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The Promise of the Spirit

by Bill Petri

Galatians 3:14-16

[14] That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. [15] Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. [16] 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.

We who understand the Word of God "rightly divided" realize the basic differences between Old Testament and Grace Dispensation, or Kingdom program and Body of Christ program. This statement, however, must be qualified because technically the Kingdom program is the New Testament. In the Old Testament, only prophecy should come (never mystery), and inherent in it is a preparation ministry. This preparation ministry is still the Old Testament economy and not the New Testament. Most fundamentalists, although not dispensational, recognize the difference between the early Old Testament and the believer today. Unfortunately, they believe the Old Testament preparation ministry for the New Testament to actually be the New Testament. This thinking is very dangerous because it puts the Grace believer into some kind of works-based system. All one needs do is to read some of the literature that comes from Acts 2 dispensationalists, and all main line denominationalists, to see this problem made manifest. In the Scofield Reference Bible 1917 edition, it does not take long to see this problem rear its ugly head. On page 148, we read the following note: "believers of this dispensation as priests enter into the holiest where He is." Mr. Scofield's note on page 1334 states the following: "This passage is conclusive that Christ is not now seated upon His own throne. The Davidic Covenant, and the promises of God through the prophets and the angel Gabriel concerning the Messianic Kingdom await fulfillment." These two notes of Mr. Scofield show us how the New Testament is being confused with the Grace Dispensation - Body of Christ Saints.

Therefore, I propose that we in this Grace Dispensation are not under New Testament truth, nor any part of the New Testament.

Ephes. 2:12

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

It is essential to look at these different covenants. It is important because the above verse tells me that I was never under them, and yet most of Christendom will say you are under some of them. Scriptures speak of four major covenants. The covenants are as follows: Abrahamic, which is unconditional; thus it cannot be broken by man and reaches into eternity. Second is the Mosaic, which is conditional and is also called the Old Testament, or covenant. It states that the law must be kept (read Deut.28). It was a failure because man could not keep it. Hence, the third covenant had to be given, this is called the New Covenant or New Testament. This was established to amend the Mosaic and is still future, waiting to be established (Heb.8:13). The Davidic Covenant is the fourth: it also is unconditional, and states that the seed of David would sit on the throne of Israel's prophesied earthly Kingdom without cessation; this also is future. The New Covenant or Testament was given to govern life in this Kingdom. The remainder of this article will focus on the Abrahamic Covenant relationship with the New Covenant.

Genesis 12:2-3

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The phrase printed in the above passage in bold text is quoted in Galatians 3:8. Why is this important, and how then are we, as Gentiles, blessed with Abraham?

Romans 4:9-11

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. [10] How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. [11] And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

Through Abraham, a precedent is given to show how an uncircumcised Gentile could be counted righteous with God. It is not an Old Testament blessing, nor is it New Testament righteousness, nor is it Davidic, nor even the Abrahamic Covenant. It cannot be the covenant giving righteousness, because it was given in uncircumcision, before the contract is sealed, or in legal terms - "made official." It is very important for us to understand that the promises of this covenant were given to Israel alone. Throughout the early part of Genesis, God would expand upon this covenant with additional promises. A careful reading of Hebrews 11:8-16 indicates the covenant looks to the New Jerusalem. This confirms it has no bearing on the Body of Christ; the only thing that does is Genesis 12:3, because that is what our Apostle of this Dispensation quotes. We also need to note that Abraham did not even understand what God meant.

Genesis 22:15-18

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, [16] And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: [17] That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; [18] And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

This passage shows us that the multiplied seed of Abraham causes a blessing to fall upon those who are not Israel. If we go back to Galatians 3:16, we see that the seed (singular seed) is Jesus Christ. Hence, Paul is simply stating that all are blessed by Jesus, not by the Abrahamic Covenant. We are all blessed by a single seed of Abraham, not by the nation or nations that result from him. At this point in our study, we need to look at Jeremiah 31:31, and Hebrews 8:8.

Jeremiah 31:31

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

Hebrews 8:8

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

We can plainly see from these verses that they refer to the New Covenant, and not the Abrahamic. We can also plainly see that these verses only refer to both houses of Israel. If we reread Ephesians 2:11-12, it becomes obvious that the Gentiles do not have any promises in these covenants. In fact, it will tell us that we were never under any covenant, although there are ramifications to all mankind through the single seed of Abraham (that being Jesus). If we are not under any covenant, how can we be under the Old Testament preparatory ministry in the four gospels?

It is at this point that most commentators and denominationalists go awry. Consider the following:

Acts 15:16-17

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: [17] That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

Galatians 3:14

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We see from these verses that the blessing in Galatians 3:14 is not the same thing as Acts 15:16-17. The Acts passage talks of Gentiles being blessed through Israel in a future day when the Davidic throne is re-established in the Kingdom Age. In Galatians, the blessing comes through the promise of the Spirit, not through Covenant promise. We must then ask the logical question, "What is the promise of the Spirit?"

The key is the last two words, "through faith." Hence, the promise of salvation is in the single seed of Abraham - that being Jesus Christ. Note the words "through Jesus Christ." The Gentiles are to receive salvation "by faith alone apart from works." It is a promise of heirship with Christ, and only Paul brings this out. Abraham does not, nor does his covenant tell us of it. This is promised by the Spirit. Therefore, the verse is not saying the Spirit is promised, but rather the Spirit has promised us a position in Christ.

Acts 1:4

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

It is obvious to all that this passage is not promising the Father. Rather, the Father made a promise about some things He would do. It is the same idea in Galatians 3:14. It is not the Spirit being promised, but rather He has made some promises about blessing us as Gentiles. If it is the Spirit being promised, it would be the fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8. This would then place us as partakers of Israel's covenants, even though Scripture is clear that we are not. The implication would be quite clear then that the Church started at Pentecost. This would put all in the same class as the Charismatics and Pentecostals. However, we have already seen how this cannot be the case. The promise of the Spirit is the blessing of the Spirit through the seed of Abraham which is Christ, not Israel, for this present dispensation.

Galatians 3:16

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.

The blessings, the hope, the position we receive, are not from the New Testament, but are enumerated by the Apostle Paul (the Gentile Apostle), in only his Epistles and are found to be exclusively from the holy Spirit to the Body of Christ. In other words, the source of our hope, blessings, and position is not prophecy or part of another program, but originated with the holy Spirit for this dispensation exclusively.

The only conclusion left us is that the things for the Body of Christ are not part of another program. We find their source in the holy Spirit who designed this particular dispensation. Additionally, they are not found in the prophetic writings, but only in Paul's Epistles.

One should read Ephesians 3:1-6, and Romans 16:25-26 carefully. This "mystery" hidden in God, not known by other men in other dispensations, shows all our promises find their source in the Holy Ghost, the third person of the Godhead, not in covenants given to Israel.

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