserved the gift of the HolyGhost?"
I answer: Cornelius had the faith of thefathers who were saved by faith in the Christ to come. If Cornelius had diedbefore Christ, he would have been saved because he believed in the Christ tocome. But because the Messiah had already come, Cornelius had to be apprized ofthe fact. Since Christ has come we cannot be saved by faith in the Christ tocome, but we must believe that he has come. The object of Peter's visit was toacquaint Cornelius with the fact that Christ was no longer to be looked for, because He is here.
As to the contention of our opponents thatCornelius deserved grace and the gift of the Holy Ghost, because he was devoutand just, we say that these attributes are the characteristics of a spiritualperson who already has faith in Christ, and not the characteristics of a Gentileor of natural man. Luke first praises Cornelius for being a devout andGod-fearing man, and then Luke mentions the good works, the alms and prayers ofCornelius. Our opponents ignore the sequence of Luke's words. They pounce onthis one sentence, "which gave much alms to the people," because itserves their assertion that merit precedes grace. The fact is that Corneliusgave alms and prayed to God because he had faith. And because of his faith inthe Christ to come, Peter was delegated to preach unto Cornelius faith in theChrist who had already come. This argument is convincing enough. Cornelius wasjustified without the Law, therefore the Law cannot justify.
Take the case of Naaman, the Syrian, who was aGentile and did not belong to the race of Moses. Yet his flesh was cleansed, theGod of Israel was revealed unto him, and he received the Holy Ghost. Naamanconfessed his faith: "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel." (II Kings 5:15.) Naaman does not do a thing. He does not busy himselfwith the Law. He was never circumcised. That does not mean that his faith wasinactive. He said to the Prophet Elisha: "Thy servant will henceforth offerneither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In thisthing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house ofRimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in thehouse of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardonthy servant in this thing." What did the Prophet tell him?" Go inpeace." The Jews do not like to hear the prophet say this."What," they exclaim, "should this heathen be justified without the Law? Should he be made equal to us who arecircumcised?"
Long before the time of Moses, God justifiedmen without the Law. He justified many kings of Egypt and Babylonia. Hejustified Job. Nineveh, that great city, was justified and received the promiseof God that He would not destroy the city. Why was Nineveh spared? Not becauseit fulfilled the Law, but because Nineveh believed the word of God. The ProphetJonah writes: "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed afast, and put on sackcloth." They repented. Nowhere in the Book of Jonah doyou read that the Ninevites received the Law of Moses, or that they werecircumcised, or that they offered sacrifices.
All this happened long before Christ was born.If the Gentiles were justified without the Law and quietly received the HolySpirit at a time when the Law was in full force, why should the Law count untorighteousness now, now that Christ has fulfilled the Law?
And yet many devote much time and labor to theLaw, to the decrees of the fathers, and to the traditions of the Pope. Many ofthese specialists have incapacitated themselves for any kind of work, good orbad, by their rigorous attention to rules and laws. All the same, they could notobtain a quiet conscience and peace in Christ. But the moment the Gospel ofChrist touches them, certainty comes to them, and joy, and a right judgment.
I have good reason for enlarging upon thispoint. The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasureas the Holy Ghost is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes toreason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of theHoly Ghost, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain thesepriceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And thedevil says, "Amen."
We must learn that forgiveness of sins,Christ, and the Holy Ghost, are freely granted unto us at the preaching offaith, in spite of our sinfulness. We are not to waste time thinking how unworthy we are of the blessings of God. We are to know thatit pleased God freely to give us His unspeakable gifts. If He offers His giftsfree of charge, why not take them? Why worry about our lack of worthiness? Whynot accept gifts with joy and thanksgiving?
Right away foolish reason is once moreoffended. It scolds us. "When you say that a person can do nothing toobtain the grace of God, you foster carnal security. People become shiftless andwill do no good at all. Better not preach this doctrine of faith. Rather urgethe people to exert and to exercise themselves in good works, so that the HolyGhost will feel like coming to them."
What did Jesus say to Martha when she was very"careful and troubled about many things" and could hardly stand to seeher sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening? "Martha,Martha," Jesus said, "thou art careful and troubled about many things:but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall notbe taken away from her." A person becomes a Christian not by working, butby hearing. The first step to being a Christian is to hear the Gospel. When aperson has accepted the Gospel, let him first give thanks unto God with a gladheart, and then let him get busy on the good works to strive for, works thatreally please God, and not man-made and self-chosen works.
Our opponents regard faith as an easy thing,but I know from personal experience how hard it is to believe. That the HolyGhost is received by faith, is quickly said, but not so quickly done.
All believers experience this difficulty. Theywould gladly embrace the Word with a full faith, but the flesh deters them. Yousee, our reason always thinks it is too easy and cheap to have righteousness,the Holy Spirit, and life everlasting by the mere hearing of the Gospel.
VERSE 3.Are ye so foolish? having begunin the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Paul now begins to warn the Galatians againsta twofold danger. The first danger is: "Are ye so foolish, that after yehave begun in the Spirit, ye would now end in the flesh?"
"Flesh" stands for the righteousnessof reason which seeks justification by the accomplishment of the Law. I am toldthat I began in the spirit under the papacy, but am ending up in the fleshbecause I got married. As though single life were a spiritual life, and marriedlife a carnal life. They are silly. All the duties of a Christian husband, e.g.,to love his wife, to bring up his children, to govern his family, etc., are thevery fruits of the Spirit.
The righteousness of the Law which Paul alsoterms the righteousness of the flesh is so far from justifying a person thatthose who once had the Holy Spirit and lost Him, end up in the Law to theircomplete destruction.
VERSE 4.Haveye suffered so many things in vain?
The other danger against which the Apostlewarns the Galatians is this: "Have ye suffered so many things invain?" Paul wants to say: "Consider not only the good start you hadand lost, but consider also the many things you have suffered for the sake ofthe Gospel and for the name of Christ. You have suffered the loss of yourpossessions, you have borne reproaches, you have passed through many dangers ofbody and life. You endured much for the name of Christ and you endured itfaithfully. But now you have lost everything, the Gospel, faith, and thespiritual benefit of your sufferings for Christ's sake. What a miserable thingto endure so many amictions for nothing."
VERSE 4.Ifit be yet in vain.
The Apostle adds the afterthought: "If itbe yet in vain. I do not despair of all hope for you. But if you continue tolook to the Law for righteousness, I think you should be told that all your pasttrue worship of God and all the afflictions that you have endured for Christ's sake are going to helpyou not at all. I do not mean to discourage you altogether. I do hope you willrepent and amend."
VERSE 5.Hetherefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you,doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
This argument based on the experience of theGalatians, pleased the Apostle so well that he returns to it after he had warnedthem against their twofold danger. "You have not only received the Spiritby the preaching of the Gospel, but by the same Gospel you were enabled to dothings." "What things?" we ask. Miracles. At least the Galatianshad manifested the striking fruits of faith which true disciples of the Gospelmanifested in those days. On one occasion the Apostle wrote: "The kingdomof God is not in word, but in power." This "power" revealeditself not only in readiness of speech, but in demonstrations of thesupernatural ability of the Holy Spirit.
When the Gospel is preached unto faith, hope,love, and patience, God gives His wonder-working Spirit. Paul reminds theGalatians of this. "God had not only brought you to faith by my preaching.He had also sanctified you to bring forth the fruits of faith. And one of thefruits of your faith was that you loved me so devotedly that you were willing topluck out your eyes for me." To love a fellow-man so devotedly as to beready to bestow upon him money, goods, eyes in order to secure his salvation,such love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
"These products of the Spirit you enjoyedbefore the false apostles misled you," the Apostle reminds the Galatians."But you haven't manifested any of these fruits under the regime of theLaw. How does it come that you do not grow the same fruits now? You no longerteach truly; you do not believe boldly; you do not live well; you do not workhard; you do not bear things patiently. Who has spoiled you that you no longerlove me; that you are not now ready to pluck out your eyes for me? What has happened to cool yourpersonal interest in me?"
The same thing happened to me. When I began toproclaim the Gospel, there were many, very many who were delighted with ourdoctrine and had a good opinion of us. And now? Now they have succeeded inmaking us so odious to those who formerly loved us that they now hate us likepoison.
Paul argues: "Your experience ought toteach you that the fruits of love do not grow on the stump of the Law. You hadnot virtue prior to the preaching of the Gospel and you have no virtues nowunder the regime of the false apostles."
We, too, may say to those who misnamethemselves "evangelical" and flout their new-found liberty: Have youput down the tyranny of the Pope and obtained liberty in Christ through theAnabaptists and other fanatics? Or have you obtained your freedom from us whopreach faith in Christ Jesus? If there is any honesty left in them they willhave to confess that their freedom dates from the preaching of the Gospel.
VERSE 6.Evenas Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
The Apostle next adduces the example ofAbraham and reviews the testimony of the Scriptures concerning faith. The firstpassage is taken from Genesis 15:6: "And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness." The Apostle makes the most of this passage. Abraham may have enjoyed agood standing with men for his upright life, but not with God. In the sight ofGod, Abraham was a condemned sinner. That he was justified before God was notdue to his own exertions, but due to his faith. The Scriptures expressly state:"Abraham believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him forrighteousness."
Paul places the emphasis upon the two words:Abraham believed. Faith in God constitutes the highest worship , the prime duty, the first obedience, and the foremost sacrifice. Withoutfaith God forfeits His glory, wisdom, truth, and mercy in us. The first duty ofman is to believe in God and to honor Him with his faith. Faith is truly theheight of wisdom, the right kind of righteousness, the only real religion. Thiswill give us an idea of the excellence of faith.
To believe in God as Abraham did is to beright with God because faith honors God. Faith says to God: "I believe whatyou say."
When we pay attention to reason, God seems topropose impossible matters in the Christian Creed. To reason it seems absurdthat Christ should offer His body and blood in the Lord's Supper; that Baptismshould be the washing of regeneration; that the dead shall rise; that Christ theSon of God was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, etc. Reason shouts thatall this is preposterous. Are you surprised that reason thinks little of faith?Reason thinks it ludicrous that faith should be the foremost service any personcan render unto God.
Let your faith supplant reason. Abrahammastered reason by faith in the Word of God. Not as though reason ever yieldsmeekly. It put up a fight against the faith of Abraham. Reason protested that itwas absurd to think that Sarah who was ninety years old and barren by nature,should give birth to a son. But faith won the victory and routed reason, thatugly beast and enemy of God. Everyone who by faith slays reason, the world'sbiggest monster, renders God a real service, a better service than the religionsof all races and all the drudgery of meritorious monks can render.
