Abraham's Example

Galatians: No Other Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:48
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Belief in the promised Messiah pleases God more than acts of obligation

Was General George Washington a patriot? What would you think if I told you that Washington NEVER saluted or placed his hand over his heart and pledged allegiance to the United States flag?
White stars did not replace the Union Jack until 1777. And the first recorded pledge to the flag was in 1892. Since Washington died in 1799 it would have been hard to recite a pledge that wouldn’t be written for over 90 years during the slavery struggle leading to our Civil War! It started as allegiance to a flag, then became identified with a republic with liberty and justice for all. In 1892 children were instructed to face the flag and reach toward it palm down at forehead height. When Italian Fascists and Nazis began using a similar salute, the posture changed to beginning with hand over the heart and reaching out palm up with the words “to the flag” and remained in that posture to the end. In 1942 the hand would remain over the heart for the entire pledge if not in a military salute. The pledge as it is now recited would not add the words “under God” until 1954, long after WW2. If George Washington were resurrected and instructed to join in the pledge of allegiance, he wouldn’t know where to start! Since the poem that became our National Anthem wasn’t written until the Battle of 1812, he also wouldn’t know how to begin a Chase County sporting event!
The point is that flag etiquette is not synonymous with patriotism. And the Mosaic Law is not identical to being Jewish.
“Acting Jewish” was a big problem in the Church in the first century. Many thought a person had to do Jewish things in order to follow Christ. To expose the wrongness of this idea, Paul asks his readers to consider the first Jew, Abraham.
Attitudes towards Jewish nationality and observances continues to be a struggle to this very year when a Washington DC politician was disciplined for anti-Jewish statements.
When God first cut covenant with Abraham, He made a promise that America has supported in terms of our public policy and many evangelicals claim around the world.
Genesis 12:3 ESV:2016
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.”
But who is a Jew? Jewish can be used to describe a religion, a descendent group, and many confuse Jew with Israeli. There are many Jews who do not keep kosher, and there are some Gentiles who do follow a kosher diet. There are some Jews who live in Israel, but many descendants of Abraham have been distributed around the World.
There are less than 1 million people in Jerusalem, and only 60% of them identify themselves as Jewish, while there are 1.6 million New Yorkers who identify as Jewish. There are more Jews in New York than Jerusalem by about 3:1
Transition: So, if a patriot doesn’t have to know the pledge or anthem, could it be that a descendant of Abraham might not have to keep the law? Paul points us to what made Abraham unique.

The Importance of Faith (vv.6-9)

Abraham had belief before there were rules (Gen 15:6, Gal 3:17)

Counted to him as righteousness appears 6x (2 in OT, 4 in NT)
According to Gal 3:17 the credit happened 430 years before the law was even given. So Abraham’s righteousness was NOT the result of behaving a certain way.
The belief = credit equation is well established!

Does James contradict Paul? (James 2:22-23)

James 2:22–23 ESV:2016
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.
Once you stake your claim or raise your flag as being a Christ-follower it will not take very long for someone to say, “You’re not acting very Christian.” If you were Christian you would be more accepting and tolerant. Since they are so big in this part of the country, you may have heard about the schism within Methodism between the established United Methodist and a restoration movement known as Global Methodists. But, you may not know that the 3 issues of gay marriage, LGBTQIA+ affirmation and women in ministry are dividing Baptists, The Covenant Church, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and the Anglican Fellowship (known in America as Episcopalian). The sides are being drawn and usually boils down to either “the Bible says” or “being christian looks like accepting some things the Bible prohibits”.
Is James saying that righteousness is measured by behavior? Is James contradicting Paul in Gal 3:6? Is “being Christian” determined by faith or behavior?
How do faith and behavior interact? Are they two sides of the same coin or are they a horse/cart, truck/trailer that happen together, but in a specific order?
I had a random dream this week. I’ve never owned a truck, a camper, or a boat. But I dreamt that I was in a big semi-tractor, pulling a 5th wheel RV, pulling a fishing boat. That image only works in 1 order!

