PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
How 21st Century, Non-Jewish Canadians Can Become Children of Abraham and Inherit His Blessings
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Sunday, November 29, 2009 -

Galatians 3:6-9 - “....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.”

Today we study the third in a string of arguments Paul marshaled to prove the validity of his gospel message in the face of the false claims of the Judaisers upsetting the churches in Galatia. First, Paul showed that his gospel lined up with the leaders in the church at Jerusalem (2:1-10). Second, Paul showed that his gospel lined up with their own experience of the free work of the Holy Spirit in their lives (3:1-5). Finally, Paul is now going to show that his gospel lines up with the Old Testament Scriptures and the testimony of Abraham himself (3:6-9).

1) BOTH JEWS AND NON-JEWS CAN AND MUST BECOME TRUE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM - Galatians 3:7 & 9 - “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham....9....So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

The point is made twice in two verses. Those who are true descendants of Abraham are those who share in Abraham’s faith. Sonship to Abraham isn’t dependant merely on physical descent. This is merely one picture among many in the New Testament of the reality and importance of spiritual Israel through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul expands it even further in Galatians 3:28-29 - “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [29] And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”

These words from Paul are, for the most part, taken from Genesis 12:1-3 - “Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. [2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. [3] I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

These important verses teach that right from the beginning it was God’s will to make sure Abram knew that the Jewish nation created through him was a people created for the world. This is highlighted again in Genesis 18:18 - “....seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”

But what kind of blessing will come to the families and nations of the earth? Is there anything in the Old Testament to back up Paul’s idea that people other than Jews will become children of Abraham? Yes there is:Genesis 17:4-5 - “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. [5] No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”

So we see here that the blessing that would be extended to all the nations and families of the earth was the blessing of the “fatherhood” of Abraham. Twice this passage says God will make Abraham a father to the nations. If Abraham is the father to the nations, then the nations are going to become his children, just as Paul taught. So the purpose of God’s calling to ethnic Israel was the creation of spiritual Israel. One was the means, the other was the goal. This does not mean, however, that God is now finished with ethnic Israel. Paul makes God’s wonderful plan for the Jewish people clear in Romans 11:25-27 - “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. [26] And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’: [27] ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”

2) JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH, FAR FROM BEING A NEW CONCEPT, WAS THE KEY TO ABRAHAM’S RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD - Galatians 3:6 & 9 - “....just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"....9....So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

The important point here is to remember that Abraham was pronounced righteous as a result of having “believed God.” And this trust in God took place before circumcision was instituted and hundreds of years before the law was given.

3) BEING A CHILD OF ABRAHAM MEANS BEING LIKE ABRAHAM - John 8:39-40 - “They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, [40] but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.”

First, this text shows that, just as Paul said, Jesus makes it clear that there is a sense in which these religious leaders, though Jews, are not true descendants of Abraham because they don’t do what Abraham would do. And second, Jesus shows us another dimension of what being a true child of Abraham is all about. It means doing what Abraham did. And in our text from Galatians, what Abraham did was believe God - Galatians 3:6 - “....just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?

4) AS ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN WE SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE AND BLESSING OF ABRAHAM - Galatians 3:9 & 29 - “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith....29....And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”

So what is so special about the blessing of Abraham anyway? Why should you and I even care? We should care because the inheritance (or blessing) of Abraham takes care of our two greatest needs and fears in Newmarket in 2009 - the fear of death and the fear of standing before a holy and eternal Judge.This is made clear in the wording of verse 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." The blessing of Abraham that God wanted to extend to the nations of the earth was the blessing of being justified in spite of our inability to earn a righteous standing before God. God extended the blessings of Abraham to the nations because all people everywhere need to be justified. All people everywhere will die. And all are sinners. We all benefit eternally by being children of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ! That’s why Jesus said that Abraham “longed to see His day.”