Men fast, pray, watch, suffer. They intend toappease the wrath of God and to deserve God's grace by their exertions. Butthere is no glory in it for God, because by their exertions these workerspronounce God an unmerciful slave driver, an unfaithful and angry Judge. Theydespise God, make a liar out of Him, snub Christ and all His benefits; in short they pull God from His throne and perch themselves on it.
Faith truly honors God. And because faithhonors God, God counts faith for righteousness.
Christian righteousness is the confidence ofthe heart in God through Christ Jesus. Such confidence is accountedrighteousness for Christ's sake. Two things make for Christian righteousness:Faith in Christ, which is a gift of God; and God's acceptance of this imperfectfaith of ours for perfect righteousness. Because of my faith in Christ, Godoverlooks my distrust, the unwillingness of my spirit, my many other sins.Because the shadow of Christ's wing covers me I have no fear that God will coverall my sins and take my imperfections for perfect righteousness.
God "winks" at my sins and coversthem up. God says: "Because you believe in My Son I will forgive your sinsuntil death shall deliver you from the body of sin."
Learn to understand the constitution of yourChristian righteousness. Faith is weak, but it means enough to God that He willnot lay sin to our charge. He will not punish nor condemn us for it. He willforgive our sins as though they amount to nothing at all. He will do it notbecause we are worthy of such mercy. He will do it for Jesus' sake in whom webelieve.
Paradoxically, a Christian is both right andwrong, holy and profane, an enemy of God and a child of God. Thesecontradictions no person can harmonize who does not understand the true way ofsalvation. Under the papacy we were told to toil until the feeling of guilt hadleft us. But the authors of this deranged idea were frequently driven to despairin the hour of death. It would have happened to me, if Christ had not mercifullydelivered me from this error.
We comfort the afflicted sinner in thismanner: Brother, you can never be perfect in this life, but you can be holy. Hewill say: "How can I be holy when I feel my sins?" I answer: You feel sin? That is a good sign. To realize that one is ill is astep, and a very necessary step, toward recovery. "But how will I get ridof my sin?" he will ask. I answer: See the heavenly Physician, Christ, whoheals the broken-hearted. Do not consult that Quackdoctor, Reason. Believe inChrist and your sins will be pardoned. His righteousness will become yourrighteousness, and your sins will become His sins.
On one occasion Jesus said to His disciples:"The Father loveth you." Why? Not because the disciples werePharisees, or circumcised, or particularly attentive to the Law. Jesus said:"The Father loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that Icame out from God. It pleased you to know that the Father sent me into theworld. And because you believed it the Father loves you." On anotheroccasion Jesus called His disciples evil and commanded them to ask forforgiveness.
A Christian is beloved of God and a sinner.How can these two contradictions be harmonized: I am a sinner and deserve God'swrath and punishment, and yet the Father loves me? Christ alone can harmonizethese contradictions. He is the Mediator.
Do you now see how faith justifies withoutworks? Sin lingers in us, and God hates sin. A transfusion of righteousnesstherefore becomes vitally necessary. This transfusion of righteousness we obtainfrom Christ because we believe in Him.
VERSE 7.Knowye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
This is the main point of Paul's argumentagainst the Jews: The children of Abraham are those who believe and not thosewho are born of Abraham's flesh and blood. This point Paul drives home with allhis might because the Jews attached saving value to the genealogical fact:"We are the seed and children of Abraham."
Let us begin with Abraham and learn how this friend of God was justified andsaved. Not because he left his country, his relatives, his father's house; notbecause he was circumcised; not because he stood ready to sacrifice his own sonIsaac in whom he had the promise of posterity. Abraham was justified because hebelieved. Paul's argumentation runs like this: "Since this is theunmistakable testimony of Holy Writ, why do you take your stand uponcircumcision and the Law? Was not Abraham, your father, of whom you make somuch, justified and saved without circumcision and the Law by faith alone?"Paul therefore concludes: "They which are of faith, the same are thechildren of Abraham."
Abraham was the father of the faithful. Inorder to be a child of the believing Abraham you must believe as he did.Otherwise you are merely the physical offspring of the procreating Abraham,i.e., you were conceived and born in sin unto wrath and condemnation.
Ishmael and Isaac were both the naturalchildren of Abraham. By rights Ishmael should have enjoyed the prerogatives ofthe firstborn, if physical generation had any special value. Nevertheless he wasleft out in the cold while Isaac was called. This goes to prove that thechildren of faith are the real children of Abraham.
Some find fault with Paul for applying theterm "faith" in Genesis 15:6 to Christ. They think Paul's use of theterm too wide and general. They think its meaning should be restricted to thecontext. They claim Abraham's faith had no more in it than a belief in thepromise of God that he should have seed.
We reply: Faith presupposes the assurance ofGod's mercy. This assurance takes in the confidence that our sins are forgivenfor Christ's sake. Never will the conscience trust in God unless it can be sureof God's mercy and promises in Christ. Now all the promises of God lead back tothe first promise concerning Christ: "And I will put enmity between theeand the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise hisheel." The faith of the fathers in the Old Testament era, and our faith inthe New Testament are one and the same faith in Christ Jesus, although times andconditions may differ. Peter acknowledged this in the words: "Which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that throughthe grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15: 10, 11.) And Paul writes: "And did all drink the spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rockthat followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (I Cor. 10:4.) And Christ Himself declared: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56.) The faith of the fathers was directed at the Christ who wasto come, while ours rests in the Christ who has come. Time does not change theobject of true faith, or the Holy Spirit. There has always been and always willbe one mind, one impression, one faith concerning Christ among true believerswhether they live in times past, now, or in times to come. We too believe in theChrist to come as the fathers did in the Old Testament, for we look for Christto come again on the last day to judge the quick and the dead.
VERSE 7.Knowye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Paul is saying: "You know from theexample of Abraham and from the plain testimony of the Scriptures that they arethe children of Abraham, who have faith in Christ, regardless of theirnationality, regardless of the Law, regardless of works, regardless of theirparentage. The promise was made unto Abraham, 'Thou shalt be a father of manynations'; again, 'And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."'To prevent the Jews from misinterpreting the word "nations," theScriptures are careful to say "many nations." The true children ofAbraham are the believers in Christ from all nations.
VERSE 8.And the Scripture, foreseeingthat God would justify the heathen through faith.
"Your boasting does not get youanywhere," says Paul to the Galatians, "because the Sacred Scripturesforesaw and foretold long before the Law was ever given, that the heathen shouldbe justified by the blessed 'seed' of Abraham and not by the Law. This promisewas made four hundred and thirty years before the Law was given. Because the Lawwas given so many years after Abraham, it could not abolish the promisedblessing." This argument is strong because it is based on the exact factorof time. "Why should you boast of the Law, my Galatians, when the Law camefour hundred and thirty years after the promise ?"
The false apostles glorified the Law anddespised the promise made unto Abraham, although it antedated the Law by manyyears. It was after Abraham was accounted righteous because of his faith thatthe Scriptures first make mention of circumcision. "The Scriptures,"says Paul, "meant to forestall your infatuation for the righteousness ofthe Law by installing the righteousness of faith before circumcision and the Lawever were ordained."
VERSE 8.Preachedbefore the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
The Jews misconstrue this passage. They wantthe term "to bless" to mean "to praise." They want thepassage to read: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be praised. But thisis a perversion of the words of Holy Writ. With the words "Abrahambelieved" Paul describes a spiritual Abraham, renewed by faith andregenerated by the Holy Ghost, that he should be the spiritual father of manynations. In that way all the Gentiles could be given to him for an inheritance.
The Scriptures ascribe no righteousness toAbraham except through faith. The Scriptures speak of Abraham as he standsbefore God, a man justified by faith. Because of his faith God extends to him the promise: "In thee shall all nations beblessed."
VERSE 9.Sothen they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
The emphasis lies on the words "withfaithful Abraham." Paul distinguishes between Abraham and Abraham. There isa working and there is a believing Abraham. With the working Abraham we havenothing to do. Let the Jews glory in the generating Abraham; we glory in thebelieving Abraham of whom the Scriptures say that he received the blessing ofrighteousness by faith, not only for himself but for all who believe as he did.The world was promised to Abraham because he believed. The whole world isblessed if it believes as Abraham believed.
The blessing is the promise of the Gospel.That all nations are to be blessed means that all nations are to hear theGospel. All nations are to be declared righteous before God through faith inChrist Jesus. To bless simply means to spread abroad the knowledge of Christ'ssalvation. This is the office of the New Testament Church which distributes thepromised blessing by preaching the Gospel, by administering the sacraments, bycomforting the broken- hearted, in short, by dispensing the benefits of Christ.
The Jews exhibited a working Abraham. ThePope exhibits a working Christ, or an exemplary Christ. The Pope quotes Christ'ssaying recorded in John 13:15, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." We do not deny that Christians ought to imitate the example of Christ;but mere imitation will not satisfy God. And bear in mind that Paul is not nowdiscussing the example of Christ, but the salvation of Christ.
That Abraham submitted to circumcision at thecommand of God, that he was endowed with excellent virtues, that he obeyed Godin all things, was certainly admirable of him. To follow the example of Christ,to love one's neighbor, to do good to them that persecute you, to pray for one's enemies,patiently to bear the ingratitude of those who return evil for good, iscertainly praiseworthy. But praiseworthy or not, such virtues do not acquit usbefore God. It takes more than that to make us righteous before God. We needChrist Himself, not His example, to save us. We need a redeeming, not anexemplary Christ, to save us. Paul is here speaking of the redeeming Christ andthe believing Abraham, not of the model Christ or the sweating Abraham.
The believing Abraham is not to lie buried inthe grave. He is to be dusted off and brought out before the world. He is to bepraised to the sky for his faith. Heaven and earth ought to know about him andabout his faith in Christ. The working Abraham ought to look pretty small nextto the believing Abraham.
Paul's words contain the implication ofcontrast. When he quotes Scripture to the effect that all nations that share thefaith of faithful Abraham are to be blessed, Paul means to imply the contrastthat all nations are accursed without faith in Christ.
VERSE 10.Foras many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.
The curse of God is like a flood thatswallows everything that is not of faith. To avoid the curse we must hold on tothe promise of the blessing in Christ.
The reader is reminded that all this has nobearing upon civil laws, customs, or political matters. Civil laws andordinances have their place and purpose. Let every government enact the bestpossible laws. But civil righteousness will never deliver a person from thecondemnation of God's Law.
I have good reason for calling your attentionto this. People easily mistake civil righteousness for spiritual righteousness.In civil life we must, of course, pay attention to laws and deeds, but in thespiritual life we must not think to be justified by laws and works, but always keep in mind the promise andblessing of Christ, our only Savior.
