THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT
By John C. Carpenter
 
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia, O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore 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? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of [confirmed by] the [Holy] Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant [pertaining to mankind], yet if it be confirmed [ratified by the sending and presence of the Holy Spirit], no man disannulleth [set aside, disannul, bring to nought], or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant [God's agreement with man], that was confirmed before of God in [through the advent of Jesus] Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the [results from keeping the Mosaic] law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise (Gal 3:1-18). What is this "promise" that God has made to believers, a promise confirmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit?
 
INHERIT THE KINDGOM PREPARED FOR YOU
 
Paul gave us the answer when he referred to the "inheritance" in verse 18. Holy Scriptures also answer this question for us over and over again. Jesus told His disciples about their promised inheritance when He taught, When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mat 25:31-34). Clearly, the inheritance is the kingdom that has been prepared for believers from the beginning of the world. The author of the letter to the Hebrews clarified the length of the promised inheritance by writing, And for this cause he [Christ] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15). The inheritance of life which God has promised is eternal. Writing the five Roman provinces in Asia Minor, the apostle Paul made it abundantly clear what the promised inheritance is. Paul wrote, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet 1:3-5). The inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled, that fadeth not away, that is reserved in heaven for you, that is made available through faith, and that is ready to be revealed in the last time, is salvation and eternal life.
 
SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE
 
Not only has the individual of faith been promised the inheritance of eternal life, but God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, has sealed [identified, set apart] the believer in Christ for eternal preservation. Additionally, God the Father gave the Holy Spirit as a down payment that His pledge, promise, or covenant of eternal life is good. Paul wrote, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of [confirmed by] the Spirit through [made available because of our] faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant [regarding earthly, natural man], yetif it [the promise] be [supernaturally] confirmed [through the sending of the Holy Spirit], no man disannulleth [cast off, bring to naught], or addeth thereto [appoint besides, supplement] (Gal 3:13-15). With these words, Paul made it clear that it is not the "Spirit" that has been promised, but that the promise [covenant of eternal life through faith in Christ] has been "confirmed" by the Holy Spirit. This is born out elsewhere in Scripture. For example, Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance [of eternal life], being predestinated [predetermined] according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the [gospel] word of truth [that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah], the gospel of [good news about] your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed [stamped for security or preservation] with that Holy Spirit of [regarding the] promise [of our inheritance of eternal life], Which is the earnest [a pledge; i.e., part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest] of our inheritance until the redemption [salvation, deliverance] of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory (Eph 1:3-14). Paul also explained to believers in Corinth that God has sealed us [identified us for salvation], and given the earnest [His pledge or promise] of the [which God has confirmed by the presence of the Holy] Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor 1:22). In these verses, Paul explains that believers are predestined to have an eternal inheritance as adopted children of God. After the individual hears the gospel [good news of salvation through Christ], he or she believes the gospel. Once the individual believes the gospel, he or she trusts in Christ and His ministry for salvation. Once the individual trusts Christ for salvation, God the Father gives the individual the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life (1) seals [stamps, identifies] the believer for preservation, and (2) serves as God's earnest [pledge] that his promise [covenant] of an eternal inheritance is good and will be fulfilled. The "promise" referred to in these verses is not that the Holy Spirit would be sent, although that promise, a different promise, was also made by Christ (John 16:7). The "promise" of our subject verses pertains to the believer's inheritance of eternal life that has been spoken and covenanted by God the Father, and "confirmed" by the sending and presence of the Holy Spirit. Paul specifically identified the "promise" as our inheritance, which is the redemption of the purchased possession... (Eph 1:14). Clearly, ...the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us [believers as a pledge of God's faithfulness] (Rom 5:5).
 
EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES
 
Holy Scriptures also teach that God the Father has given believers many great and valuable promises. Simon Peter verified this when he wrote that believers are given exceeding great [exceedingly great] and precious [valuable, costly, honorable] promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption [death] that is in the world through lust (2 Pet 1:4). These great and valuable promises include, but are not limited to the sending of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), a Savior (Acts 13:23), a second coming of Christ (2 Pet 3:4), and a new heaven and a new earth (2 Pet 3:13). God has also promised believers mercy (Luke 1:72), a crown of life (James 1:12), the resurrection of Christ (Acts 13:32-33), and the kingdom of heaven (James 2:5), among others. However, the greatest and most valuable promise made by God is that of eternal life, and this promise has been made many times throughout the Holy Scriptures. For example, Christ promised Nicodemus, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:14-15). Paul similarly taught, as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:21), and the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23). Paul referenced God's promise when he wrote to Titus that believers are to have the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus 1:2). Christ is identified as the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15). The apostle John clearly referred to God's promise: And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even[specifically] eternal life"(1 John 2:25). Christ taught, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:51). Paul taught those in Rome, For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live [forever] (Rom 8:13), and to those in Galatia, ...no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live [eternally] by faith (Gal 3:11). Paul made a reference to the eternal life promised to believers in Christ at the "rising" of the church when he taught, For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [are dead while believing] in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [preceed] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thes 4:14-17). Paul elsewhere taught, if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved [from God's wrath]. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto [eternal] salvation (Rom 10:9-10). Christ taught that humble believers shall,...be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14), and Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection (Luke 20:36). Christ taught that every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Mat 19:29). Paul wrote Colossian believers that God hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col 1:12). God the Father has promised He that overcometh [because he believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5)] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Rev 21:7). Believers in Christ are no longer strangers from the covenants of promise (Eph 2:12), but fellow citizens with the saints... (Eph 2:19) who shall reign on the earth (Rev 5:10). Through the righteousness of faith, Abraham and his seed had been promised that he should be the heir [inheritor] of the world (Rom 4:13). Paul taught that because believers in Christ are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an [eternal] heir of God through Christ (Gal 4:6-7), and that all believers are heirs of God, and joint-heirs [participants in common] with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together [eternally] (Rom 8:17). God the Father's covenant, or promise, of the inheritance of eternal life is evident in Scripture.
 
IF CHRIST BE NOT RAISED, YOUR FAITH IS VAIN
 
Not only is God the Father's promise of an eternal inheritance evident, but Scriptures also make it evident that the hope of eternal life is the reason for having faith in Christ. Otherwise, our faith is in vain. There were believers in Corinth who were doubting, at times, that the bodies of believers in Christ could or would be resurrected from the dead. In essence, they believed that eternal life was not a future reality. Paul insistently responded,Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead [corpses of believers]? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching[about eternal life through faith in Christ] vain, and your faith [in Christ for salvation] is also vain [empty, pointless]. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins [still considered by God to be a sinner]. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor 15:12-22). Paul clarifies that some individuals did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and therefore, did not believe that Christ rose from the dead. If they did not believe that Christ rose from the dead, they obviously did not believe that eternal life was possible for the believer. Paul pointed out that if these individuals did not believe Christ rose from the dead, and, therefore, that resurrection, eternal life was not possible, their Christian faith was in vain, pointless, for after all, the hope of eternal life is the reason believers believe. Addressing the believer's hope of resurrection, Paul likewise wrote those in Rome, For we know that the whole creation [unbelievers and believers alike] groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they [unbelievers], but ourselves [we believers] also, which have [Christ who is] the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit [specifically], the redemption of our body. Forwe are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (Rom 8:22-24). In these verses, the apostle teaches that the believer is to hope for that which is yet unseen, that is, our adoption by God the Father, specifically the redemption of our carnal bodies, and salvation from God's wrath resulting in eternal life. The apostle Peter also taught that the purpose of the believer's faith is salvation. After referring to the believer's inheritance of eternal life (1 Pet 1:4), Peter explained to the church in the five Roman provinces that the end [point, goal, result] of your faith, [is] even [specifically] thesalvation of your souls (1 Pet 1:9). God the Father made all believers in Christ a promise, a promise of an inheritance, an inheritance of eternal life, the salvation of the soul. He further guaranteed that His covenant word or promise was good by sending the Holy Spirit into the heart and lives of those who have faith. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that not only identifies the believer for preservation and eternal life, but serves as God the Father's down payment and pledge that His promise regarding the believer's inheritance of eternal life is good. As Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, this is God the Father's promise of [confirmed by] the Spirit. AMEN.
 
 
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