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The First Testament

The First Testament

Words of Faith 5-28-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Galatians 3

       [15] Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. [16] The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. [17] What I mean is this: The Law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. [18] For if the inheritance depends on the Law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his Grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.


       We often talk about the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament"-- the covenant of the Law and the covenant of Grace. Here Paul makes a very different argument for what we might call the First Testament.

         Long before the covenant of Law was given to Moses, God dealt with Abraham and made a promise based upon Grace-- righteousness received by faith. This Faith covenant was not a later addition. It was, in fact, the very First testament.

       Paul argues here that a divine covenant operates in much the same way that a human testament does. According to first-century legal institutions as well as modern ones, when a covenant or testament or "last will" has been established, usually after the death of a person, someone cannot come along and add to it or take away from it. That makes sense. Paul argues that it was the same with the Covenant of Abraham.

       Okay. But even if Paul’s opponents finally agreed that Abraham was justified by faith, they might have argued that the Law, coming at a later time, entirely changed the basis for achieving salvation. But this cannot be. This could not be done any more than you could today enter a court or legal office and change a properly executed will after the death of a person.

       So what does that mean? In "theological-speak," we say that the promises of God are immutable, meaning they are unchangeable, forever, and timeless. These unchangeable promises that were spoken to Abraham and to his seed were not fulfilled before the giving of the Law. They were fulfilled in Christ, and because of that, they are in effect forever. The blessing of justification by faith is therefore permanent and could not be changed by the giving of the Law. We will later see that the Law actually functions to bring us to that realization and call us to faith.

     So, why this emphasis on the unique nature of the "seed" rather than "seeds"? Paul was careful to remind us that the faithful in Israel had always recognized that blessing would ultimately come through a single individual, the Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew clearly declared Christ to be the Son of Abraham, the seed and the true Heir to the promises of the First Covenant.

       And let's remember that the covenant of faith was not just a little before the Law. It was a promise given 430 years before the Law. This was not even close! It was not only a little bit 'first,' it was really very first. For us, to go back under dependence upon the Law as a way to be right with God truly is a curse.

       How about you? Are you relying upon the First Covenant, the covenant of Grace that is received by faith? Are you trusting wholly in the work of Jesus upon the cross to take away the power of sin in your life and set you free? Are you walking in faith under the Grace of the Lord? Nothing compares.


       Father God, thank You for Your first covenant that was completed and fulfilled in Jesus. Thank You for the gift of salvation but even more for the freedom to walk in New Life with Him. Thank You for the gift of being born again by the power of Your Spirit. In Jesus' Name.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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