According to Paul everything that is not offaith is sin. When our opponents hear us repeat this statement of Paul, theymake it appear as if we taught that governments should not be honored, as if wefavored rebellion against the constituted authorities, as if we condemned alllaws. Our opponents do us a great wrong, for we make a clear-cut distinctionbetween civil and spiritual affairs.
Governmental laws and ordinances areblessings of God for this life only. As for everlasting life, temporal blessingsare not good enough. Unbelievers enjoy more temporal blessings than theChristians. Civil or legal righteousness may be good enough for this life butnot for the life hereafter. Otherwise the infidels would be nearer heaven thanthe Christians, for infidels often excel in civil righteousness.
VERSE 10.Forit is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which arewritten in the book of the law to do them.
Paul goes on to prove from this quotation outof the Book of Deuteronomy that all men who are under the Law are under thesentence of sin, of the wrath of God, and of everlasting death. Paul produceshis proof in a roundabout way. He turns the negative statement, "Cursed isevery one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of thelaw to do them," into a positive statement, "As many as are of theworks of the law are under the curse." These two statements, one by Pauland the other by Moses, appear to conflict. Paul declares, "Whosoever shalldo the works of the Law, is accursed." Moses declares, "Whosoevershall not do the works of the Law, is accursed." How can these twocontradictory statements be reconciled? How can the one statement prove theother? No person can hope to understand Paul unless he understands the articleof justification. These two statements are not at all inconsistent.
We must bear in mind that to do the works of the Law does not mean only to liveup to the superficial requirements of the Law, but to obey the spirit of the Lawto perfection. But where will you find the person who can do that? Let him stepforward and we will praise him.
Our opponents have their answer ready-made.They quote Paul's own statement in Romans 2:13, "The doers of the law shall be justified." Very well. But let us first find out who the doers of the law are. Theycall a "doer" of the Law one who performs the Law in its literalsense. This is not to "do" the Law. This is to sin. When our opponentsgo about to perform the Law they sin against the first, the second, and thethird commandments, in fact they sin against the whole Law. For God requiresabove all that we worship Him in spirit and in faith. In observing the Law forthe purpose of obtaining righteousness without faith in Christ these law-workersgo smack against the Law and against God. They deny the righteousness of God,His mercy, and His promises. They deny Christ and all His benefits.
In their ignorance of the true purpose of theLaw the exponents of the Law abuse the Law, as Paul says, Romans 10:3, "For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establishtheir own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness ofGod."
In their folly our opponents rush into theScriptures, pick out a sentence here and a sentence there about the Law andimagine they know all about it. Their work-righteousness is plain idolatry andblasphemy against God. No wonder they abide under the curse of God.
Because God saw that we could not fulfill theLaw, He provided a way of salvation long before the Law was ever given, asalvation that He promised to Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nationsbe blessed."
The very first thing for us to do is tobelieve in Christ. First, we must receive the Holy Spirit, who enlightens andsanctifies us so that we can begin to do the Law, i.e., to love God and ourneighbor. Now, the Holy Ghost is not obtained by the Law, but by faith in Christ. In the last analysis, to do the Lawmeans to believe in Jesus Christ. The tree comes first, and then come thefruits.
The scholastics admit that a mere externaland superficial performance of the Law without sincerity and good will is plainhypocrisy. Judas acted like the other disciples. What was wrong with Judas? Markwhat Rome answers, "Judas was a reprobate. His motives were perverse,therefore his works were hypocritical and no good." Well, well. Rome doesadmit, after all, that works in themselves do not justify unless they issue froma sincere heart. Why do our opponents not profess the same truth in spiritualmatters? There, above all, faith must precede everything. The heart must bepurified by faith before a person can lift a finger to please God.
There are two classes of doers of the Law,true doers and hypocritical doers. The true doers of the Law are those who aremoved by faith in Christ to do the Law. The hypocritical doers of the Law arethose who seek to obtain righteousness by a mechanical performance of good workswhile their hearts are far removed from God. They act like the foolish carpenterwho starts with the roof when he builds a house. Instead of doing the Law, theselaw-conscious hypocrites break the Law. They break the very first commandment ofGod by denying His promise in Christ. They do not worship God in faith. Theyworship themselves.
No wonder Paul was able to foretell theabominations that Antichrist would bring into the Church. That Antichrists wouldcome, Christ Himself prophesied, Matthew 24:5, "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Whoever seeks righteousness by works denies God and makes himself God. Heis an Antichrist because he ascribes to his own works the omnipotent capabilityof conquering sin, death, devil, hell, and the wrath of God. An Antichrist laysclaim to the honor of Christ. He is an idolater of himself. The law- righteousperson is the worst kind of infidel.
Those who intend to obtain righteousness by their own efforts do not say in somany words: "I am God; I am Christ." But it amounts to that. Theyusurp the divinity and office of Christ. The effect is the same as if they said,"I am Christ; I am a Savior. I save myself and others." This is theimpression the monks give out.
The Pope is the Antichrist, because he isagainst Christ, because he takes liberties with the things of God, because helords it over the temple of God.
I cannot tell you in words how criminal it isto seek righteousness before God without faith in Christ, by the works of theLaw. It is the abomination standing in the holy place. It deposes the Creatorand deifies the creature.
The real doers of the Law are the truebelievers. The Holy Spirit enables them to love God and their neighbor. Butbecause we have only the first- fruits of the Spirit and not the tenth-fruits,we do not observe the Law perfectly. This imperfection of ours, however, is notimputed to us, for Christ's sake.
Hence, the statement of Moses, "Cursedis every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book ofthe law to do them," is not contrary to Paul. Moses requires perfect doersof the Law. But where will you find them? Nowhere. Moses himself confessed thathe was not a perfect doer of the Law. He said to the Lord: "Pardon ouriniquity and our sin." Christ alone can make us innocent of anytransgression. How so? First, by the forgiveness of our sins and the imputationof His righteousness. Secondly, by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who engenders newlife and activity in us.
Objections to the Doctrine of FaithDisproved
Here we shall take the time to enter upon theobjections which our opponents raise against the doctrine of faith. There aremany passages in the Bible that deal with works and the reward of works whichour opponents cite against us in the belief that these will disprove thedoctrine of faith which we teach.
The scholastics grant that according to the reasonable order of nature beingprecedes doing. They grant that any act is faulty unless it proceeds from aright motive. They grant that a person must be right before he can do right. Whydon't they grant that the right inclination of the heart toward God throughfaith in Christ must precede works?
In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to theHebrews we find a catalogue of various works and deeds of the saints of theBible. David, who killed a lion and a bear, and defeated Goliath, is mentioned.In the heroic deeds of David the scholastic can discover nothing more thanoutward achievement. But the deeds of David must be evaluated according to thepersonality of David. When we understand that David was a man of faith, whoseheart trusted in the Lord, we shall understand why he could do such heroicdeeds. David said: "The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of thebear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine." Again: "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I cometo thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whomthou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I willsmite thee, and take shine head from thee." (I Samuel 17:37, 45, 46.) Before David could achieve a single heroic deedhe was already a man beloved of God, strong and constant in faith.
Of Abel it is said in the same Epistle:"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain."When the scholastics come upon the parallel passage in Genesis 4:4 they get nofurther than the words: "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to hisoffering." "Aha!" they cry. "See, God has respect toofferings. Works do justify." With mud in their eyes they cannot see thatthe text says in Genesis that the Lord had respect to the person of Abel first.Abel pleased the Lord because of his faith. Because the person of Abel pleasedthe Lord, the offering of Abel pleased the Lord also. The Epistle to the Hebrews expresslystates: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice."
In our dealings with God the work is worthnothing without faith, for "without faith it is impossible to please him." (Hebrews 11:6.) The sacrifice of Abel was better than the sacrifice ofCain, because Abel had faith. As to Cain he had no faith or trust in God'sgrace, but strutted about in his own fancied worth. When God refused torecognize Cain's worth, Cain got angry at God and at Abel.
The Holy Spirit speaks of faith in differentways in the Sacred Scriptures. Sometimes He speaks of faith independently ofother matters. When the Scriptures speak of faith in the absolute or abstract,faith refers to justification directly. But when the Scripture speaks of rewardsand works it speaks of compound or relative faith. We will furnish someexamples. Galatians 5:6, "Faith which worketh by love." Leviticus 18:5, "Which if a man do, he shall live in them." Matthew 19:17, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Psalm 37:27, "Depart from evil, and do good." In these andother passages where mention is made of doing, the Scriptures always speak of afaithful doing, a doing inspired by faith. "Do this and thou shaltlive," means: First have faith in Christ, and Christ will enable you to doand to live.
In the Word of God all things that areattributed to works are attributable to faith. Faith is the divinity of works.Faith permeates all the deeds of the believer, as Christ's divinity permeatedHis humanity. Abraham was accounted righteous because faith pervaded his wholepersonality and his every action.
When you read how the fathers, prophets, andkings accomplished great deeds, remember to explain them as the Epistle to theHebrews accounts for them: "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises,stopped the mouths of lions." (Hebrews 11:33.) In this way will we correctly interpret all those passages that seem to support the righteousness of works. The Law is trulyobserved only through faith. Hence, every "holy," "moral"law-worker is accursed.
Supposing that this explanation will notsatisfy the scholastics, supposing that they should completely wrap me up intheir arguments (they cannot do it), I would rather be wrong and give all creditto Christ alone. Here is Christ. Paul, Christ's apostle, declares that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." (Gal. 3:13.) I hear with my own ears that I cannot be saved except by theblood and death of Christ. I conclude, therefore, that it is up to Christ toovercome my sins, and not up to the Law, or my own efforts. If He is the priceof my redemption, if He was made sin for my justification, I don't give a careif you quote me a thousand Scripture passages for the righteousness of worksagainst the righteousness of faith. I have the Author and Lord of the Scriptureson my side. I would rather believe Him than all that riffraff of"pious" law- workers.
VERSE 11.Butthat no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, Thejust shall live by faith.
The Apostle draws into his argument thetestimony of the Prophet Habakkuk: "The just shall live by his faith."This passage carries much weight because it eliminates the Law and the deeds ofthe Law as factors in the process of our justification.
The scholastics misconstrue this passage bysaying: "The just shall live by faith, if it is a working faith, or a faithformed and performed by charitable works." Their annotation is a forgery.To speak of formed or unformed faith, a sort of double faith, is contrary to theScriptures. If charitable works can form and perfect faith I am forced to sayeventually that charitable deeds constitute the essential factor in theChristian religion. Christ and His benefits would be lost to us.
