Galatians 3:1-5 — Faith of Abraham — Bible study notes

  • Paul has shown in the second half of chapter 2 that we are saved when we stop trusting in our moral efforts or the law and trust in the faith of Christ, which is the foundation of our new lives IN CHRIST….. we live by His faith.
  • Every time Paul referred to the crucifixion of Christ, he was referring to justification by grace
    • 1 Cor 1:23-24 — But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
      • v. 24 in the Mirror: The dynamic of God’s wisdom is the fact that both Jew and Greek are equally included and defined in Christ.
    • 1 Cor 2:1-2 — And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
      • Mirror: My intention in visiting you was not to engage with you in theological debate or to impress you with clever words guessing about the evidence of God. (2) The testimony of God is my only persuasion concerning you: Jesus Christ died your death on the cross! I can see you in no other light! (For I determined to know nothing in you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.)
    • Galatians 6:14 — But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
  • To Paul and the early Christians, the Cross referred to Jesus paying it all.
    • There was nothing left for them to do but believe and receive…. to just rest in His faith
    • Paul said these Galatians had such a clear presentation of Christ’s sufferings that it was as if Christ had been crucified right in front of them.
    • They understood that Jesus paid it ALL.
  • But now they were being bewitched by the Judaizers…. these false teachers who believed you were saved by faith in Jesus BUT you walked out your new life by the “works of the Law” instead of the finished work of the Cross

 

Galatians 3:1-5 — Faith or Law

  • We are saved… we are justified by the “Faith of Christ” — not our own faith.
    • Eph 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (5) evenwhen we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (6) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7)so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (9) not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    • v. 5 in Mirror: This is how grace rescued us: sin left us dead towards God, like spiritual corpses; yet in that state of deadness and indifference, God co-quickened us together with Christ. Sin proved how dead we were (the law confirmed it!) Grace reveals how alive we now are (the gospel announces it!) Before anyone but God believed it, he made us alive together with him and raised us up together with him.
    • I love that!! God saw us in Christ, in his death and resurrection, before we saw ourselves there!
    • Col 2:12 your co-inclusion in Christ is what God’s faith knew when he powerfully raised Him from the dead.
    • Hosea 6:2 He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.
  • Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, (5) He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (6) whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
    • Mirror: But then, oh happy day! It was the generosity of God and his fondness for mankind that dawned on us like a shaft of light. Our days of darkness were over! Light shone everywhere and we became aware: God rescued the human race! (5) Salvation is not a reward for good behavior. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything that we have done. God’s mercy saved us. The Holy Spirit endorses in us what happened to us when Jesus Christ died and was raised! When we heard the glad announcement of salvation it was like taking a deep warm bath! Our minds were thoroughly cleansed and re-booted (completely restored) into newness of life! (We realized that we were indeed co-included, co-crucified, and co-raised and are now co-seated together with Christ in heavenly places!) (6) The Holy Spirit is the extravagant Administrator of the salvation of Jesus Christ; He gushes forth in our midst like an artesian well. (7) His grace vindicates our innocence (declaring us righteous). We have also become heirs to the life that we have always longed for, the life of the ages.
    • The Message Bible says of v. 7: God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives.
  • It is the Spirit, not the law, which gives us life. — The law could never give anyone life.
    • We are in-dwelt by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:19), sealed by the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14), equipped by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:11), and taught by the Spirit of God (John 16:13).
  • The Holy Spirit makes possible everything we are and have as believers.
  • The role of the Spirit of God will always be to magnify the person of Jesus Christ in us.
  • So, why in the world would any believer, having received the Spirit of God by believing the gospel, want to go back under a system of laws or rules in order to live the Christian life?
    • These foolish Galatians were attempting to exchange their freedom in Christ for the bondage of rules and regulations.
    • They were attempting to exchange the truth of the gospel of grace for a lie.
    • It’s the same lie that Eve heard in the garden….. you are lacking something.
    • To be just like God, you have to do this and that.
    • Truth is we are made in His image and likeness
    • Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
    • Mirror: I desire for you to become intimately acquainted with the love of Christ on the deepest possible level; far beyond the reach of a mere academic, intellectual grasp. Within the scope of this equation God finds the ultimate expression of himself in you.
    • We are to awaken to the reality of His fullness… of His closeness.
    • Separation is an illusion! Oneness was God’s idea all along!
    • He desires to express himself through your touch, your voice, your presence
    • He is so happy to dwell in you! There is no place in the universe where he would rather be!

