In this blog we are covering Galatians 3:6-9 which is (Part 2) in my series on Galatians three. Today we are dealing with only one topic, which is faith. Paul paints us a beautiful picture of faith by drawing our attention to Abraham’s faith, our father of faith. He is extremely clear, it is through a faith like Abraham’s faith that we find redemption. The question we must answer is; How does Abraham’s faith look?
To begin, let’s examine the meaning of faith. The Hebrew word for faith is ‘emunah,’ which means something that ‘supports’ or something that is ‘firm.’ The NASB translates ‘emunah’ as pillars or doorposts in 2 Kings 18:16. God is a good builder, He is not looking for weak or broken “pillars” but firm supports on which He can build. Faith is when we support and stand firm in God, His word, and His ways, faith interlinks them all. We cannot by definition support one facet of God without supporting God as a completed whole, duplicity weakens a stronghold. Do we have confidence in men who tell us we merely need to accept God’s existence (one aspect of trusting in God) to obtain salvation without acknowledging what God says about having faith in Him, His words, and His instructions?
When we know God exists and He is the All Mighty, the creator of the universe, then shouldn’t we pursue His word and show our support of it? Do we adjust His word according to what we are told His word says, or re-interpret what His word says contradictory to what the vast bulk of the Scriptures tell us? If so, who is persuading us? When we can answer this question then we can identify who we trust. His people must seek to understand the intent of His will when we read the Bible. Our faith is demonstrated in whose commands, laws, suggestions, and instructions we receive and walk in. If we accept He exists and we seek to understand to Him, without the filter of men, using His whole word and support those words with our actions, then our communication with Him will advance and flourish.
God is searching for people who support Him by accepting and observing His word as their absolute authority, setting up the development of a genuine relationship with Him. In John 4:23, we are told whom God is seeking: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” It is in this direct contact with God that we will develop and understand His truths and grow into His trustworthy servants who vigorously support His character, His purpose, His word, and His commandments.
Galatians 3:6: “So also Abraham ‘believed God,’ and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
“Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’” This is a quote of Genesis 15:3: “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” What specifically did God mean when He tells us ‘he believed in the LORD?’ The good news is we do not have to speculate because God in His graciousness and mercy tells us exactly what He meant. In Genesis 26:4-5, we witness a conversation between God and Isaac about this exact moment, God tells Isaac: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” Abraham ‘believed God’ by obeying Him, keeping His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws. When we believe in God and trust Him and His ways, then our faith will reflect a desire to learn, to understand, and to obey Him, His word, and His laws. This is the faith Abraham had in God which caused Him to be credited as righteous.
I am not saying, Abraham kept the law therefore ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ I am saying, God saw Abraham’s faith in Him and His ways, a faith which caused Abraham to walk in obedience to Him, and it was this faith unto obedience that caused God to credit him as righteous. It was not that Abraham himself was measured by how he kept the law, but that his commitment to keep the law was what measured his faith. The Scriptures tell us that grace is a gift given to those who have faith. What many people do not recognize is that yes, His grace is free, but true faith must cost us our entire lives, for it to be true faith. This is because genuine faith is trans-formative. We are controlled by what we have faith in. God knows the only way to change someone into a new creation is to change what they place their faith in. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” We become new creatures by obtaining faith in something new, causing us to live differently. Living according to our old set of instructions is by definition not a reflection of faith in something new. Faith in God must transform us from living according to our old ways to living according to His instructions. Anything short of this is a lack of faith, a lack of understanding of His instructions, or a lack of maturity.
Abraham believed God so much that He trusted God’s ways over his old ways. It was his faith in God’s word and in His laws that ‘was credited’ to him as righteousness. James tells us in James 2:17: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” The works Abraham did were not the ‘works of law’ we saw earlier, it was the works of his faith, the works that measured and reflected His faith. This is the new works he did according to his trust in God. Our works will always be a reflection our faith. James 2:18-20, continues: “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” Abraham had a faith which lead him to obey God, turning him from his old ways to God’s laws.
In my previous blog, I discussed the fact that the Israelites needed supervision to walk out His ways because they lacked the required faith in God to walk out His ways on their own, therefore God gave them the Levitical Priesthood. God employed the Levitical Priesthood to force His word inside of them and subsequently into the world through the diaspora, causing the world to become civilized. God desires that we should walk out His word, according to our own understanding, as a measure of a required level of faith that we must have in Him and His ways, to be His people. The Old Covenant was a forced march of obedience to His word under the supervision of the Levitical Priesthood. The New Covenant is a renewed call for a faith in God that requires us to walk in His instructions under the revelation and example of Jesus, our new chief priest. Our ‘works’ must be a reflection of His word being in our hearts according to our own sought out understanding and faith under the welcomed guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can see this in the description of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:33-34: “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the LORD, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’” He must write his law on our hearts by us getting into His word, understanding it, and trusting it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is the required level of faith God is looking for in His people.