the Order of Abraham’s account in Genesis

In Genesis 12:1-3 God makes a covenant (promise) to Abraham while Abe is 75 years old.
In Genesis 15:6 the promise is restated and belief is attributed as righteousness.
In Gen 17 God reminds of the promise, instructs Abe to circumcise all males in his family. Abe is 99
In Gen 21:5 Isaac is born (25 years AFTER faith is credited to Abraham).
In Gen 22 Isaac is old enough to carry wood for a sacrifice (so maybe 35 years AFTER Abraham believed God) where Abraham’s faith is tested.
James 2:22 happens 35 years AFTER James 2:23.
Your faith SHOULD affect your behavior, your behavior after experiencing God’s truth will change, but your behavior does NOT define your discipleship.
Transition: Just as the Law came 430 years AFTER Abraham’s faith, another 1000 years pass until the Judaizers wrangled control of the Jewish religion to the point that is was measured by sacrifices and rules. But that was never the intent of God’s law.

The Limitations of Law (vv.10-12)

4 limitations

The law demands performance (10a) – if you rely on works, it brings a curse, underline the word do at the end of v.10.
The law demands complete performance (10b) – notice the words abide by all things.
Disobedience to any point of the law is like taking a Fentanyl-laced drug. It doesn’t matter what you thought you were taking or what it was cut with. One act of disobedience is like 1 fatal dose of the killer drug!
3. The law demands continual complete performance – where the ESV and NASB says abide by the NIV follows the lead of the KJV by using continue. The NLT drills down a little by translating this as observe and obey. The point is you must obey, you must obey completely, and you must never let up in your obedience.
4. The Law cannot save (v.11) – the standard created by the first 3 limitations leads to a clear conclusion that no one finds justification by the law.
Taking pills made of fruits and vegetables or drinking V8 may give you energy. Sleeping on giza sheets, a sleep number bed, or taking a supplement may contribute to waking refreshed, but you will never take enough supplements to avoid death. You can never achieve your way into God’s kingdom.
Transition: After these last few verses, you may be feeling down, but wait, it gets worse! Were not only helpless, we’re cursed.

The Exchange of Blessing for Curse (vv.13-16)

Law reveals curse (v.12)

The failures of trying to live good leads us down a path of despair.
That is what make the Gospel of Jesus so glorious. What we cannot door achieve, He has done for us if we only believe (rely) upon it. Amen?
The Lenten season is an intentional reflection upon our cursed condition and our need for a blessing.

Christ exchanges our curse for blessing (v.13)

13a is a succinct description of the substitutionary or vicarious atonement.
Christ doesn’t just set an example of goodness or sacrifice. He takes our place, just as the blood of the Lamb on the doorpost in Exodus caused the death Angel to passover the firstborn of the household. Our guilt is transferred to Jesus in becoming a curse for us so that we might be redeemed from our curse.
The blessing that God established in covenant with Abraham’s descendants through an offspring (Jesus the Messiah) (vv.14-16) makes the promise available to any through faith – both biological and spiritual sons of Abraham. THAT is good news!

The Supremacy of the Promise (vv.17-18)

Does not annul a covenant (v.17)

I am not going to try to defend every thought, word or deed that has been done in the name of Christ.
This month is recognized as Black History month. And I do not deny that some slaves were treated horrendously by some owners. Some communities in the religious South established inhumane barriers to opportunities.
Next Month will be highlighted as Earth Month and we will be reminded how some have polluted and abused the resources that God has entrusted to us in pursuit of their god, the almighty dollar.
Those thought to be heretics were burned alive.
Those presumed to participate in witchcraft or, more recently, certain behaviors outside of the God ordained union of man and wife have suffered many ways at the hands of people acting in the name of God.
The law breaking by humans does NOT make the promise void.

The Inheritance of the promise (Abraham’s offspring taking our curse) is not annulled or voided by mankind’s behavior.


Your promised inheritance is not dependent upon how well or how poorly you treat other people. You can’t achieve it by anything you may do.
You CAN receive it by belief in what the promised Jesus has done by becoming your curse.
Lord’s Supper Song of Response #.................. “title”
Benediction: 1 Kings 8:56 (ESV) — “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people (Israel), according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.
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