 

  • Paul had depicted the atonement of Christ so vividly to the Galatians that it was as if they were present at His crucifixion.
    • How could they turn from the message that Christ paid it all to a message that put the burden of salvation on their backs?
  • If we truly understand the message of the cross, then we understand grace.
    • Jesus didn’t just make a token sacrifice for us. He paid it all.
    • There’s no sacrifice that we can make that will add to or replace the sacrifice of Christ.
    • Believing that our own holiness is required to receive from God is voiding the sacrifice of Christ
    • Galatians 2:21 — I do not set aside the grace of God. For if righteousness comes through the Law,Christ died for nothing.”
    •  Mirror: It is an insult to the grace of God to prefer Moses to Jesus! If the law could justify you then Jesus wasted his time dying your death! (That would reduce salvation to a ludicrous contest between your obedience and the obedience of Christ! [Rom 5:19])
    • Galatians 5:4 — Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
      • Mirror: Law-righteousness has nothing in common with grace-righteousness; they are opposites. As impossible as it is for anyone to travel in two opposite directions at the same time,equally irrelevant Christ becomes to anyone who continues to pursue righteousness under the law.

 

  • Therefore, Paul was saying that anyone who has had a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ, as these Galatians had, and then turns away from that grace back to works is foolish and deceived by the devil.
    • You have fallen from grace and made Christ of “no effect in your life”
      • You stop His grace from operating in you…. you put yourself in a place where God is not able to show you His goodness.
      • Paul is trying to bring them back to the core which is being justified Jesus
  • What is justification? It is to be declared innocent and set free from guilt
    • Justification is an act and not a process. No Christian is “more justified” than another Christian. “Having therefore been once-and-for-all justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1, literal translation).
  • He then asks them a question — How were you justified?
    • Their answer — and our answer is key to how you will live the rest of your life!
    • Was it by your efforts, your attempts to live up to a certain standard that caused God to be so impressed with your contribution that He said “well I’ve got no other choice — I’ve got to give you the Spirit.
  • Did this blessing, this justification, this Spirit come to you as a result of keeping the law or was it through the hearing of faith?
    • The Gospel or this “good news” is I’m not justified by my faith BUT by His faith
    • Faith is that wow moment when you see what God sees and it takes your breath away
    • It’s not something you make happen — it happens to you when this Gospe message is declared• Faith doesn’t start in man… it starts in Jesus (Heb 12:2 — He is the Author of our faith)
    • True faith that has it’s origin in Christ and is dependent only on Jesus
    • Paul said in Galatians 2:20 this is the faith we live by — His faith
  • How we see this influences how we declare the Gospel to others…..
    • if we believe it’s by how we hear and believe then we will tell people what they should believe….

      and that if they believe and put their faith in it they will be justified

    • But this gospel doesn’t DEMAND faith, but rather supplies it.
    • The gospel communicates the faith of God… the persuasion of God about us
    • The message arrested our heart and transformed us beyond our contribution
    • Did you receive the Spirit because when the Gospel came you believed so accurately?
    • NO — you received it because of the faith contained in the proclamation of the Gospel — faith came to you
    • Romans 1:17 — the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
      • Mirror Bible v. 17b: ….The prophets wrote in advance about the fact that God believes that righteousness reveals the life of our design. “Righteousness by his (God’s) faith defines life.”
        • The language of the old written code was, “Do in order to become! The language of the new is, “Be, because of what was done!”
        • Instead of do, do, do, it’s done, done, done!
        • It is God’s faith to begin with; it is from faith to faith, and not our good or bad behavior; we are not defined by our performance or circumstances.
    • The only faith “in Jesus” that is valid is the faith that says what Jesus believes is true…. it echoes His faith

Galatians 3:6-9 — Abraham’s faith

  • Now Paul brings up Abraham in verse 6
    • Abraham had probably been used as an example of the Judaizers to argue circumcision
    • So Paul brings up Abraham and looks at the significance of his faith
  • The covenant with Abraham was made 430 years before the Law was given
    • This relationship started not as a transaction between God and Abraham’s obedience
    • God’s relationship with Abraham was not based on works of law where Abraham impressed God with his good life and God rewarded him.

 