VERSE 12.And the law is not of faith.
In direct opposition to the scholastics Pauldeclares: "The law is not of faith." What is this charity thescholastics talk so much about? Does not the Law command charity? The fact isthe Law commands nothing but charity, as we may gather from the followingScripture passages: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul,and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:5.) "Strewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:6.) "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22:40.) If the law requires charity, charity is part of the Lawand not of faith. Since Christ has displaced the Law which commands charity, itfollows that charity has been abrogated with the Law as a factor in ourjustification, and only faith is left.
VERSE 12.But,The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Paul undertakes to explain the differencebetween the righteousness of the Law and the righteousness of faith. Therighteousness of the Law is the fulfillment of the Law according to the passage:"The man that doeth them shall live in them." The righteousness offaith is to believe the Gospel according to the passage: "The just shalllive by faith." The Law is a statement of debit, the Gospel a statement ofcredit. By this distinction Paul explains why charity which is the commandmentof the Law cannot justify, because the Law contributes nothing to ourjustification.
Indeed, works do follow after faith, butfaith is not therefore a meritorious work. Faith is a gift. The character andlimitations of the Law must be rigidly maintained.
When we believe in Christ we live by faith.When we believe in the Law we may be active enough but we have no life. Thefunction of the Law is not to give life; the function of the Law is to kill.True, the Law says: "The man that doeth them shall live in them." Butwhere is the person who can do "them," i.e., love God with all his heart, soul,and mind, and his neighbor as himself?
Paul has nothing against those who arejustified by faith and therefore are true doers of the Law. He opposes those whothink they can fulfill the Law when in reality they can only sin against the Lawby trying to obtain righteousness by the Law. The Law demands that we fear,love, and worship God with a true faith. The law-workers fail to do this.Instead, they invent new modes of worship and new kinds of works which God nevercommanded. They provoke His anger according to the passage: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9.) Hence, the law-righteous workers are downright rebelsagainst God, and idolaters who constantly sin against the first commandment. Inshort, they are no good at-all though outwardly they seem to be extremelysolicitous of the honor of God.
We who are justified by faith as the saintsof old, may be under the Law, but we are not under the curse of the Law becausesin is not imputed to us for Christ's sake. If the Law cannot be fulfilled bythe believers, if sin continues to cling to them despite their love for God,what can you expect of people who are not yet justified by faith, who are stillenemies of God and His Word, like the unbelieving law-workers? It goes to showhow impossible it is for those who have not been justified by faith to fulfillthe Law.
VERSE 13.Christhath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it iswritten, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
Jeromeand his present-day followers rack their miserable brains over this comfortingpassage in an effort to save Christ from the fancied insult of being called acurse. They say: "This quotation from Moses does not apply to Christ. Paulis taking liberties with Moses by generalizing the statements in Deuteronomy21:23. Moses has 'he that is hanged.' Paul puts it 'every one that hangeth.'On the other hand, Paul omits the words 'of God' in his quotation from Moses:'For he that is hanged is accursed of God.' Moses speaks of a criminal who isworthy of death." "How," our opponents ask, "can thispassage be applied to the holy Christ as if He were accursed of God and worthyto be hanged?" This piece of exegesis may impress the naive as a zealousattempt to defend the honor and glory of Christ. Let us see what Paul has inmind.
Paul does not say that Christ was made acurse for Himself. The accent is on the two words "for us." Christ ispersonally innocent. Personally, He did not deserve to be hanged for any crimeof His own doing. But because Christ took the place of others who were sinners,He was hanged like any other transgressor. The Law of Moses leaves no loopholes.It says that a transgressor should be hanged. Who are the other sinners? We are.The sentence of death and everlasting damnation had long been pronounced overus. But Christ took all our sins and died for them on the Cross. "He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and madeintercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12.)
All the prophets of old said that Christshould be the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, blasphemer thatever was or ever could be on earth. When He took the sins of the whole worldupon Himself, Christ was no longer an innocent person. He was a sinner burdenedwith the sins of a Paul who was a blasphemer; burdened with the sins of a Peterwho denied Christ; burdened with the sins of a David who committed adultery andmurder, and gave the heathen occasion to laugh at the Lord. In short, Christ wascharged with the sins of all men, that He should pay for them with His ownblood. The curse struck Him. The Law found Him among sinners. He was not only inthe company of sinners. He had gone so far as to invest Himself with the flesh and blood of sinners. So the Lawjudged and hanged Him for a sinner.
In separating Christ from us sinners andholding Him up as a holy exemplar, errorists rob us of our best comfort. Theymisrepresent Him as a threatening tyrant who is ready to slaughter us at theslightest provocation.
I am told that it is preposterous and wickedto call the Son of God a cursed sinner. I answer: If you deny that He is acondemned sinner, you are forced to deny that Christ died. It is not lesspreposterous to say, the Son of God died, than to say, the Son of God was asinner.
John the Baptist called Him "the lamb ofGod, which taketh away the sin of the world." Being the unspotted Lamb ofGod, Christ was personally innocent. But because He took the sins of the worldHis sinlessness was defiled with the sinfulness of the world. Whatever sins I,you, all of us have committed or shall commit, they are Christ's sins as if Hehad committed them Himself. Our sins have to be Christ's sins or we shall perishforever.
Isaiah declares of Christ: "The Lordhath laid on him the iniquity of us all." We have no right to minimize theforce of this declaration. God does not amuse Himself with words. What a relieffor a Christian to know that Christ is covered all over with my sins, your sins,and the sins of the whole world.
The papists invented their own doctrine offaith. They say charity creates and adorns their faith. By stripping Christ ofour sins, by making Him sinless, they cast our sins back at us, and make Christabsolutely worthless to us. What sort of charity is this? If that is a sample oftheir vaunted charity we want none of it.
Our merciful Father in heaven saw how the Lawoppressed us and how impossible it was for us to get out from under the curse ofthe Law. He therefore sent His only Son into the world and said to Him:"You are now Peter, the liar; Paul, the persecutor; David, the adulterer;Adam, the disobedient; the thief on the cross. You, My Son, must pay the world's iniquity." The Law growls: "All right. IfYour Son is taking the sin of the world, I see no sins anywhere else but in Him.He shall die on the Cross." And the Law kills Christ. But we go free.
The argument of the Apostle against therighteousness of the Law is impregnable. If Christ bears our sins, we do notbear them. But if Christ is innocent of our sins and does not bear them, we mustbear them, and we shall die in our sins. "But thanks be to God, whichgiveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Let us see how Christ was able to gain thevictory over our enemies. The sins of the whole world, past, present, andfuture, fastened themselves upon Christ and condemned Him. But because Christ isGod He had an everlasting and unconquerable righteousness. These two, the sin ofthe world and the righteousness of God, met in a death struggle. Furiously thesin of the world assailed the righteousness of God. Righteousness is immortaland invincible. On the other hand, sin is a mighty tyrant who subdues all men.This tyrant pounces on Christ. But Christ's righteousness is unconquerable. Theresult is inevitable. Sin is defeated and righteousness triumphs and reignsforever.
In the same manner was death defeated. Deathis emperor of the world. He strikes down kings, princes, all men. He has an ideato destroy all life. But Christ has immortal life, and life immortal gained thevictory over death. Through Christ death has lost her sting. Christ is the Deathof death.
The curse of God waged a similar battle withthe eternal mercy of God in Christ. The curse meant to condemn God's mercy. Butit could not do it because the mercy of God is everlasting. The curse had togive way. If the mercy of God in Christ had lost out, God Himself would havelost out, which, of course, is impossible.
"Christ," says Paul, "spoiled principalities and powers, He madea show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2:15.) They cannot harm those who hide in Christ. Sin, death, thewrath of God, hell, the devil are mortified in Christ. Where Christ is near thepowers of evil must keep their distance. St. John says: "And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5:4.)
You may now perceive why it is imperative tobelieve and confess the divinity of Christ. To overcome the sin of a wholeworld, and death, and the wrath of God was no work for any creature. The powerof sin and death could be broken only by a greater power. God alone couldabolish sin, destroy death, and take away the curse of the Law. God alone couldbring righteousness, life, and mercy to light. In attributing these achievementsto Christ the Scriptures pronounce Christ to be God forever. The article ofjustification is indeed fundamental. If we remain sound in this one article, weremain sound in all the other articles of the Christian faith. When we teachjustification by faith in Christ we confess at the same time that Christ is God.
I cannot get over the blindness of the Pope'stheologians. To imagine that the mighty forces of sin, death, and the curse canbe vanquished by the righteousness of man's paltry works, by fasting,pilgrimages, masses, vows, and such gewgaws. These blind leaders of the blindturn the poor people over to the mercy of sin, death, and the devil. What chancehas a defenseless human creature against these powers of darkness? They trainsinners who are ten times worse than any thief, whore, murderer. The divinepower of God alone can destroy sin and death, and create righteousness and life.
When we hear that Christ was made a curse forus, let us believe it with joy and assurance. By faith Christ changes placeswith us. He gets our sins, we get His holiness.
By faith alone can we become righteous, forfaith invests us with the sinlessness of Christ. The more fully we believe this, the fuller will be our joy. If you believe that sin, death, and the curseare void, why, they are null, zero. Whenever sin and death make you nervouswrite it down as an illusion of the devil. There is no sin now, no curse, nodeath, no devil because Christ has done away with them. This fact is sure. Thereis nothing wrong with the fact. The defect lies in our lack of faith.
In the Apostolic Creed we confess: "Ibelieve in the holy Christian Church." That means, I believe that there isno sin, no curse, no evil in the Church of God. Faith says: "I believethat." But if you want to believe your eyes you will find many shortcomingsand offenses in the members of the holy Church. You see them succumb totemptation, you see them weak in faith, you see them giving way to anger, envy,and other evil dispositions. "How can the Church be holy?" you ask. Itis with the Christian Church as it is with the individual Christian. If Iexamine myself I find enough unholiness to shock me. But when I look at Christin me I find that I am altogether holy. And so it is with the Church.
Holy Writ does not say that Christ was underthe curse. It says directly that Christ was made a curse. In II Corinthians 5:21Paul writes: "For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that wemight be made the righteousness of God in him." Although this and similar passages may be properly explained by sayingthat Christ was made a sacrifice for the curse and for sin, yet in my judgmentit is better to leave these passages stand as they read: Christ was made sinitself; Christ was made the curse itself. When a sinner gets wise to himself hedoes not only feel miserable, he feels like misery personified; he does not onlyfeel like a sinner, he feels like sin itself.
