This is the sermon for Sunday, August 15th, 2010.
Galatians part 7
The Blessing of Abraham
Galatians 3:5-9 ESV - (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith– (6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
INTRODUCTION: Now, we started this series actually unusual; one of the first sermons in this Galatians series was from Galatians 3:1-5. Let’s read it again and do a little reminding on that sermon entitled, “The beauty of justification.”
Galatians 3:1-5 ESV - (1) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (2) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (3) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (4) Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
The Beauty of Justification:
- How does one receive the Spirit (verse 2)?
- Are we perfected by our own works, or the Spirit’s works (verse 3)?
- Is Christian suffering done in vain (verse 4)?
- Is God working amongst us because of works or faith (verse 5)?
Now in verses 6-9, we are going to look at the blessing of Abraham and how he was an example of being justified by faith.
A lot of people have different ideas as to what the blessing of Abraham really is:
- The Judaizers thought that it came by circumcision.
- Many in our day think it is material blessings of some kind.
- But actually - the blessing of Abraham is none other than justification by faith.
Let’s begin unpacking our text.
The example of Abraham.
Galatians 3:5-6 ESV – (5) Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith– (6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
First Paul asks the question of why God is working amongst them: is it because of works of the Law or by hearing with faith? Obviously, the answer is, “Hearing with faith.”
The ESV study Bible’s notes say, “Hearing with faith is not only the way to start the Christian life, but also the way to continue it day by day.”
So we must first settle the issue: God works through us, not because of our work for Him, but our hearing the Gospel, which produces faith.
Now Paul brings up Abraham as our example, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to Him as righteousness.” Paul is alluding to Genesis 15 here. Let’s read it.
Genesis 15:1-6 ESV - (1) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (2) But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (3) And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” (4) And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” (5) And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (6) And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
This was the promise of Abraham having a son and his descendants would be numerous. Abraham believed God’s promise and righteousness was credited to his account.
Who are these descendants promised? The Jews? Well, actually, Paul reveals this in our next point.
All those justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:7-9 ESV – (7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The Judaizers were preaching works of the Law to the Gentile Galatians causing racial strife and division. Paul is proclaiming grace through faith in Jesus Christ, which brings unity and tears down the racial walls that divide. This passage is one that encourages the Galatian believers in the truth that they are children of Abraham, not by the flesh – or works of the Law, but by the Spirit.
Paul says this powerfully in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:13-22 ESV - (13) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (14) For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (15) by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (16) and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (17) And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (18) For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, (21) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (22) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Let’s unpack this passage from Ephesians quickly.
- We’ve been brought near (verse 13).
- Christ is our peace and has broken down the dividing wall through His flesh (verses 14-15).
- He has reconciled Jew and Gentile into one body – the church (verses 16-22).
CONCLUSION: What can we learn from this? Well, we are children of Abraham because we share, along with Abraham his blessing; and what is his blessing? Not birth by flesh, or monetary luxuries or a supposed, “blessed, abundant life”; but simply justification by faith. We have the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ and we trust in Him and therefore are justified.
That, my friends is the blessing of Abraham.