Critique Of "The Book Of Signs" Part 2
A thoughtful reading of the New Testament will dispel dispensational or neo-dispensational eschatology for most readers. The book of Galatians is particularly helpful in this regard. In reading Galatians, the modern Christian gains insight concerning the interpretation of the promises made to Abraham and thus insight concerning their impact on eschatological theories.
The book of Galatians is written to a church made up of Jew and Gentile alike. It was a church established by Paul (Acts 16:6, Galatians 4:13) that fell into error soon after his departure (Galatians 1:6). After Paul had left Galatia, Judaizers arrived with the claim he had not taught them the fullness of the gospel. They told the Christians in Galatia that one had to be a Jew in order to be a Christian. In other words, the Judaizers said the promises of God were only available to those who participated in the Mosaic dispensation.
The first two chapters of the letter introduce Paul's God-given status as an apostle and tidbits about his interaction with the other apostles. At the end of chapter two there is an account of the confrontation between Paul and Peter concerning the place of the Mosaic legislation in the new covenant age. In chapter three of Galatians, Paul begins in earnest to disassemble the erroneous teachings of the Judaizers.
Chapter three begins with an expression of Paul's exasperation. Indeed, he wonders who has cast an evil spell upon the Galatian Believers. He wonders how they could have possibly heard the truth of the gospel - the death of Jesus Christ as the means of salvation – and then turned away to something else. In an effort to get them to think, he begins to question them concerning the evidence of salvation in their lives. He asks them, did they receive those evidences by obeying the law or by believing the message of salvation in Jesus? These are rhetorical questions of course; salvation is found in Jesus alone. The law, the Mosaic dispensation, does nothing to contribute to the salvation of the believer.
It is in chapter three that Paul brings the Galatians back to the beginning of the gospel message. According to Paul, the beginning is found in the promises made to Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9). Paul says the Galatians received the Holy Spirit and saw miracles manifest in their midst because they believed in the same fashion that Abraham believed. Thus, the real children of Abraham are those who put their faith in God (Galatians 3:7). In other words, the claim that one must be a Jew in order to be chosen by God is false. As Paul will make clear later, this is true on two counts; it is not necessary to be of the bloodline of Abraham nor is it necessary to be under the authority of the Mosaic dispensation. Again, Paul is saying the chosen people are not blood descendants of Abraham nor are they part of the nation of Israel as constituted by the Mosaic legislation. Instead the chosen people are those who have placed faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14).
Paul goes on to discuss the ramifications of depending upon the Mosaic dispensation as a means of salvation. He claims anyone who places faith in the law for salvation ends up being cursed. This is so because anyone who fails to obey all of the law falls under judgment. Paul later makes it clear that the law was never supposed to save anyone. Indeed, the role of the law is to reveal sin and the need for salvation in Jesus. Moreover, Jesus rescued his people from the curse of the law as he himself became a curse, hanging upon the tree in order that God might bless the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:14).
More on this next week
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