To finish with this verse: All evils wouldhave overwhelmed us, as they shall overwhelm the unbelievers forever, if Christhad not become the great transgressor and guilty bearer of all our sins. Thesins of the world got Him down for a moment. They came around Him like water. OfChrist, the Old Testament Prophet complained: "Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off." (Psalm 88:16.) By Christ's salvation we have been delivered from theterrors of God to a life of eternal felicity.
VERSE 14.Thatthe blessing of Abraham might come, on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.
Paul always keeps this text before him:"In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Theblessing promised unto Abraham could come upon the Gentiles only by Christ, theseed of Abraham. To become a blessing unto all nations Christ had to be made acurse to take away the curse from the nations of the earth. The merit that weplead, and the work that we proffer is Christ who was made a curse for us.
Let us become expert in the art oftransferring our sins, our death, and every evil from ourselves to Christ; andChrist's righteousness and blessing from Christ to ourselves.
VERSE 14.Thatwe might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
"The promise of the Spirit" isHebrew for "the promised Spirit." The Spirit spells freedom from theLaw, sin, death, the curse, hell, and the judgment of God. No merits arementioned in connection with this promise of the Spirit and all the blessingsthat go with Him. This Spirit of many blessings is received by faith alone.Faith alone builds on the promises of God, as Paul says in this verse.
Long ago the prophets visualized the happychanges Christ would effect in all things. Despite the fact that the Jews hadthe Law of God they never ceased to look longingly for Christ. After Moses noprophet or king added a single law to the Book. Any changes or additions weredeferred to the time of Christ's coming. Moses told the people: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shallhearken." (Deut. 18:15.)
God's people of old felt that the Law ofMoses could not be improved upon until the Messiah would bring better thingsthan the Law, i.e., grace and remission of sins.
VERSE 15.Brethren,I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it beconfirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
After the preceding, well-taken argument,Paul offers another based on the similarity between a man's testament and God'stestament. A man's testament seems too weak a premise for the Apostle to arguefrom in confirmation of so important a matter as justification. We ought toprove earthly things by heavenly things, and not heavenly things by earthlythings. But where the earthly thing is an ordinance of God we may use it toprove divine matters. In Matthew 7:11 Christ Himself argued from earthly toheavenly things when He said: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how muchmore shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
To come to Paul's argument. Civil law, whichis God's ordinance, prohibits tampering with any testament of man. Any person'slast will and testament must be respected. Paul asks: "Why is it that man'slast will is scrupulously respected and not God's testament? You would not thinkof breaking faith with a man's testament. Why do you not keep faith with God'stestament?"
The Apostle says that he is speaking afterthe manner of men. He means to say: "I will give you an illustration fromthe customs of men. If a man's last will is respected. and it is, how much moreought the testament of God be honored: 'In thy seed shall all the nations of theearth be blessed.' When Christ died, this testament was sealed by His blood.After His death the testament was opened, it was published to the nations. No man ought to alter God's testament as the falseapostles do who substitute the Law and traditions of men for the testament ofGod."
As the false prophets tampered with God'stestament in the days of Paul, so many do in our day. They will observe humanlaws punctiliously, but the laws of God they transgress without the flicker ofan eyelid. But the time will come when they will find out that it is no joke topervert the testament of God.
VERSE 16.Nowto Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, asof many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
The word testament is another name for thepromise that God made unto Abraham concerning Christ. A testament is not a law,but an inheritance. Heirs do not look for laws and assessments when they open alast will; they look for grants and favors. The testament which God made out toAbraham did not contain laws. It contained promises of great spiritualblessings.
The promises were made in view of Christ, inone seed, not in many seeds. The Jews will not accept this interpretation. Theyinsist that the singular "seed" is put for the plural"seeds." We prefer the interpretation of Paul, who makes a fine casefor Christ and for us out of the singular "seed," and is after allinspired to do so by the Holy Ghost.
VERSE 17.Andthis I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, thelaw which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that itshould make the promise of none effect.
The Jews assert that God was not satisfiedwith His promises, but after four hundred and thirty years He gave the Law."God," they say, "must have mistrusted His own promises, andconsidered them inadequate for salvation . Therefore He added to His promises something better, the Law. The Law,"they say, "canceled the promises."
Paul answers: "The Law was given fourhundred and thirty years after the promise was made to Abraham. The Law couldnot cancel the promise because the promise was the testament of God, confirmedby God in Christ many years before the Law. What God has once promised He doesnot take back. Every promise of God is a ratified promise."
Why was the Law added to the promise? Not toserve as a medium by which the promise might be obtained. The Law was added forthese reasons: That there might be in the world a special people, rigidlycontrolled by the Law, a people out of which Christ should be born in due time;and that men burdened by many laws might sigh and long for Him, their Redeemer,the seed of Abraham. Even the ceremonies prescribed by the Law foreshadowedChrist. Therefore the Law was never meant to cancel the promise of God. The Lawwas meant to confirm the promise until the time should come when God would openHis testament in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God did well in giving the promise so manyyears before the Law, that it may never be said that righteousness is grantedthrough the Law and not through the promise. If God had meant for us to bejustified by the Law, He would have given the Law four hundred and thirty yearsbefore the promise, at least He would have given the Law at the same time Hegave the promise. But He never breathed a word about the Law until four hundredyears after. The promise is therefore better than the Law. The Law does notcancel the promise, but faith in the promised Christ cancels the Law.
The Apostle is careful to mention the exactnumber of four hundred and thirty years. The wide divergence in the time betweenthe promise and the Law helps to clinch Paul's argument that righteousness is not obtained by the Law.
Let me illustrate. A man of great wealthadopts a strange lad for his son. Remember, he does not owe the lad anything. Indue time he appoints the lad heir to his entire fortune. Several years later theold man asks the lad to do something for him. And the young lad does it. Can thelad then go around and say that he deserved the inheritance by his obedience tothe old man's request ? How can anybody say that righteousness is obtained byobedience to the Law when the Law was given four hundred and thirty years afterGod's promise of the blessing?
One thing is certain, Abraham was neverjustified by the Law, for the simple reason that the Law was not in his day. Ifthe Law was non-existent how could Abraham obtain righteousness by the Law?Abraham had nothing else to go by but the promise. This promise he believed andthat was counted unto him for righteousness. If the father obtainedrighteousness through faith, the children get it the same way.
We use the argument of time also. We say oursins were taken away by the death of Christ fifteen hundred years ago, longbefore there were any religious orders, canons, or rules of penance, merits,etc. What did people do about their sins before these new inventions werehatched up?
Paul finds his arguments for therighteousness of faith everywhere. Even the element of time serves to build hiscase against the false apostles. Let us fortify our conscience with similararguments. They help us in the trials of our faith. They turn our attention fromthe Law to the promises, from sin to righteousness; from death to life.
It is not for nothing that Paul bears down onthis argument. He foresaw this confusion of the promise and the Law creepinginto the Church. Accustom yourself to separate Law and Gospel even in regard totime. When the Law comes to pay your conscience a visit, say: "Mister Law, you cometoo soon. The four hundred and thirty years aren't up yet. When they are up, youcome again. Won't you ?"
VERSE 18.Forif the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise.
In Romans 4:14, the Apostle writes: "For if they which are made of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and thepromise made of none effect." It cannot be otherwise. That the Law is something entirely different fromthe promise is plain. The Law thunders: "Thou shalt, thou shalt not."The promise of the "seed" pleads: "Take this gift of God."If the inheritance of the gifts of God were obtained by the Law, God would be aliar. We would have the right to ask Him: "Why did you make this promise inthe first place: 'In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed'?Why did you not say: 'In thy works thou shalt be blessed'?"
VERSE 18.ButGod gave it to Abraham by promise.
So much is certain, before the Law everexisted, God gave Abraham the inheritance or blessing by the promise. In otherwords, God granted unto Abraham remission of sins, righteousness, salvation, andeverlasting life. And not only to Abraham but to all believers, because Godsaid: "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Theblessing was given unconditionally. The Law had no chance to butt in becauseMoses was not yet born. "How then can you say that righteousness isobtained by the Law?"
The Apostle now goes to work to explain theprovince and purpose of the Law.
VERSE 19.Whereforethen serveth the law?
The question naturally arises: If the Law wasnot given for righteousness or salvation, why was it given? Why did God give theLaw in the first place if it cannot justify a person?
The Jews believed if they kept the Law they would be saved. When they heard thatthe Gospel proclaimed a Christ who had come into the world to save sinners andnot the righteous; when they heard that sinners were to enter the kingdom ofheaven before the righteous, the Jews were very much put out. They murmured:"These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us,which have borne the burden and heat of the day." (Matthew 20:12.) They complained that the heathen who at one time hadbeen worshipers of idols obtained grace without the drudgery of the Law that wastheirs.
Today we hear the same complaints. "Whatwas the use of our having lived in a cloister, twenty, thirty, forty years; whatwas the sense of having vowed chastity, poverty, obedience; what good are allthe masses and canonical hours that we read; what profit is there in fasting,praying, etc., if any man or woman, any beggar or scour woman is to be madeequal to us, or even be considered more acceptable unto God than we?"
Reason takes offense at the statement ofPaul: "The law was added because of transgressions." People say thatPaul abrogated the Law, that he is a radical, that he blasphemed God when hesaid that. People say: "We might as well live like wild people if the Lawdoes not count. Let us abound in sin that grace may abound. Let us do evil thatgood may come of it."
What are we to do? Such scoffing distressesus, but we cannot stop it. Christ Himself was accused of being a blasphemer andrebel. Paul and all the other apostles were told the same things. Let thescoffers slander us, let them spare us not. But we must not on their accountkeep silent. We must speak frankly in order that afflicted consciences may findsurcease. Neither are we to pay any attention to the foolish and ungodly peoplefor abusing our doctrine. They are the kind that would scoff, Law or no Law. Ourfirst consideration must be the comfort of troubled consciences, that they may not perish with the multitudes.
When he saw that some were offended at hisdoctrine, while others found in it encouragement to live after the flesh, Paulcomforted himself with the thought that it was his duty to preach the Gospel tothe elect of God, and that for their sake he must endure all things. Like Paulwe also do all these things for the sake of God's elect. As for the scoffers andskeptics, I am so disgusted with them that in all my life I would not open mymouth for them once. I wish that they were back there where they belong underthe iron heel of the Pope.
People foolish but wise in their conceitsjump to the conclusion: If the Law does not justify, it is good for nothing. Howabout that? Because money does not justify, would you say that money is good fornothing? Because the eyes do not justify, would you have them taken out? Becausethe Law does not justify it does not follow that the Law is without value. Wemust find and define the proper purpose of the Law. We do not offhand condemnthe Law because we say it does not justify.
