Liberated From Legalism - pt 11 [7-11-21]



How many of you know the Father Abraham song? Here's an updated version:

Father Abraham had many children,

And many children had Father Abraham;

And I am one of them, and so are you,

So let's all praise the Lord!

From there, it kind of devolves into a churchy "Hokey Pokey."


If you sang the Father Abraham song, how many of you knew, as a kid, what it meant? Regardless of your age when you first heard it, how many of you know what it means now? It's been around a really long time.


Let's read Galatians 3:5-9:

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 - just as Abraham

“believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 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.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Apostle Paul wrote the "Father Abraham" song, complete with the choreography? Archeologists, studying ancient manuscripts, have found no such evidence. I'm just making stuff up now.


But Paul did write about our connection to Father Abraham. It's foundational to Paul's argument that Gentiles are heirs to God's promises without having to first become Jews, obeying Jewish laws, or following Jewish customs.


To see how Paul establishes his point, let's turn to 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. 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. 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.”

When God chose Abram {his name was later changed to Abraham, meaning "father of many"}, to found a new nation, he made sure that Abram understood they were being created for the world. "All the families of the earth," God said to Abram. That is the promise Paul quotes - "In you shall all the nations be blessed." The same Greek word is used twice in verse 8 {"ethne"} and translated as Gentiles and nations. It's a generic word, not signifying a single ethnic or national group, but people in general.


Here's something to keep in mind. God made the promise to Abram before any response from him. That is going to loom large in Paul's argument.


Building off Genesis 12, in Genesis 18:17-18, we read:

The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing

that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the

nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?"

We hear the same universality. "Nations" will be blessed. And also in Genesis 17:4-5:

“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 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."

You hear the universal direction in multitude of nations. It means more than one. God is telling Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed.


Let's pause and remember what the false teachers were saying. They claimed Gentile converts to Christianity had to become Jews first. They had to become part of the people of Israel. Again, remember that.


The nations of the world are going to be blessed because Abraham will become their father. "Father Abraham had many children." We read this in Genesis because God was working out His sovereign will toward the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Amen? That's why Matthew's genealogy of Jesus begins with Abraham. God knew exactly

what He was doing and why He was doing it. Another amen?


So the first thing we learn is that anyone can become a child of Abraham. You don't have to be a genetic descendent. You don't have to belong to a certain tribe or nation. Your belief in God's promises is what puts you in line as a child of Abraham.


Here's why we know that. Hebrews 11:8-10 sets the scene:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Here's where it gets interesting. When God declared Abraham as righteous,

what had Abraham done? What concrete things had Abraham done? God promised Abraham land, but at the time of these words in Genesis, no property had been given. Abraham still didn't own any land. The same thing goes for the promise of an heir. Abraham didn't have any children. The time in Genesis that Paul is referring to here in Galatians 3 has no mention of land or children or any action taken by Abraham.


And yet God considered Abraham righteous. Here's why. Because Abraham believed. He trusted what God had said. No land yet? It's okay, because God promised. No children yet? It's okay, because God promised. Abraham believed. And so the text says his faith was "counted" or "credited" to him as righteousness. Because of his faith, God transferred righteousness into Abraham's account.


Here's what that tells us. God is the only one who can state whether someone is righteous or unrighteous. God is the only One with access to that account. And in Abraham's case, God considered him righteous through his faith. The grace and mercy in that affirmation is that the heart and mind to believe was given him by God. Just as our faith is a gift from God. God dropped that credit in Abraham's account.


Now here’s where things converge. Here's something you might want to write down:

WHILE ABRAHAM DIDN'T KNOW WHERE HE WAS GOING, OR HOW HE WAS GOING TO GET THERE, HE TRUSTED GOD TO GET HIM WHERE HE NEEDED TO BE.

That's why we are not children of God by what we do. Only by what we believe. You see, deeper than believing God's promises, Abraham believed God Himself. Paul commented on it in Romans 4:20-22:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

Before anything happened, Abraham knew that one way or another God would fulfill His promises.


So here's the song again:

Father Abraham had many children,

And many children had Father Abraham;

And I am one of them, and so are you,

So let's all praise the Lord!

Why did you sing that you were a child of Abraham? Because Abraham was a child of God…he was counted as righteous by God…before he did anything that marked him as a Hebrew and before he entered the Promised Land. In other words, the blessing flows before any specific rite or ritual marking one as a child of God or before any specific ethnic identity marking one as a child of God. Therefore the false teachers don't know their own history, including its implication and application. That's why, Paul says, Gentiles don't have to jump through hoops because Abraham didn't have to jump through hoops. Abraham believed the promises of God, so it was counted to him as righteousness. And because we believe those same promises, we, too, are children of Abraham. No hoops. No laws. No rituals.


So, here's where all this is leading. To be a child of Abraham is to live by faith. And to live by faith means we share the inheritance first promised to Abraham. So what does something that started with the call of God to a man over 4,000 years ago in a place halfway around the world mean for us today? What does what Paul wrote 2,000 years ago mean for students and business owners and tech employees and domestic engineers and retired folks and educators and insurance agents and investment advisors and writers and musicians and {you get the point} all of us? We share in the blessing that first went to Abraham.


Here's the point. Actually, it's in two parts. There are two fears we all face:

The fear of meeting an infinitely Holy God loaded with all our sins and the fear of death.

How does sharing in Abraham's blessing answer those fears?


First, to share that inheritance, you don't have to be a certain ethnicity or culture or be part of a certain national heritage. It is faith, and faith alone, that makes you a child of Abraham. That is a good thing.


Second, if you are a child of Abraham, you have been given the gift of a trusting faith, like his. What that means is to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead to give us eternal life. In other words, all the things we have ever done wrong or will do wrong are forgiven because of Christ. We are justified in Christ. That's the Good News. God does not hold our sin against us. That is primary. Everything else is secondary. Secondary doesn't mean unimportant or neglectable. Feeding the hungry, praying for the sick, encouraging the brokenhearted, rescuing babies from the evil of abortion, breaking down walls of discrimination, and so many more; all of these things are important. But they are not primary. If you have not been justified by faith in Jesus Christ, then none of these other things matter. Jesus put it this way in Mark 8:36:

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?


Here's something to remember:

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOD'S PLAN FOR ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.


And so Paul traces all the way back to Abraham God's plan for our salvation. This is a timeless truth - and it's something else you might want to write down:

JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE, IN