The Book of Galatians #9
The Book of Galatians #9
Galatians 3:6-
 
I suppose the greatest heresy that has ever threatened the church is adding works to faith in order to be saved. It’s interesting to me that it has been around since the church began.  The reason it is so dangerous is because it says the work of Christ on the cross is not enough to be saved, but must be finished or completed by human effort. 
 
The teaching of Scripture is 'faith plus nothing equals salvation.' In Acts 16:30-31, in the account of the Philippian jailer, the question is posed: "What must I do to be saved?" The answer is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."
 
Salvation, Biblically speaking, is simply a matter of faith plus nothing. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone.  And nothing could be more clear from Scripture, and yet this heresy, as I said, has been around a long time, and it’s very prevalent today.
 
And that is the problem Paul is dealing with in the region of Galatia.  Even though he spends two chapters defending his authority as an apostle, it’s not just to be respected, but to announce the message of salvation.
 
The reason he's writing this is because this simple doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone was under attack by a group known as the Judaizers. Judaizers were people who tried to impose a mixture of Christianity and Judaism on everybody as the means of salvation. 
They said, "It's fine to believe in Jesus, but you've also got to be circumcised and you've also got to keep all the ceremonies of Moses."
 
So Paul is writing Galatians to straighten them out. He wants to show them that all that stuff has nothing to do with salvation, that circumcision and ceremony does not have anything to do with salvation. Rather, if you think you'll be saved by Christ and your works, you negate what Christ would do. When you add something to grace, you've destroyed grace. If you've destroyed grace, you've destroyed salvation.
 
Now, we are in chapter 3 and in chapters 3-4, Paul is defending the fact that salvation is by faith alone.
 
As we saw last time, he uses two areas to defend his position.  First, in verses 1-5, Paul used the experience of the Galatians to show them that justification was by faith.
 
How do you explain your salvation if they are right?  When you were saved, you received everything. You received Christ, you received the Holy Spirit, you saw the wondrous works God did among you.  God Himself was at work in your salvation, and if what the Judaizers teach is true, your own experience contradicts it. 
 
Secondly, he turns to an even higher authority, and that is Scripture. And by the way, just let me insert this while we’re passing by:  If your experience ever contradicts Scripture, then you must deny the experience and rely on Scripture. 
 
 
Someone says, “I had a dream and God told me to do thus and so”.  If what your dream instructed you to do violates Scripture, then it must be disregarded and considered not to be of God.  God will never lead you through your experiences in opposition to the Bible. 
 
Here in Galatia, that was not the case.  Their experience was good evidence of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, but even stronger than that is the authority of Scripture. 
 
So in 3:6, Paul launches into a Scriptural defense of justification by faith.  And by the way, I think it important to note that the only Scripture available to Paul at this time was the Old Testament. 
 
Paul uses the Old Testament to defend the New Testament teaching of salvation by faith. That's extremely important because there are a lot of people who think the Old Testament teaches that you are saved by works. It does not teach that.
 
God is always consistent and salvation is always by faith. You couldn't make yourself righteous or right with God in the Old Testament by works any more than you can in the New Testament. It is the same incapacity man has had since the fall, so salvation has always been by faith.
 
So what you really have in this section is a theology of the Old Testament. If you want to know how people were saved in the Old Testament, just read through here and you'll find out. It's the same way they are saved at any time: by faith in God's revelation.
 
That raises some interesting questions.  For instance, "Did they have to believe in the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and the Second Coming?" Of course not.
 
Remember what I taught you Sunday morning?  Salvation is responding to as much of God as you understand with as much of yourself as you understand.
 
How were Old Testament people saved?  They had to believe as much as God had revealed. If a man was living in the time of Adam, God hadn't said too much, but He had to believe all that God had revealed.
 
When Moses came along, God had revealed more of Himself and man had to believe all God had revealed.
 
For us today, we have the completed revelation.  There is nothing else that will be given to the church, so if a person will be saved, they must accept what’s been revealed. 
 
And for those who follow the church age, during the tribulation, they will be required to respond to all God has revealed to that time. 
 