We say with Paul that the Law is good if itis used properly. Within its proper sphere the Law is an excellent thing. But ifwe ascribe to the Law functions for which it was never intended, we pervert notonly the Law but also the Gospel.
It is the universal impression thatrighteousness is obtained through the deeds of the Law. This impression isinstinctive and therefore doubly dangerous. Gross sins and vices may berecognized or else repressed by the threat of punishment. But this sin, thisopinion of man's own righteousness refuses to be classified as sin. It wants tobe esteemed as high-class religion. Hence, it constitutes the mighty influenceof the devil over the entire world. In order to point out the true office of theLaw, and thus to stamp out that false impression of the righteousness of the Law, Paul answers the question: "Wherefore then serveth the Law?"with the words:
VERSE 19.Itwas added because of transgressions.
All things differ. Let everything serve itsunique purpose. Let the sun shine by day, the moon and the stars by night. Letthe sea furnish fish, the earth grain, the woods trees, etc. Let the Law alsoserve its unique purpose. It must not step out of character and take the placeof anything else. What is the function of the Law? "Transgression,"answers the Apostle.
The Twofold Purpose of the Law
The Law has a twofold purpose. One purpose iscivil. God has ordained civil laws to punish crime. Every law is given torestrain sin. Does it not then make men righteous? No. In refraining frommurder, adultery, theft, or other sins, I do so under compulsion because I fearthe jail, the noose, the electric chair. These restrain me as iron bars restraina lion and a bear. Otherwise they would tear everything to pieces. Such forcefulrestraint cannot be regarded as righteousness, rather as an indication ofunrighteousness. As a wild beast is tied to keep it from running amuck, so theLaw bridles mad and furious man to keep him from running wild. The need forrestraint shows plainly enough that those who need the Law are not righteous,but wicked men who are fit to be tied. No, the Law does not justify.
The first purpose of the Law, accordingly, isto restrain the wicked. The devil gets people into all kinds of scrapes.Therefore God instituted governments, parents, laws, restrictions, and civilordinances. At least they help to tie the devil's hands so that he does not rageup and down the earth. This civil restraint by the Law is intended by God forthe preservation of all things, particularly for the good of the Gospel that itshould not be hindered too much by the tumult of the wicked. But Paul is not nowtreating of this civil use and function of the Law.
The second purpose of the Law is spiritual and divine. Paul describes thisspiritual purpose of the Law in the words, "Because oftransgressions," i.e., to reveal to a person his sin, blindness, misery,his ignorance, hatred, and contempt of God, his death, hell, and condemnation.
This is the principal purpose of the Law andits most valuable contribution. As long as a person is not a murderer,adulterer, thief, he would swear that he is righteous. How is God going tohumble such a person except by the Law? The Law is the hammer of death, thethunder of hell, and the lightning of God's wrath to bring down the proud andshameless hypocrites. When the Law was instituted on Mount Sinai it wasaccompanied by lightning, by storms, by the sound of trumpets, to tear to piecesthat monster called self-righteousness. As long as a person thinks he is righthe is going to be incomprehensibly proud and presumptuous. He is going to hateGod, despise His grace and mercy, and ignore the promises in Christ. The Gospelof the free forgiveness of sins through Christ will never appeal to theself-righteous.
This monster of self-righteousness, thisstiff-necked beast, needs a big axe. And that is what the Law is, a big axe.Accordingly, the proper use and function of the Law is to threaten until theconscience is scared stiff.
The awful spectacle at Mount Sinai portrayedthe proper use of the Law. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt afeeling of singular holiness possessed them. They boasted: "We are the people of God. All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." (Ex. 19:8) This feeling of holiness was heightened when Moses orderedthem to wash their clothes, to refrain from their wives, and to preparethemselves all around. The third day came and Moses led the people out of theirtents to the foot of the mountain into the presence of the Lord. What happened?When the children of Israel saw the whole mountain burning and smoking, theblack clouds rent by fierce lightning flashing up and down in the inky darkness,when they heard the sound of the trumpet blowing louder and longer, shattered by the roll ofthunder, they were so frightened that they begged Moses: "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest wedie." (Ex. 20:19.) I ask you, what good did their scrubbing, their snow-whiteclothes, and their continence do them? No good at all. Not a single one couldstand in the presence of the glorious Lord. Stricken by the terror of God, theyfled back into their tents, as if the devil were after them.
The Law is meant to produce the same effecttoday which it produced at Mount Sinai long ago. I want to encourage all whofear God, especially those who intend to become ministers of the Gospel, tolearn from the Apostle the proper use of the Law. I fear that after our time theright handling of the Law will become a lost art. Even now, although wecontinually explain the separate functions of the Law and the Gospel, we havethose among us who do not understand how the Law should be used. What will it belike when we are dead and gone?
We want it understood that we do not rejectthe Law as our opponents claim. On the contrary, we uphold the Law. We say theLaw is good if it is used for the purposes for which it was designed, to checkcivil transgression, and to magnify spiritual transgressions. The Law is also alight like the Gospel. But instead of revealing the grace of God, righteousness,and life, the Law brings sin, death, and the wrath of God to light. This is thebusiness of the Law, and here the business of the Law ends, and should go nofurther.
The business of the Gospel, on the otherhand, is to quicken, to comfort, to raise the fallen. The Gospel carries thenews that God for Christ's sake is merciful to the most unworthy sinners, ifthey will only believe that Christ by His death has delivered them from sin andeverlasting death unto grace, forgiveness, and everlasting life. By keeping inmind the difference between the Law and the Gospel we let each perform itsspecial task. Of this difference between the Law and the Gospel nothing can be discovered in the writings of themonks or scholastics, nor for that matter in the writings of the ancientfathers. Augustine understood thedifference somewhat. Jerome and othersknew nothing of it. The silence in the Church concerning the difference betweenthe Law and the Gospel has resulted in untold harm. Unless a sharp distinctionis maintained between the purpose and function of the Law and the Gospel, theChristian doctrine cannot be kept free from error.
VERSE 19.Itwas added because of transgressions.
In other words, that transgressions might berecognized as such and thus increased. When sin, death, and the wrath of God arerevealed to a person by the Law, he grows impatient, complains against God, andrebels. Before that he was a very holy man; he worshipped and praised God; hebowed his knees before God and gave thanks, like the Pharisee. But now that sinand death are revealed to him by the Law he wishes there were no God. The Lawinspires hatred of God. Thus sin is not only revealed by the Law; sin isactually increased and magnified by the Law.
The Law is a mirror to show a person what heis like, a sinner who is guilty of death, and worthy of everlasting punishment.What is this bruising and beating by the hand of the Law to accomplish? This,that we may find the way to grace. The Law is an usher to lead the way to grace.God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted. It is His nature toexalt the humble, to comfort the sorrowing, to heal the broken-hearted, tojustify the sinners, and to save the condemned. The fatuous idea that a personcan be holy by himself denies God the pleasure of saving sinners. God musttherefore first take the sledge-hammer of the Law in His fists and smash thebeast of self-righteousness and its brood of self-confidence, self-wisdom,self-righteousness, and self-help. When the conscience has been thoroughlyfrightened by the Law it welcomes the Gospel of grace with its message of a Savior who came into theworld, not to break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax, but topreach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, and to grantforgiveness of sins to all the captives.
Man's folly, however, is so prodigious thatinstead of embracing the message of grace with its guarantee of the forgivenessof sin for Christ's sake, man finds himself more laws to satisfy his conscience."If I live," says he, "I will mend my life. I will do this, Iwill do that." Man, if you don't do the very opposite, if you don't sendMoses with the Law back to Mount Sinai and take the hand of Christ, pierced foryour sins, you will never be saved.
When the Law drives you to the point ofdespair, let it drive you a little farther, let it drive you straight into thearms of Jesus who says: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavyladen, and I will give you rest."
VERSE 19.Tillthe seed should come to whom the promise was made.
The Law is not to have its say indefinitely.We must know how long the Law is to put in its licks. If it hammers away toolong, no person would and could be saved. The Law has a boundary beyond which itmust not go. How long ought the Law to hold sway? "Till the seed shouldcome to whom the promise was made."
That may be taken literally to mean until thetime of the Gospel. "From the days of John the Baptist," says Jesus, "until now thekingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For allthe prophets and the law prophesied until John."(Matthew 11:12, 13.) When Christ came the Law and the ceremonies of Mosesceased.
Spiritually, it means that the Law is not tooperate on a person after he has been humbled and frightened by the exposure ofhis sins and the wrath of God. We must then say to the Law: "Mister Law,lay off him. He has had enough. You scared him good and proper." Now it isthe Gospel's turn. Now let Christ with His gracious lips talk to him of betterthings, grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
VERSE 19.Andit was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
The Apostle digresses a little from hisimmediate theme. Something occurred to him and he throws it in by the way. Itoccurred to him that the Law differs from the Gospel in another respect, inrespect to authorship. The Law was delivered by the angels, but the Gospel bythe Lord Himself. Hence, the Gospel is superior to the Law, as the word of alord is superior to the word of his servant.
The Law was handed down by a being eveninferior to the angels, by a middleman named Moses. Paul wants us to understandthat Christ is the mediator of a better testament than mediator Moses of theLaw. Moses led the people out of their tents to meet God. But they ran away.That is how good a mediator Moses was.
Paul says: "How can the Law justify whenthat whole sanctified people of Israel and even mediator Moses trembled at thevoice of God? What kind of righteousness do you call that when people run awayfrom it and hate it the worst way? If the Law could justify, people would lovethe Law. But look at the children of Israel running away from it."
The flight of the children of Israel fromMount Sinai indicates how people feel about the Law. They don't like it. If thiswere the only argument to prove that salvation is not by the Law, this one Biblehistory would do the work. What kind of righteousness is this law-righteousnesswhen at the commencement exercises of the Law Moses and the scrubbed people runaway from it so fast that an iron mountain, the Red Sea even, could not havestopped them until they were back in Egypt once again? If they could not hearthe Law, how could they ever hope to perform the Law?
If all the world had stood at the mountain, all the world would have hated theLaw and fled from it as the children of Israel did. The whole world is an enemyof the Law. How, then, can anyone be justified by the Law when everybody hatesthe Law and its divine author?
All this goes to show how little thescholastics know about the Law. They do not consider its spiritual effect andpurpose, which is not to justify or to pacify afflicted consciences, but toincrease sin, to terrify the conscience, and to produce wrath. In theirignorance the papists spout about man's good will and right judgment, and man'scapacity to perform the Law of God. Ask the people of Israel who were present atthe presentation of the Law on Mount Sinai whether what the scholastics say istrue. Ask David, who often complains in the Psalms that he was cast away fromGod and in hell, that he was frantic about his sin, and sick at the thought ofthe wrath and judgment of God. No, the Law does not justify
VERSE 20.Nowa mediator is not a mediator of one.