  • This covenant began as a One sided promise to Abraham
    • It was based on God taking the initiative to declare His promise and His word• Abraham just believed what God said
    • God said “through you Abraham I am going to justify the nations”
      • Genesis 12:2: And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you ALL the families of the earth will be blessed.”
      • Genesis 18:18: since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him ALL the nations of the earth will be blessed?
      • Genesis 22:17-18: indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. (18) “In your seed ALL the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
      • Romans 4:16-18: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (17) (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many (ALL) nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (18) Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be
  • Abraham’s faith came from the promise — He believed God that in him ALL the nations would be blessed.
  • The blessing that came upon the nations — was it because each one believed the way Abraham did?
    • NO! God promises Abraham that “in you Abraham” all nations will be blessed.
    •  Abraham’s faith had results for ALL nations regardless of their faith
    • His faith resulted in a blessing that was coming upon ALL the nations.
    • It wasn’t their individual faith but Abraham’s faith that allowed God to bless or justify the nations• verse 8 tells us that God’s faith would justify the Gentiles
    •  this was the Gospel He announced in advance to Abraham: in you ALL nations will be blessed
  • Individual faith is important but we want to read Galatians 3 in context
    • We’ve so often taught from Galatians 3 that you need to believe the way Abraham did
    • But if it’s your faith that is the magic ingredient to make everything happen then why did Jesusmbother coming?
    • If we just believe God the way Abraham did….. then faith becomes our Savior
    • He had already told us in Galatians 2:16 that we are justified by Christ’s faith
    • It is not what you believe that saves you — Jesus Christ is the only Savior! He alone saves!
    • He’s already done the saving…. our faith response to His faith just allows me to partake of what
    • He’s already done.
  • In verse 9 what does Paul mean when he says those who are of faith?
    •  It’s connected to verse 8 by the Greek word “hoste” which is a conjuction meaning “so then”
      • So then, those of faith are blessed along with believing Abraham
      • Mirror: As did Abraham so do we now find our source in the blessing of faith.
      • those who are “of faith” are not those who try to mimic the faith of Abraham or even the faith of Christ
      • They are those who are given life because of Christ’s faithfulness… they are the nations justified by God’s faith spoken about in verse 8
  • The significance of Abraham’s faith is that it foreshadowed the faith of the One in Whom ALL the nations were blessed and justified
  • The blessing that God promised Abraham was that “in him” all the nations wold be blessed
    • His faith was reckoned not just as a benefit to him but as a benefit to ALL the nations
  • So… God made a promise to Abraham that He would justify the nations through faith
  • God is obviously the One who justifies. But on what basis does God justify the nations?
  • Is it on the basis of individual faith of the nations? Or was it on the basis of Abraham’s faith?
    • It was undoubtedly Abraham’s faith that in God’s promise that resulted in the blessing and justification of the nations and not on their own individual faith but on Christ’s faith
  • Again, individual faith is important but right now we’re looking at Gal 3 in context
    • What you believe matters a lot but it’s for another teaching
  • God’s strategy has always been to include ALL in the One — to bless the nations in the Seed of Abraham
    • The promise is not to seeds (plural) but to the Seed (singular)
    • God’s strategy was always to…. include a nation in Abraham
      • To elect Abraham in order to include a nation
      • And then to include all the nations in the nation of Israel
      • And then to include AlL in One ultimately
  • God’s plan is to include ALL of creation and every man in this One person in Whom all things consist
    • Col 1:17 — And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
    • IN CHRIST He would deal with the whole of creation, to renew it, and restore it to what He created it to be — In His likeness and In His image
    • Paul is able to declare so accurately and so clearly in 2 Cor 5:14 if One died for ALL then ALL have died
    •  God didn’t just do something that is of potential benefit to humanity — NO! when He died ALL died.
  • And as surely as you died together with Him you were raised together with Him
    • Romans 6:4 — Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    • Col 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
    • Eph 2:6 — and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
  • That is why Jesus is called the LAST Adam — not the 2nd Adam
    • He brought an end to that Adamic race that stood guilty and at a distance from God
    • He was the LAST Adam to be part of that Adamic race
  • To stand guilty before God is no longer an option — the LAST Adam came and went
    • In His resurrection He brought about the whole new humanity
    • A humanity that stands guiltless and blameless before their Maker
    • Because of His faithfulness to keep His promise to justify the nations in the One Seed of Abraham
  • So… to summarize these verses we see that:
    • Abraham’s faith was a shadow of Christ’s faith
    • The significance of Abraham’s faith is not that it is an example for us to mimic — but rather that as a result of his faith, blessing or justification comes to ALL the nations through Christ• Abraham’s faith did not only include a blessing for himself but for ALL nations
    • As such it is a type of the faith of Christ that blessed or justified ALL nations
      • Through the faithfulness of the One man justification would come to ALL men
      • Romans 5:16-19: The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. (17) For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (18) So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. (19) For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous
        • v. 18 Mirror: The conclusion is clear: it took just one offense to condemn mankind; one act of righteousness declares the same mankind innocent
        • The Phillips translation reads: “We see then, that as one act of sin exposed the whole race of men to condemnation, so one act of perfect righteousness presents all men freely acquitted in the sight of God!”
  • Faith sees us joined in His death and alive with Him in His resurrection
    • Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
  • This is what Paul is trying to get these Galatians back to …… not faith in their works, not even faith like Abraham’s….but rather living only by Christ’s faith
    • Because only then can our faith work… only then can the release of our faith be productive….
      • Philemon 1:6 That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

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