And the important thing to keep in mind is whatever God reveals, it’s always got Jesus as its focus.  So this, then, becomes a tremendously powerful point. I want you to hang onto this, because it will give you insights into the book of Galatians and into the techniques of Paul.
 
Here are these Judaizers, these false teachers who were going around saying, "In order to get saved, you have to be circumcised, you have to be a Jew because only Jews can get saved." That was their line. "Only Jews get saved. Therefore, if you're a Gentile, first you become a Jew, get circumcised, obey the law of Moses, then you can get saved. But the only way into salvation is through the doorway of Judaism. No Gentile can come in without becoming a Jew first." That was their teaching.
 
And they supported their doctrine on the basis of the Old Testament.  So Paul takes the Old Testament here and just turns it on them. He says, "Let me show you what the Old Testament really says."
 
It’s the same thing that happens today when two different individuals or groups, from the same set of Scripture, seek to defend points that are diametrically opposed to one another. 
 
When that happens, someone is wrong; both can’t be right. So Paul uses the same Scripture that they twisted and perverted, untangles it, straightens it out so that it speaks the truth and uses it against them. 
 
The passage we're dealing with tonight is 3:6-14 and it falls into two parts. In this passage, Paul is giving  proof from the Old Testament for salvation by faith.
 
First of all, he gives positive proof , then secondly, he gives negative proof. That's as sophisticated as the outline will get. I’ll try to get through both of them, but I may have to deal with them separately and take two weeks to do it.
 
First of all, to defend justification by grace through faith,, Paul presents
 
1. Positive Proof
 
verses 6-9
 
First of all, he uses the testimony of Abraham.  This is a direct shot at the Judaizer’s argument because they most likely would have used Abraham as proof
that you had to be circumcised.
 
You remember the story how Abraham was called by God to leave his home and when he got to his destination, as an man on up in years, he was circumcised.  No doubt, the Judaizers would have made that point.  And I will admit to you, as an older man myself, it’s a pretty strong point!
 
So if not in order to be right with God, why did Abraham do what he did?
 
Genesis 12 provides some insight. 
 
verses 1-4
 
It says he was 75 years old when he departed. I would suggest that Abraham was pretty well established by this time in his life.  His roots are deep; he’s well-off.  And God comes to him and says, "Get up and get out of here. I'm going to take you to a place, and I'm not even going to tell you where it is." And he did it; he believed God. What is he doing?  He is responding to as much information as he has about God with as much of himself as he can. 
 
He just accepted the information from God and obeyed.
 
Move over to Genesis 15.  Remember what God promised in 12:  I'm going to bless you. An heir will come out of your loins."
 
verse 4
 
God says, "Abram, look up there. See all the stars? That's how many children are going to come from you."
 
Now if you know Abraham’s story, you know Abraham had a problem. He didn't have a son. He is now over 90 and so was his wife. 
 
Now, if you were 95 and your wife was 90 and God gave you that message, you'd say, "God, do you mind repeating that?"
 
It’s one thing to say, “Abraham believed God”, but take a moment to consider what Abraham believed.  It’s not that simple to just believe, is it? Especially when he had no seed, he had no son.
 
 verse 6
 
How was Abraham, made righteous? He believed. That's it! So Paul simply pulls out this whole concept of Abraham and just sticks it in their faces and says, "Look at the truth about him!"
 
God said, "In Abraham, all are going to be blessed, because out of his loins will come a great nation, and out of that nation will come one individual who will be Messiah."
So when God said, "In thy seed will all the nations be blessed," He meant that through Abraham's ultimate seed, Jesus Christ, all nations would be able to come to God, because of that tremendous promise.
 
The Judaizers took that to mean that since in Abraham, all were to be blessed, then the only way to get blessed was to be a Jew.  If all the nations of the earth are blessed in Abraham, then the only way to get into Abraham is to be circumcised and become a Jew.  So, then, only circumcised people could ever be righteous.
 
And yet, Paul says, Genesis 15:6 says, "Abraham believed in the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness." Do you know when he was circumcised? Fourteen years after he believed God. 
 