Here the Apostle briefly compares the twomediators: Moses and Christ. "A mediator," says Paul, "is not amediator of one." He is necessarily a mediator of two: The offender and theoffended. Moses was such a mediator between the Law and the people who wereoffended at the Law. They were offended at the Law because they did notunderstand its purpose. That was the veil which Moses put over his face. Thepeople were also offended at the Law because they could not look at the bareface of Moses. It shone with the glory of God. When Moses addressed the peoplehe had to cover his face with that veil of his. They could not listen to theirmediator Moses without another mediator, the veil. The Law had to change itsface and voice. In other words, the Law had to be made tolerable to the people.
Thus covered, the Law no longer spoke to thepeople in its undisguised majesty. It became more tolerable to the conscience. This explains why men fail to understand the Law properly, withthe result that they become secure and presumptuous hypocrites. One of twothings has to be done: Either the Law must be covered with a veil and then itloses its full effectiveness, or it must be unveiled and then the full blast ofits force kills. Man cannot stand the Law without a veil over it. Hence, we areforced either to look beyond the Law to Christ, or we go through life asshameless hypocrites and secure sinners.
Paul says: "A mediator is not a mediatorof one." Moses could not be a mediator of God only, for God needs nomediator. Again, Moses could not be a mediator of the people only. He was amediator between God and the people. It is the office of a mediator toconciliate the party that is offended and to placate the party that is theoffender. However, Moses' mediation consisted only in changing the tone of theLaw to make it more tolerable to the people. Moses was merely a mediator of theveil. He could not supply the ability to perform the Law.
What do you suppose would have happened ifthe Law had been given without a mediator and the people had been denied theservices of a go- between? The people would have perished, or in case they hadescaped they would have required the services of another mediator to preservethem alive and to keep the Law in force. Moses came along and he was made themediator. He covered his face with a veil. But that is as much as he could do.He could not deliver men's consciences from the terror of the Law. The sinnerneeds a better mediator.
That better mediator is Jesus Christ. He doesnot change the voice of the Law, nor does He hide the Law with a veil. He takesthe full blast of the wrath of the Law and fulfills its demands mostmeticulously.
Of this better Mediator Paul says: "Amediator is not a mediator of one." We are the offending party; God is theparty offended. The offense is of such a nature that God cannot pardon it.Neither can we render adequate satisfaction for our offenses. There is discord between God and us. Could notGod revoke His Law? No. How about running away from God? It cannot be done. Ittook Christ to come between us and God and to reconcile God to us. How didChrist do it? "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which wascontrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." (Col. 2:14.)
This one word, "mediator," is proofenough that the Law cannot justify. Otherwise we should not need a mediator.
In Christian theology the Law does notjustify. In fact it has the contrary effect. The Law alarms us, it magnifies oursins until we begin to hate the Law and its divine Author. Would you call thisbeing justified by the Law?
Can you imagine a more arrant outrage than tohate God and to abhor His Law? What an excellent Law it is. Listen: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out ofthe house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods. . .showing mercy untothousands . . . honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long uponthe land. . ." (Ex. 20:2, 3, 6, 12.) Are these not excellent laws, perfect wisdom?"Let not God speak with us, lest we die," cried the children ofIsrael. Is it not amazing that a person should refuse to hear things that aregood for him? Any person would be glad to hear, I should think, that he has agracious God who shows mercy unto thousands. Is it not amazing that people hatethe Law that promotes their safety and welfare, e.g., "Thou shalt not kill;thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal"?
The Law can do nothing for us except toarouse the conscience. Before the Law comes to me I feel no sin. But when theLaw comes, sin, death, and hell are revealed to me. You would not call thisbeing made righteous. You would call it being condemned to death and hell-fire.
VERSE 20.But God is one.
God does not offend anybody, therefore Heneeds no mediator. But we offend God, therefore we need a mediator. And we needa better mediator than Moses. We need Christ.
VERSE 21.Isthe law then against the promises of God?
Before he digressed Paul stated that the Lawdoes not justify. Shall we then discard the Law? No, no. It supplies a certainneed. It supplies men with a needed realization of their sinfulness. Now arisesanother question: If the Law does no more than to reveal sin, does it not opposethe promises of God? The Jews believed that by the restraint and discipline ofthe Law the promises of God would be hastened, in fact earned by them.
Paul answers: "Not so. On the contrary,if we pay too much attention to the Law the promises of God will be slowed up.How can God fulfill His promises to a people that hates the Law?"
God never said to Abraham: "In theeshall all the nations of the earth be blessed because thou hast kept theLaw." When Abraham was still uncircumcised and without the Law or any law,indeed, when he was still an idol worshiper, God said to him: "Get thee outof thy country, etc.; I am thy shield, etc.; In thy seed shall all the nationsof the earth be blessed." These are unconditional promises which God freelymade to Abraham without respect to works.
This is aimed especially at the Jews whothink that the promises of God are impeded by their sins. Paul says: "TheLord is not slack concerning His promises because of our sins, or hastens Hispromises because of any merit on our part." God's promises are notinfluenced by our attitudes. They rest in His goodness and mercy.
Just because the Law increases sin, it does not therefore obstruct the promisesof God. The Law confirms the promises, in that it prepares a person to look forthe fulfillment of the promises of God in Christ.
The proverb has it that Hunger is the bestcook. The Law makes afflicted consciences hungry for Christ. Christ tastes goodto them. Hungry hearts appreciate Christ. Thirsty souls are what Christ wants.He invites them: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, andI will give you rest." Christ's benefits are so precious that He willdispense them only to those who need them and really desire them.
VERSE 21.Forif there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousnessshould have been by the law.
The Law cannot give life. It kills. The Lawdoes not justify a person before God; it increases sin. The Law does not securerighteousness; it hinders righteousness. The Apostle declares emphatically thatthe Law of itself cannot save.
Despite the intelligibility of Paul'sstatement, our enemies fail to grasp it. Otherwise they would not emphasize freewill, natural strength, the works of supererogation, etc. To escape the chargeof forgery they always have their convenient annotation handy, that Paul isreferring only to the ceremonial and not to the moral law. But Paul includes alllaws. He expressly says: "If there had been a law given."
There is no law by which righteousness may beobtained, not a single one. Why not?
VERSE 22.Butthe Scripture hath concluded all under sin.
Where? First in the promises concerningChrist in Genesis3:15 and in Genesis22:18, which speak of the seed of the woman and the seed of Abraham. Thefact that these promises were made unto the fathers concerning Christ implies that the fathers were subject to the curse of sin and eternaldeath. Otherwise why the need of promises?
Next, Holy Writ "concludes" allunder sin in this passage from Paul: "For as many as are of the works ofthe law are under the curse." Again, in the passage which the Apostlequotes from Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in thebook of the law to do them." This passage clearly submits all men to the curse, not only those who sinopenly against the Law, but also those who sincerely endeavor to perform theLaw, inclusive of monks, friars, hermits, etc.
The conclusion is inevitable: Faith alonejustified without works. If the Law itself cannot justify, much less canimperfect performance of the Law or the works of the Law, justify.
VERSE 22.Thatthe promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
The Apostle stated before that "theScripture hath concluded all under sin." Forever? No, only until thepromise should be fulfilled. The promise, you will recall, is the inheritanceitself or the blessing promised to Abraham, deliverance from the Law, sin,death, and the devil, and the free gift of grace, righteousness, salvation, andeternal life. This promise, says Paul, is not obtained by any merit, by any law,or by any work. This promise is given. To whom? To those who believe. In whom?In Jesus Christ.
VERSE 23.Butbefore faith came.
The Apostle proceeds to explain the servicewhich the Law is to render. Previously Paul had said that the Law was given toreveal the wrath and death of God upon all sinners. Although the Law kills, Godbrings good out of evil. He uses the Law to bring life. God saw that theuniversal illusion of self-righteousness could not be put down in any other waybut by the Law. The Law dispels all self-illusions. It puts the fear of God in aman. Without this fear there can be no thirst for God's mercy. God accordingly uses the Law for ahammer to break up the illusion of self- righteousness, that we should despairof our own strength and efforts at self-justification.
VERSE 23.Butbefore faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith whichshould afterwards be revealed.
The Law is a prison to those who have not asyet obtained grace. No prisoner enjoys the confinement. He hates it. If he couldhe would smash the prison and find his freedom at all cost. As long as he staysin prison he refrains from evil deeds. Not because he wants to, but because hehas to. The bars and the chains restrain him. He does not regret the crime thatput him in jail. On the contrary, he is mighty sore that he cannot rob and killas before. If he could escape he would go right back to robbing and killing.
The Law enforces good behavior, at leastoutwardly. We obey the Law because if we don't we will be punished. Ourobedience is inspired by fear. We obey under duress and we do it resentfully.Now what kind of righteousness is this when we refrain from evil out of fear ofpunishment? Hence, the righteousness of the Law is at bottom nothing but love ofsin and hatred of righteousness.
All the same, the Law accomplishes this much,that it will outwardly at least and to a certain extent repress vice and crime.
But the Law is also a spiritual prison, averitable hell. When the Law begins to threaten a person with death and theeternal wrath of God, a man just cannot find any comfort at all. He cannot shakeoff at will the nightmare of terror which the Law stirs up in his conscience. Ofthis terror of the Law the Psalms furnish many glimpses.
The Law is a civil and a spiritual prison.And such it should be. For that the Law is intended. Only the confinement in theprison of the Law must not be unduly prolonged . It must come to an end. The freedom of faith must succeed the imprisonment ofthe Law.
Happy the person who knows how to utilize theLaw so that it serves the purposes of grace and of faith. Unbelievers areignorant of this happy knowledge. When Cain was first shut up in the prison ofthe Law he felt no pang at the fratricide he had committed. He thought he couldpass it off as an incident with a shrug of the shoulder. "Am I my brother'skeeper?" he answered God flippantly. But when he heard the ominous words,"What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me fromthe ground," Cain began to feel his imprisonment. Did he know how to getout of prison? No. He failed to call the Gospel to his aid. He said: "Mypunishment is greater than I can bear." He could only think of the prison.He forgot that he was brought face to face with his crime so that he shouldhurry to God for mercy and for pardon. Cain remained in the prison of the Lawand despaired.
