The Gospel in the Old Testament, Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 27, 2019
Slavery… think with me about slavery:
Frederick Douglass grew up as a slave in Maryland in the early nineteenth century and experienced slavery’s every brutality. He was taken from his mother when he was only an infant. For years as a child, all he had to eat was runny corn meal dumped in a trough that kids fought to scoop out with oyster shells. He worked in the hot fields from before sunup until after sundown. He was whipped many times with a cowhide whip until blood ran down his back, kicked and beaten by his master until he almost died, and attacked with a spike by a gang of whites.
But even so, when Frederick considered trying to escape to freedom, he struggled with the decision. He writes in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave that he had two great fears.
The first was leaving behind his friends:
I had a number of warm-hearted friends in Baltimore, friends that I loved almost as I did my life and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends.
His second fear was this: “If I failed in this attempt, my case would be a hopeless one it would seal my fate as a slave forever.”
Today, people who find themselves in slavery to sin, and who think about escaping to freedom in Christ, may have similar fears. They may fear leaving behind friends. They may fear they’ll fail in their attempt to break from sin and live free for God.
They should take heart from Douglass’s experience. On September 3, 1838, he remembers:
I left my chains, and succeeded in reaching New York without the slightest interruption of any kind I have been frequently asked how I felt when I found myself in a free State It was a moment of the highest excitement I ever experienced I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.
So, I wonder, are you a slave? Thank God we can be set free, but not through the law, only by Jesus’ blood.
Today, my theme is:
Abraham was justified by faith and so are we.
Let’s read Galatians 3:6-9:
6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.”9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
Last week we began a new section of Galatians. Paul started writing about how they, and we, are made right with God through faith. In these next four verses Paul uses Abraham as an example.
- Abraham was made right with God by believing.
- This is verse 6, quoting Genesis 15:6.
- Paul writes about this using the exact same term in Romans 4:3.
- In Romans 4, Paul writes about justification. Here, Paul is writing about justification.
- To be justified means that God declares us righteous. In this case Abraham was justified before God and so he was declared righteous.
- Let’s talk about justification for a minute:
- So, what is justification? Is it “just-as-if-I-never-sinned”?
- Not really. Unfortunately, I have used that but there is so much more to justification then that.
- Justification is a legal term.
- Justification has two parts:
- Forgiveness of sins
- Imputed Christ’s righteousness
- Without forgiveness of sins we are guilty, so this removes the guilt.
- Imputing Christ’s righteousness takes the wrath of God away from us and makes it so that we can stand before God. Imputing Christ’s righteousness restores our relationship with God.
- Suppose we Stand before the JUDGE— He examines the defendant against the evidence (using omniscience). The judge is God and He is examining us.
- He pronounces judgment. Later will follow the pronouncing of sentence.
- HIS JUDGMENT = NOT GUILTY by reason of the Atonement of Christ.
- Rom 4.5 “Justifies the ungodly”
- The definition of justification is To Declare Righteous
- NOT, To Make Righteous as that would be (Sanctification, and finally glorification)
- Therefore, your right standing is a declaration of the judge, not the result of your actually being good.
- Forgiveness of Sins
“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
- Justification implies a freedom from guilt.
- Not that we are not guilty, but that we have been freed from its condemnation. Rom 8:1 is about this.
- The Implication is God receives us as he would his own son (Heb 4.16).
- So, that is justification
- Isn’t that awesome! We are not just forgiven!
- We are declared righteous. We are declared right with God.
- This is all about grace:
Hounded by the Pharisees, betrayed by a friend, forsaken by His disciples, brutalized by police, beaten by His inquisitors, led in disgrace to a rigged trial.
Arrogant men sitting in judgment over Him, crowning Him with thorns, mocking and disdaining. Beating Him without mercy, nailing Him to the cross, the worst of tortures, stretched out between thieves.
Miserably thirsty, utterly forsaken by His Father for the first time, the picture of complete aloneness.
Hell on earth! Not just one man’s hell, but the hell of billions. At any moment—in a millisecond—He could have called legions of angels to deliver Him and destroy His enemies. Instead, He bears forever the scars of sin, rebellion, mockery, and hatred… the scars of God’s grace.
The cost of redemption cannot be overstated. The wonders of grace cannot be overemphasized. Christ took the hell He didn’t deserve so we could have the heaven we don’t deserve.
If you’re not stunned by the thought of grace, then you aren’t grasping what grace offers you, or what it cost Jesus.
- In verse 7, Paul says that we can be assured those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. This is how we are all sons of Abraham, we are grafted in.
- Abraham was told all of the nations would be blessed through him, quoting Genesis 12:3.
- This is verse 8.
- In verse 9, Paul wraps this up saying that we are blessed with Abraham who was the believer.
- Once again, we cannot be saved by works.
WHITE OUTS by Pastor Rick Sams
White outs come in the form of blizzards where you cannot see a thing. No wants to think about these after the brutal winter we’ve had.
Then there’s the kind we used before computers. Wite-Out dates to 1966 when an insurance-company clerk named George Kloosterhouse and a guy who waterproofed basements developed a correction fluid for typing mistakes. It was originally called “Wite-Out WO-1 Erasing Liquid.”*
Have you ever sent a text message that you regretted? Now you can electronically “white it out” by using Apple’s app called “Wiper Messenger.”**
Don’t you wish we had a “white out” for all your words and actions?
We try to use white out when we say we’ve “stretched the truth,” but we’ve flat out lied.
We call it “spin” when it’s actually false reporting.
“Re-inventing” products is really the same old stuff in a bigger package and bigger price.
“Revisionist history” is just bad research and recall.
“Pardon my French” is a cover up for swearing. I’ve heard French and what follows this phrase is not French.
“Bless their heart,” is often used right after we’ve smeared someone, as if this makes it right.
“Communication breakdown” is often a cover for laziness or somebody not doing their job.
“Mistakes” are too often sins.
“Affairs” are adultery.
“Issues” are really problems–usually big and bad.
But the Bible says there really are do-overs and white outs: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18b).
Jesus’ death on Good Friday didn’t just white out our sin. He took our pain and penalty on Himself, which was separation from God.
But you must RECEIVE this gift for it to “work.” You must receive HIM: “To those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 1:12; 11:25).
What a Savior. What a white out.
* “Forgiveness Is God’s Gift to ‘Wite-Out’ Mistakes,” John Ortberg, PreachingToday.com 8/5/14 **“Delete Your Conversations from Other People’s Phones,” Kim Komando blog (9-9-14)
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
 Kevin Miller, vice president, Christianity Today International, Wheaton, Illinois