Abraham our example! – Galatians 3:6-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 10, 2016
My Dad stood in the water of the pool and asked me to jump into his arms. I was scared to do so but I also knew that my father would catch me and nothing would harm me. So I took the leap and jumped into his waiting arms. Our faith walk is very similar in that we are asked to walk with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We just have to take that first step and trust him to lift us up and carry us through life.
We marvel at another’s faith and wonder how in the world they can live so full throttle for God. What we fail to realize is the fact that these great men and women of faith were and are just like us. They have the same fears, the same doubts, and the same failures and yet have learned that the righteous will live by faith. Paul fully understood this and wanted the Galatians to understand it as well. Let’s discover what this means for all of us this morning…
Paul knew that if the Galatians had allowed themselves to fall back into their old way of life instead of their confidence in Christ they were in danger of losing what they had gained. Paul reminded them that…
I. Abraham gives us the example of faith! (Vv. 6-9)
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
1. Paul knew that the Galatians would need an example they could not only understand but that they could also see themselves in as well. Abraham fit the bill for Paul for several reasons: Abraham had faults like each of them, Abraham was respected by the Jews because he was the founding father of their religion, nation, and faith; and Abraham was before the Law of Moses yet he loved and followed God. Abraham was known for his faith! So Paul told them to “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” If they believed this then they were Abraham’s children! Being the founding Patriarch of the Hebrew nation Abraham was the father essentially of them all! They needed to understand then that their faith made them children of Abraham more than their history did! In fact, Paul relates, “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham”. Paul then reminds them exactly what the Scripture said about Abraham, that in fact “All nations will be blessed through” Abraham! But was it for their biological connection? Paul did not think so, and “So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith!” Paul would eloquently write another church struggling with this, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:28-31 NIV) For Paul, Abraham gives us the example of faith!
EXAMPLE: Galatians and Hebrews are two of my favorite books of the Bible, why, because they go hand-in-hand together in teaching that one is to live by faith. Hebrews reminds us that, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV) Hebrews goes on to explain that Abraham left his home in Ur of the Chaldeans because God asked him to and by “faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents… For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:9-10) And lest we forget it was “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:11-12 NIV) Abraham gives us the example of faith!
For Paul any retreat in one’s faith was an abomination especially after one had experienced the grace and mercy of God freely through Jesus. Those who had put so much trust in the Law of Moses had forgotten that in fact that…
II. Abraham gives us the example for life! (Vv. 10-12)
All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the Law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The Law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”
1. For those who think they could massage their guilt away by doing more and more good works, they have forgotten the eternal truth that the grace of God through Jesus did away with all that. James, Jesus’ brother, would write “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10 NIV) Jesus came so that we were no longer held by the demands of following all the rules, regulations, and nuances of the Law! The Law of Moses was finished, completed in Jesus therefore “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'” The curse was found in the fact that a person had to keep the Law in its entirety or they were guilty of breaking all of it! When we allow ourselves to fall back into record keeping we enslave ourselves to others who want to control our lives and to our emotions instead of the truth of Scripture. “Contrary to what the Judaizers taught, the Law could not justify; it could only condemn. Paul quoted Deuteronomy 27:26 to show that the Law demanded perfection and that a curse was attached to failure to keep any part of it.” – (Bible Knowledge Commentary) Therefore, clearly no one is justified before God by the Law, because, “The righteous will live by faith”, just as Abraham did! Yet there are those who think that if they combine the two, the grace of Jesus and following the Law of God then isn’t that better? The answer is absolutely not! You pervert what Jesus accomplished! Jesus came to show that the scheme that anyone can gain God’s acceptance by their human effort is bogus. Why? Paul explains, “The Law is not based on faith; on the contrary, ‘The man who does these things will live by them.'” One would continually have to watch what they do, when they do it and why they did it in the first place! And then, make sure they were doing all the strict obligations required of them to momentarily do away with any sin until they sinned again! Either one lives by faith or they don’t. Paul knew that because of who Abraham was and the model he had given to all Hebrews and all believers that Abraham gives us the example for life!
EXAMPLE: There is the story told of an older man who accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord, and as he made his way forward to publicly proclaim his faith, he was overheard whispering over and over, “I am dead. I am dead. I am dead.” Afterwards as he made his way back to his seat he clearly and loudly proclaimed, “I am alive! I am alive! I am alive!” When he was facing his death for his faith in Jesus, Paul would write the Philippian church, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Paul was no longer under the curse of the Law but was found alive in his faith! (Philippians 1:20-21 NIV) This is why for Paul; Abraham gives us the example for life!
Abraham gives us the example of faith! Abraham gives us the example for life!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.