As a stone prison proves a physical handicap,so the spiritual prison of the Law proves a chamber of torture. But this itshould only be until faith be revealed. The silly conscience must be educated tothis. Talk to your conscience. Say: "Sister, you are now in jail all right.But you don't have to stay there forever. It is written that we are 'shut upunto faith which should afterwards be revealed.' Christ will lead you tofreedom. Do not despair like Cain, Saul, or Judas. They might have gone free ifthey had called Christ to their aid. Just take it easy, Sister Conscience. It'sgood for you to be locked up for a while. It will teach you to appreciateChrist."
How anybody can say that he by nature lovesthe Law is beyond me. The Law is a prison to be feared and hated. Anyunconverted person who says he loves the Law is a liar. He does not know what heis talking about. We love the Law about as well as a murderer loves his gloomycell, his straight-jacket, and the iron bars in front of him. How then can theLaw justify us?
VERSE 23.Shut up unto the faith whichshould afterwards be revealed.
We know that Paul has reference to the timeof Christ's coming. It was then that faith and the object of faith were fullyrevealed. But we may apply the historical fact to our inner life. When Christcame He abolished the Law and brought liberty and life to light. This Hecontinues to do in the hearts of the believers. The Christian has a body inwhose members, as Paul says, sin dwells and wars. I take sin to mean not onlythe deed but root, tree, fruit, and all. A Christian may perhaps not fall intothe gross sins of murder, adultery, theft, but he is not free from impatience,complaints, hatreds, and blasphemy of God. As carnal lust is strong in a youngman, in a man of full age the desire for glory, and in an old man covetousness,so impatience, doubt, and hatred of God often prevail in the hearts of sincereChristians. Examples of these sins may be garnered from the Psalms, Job,Jeremiah, and all the Sacred Scriptures.
Accordingly each Christian continues toexperience in his heart times of the Law and times of the Gospel. The times ofthe Law are discernible by heaviness of heart, by a lively sense of sin, and afeeling of despair brought on by the Law. These periods of the Law will comeagain and again as long as we live. To mention my own case. There are many timeswhen I find fault with God and am impatient with Him. The wrath and the judgmentof God displease me, my wrath and impatience displease Him. Then is the seasonof the Law, when "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spiritagainst the flesh."
The time of grace returns when the heart isenlivened by the promise of God's mercy. It soliloquizes: "Why art thoucast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Can you see nothingbut law, sin, death, and hell? Is there no grace, no forgiveness, no joy, peace,life, heaven, no Christ and God? Trouble me no more, my soul. Hope in God whohas not spared His own dear Son but has given Him into death for thy sins."When the Law carries things too far, say: "Mister Law, you are not the whole show. There areother and better things than you. They tell me to trust in the Lord."
There is a time for the Law and a time forgrace. Let us study to be good timekeepers. It is not easy. Law and grace may bemiles apart in essence, but in the heart, they are pretty close together. In theheart fear and trust, sin and grace, Law and Gospel cross paths continually.
Whether reason hears that justificationbefore God is obtained by grace alone, it draws the inference that the Law iswithout value. The doctrine of the Law must therefore be studied carefully lestwe either reject the Law altogether, or are tempted to attribute to the Law acapacity to save.
There are three ways in which the Law may beabused. First, by the self- righteous hypocrites who fancy that they can bejustified by the Law. Secondly, by those who claim that Christian libertyexempts a Christian from the observance of the Law. "These," saysPeter, "use their liberty for a cloak of maliciousness," and bring thename and the Gospel of Christ into ill repute. Thirdly, the Law is abused bythose who do not understand that the Law is meant to drive us to Christ. Whenthe Law is properly used its value cannot be too highly appraised. It will takeme to Christ every time.
VERSE 24.Whereforethe law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.
This simile of the schoolmaster is striking.Schoolmasters are indispensable. But show me a pupil who loves his schoolmaster.How little love is lost upon them the Jews showed by their attitude towardMoses. They would have been glad to stone Moses to death. (Ex.17:4.) You cannot expect anything else. How can a pupil love a teacher whofrustrates his desires? And if the pupil disobeys, the schoolmaster whips him,and the pupil has to like it and even kiss the rod with which he was beaten. Doyou think the schoolboy feels good about it? As soon as the teacher turns his back, the pupil breaks the rod and throws it into thefire. And if he were stronger than the teacher he would not take the beatings,but beat up the teacher. All the same, teachers are indispensable, otherwise thechildren would grow up without discipline, instruction, and training.
But how long are the scolding and thewhippings of the schoolmaster to continue? Only for a time, until the boy hasbeen trained to be a worthy heir of his father. No father wants his son to bewhipped all the time. The discipline is to last until the boy has been trainedto be his father's worthy successor.
The Law is such a schoolmaster. Not foralways, but until we have been brought to Christ. The Law is not just anotherschoolmaster. The Law is a specialist to bring us to Christ. What would youthink of a schoolmaster who could only torment and beat a child? Yet of suchschoolmasters there were plenty in former times, regular bruisers. The Law isnot that kind of a schoolmaster. It is not to torment us always. With itslashings it is only too anxious to drive us to Christ. The Law is like the goodschoolmaster who trains his children to find pleasure in doing things theyformerly detested.
VERSE 24.Thatwe might be justified by faith.
The Law is not to teach us another Law. Whena person feels the full force of the Law he is likely to think: I havetransgressed all the commandments of God; I am guilty of eternal death. If Godwill spare me I will change and live right from now on. This natural butentirely wrong reaction to the Law has bred the many ceremonies and worksdevised to earn grace and remission of sins.
The Law means to enlarge my sins, to make mesmall, so that I may be justified by faith in Christ. Faith is neither law norword; but confidence in Christ "who is the end of the law." How so isChrist the end of the Law? Not in this way that He replaced the old Law with newlaws. Nor is Christ the end of the Law in a way that makes Him a hard judge who has to be bribed by works as the papists teach.Christ is the end or finish of the Law to all who believe in Him. The Law can nolonger accuse or condemn them.
But what does the Law accomplish for thosewho have been justified by Christ? Paul answers this question next.
VERSE 25.Butafter that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The Apostle declares that we are free fromthe Law. Christ fulfilled the Law for us. We may live in joy and safety underChrist. The trouble is, our flesh will not let us believe in Christ with all ourheart. The fault lies not with Christ, but with us. Sin clings to us as long aswe live and spoils our happiness in Christ. Hence, we are only partly free fromthe Law. "With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the fleshthe law of sin." (Romans 7:25.)
As far as the conscience is concerned it maycheerfully ignore the Law. But because sin continues to dwell in the flesh, theLaw waits around to molest our conscience. More and more, however, Christincreases our faith and in the measure in which our faith is increased, sin,Law, and flesh subside.
If anybody objects to the Gospel and thesacraments on the ground that Christ has taken away our sins once and foralways, you will know what to answer. You will answer: Indeed, Christ has takenaway my sins. But my flesh, the world, and the devil interfere with my faith.The little light of faith in my heart does not shine all over me at once. It isa gradual diffusion. In the meanwhile I console myself with the thought thateventually my flesh will be made perfect in the resurrection.
VERSE 26.Forwe are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Paul as a true apostle of faith always hasthe word "faith" on the tip of his tongue. By faith, says he, we arethe children of God. The Law cannot beget children of God. It cannot regenerate us. It can only remind us of the old birth by which wewere born into the kingdom of the devil. The best the Law can do for us is toprepare us for a new birth through faith in Christ Jesus. Faith in Christregenerates us into the children of God. St. John bears witness to this in hisGospel: "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, evento them that believe on his name." (John 1:12.) What tongue of man or angel can adequately extol the mercyof God toward us miserable sinners in that He adopted us for His own childrenand fellow-heirs with His Son by the simple means of faith in Christ Jesus!
VERSE 27.Foras many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
To "put on Christ" may beunderstood in two ways, according to the Law and according to the Gospel.According to the Law as in Romans 13:14, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ," which means to follow the example of Christ.
To put on Christ according to the Gospelmeans to clothe oneself with the righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and Spiritof Christ. By nature we are clad in the garb of Adam. This garb Paul likes tocall "the old man." Before we can become the children of God this oldman must be put off, as Paul says, Ephesians4:29. The garment of Adam must come off like soiled clothes. Of course, itis not as simple as changing one's clothes. But God makes it simple. He clothesus with the righteousness of Christ by means of Baptism, as the Apostle says inthis verse: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put onChrist." With this change of garments a new birth, a new life stirs in us.New affections toward God spring up in the heart. New determinations affect ourwill. All this is to put on Christ according to the Gospel. Needless to say,when we have put on the robe of the righteousness of Christ we must not forgetto put on also the mantle of the imitation of Christ.
VERSE 28.There is neither Jew norGreek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for yeare all one in Christ Jesus.
The list might be extended indefinitely:There is neither preacher nor hearer, neither teacher nor scholar, neithermaster nor servant, etc. In the matter of salvation, rank, learning,righteousness, influence count for nothing.
With this statement Paul deals a death blowto the Law. When a person has put on Christ nothing else matters. Whether aperson is a Jew, a punctilious and circumcised observer of the Law of Moses, orwhether a person is a noble and wise Greek does not matter. Circumstances,personal worth, character, achievements have no bearing upon justification.Before God they count for nothing. What counts is that we put on Christ.
Whether a servant performs his duties well;whether those who are in authority govern wisely; whether a man marries,provides for his family, and is an honest citizen; whether a woman is chaste,obedient to her husband, and a good mother: all these advantages do not qualifya person for salvation. These virtues are commendable, of course; but they donot count points for justification. All the best laws, ceremonies, religions,and deeds of the world cannot take away sin guilt, cannot dispatch death, cannotpurchase life.
There is much disparity among men in theworld, but there is no such disparity before God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23.) Let the Jews, let the Greeks, let the whole world keepsilent in the presence of God. Those who are justified are justified by Christ.Without faith in Christ the Jew with his laws, the monk with his holy orders,the Greek with his wisdom, the servant with his obedience, shall perish forever.
VERSE 28.Forye are all one in Christ Jesus.
There is much imparity among men in theworld. And it is a good thing. If the woman would change places with the man, if the son would change places with the father, the servant with themaster, nothing but confusion would result. In Christ, however, all are equal.We all have one and the same Gospel, "one faith, one baptism, one God andFather of all," one Christ and Savior of all. The Christ of Peter, Paul,and all the saints is our Christ. Paul can always be depended on to add theconditional clause, "In Christ Jesus." If we lose sight of Christ, welose out.
VERSE 29.Andif ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to thepromise.
"If ye be Christ's" means, if youbelieve in Christ. If you believe in Christ, then are you the children ofAbraham indeed. Through our faith in Christ Abraham gains paternity over us andover the nations of the earth according to the promise: "In thy seed shallall the nations of the earth be blessed." Through faith we belong to Christand Christ to us.