Obviously, God was waiting for the surgery so Abraham could be justified. 
 
The Judaizers also taught that you had to keep the law to be saved. Think about that:  Moses and the Law came along a long time after Abraham.  The law wasn't even given when Abraham was alive! You have to go through all the patriarchs in the book Genesis before you finally get to Exodus and run into Moses. And the law came long after that.
 
How, then, was God saving people from the very beginning? How? Not by circumcision and not by the Law, but by grace through faith.
 
 
 
 
So how was Abraham saved? God made him a promise and he believed it. He didn't have to believe in everything about the Lord Jesus Christ and everything about the Cross, he just had to believe God to the point of God's revelation. God declared him righteous.
 
Abraham's salvation was graciously granted to him by faith, and his life is an illustration of the way that anyone in any age gets saved.  That's what Paul is saying. He is the supreme example that salvation is spiritual, internal, personal, by faith. He is the father of all who come to God by faith.
 
verse 7
 
True children of Abraham are those who come to God through faith. His was a faith salvation. They wanted to depend upon their Jewish ancestry, but Paul is saying, the true descendants of Abraham are his faith descendants not his ethnic descendants. 
 
Don’t mishear, God still has special plans for the Jews, but in a spiritual sense, we are the children of Abraham as we follow his pattern of salvation by faith.
 
Here he is simply establishing the fact the Abraham was justified by faith alone and the true descendants of Abraham are not just Jews, but people who are of faith.
 
Verse 8
 
Now here, he really gets into the heavy part of his argument and starts quoting Scripture.
We really have to kind of untangle this verse to get into the logic of Paul.
 
Notice the word 'Gospel.' It means 'good news.' What is the good news that God wants to give us? Salvation by faith. Did He give that to Abraham? He certainly did. "He preached before the good news that salvation comes by faith unto Abraham."
 
But he preached also that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, that all the nations down through the ages would be justified by faith, as well as the Jews.
 
He didn't just limit it to the descendants of Abraham.  He says, "Your seed will be blessed." But He also said, "In you will all the nations of the Earth be blessed."
 
So at the very time when Abraham was given the promise, God told Abraham that Gentile nations would be saved by faith also.
 
Now catch what that verse says:  It doesn’t say everyone will be saved, nor does it say that everyone has to become a Jew.  Here’s what it says:  It ways that the means by which nations will be blessed is through the seed of Abraham. The Scripture doesn't say, "All the nations will become what you are." No, all the nations will be blessed through the seed that comes.
 
God is going to justify both Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus Christ.  That's what he's saying.
 
And the first part of verse 8 is an explanation of the statement at the end of verse 8.
 
The Old Testament says, "In you all the nations will be blessed." Paul says, "That means that God is going to justify Gentiles through faith." If the Galatians could just get this, they wouldn't get messed up by the Judaizers.
 
It had nothing to do with becoming Jewish; it has everything to do with trusting Christ alone. 
 
In fact, we have a mission team in Mexico right now living out that verse.  They’re not down there trying to convince men and women and boys and girls to become Jews like Abraham, but to come to God like Abraham did.  Believe God!
 
Well, that’s the positive side of Paul’s argument.  Scripture teaches us that salvation came to Abraham through faith and that became the pattern for all men. 
 
Verse 9
 
That's really the statement Paul uses to summarize everything on the positive side. Salvation comes through faith, to those who believe, just as it came to Abraham through believing.
 
It is so important that we, as we present the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to others, make sure people understand carefully and fully that salvation is purely and only a matter of faith. The reason it's so important is because most people think in terms of works both to get right with God and stay right with God. 
Let me close with this:
 
Chapter 5:2. "
 
In other words, if people try to add anything to salvation by faith, they have destroyed the work of Christ on their behalf. It behooves us, then, beloved, as we share the Gospel, to make sure that we add nothing to it. It must be always and only a personal, spiritual, internal matter of an individual's faith.
 
Then, when they come to Christ, there are some practical fruits that are to be the outgrowth of that faith. We need to be careful to make the distinction between the two.
 
Let's have prayer.

 

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