In our country, the validity of laws and governmental practices is always determined by comparing them to the words of the U.S. Constitution. If the courts find that a new piece of legislation contradicts the Constitution, then the legislation is either discarded or changed. The older document (the Constitution) takes precedence over any newer documents that might be produced. That’s how we function as a country – or at least how we are supposed to function. Our founding document governs what we do in this land.
In a similar way, the gospel serves as the founding document that governs the kingdom of God. God proclaimed the gospel when he made a promise to Abraham to bless him and his offspring. This unconditional promise was based on nothing but pure grace. 430 years later, God gave his people the Mosaic Law. The founding document (the promise) takes precedence over the later legislation (the law). The law does not nullify the promise; the promise interprets the law. The law does not abolish the promise; the promise defines (and limits) the purpose of the law.
This is essentially the argument that the Apostle Paul is making in Galatians 3:15-22 – the passage we will study on Sunday, October 8. He was writing to people who were beginning to doubt if mere faith in Christ was enough to get them into the kingdom of God. They were being pressured to start working at obeying the Mosaic Law so that they could be certain God was pleased with them.
To these people, the fact that the Mosaic Law came along after the promise to Abraham led them to think that God’s promise had been nullified and that law-keeping was now the way to get into God’s favor. Paul is essentially telling them that things are the other way around. The promise of blessing, given by grace, is the constitution in the kingdom of God. Nothing, not even the law of Moses, can ever alter that fact.
There is more to be said about why the Mosaic Law was given. We will get to that later. But, for now, we should all take great comfort in the fact that the one unbreakable document (or covenant) that oversees life in God’s kingdom is the gospel. Nothing will ever overturn the gospel. For all of eternity God will relate to his people on the basis of grace “so that was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” (Gal. 3:22b)