The Gospel in Galatians
Abraham became one of the most important persons in the history of Israel. Born in Ur of the Chaldeans (today Iraq), he received a special call directly from the Lord: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; . . . and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” ().
Since he received the divine call, Abraham revealed willing submission to God’s will. In, we are told that that he “obeyed; and went out, not knowing wither he went.”
However, his faith was not perfect. He revealed weak points in his character when he accepted the suggestion of Sarah, his wife, to get a child with Hagar, his Egyptian servant, and also when he said that Sarah was not his wife, but his sister.
For this reason, God called him to obey God’s instruction in the most terrible way: offering his son Isaac as sacrifice on Mount Moriah.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” ().
The faith of Abraham was tested to the utmost, and he revealed total obedience to God’s voice.
The Bible says that the children of Abraham have the faith of Abraham, and the works of Abraham. “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” ().
Abraham became the classic example of those who are justified by faith. He “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
“Our love to Christ will be in proportion to the depth of our conviction of sin, and by the law is the knowledge of sin. But as we see ourselves, let us look away to Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity. By faith take hold of the merits of Christ, and the soul-cleansing blood will be applied. The more clearly we see the evils and perils to which we have been exposed, the more grateful shall we be for deliverance through Christ. The gospel of Christ does not give men license to break the law, for it was through transgression that the floodgates of woe were opened upon our world.”1
“There is a belief that is not a saving faith. The Word declares that the devils believe and tremble. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. ‘Ye see,’ says the apostle, ‘how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.
“We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God’s love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives His blessing.”2
“Through type and promise God ‘preached before the gospel unto Abraham’ (). And the patriarch’s faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews: ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.’ , R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead. When man was doomed to death by transgression of the law of God, the Father, looking upon His Son, said to the sinner, ‘Live: I have found a ransom.’
“It was to impress Abraham’s mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, ‘It is enough.’ To save the fallen race, the King of glory yielded up His life. What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? ‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ ().”3
“To Abraham was given the promise that of his line the Saviour of the world should come: ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ ‘He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.’; .”4
“The heritage that God has promised to His people is not in this world. Abraham had no possession in the earth, ‘no, not so much as to set his foot on’ (). He possessed great substance, and he used it to the glory of God and the good of his fellow men; but he did not look upon this world as his home. The Lord had called him to leave his idolatrous countrymen, with the promise of the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; yet neither he nor his son nor his son’s son received it. When Abraham desired a burial place for his dead, he had to buy it of the Canaanites. His sole possession in the Land of Promise was that rock-hewn tomb in the cave of Machpelah.
“But the word of God had not failed; neither did it meet its final accomplishment in the occupation of Canaan by the Jewish people. ‘To Abraham and his seed were the promises made’ (). Abraham himself was to share the inheritance. The fulfillment of God’s promise may seem to be long delayed—for ‘one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’ ( ); it may appear to tarry; but at the appointed time ‘it will surely come, it will not tarry’ ( ). The gift to Abraham and his seed included not merely the land of Canaan, but the whole earth. So says the apostle, ‘The promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith’ ( ). And the Bible plainly teaches that the promises made to Abraham are to be fulfilled through Christ. All that are Christ’s are ‘Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’—heirs to ‘an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away’—the earth freed from the curse of sin ( ; ). For ‘the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;’ and ‘the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace’ ( ; ).
“God gave to Abraham a view of this immortal inheritance, and with this hope he was content. ‘By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (, ).
“Of the posterity of Abraham it is written, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ (). We must dwell as pilgrims and strangers here if we would gain ‘a better country, that is, an heavenly’ ( ). Those who are children of Abraham will be seeking the city which he looked for, ‘whose builder and maker is God.’ ”5