By Johnie Edwards
There is lot of religious confusion because people do not understand the phrase, “Before And After Faith Came.” The passage containing the phrase says, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should after-wards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:23-25).
How The Word “Faith” Is Used
Sometimes the word “faith” simply means “to believe in.” An example of this use is found in the book of Hebrews, as the apostle said, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Another use of the word “faith” is in reference to the gospel of Christ. It was said of the apostle Paul, “And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed” (Gal. 1:22-23). Just what did Paul preach when he preached the faith? First Corinthians 15:1 contains the answer. “More-over, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.” It is said in Acts 6:7, “And the word of God in-creased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priest were obedient to the faith.” What do people obey when they obey the faith? They obey the gospel as Paul used the phrase “obeyed the gospel” in Romans 10:16. There is just “one faith” (Eph. 4:5). That is, there is only one gospel system by which God justifies man today. So, the phrase “before faith came,” and “after faith is come” has reference to the time before the gospel of Christ was revealed and after the gospel was made known.
Some Things Binding
Before Faith Came
1. Before faith came, the Law of Moses was in force. That’s what the text of Galatians 3:23-25 says. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Gal. 3:23). The Law of Moses was given to the Jews of the Old Testament to restrain the Jewish people from sinning so much until Christ should come. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19). The seed referred to in this passage is Christ (Gal. 3:16).
2. Fleshly circumcision was binding before faith came. Circumcision was actually in force before the law of Moses began. God enjoined it upon Abraham and his male descendants as a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:10-14). To bind fleshly circumcision today is but to cause one to become “a debtor to do the whole law,” “make Christ of no effect,” and to fall “from grace” (Gal. 5:3-4).
3. Jerusalem was the place of worship before faith came. God chose the place of Jerusalem as the place of worship before faith came. “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place where he shall choose: in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast of Weeks, and in the Feast of Tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty” (Deut. 16: 16).
The woman of Samaria knew that Jerusalem was the place of worship under the law. She said, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (John 4:20). The eunuch, not realizing that faith had come, was keeping the law of Moses, and “had come to Jerusalem for to worship” (Acts 8:27).
4. Animal sacrifices were required before faith came. “.. . Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law” (Heb. 10:8). The book of Leviticus is filled with all kinds of sacrifices and offerings for those who then lived under the law of Moses.
5. Sins were remembered annually before faith came. The apostle to the Hebrews said, “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:3-4).
6. Tithing was binding before faith came. The word “tithe” means ten per-cent. The Lord said under the law, before faith came: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, If I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). Actually, the Jews, before faith came, gave far more than ten percent. Leaving the corners of their fields for the poor, the animal sacrifices, burnt offerings, and dozens of other things required of a Jew, added up to far more than ten percent!
7. Before faith came, the keeping of the Sabbath day was required. The law of Moses stated, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod. 20:8). The Sabbath came on Saturday and was the seventh day of the week. It was a day of rest and no work was to be done. “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates” (Exod. 20:10). The Sabbath day was given to remind Israel that they had been in bondage while in the land of Egypt. “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5: 15).
God never intended for the law of Moses to be lasting but was given to restrain Israel from so much sin, “till Christ should come” (Gal. 3:23).
After That Faith Is Come
We now take a look at some conditions “after that faith is come.” You can easily see the great contrast:
1. We are under the law of Christ, since faith has come and not under the law of Moses. We read, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24-25). The faith, which is that body of truth, the gospel, replaced the law of Moses and we are now to be subject to the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). John wrote, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
2. After faith has come, the gospel is for all. The law was given only to the Jews and even the limited commission was for “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-6). Now that faith has come, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). So, we can sing, “The Gospel Is For All.”
3. Jerusalem is no longer the place of worship, but worship is to be in spirit and truth. At one time, the place, Jerusalem was the place of worship, but now that faith has come, Jerusalem, as the place has been loosed. Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). Then Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The Lord’s people worship God as members of the New Testament church today.
4. Animal sacrifice gave way to Christians presenting their “…bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1). After all, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure” (Heb. 10:6). Since faith has come, “. . .we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Aren’t you glad this is so? “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).
5. Since faith has come, sins, forgiven, are remembered no more. The Hebrew writer penned, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:17-18). Under the new covenant, when God forgives a sin, it will never be brought up again!
6 Since faith has come, the method of giving has been changed. Today, the Lord’s people are required to give as stated in the New Testament. The per-cent is no longer stated, but Christians are to give as they have been “prospered” (1 Cor. 16:2) upon the first day of the week.
7. The first day of the week is now the day set aside for certain acts of worship to be performed. The Lord’s supper and the “laying by in store” are first day of the week acts of worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). Sabbath keeping is no longer binding since faith has come and the feasts of the Old Testament were done away with the cross of Christ.
8. Now that faith has come, the church of Christ is in existence. Acts 2 tells us of the establishment of the Lord’s church, as a result of gospel preaching being heard, believed, and obeyed. Believing Jews were told to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). “Then they that gladly received the word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). Now notice what took place: “. . .And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). For the first time, the church for which Jesus died is in existence. Since faith has come we can be members of that blood-bought body of Christ when we obey his word.
We have looked at the conditions before and after faith has come, and I trust that each of us will make the proper application of these thoughts.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 4 p. 16-18
February 20, 1997