Summary: As an example of salvation by faith and not works, Paul uses the Jews own patriarch Abraham against them!
INTRO: Let’s review...we have been talking about works versus faith. At the crux of the debate going on in the lives of the Galatian believers was the question of salvation through works or through faith in Christ alone. How are we truly justified? Justification is the gracious act of God by which He declares a sinner righteous solely through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not only how you are saved, it’s how you are sanctified also.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. “You said that last week. And the week before. And you actually have been saying it in pretty much every message so far in Galatians.” To that, I say, you are correct and thank you for paying such good attention! To be honest, this week I anticipated our potential weariness of covering this topic again and again. You may be wondering...”Dude, how many times are we going to have to be presented this argument that justification is by faith and not by works? I mean, I get it, when can we move on to the good stuff?” Let me say first, this is the good stuff! May we never get to the place where we get tired of hearing about grace. Second, apparently, some people who go to church just do not get this point. Much of the Bible is repetition because we are dense, distracted, and deceived. This applies to the churches in Galatia and it applies to the churches in Chattanooga.
Now, to prove his point, Paul uses various tactics. Sometimes Paul puts on boxing gloves and fights back. Sometimes he bases it off his own credentials and experiences with Jesus receiving the grace gospel. Sometimes, he plants his feet firmly in logic. Sometimes, he takes a real-life situation between himself and Peter and James and makes his case. Sometimes, he just points to the cross. Sometimes, he interrogates the believers to get them to turn their brain on. And sometimes, he uses their own patriarch Abraham as an illustration of faith!
I. The Decision of Abraham (6)
– In the first section, Paul asked 6 questions; now, he will quote 6 OT statements to bolster his point. The OT scriptural evidence concerning Abraham proves that justification is by faith alone apart from any works. This is a brilliant move because Jewish people hold Abraham in high regard. They are very proud of their relationship to Abraham. In the Jewish way of thinking, if there was anybody who could work his way to Heaven, it would have been Abraham. He was the founding father of Judaism. Abraham was the man!
– Verse 6 is clear when it states that Abraham was justified by faith because he believed God. Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6 so we have to go back and retrace the context of what is happening there. Turn back to Genesis 15.
– The future patriarch is, in all likelihood, living a very pagan lifestyle with his father in Ur. By His grace, God comes to him and tells him to get up and go to a place that God would reveal later. He tells him that he would have a great name and father a great nation. Abraham takes his nephew Lot with him but they had to separate because of spiritual differences. After Lot left, he got into some trouble and Abraham had to go up against four powerful nations and defeat them with an army of his own servants to rescue Lot. After all that was over, Abraham is approached by the kings of the east but he refused to accept payment from them and instead payed tithes to another king.
– Look at Genesis 15:1-6. God comes to Abraham and assures him that he had done right in turning down their payment and says, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Now get this, because Abraham is very practical. He looks at God in verse 2 and basically says, “Okay, prove it. I don’t have a son and you told me I would.” God tells him to look toward heaven and promises him that his seed would be more numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea. That’s a stout promise, considering that both Abraham and Sarah would be pushing 100 years old by the time their son arrived. You don’t have to do that math to know that the prospects for that were not good. People of that age hang out in assisted living facilities, not in maternity wards! But this promise wasn’t about what Abraham and Sarah could do, it was about what God could do!
– What happens next in Genesis 15 is that Abraham wants God to put it in writing. He didn’t say that but that’s the idea behind a covenant. God says, “Meet me down at the courthouse and we’ll draw it up.” Back in those days, the way they made a contract was two men agreed to do something. They cut a sacrifice into two parts and put half on one side and half on the other side, then they would join hands and walk between the two halves. That sealed the contract. It was the same as going before a notary at the courthouse.