Summary: God’s grace is not earned but is a free gift given to those who ask, and more importantly, it is the only way we can come to Christ.
Grace And Heritage
I. Our Spiritual Heritage (v. 11)
A. Family heritage is important.
1. I have heard many from the older generation tell of how they no longer have family reunions or of how many from the younger generation no longer attend the reunions.
2. We no longer have family reunions in my family on either my paternal or maternal side for this very reason.
3. As the matriarchs and patriarchs of the family died, no one seemed interested in taking over.
4. It is quite common for a person not to appreciate their family heritage until they reach mid life.
5. For some reason, when reaching mid life they suddenly get very interested in where they came from and who their ancestors were.
6. Unfortunately, by that time, many of their ancestors have died, and they suddenly realize many of the questions they have could only be answered by those who are no longer here.
7. While I listened intently to the stories told by my grand and great grandparents, I wish now I had written down more of them.
8. I did have the wonderful privilege of working on a Wiles’ history with a cousin, and that was a rewarding endeavor.
9. Like with any history, family history reminds us of our roots and helps us understand who we are and why.
B. Spiritual heritage is even more important.
1. Having dealt with those who felt having Abraham as their progenitor made them acceptable to God, Paul now concludes that Abraham is the spiritual father of all who have faith in Christ. (v. 11)
2. We may not be in the actual Jewish line, but that is not nearly as important as being in the spiritual line.
3. The spiritual line determines our eternity while the physical line has no real bearing on anything at all.
4. He is the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised as well as those who have not undergone the rite.
5. As Paul has already mentioned, circumcision without faith, has no bearing on a person’s spiritual state.
C. Abraham’s two fold purpose. (vv. 11, 12)
1. Abraham was more than just an individual in history.
2. He is a pivotal historical figure for he is the father of all who have faith in God.
3. He was chosen to be the father of all who believe, whether or not they have been circumcised, and whether or not they are of the Jewish race.
4. His example of faith, as well as when and how he was accepted by God, reminds us of some important truths.
5. In today’s age, his faith reminds us we don’t have to begin to go to church before we can find salvation.
6. His example also reminds us we don’t have to get religious to be saved. As the song says, we come “Just As I Am.”
7. Nor do we have to be ritualized before God will save us. We can compare the ritual of circumcision with baptism. Just as circumcision has no saving power, neither does baptism. As circumcision was a sign of belonging to the covenant community, so baptism is a sign of belonging to the Church but more importantly to God.
D. Right Versus the Wrong Way To Justification (vv. 13-16)
1. Paul seems to painstakingly belabor the point of how we are accepted by God, but his journey is important, for if we come the wrong way we are in eternal trouble.
2. Jesus reminds us that many will say to him on judgment day, “Lord, Lord…” only to be reminded he never knew them. (Matthew 7:21-22)
3. This serves to remind us that those in Paul’s day will not be the only ones who are disappointed and disillusioned.
4. Until the end of time, it is necessary for us to proclaim the true way to God and to be firmly grounded in the foundation of what the Bible has to say about faith versus works.
5. Paul concludes that God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore had nothing to do with his obedience to God’s law but had everything to do with faith. (v. 13)
6. Looking at this in this light is important because it reminds us we are heirs to the promises made to Abraham whether we are of the Jewish race of not.
7. God’s promise is not through the law but through the righteousness of faith in Christ.
8. Believing obedience to God’s law or that one is good enough is the way to God nullifies faith for it opens up another avenue to God other than through Christ. Jesus said he was the way to the Father (John 14:6), and he also reminded us there was a broad path many would follow to their own destruction. (Matthew 7:14)