|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 12
Meditation Title: Abraham, a model
Gal 3:6,7 Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
I am amazed as, every now and then, I come across someone, a Christian, who sees no point in the Old Testament and never reads it. OK, even if you put aside all the Laws (and I'm not suggesting that) the history that is recorded there is vital to understanding the Lord and His purposes. Abram, or Abraham as he later became, was the first man that the Lord drew into relationship with Himself. His walk with God is amazing on a number of levels. It is amazing to start with because he shows us a pagan who has virtually no knowledge of the Lord, being gradually drawn into a living relationship with the Lord, which stretches over many years. Yes, the Lord spoke to him and called him to go and live in the land of Canaan, but Abram's knowledge of the Lord was strictly limited and the number of conversations between the Lord and Abram are fairly few and stretched over many years.
However, there is something remarkable about Abram, and one has to assume that this is why the Lord chose him, and it is that he believed God. His father had given up on his journeying to Canaan but when he died the word came again to Abram and he went. Simple as that! Now one of the other big things about Abram was that he was childless and his wife, Sarai, was unable to have children, but late in their lives the Lord came and promised them children and Abram's response could be summarised as, All right! He just believed the Lord.
Now it is this simple belief of Abram's that Paul picks up on here in his letter. He uses it as an illustration. In one of the earlier conversations between the Lord and Abram, Abram is bemoaning the fact that he cannot have children and we find the following: He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:5,6). In other words, the Scriptural record is that God declared Abram righteous simply because he believed the Lord. Abram hadn't done anything at that moment; he just believed, and because he believed, the Lord declared him a righteous person. Now it is very important to see that. Abram had done NOTHING at that point, but believe the Lord. If the Lord said it, then it would come about. At that moment it was a mind or attitude thing and that was all that was necessary for him to be declared righteous.
So Paul takes this and says Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. That was an important and significant thing to say to the Jewish believers, who were struggling with an add-on mentality, because all Jews saw Abraham as the father of the nation. Although the nation hadn't been formed until centuries later at Sinai, Abraham was the Patriarch from whom came Isaac and from Isaac came Jacob (Israel). So, says Paul, believers in God are the ones who are really children of Abraham.
Paul continues, The 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 have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (v.8,9). Look, he says, the Scriptural record is quite clear. The Lord clearly knew what He would achieve through Jesus; many others, non-Jews, would become believers and belief, or rather faith, would be the criteria or means of their salvation. Thus the record shows that the Lord spoke good news to Abraham that people from all over the world would be blessed as a result of Abraham. Now that has been fulfilled in two ways.
First, Jesus was born into the Jewish nation which came ultimately from Abraham. His family would thus bring the Messiah or Christ to the world. Second, Abraham would be a model to the world of what was required to receive God's salvation simple belief! Abraham was simply a man of faith and it was his faith that opened the way for his relationship with the Lord to develop, and for the Lord to bless he and Sarai so that they could have Isaac, and the rest, as they say, is history!
So, says Paul, today salvation comes through simple faith, the same sort of faith that Abram had. You simply believe what God says and He declares you righteous. Just like Abram, it happens at the moment that God speaks and you agree. God said to Abram, you will have children. Abram said, 'Great!' (or the equivalent!!), and that was it. At that second, God declared him righteous. Today the Lord comes to draw us to Himself. He speaks a word and we are convicted and we say yes to Him. We surrender. It is a momentary thing, but at that moment of surrender to God and agreeing (believing) in all that Jesus has done for us on the Cross, we ARE saved. If we had died at that moment, we'd have gone to heaven.
We were saved. God declares it. We are righteous. And this is the wonder it all happens before we have a chance to do anything more. Thus we are saved before we have a chance to DO anything. Reading the Bible, going to church, praying, witnessing, or whatever else you can think of, come later. But we are already saved before we get round to any of those things. Yes, we are completely saved. We cannot add to that salvation. We are in God's kingdom NOW, before we can do anything to merit it. Has the wonder of that sunk in now? May it be so!