3:7-9: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”
Those of true faith are the children of Abraham, if they are Jewish or not. We become God’s people through our faith. Romans 9:7-8, tell us: “… nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: ‘THROUH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” Our promise is the same as Abraham’s, if we support God and His instructions because of our true faith in Him, He will credit it to us as righteousness, no matter our lineage. Jesus Himself gives us an example of true faith when He talks to the Pharisees in John 8:39: “They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.’” Simple, the true faith that makes us His people must eventually lead us into obedience to His commandments according to our own understanding of His perfect will.
The grace Abraham received is the same grace that is being offered to us today, therefore it is by this same faith that Abraham had that we receive our grace. This is “so those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” In Romans 4:21-24, we can see: “… and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead….” Paul gives us the best explanation of grace through faith in Romans 4:16: “For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all….” The promise of grace that Abraham received belongs to those who are of the same faith as Abraham. This is a faith that leads us to trust and to obey His word and His laws.
Loving His Truth
Do we love His truth? Our faith lies in what we perceive as truth. It is this burden of honestly discovering the truth of God’s word, that gives our lives meaning. Genuine faith in God does not just come about because we want salvation or deliverance. We have faith in God when we determine that God’s word and His instructions are true. It is in this determination that God, His word, and His ways are true, that pushes us to listen to His words and to walk in His statutes.
Do we walk in God’s instructions as God tells us to, according to our own understanding of His word? Then our faith is in God and His word. Are we doing things so we can find happiness? Then our faith is in our happiness. To fully trust Him we must be honest with ourselves, we must find a genuine desire to seek His truth. Only people who want to find truth, who love His truths, and who approach God with an honest desire to determine His truth can find a genuine relationship with God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, we read: “… and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” The love of truth must become paramount in our lives. To be His people, we must honor Him and His word as truth, by obeying His laws, not for salvation but because they are true. Then we can we show Him our love of His truth in our willingness and desire to do whatever it takes to discover His truth for ourselves and to bring His truth to reality in our lives.
We see Abraham’s faith in Genesis, but maybe we don’t understand the search for truth that led Abraham to His faith. We do not often hear about Abraham’s struggle with accepting God’s truth for himself. In the book of Yasher 9:11-18 we see a remarkable story about Abraham and His battle to see God as absolute truth. In Yasher 9:11-12, we see Abraham’s search for God’s truth: “And Abram the son of Terah was waxing great in those days in the house of Noah, and no man knew it, and the Lord was with him. And the Lord gave Abram an understanding heart, and he knew all the works of that generation were vain, and that all their gods were vain and were of no avail.” In Yasher 9:13-17, Abraham alternated between serving the sun and serving the moon. In Yasher 9:17-19, Abraham recognized God as truth and served Him: “And in the morning when it was light and the sun shone upon the earth as usual, Abram saw all the things that the Lord God had made upon earth. And Abram said unto himself Surely these are not gods that made the earth and all mankind, but these are the servants of God, and Abram remained in the house of Noah and there knew the Lord and his ways’ and he served the Lord all the days of his life, and all that generation forgot the Lord, and served other gods of wood and stone, and rebelled all their days.” Abraham did not rely on a man to tell Him God’s truth. He had to come to God’s truth on his own, in his own heart, and therefore, “he served the Lord all the days of his life.” His understanding of truth was reflected in how he lived his life from that moment on.
Abraham had to realized that God was true for himself. This is how he grew into the father of our faith. This is how we must discover that God is true, for ourselves. We are told in Revelation 12:11, that they overcame Satan because they loved God’s truth more than they loved their lives, that is truth over lives: “They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die” (GNT). Do we hold His truth as more important than our very lives? Do we want His truth in our lives, even over our own fleshly appetites? What are we prepared to trade to know His truth for ourselves? Is His truth more important than TV, sports, social hour, Facebook, free-time etc…? Do we hold every word of God’s word as the absolute truth? If not who holds the truths we are listening to? Who are Christians trusting that makes His word appear less important than other things in their lives? It is in our examining ourselves and our faith that will drive us to conform ourselves to His word. James instructs us in James 1:22-25: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
Let us examine ourselves so we can pursue a faith like Abraham’s faith so we can receive the grace that Abraham received. Our pathway to salvation is to discover, to recognize, and to trust in God, His word, and His instructions then to reflect that trust in how we live our lives. In John 5:29, Jesus lets us know that faith requires work: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” It is work to discover and to recognize God, His word, and His ways as truth. Only then will we carry out that truth in faith and support of Him and His word like Abraham, the father of our faith.
In my next blog, we will look at Galatians 3:10-14 (Part 3). Galatians starts us down the road of discovering what the law was designed to do, regarding our pathway to salvation. Until next week. Shabbat Shalom!