Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Probably the most earth-shaking letter ever written in history was dashed off by hand by a man with poor eyesight--God's apostle Paul. The impassioned epistle was sent to the Galatians to correct a fatal error threatening to poison the young church that Christ and His apostles had just raised up. The subtle deception came from the then-headquarters of the church in Jerusalem. The idea was that the gospel of Christ is a revival of Old Covenant "righteousness," supposedly by faith, but in reality by a counterfeit of it. The problem has plagued Christianity ever since.
The principal idea Paul made was that "God ... preached the gospel to Abraham" (Gal. 3:8). Still today a suspect doctrine! The usual concept is that the gospel came later than Abraham--430 years later at Mount Sinai.
Paul's idea is that Abraham's unusual response to God's New Covenant promises (Gen. 12:2, 3) was genuine faith--the kind that appropriates the much more abounding grace that saves us (Gen. 15:6; Eph. 2:8, 9). Abraham's faith therefore was like turning on a switch that allows the electricity to flow through the house. It's a simple idea: faith doesn't save us, but it opens the circuit so that God's grace is free to flow through us and save us. That idea has created theological explosions all through history.
Abraham's descendants at Sinai were the first of countless generations to brush off the gospel truth. They wanted the Old Covenant as their belief: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8), they promised vainly.
The great Day of Atonement is now--when it's time for God's people to overcome every trace of Old Covenant confusion and recover the pure love for the gospel that Abraham knew when he "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it [his faith] to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).
True obedience to God's law is possible only through the New Covenant. Thank God He has given you a "hunger and thirst" to understand it.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 11, 2004.
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