Friday, 19 September 2014
Galatians 3:6-14: Famous Ancestors
My mother is the official keeper of our family history. In fact, she is so committed to honoring everybody’s family history, that she tends to introduce people by their first, middle, maiden, and last name, and then proceed to tell who they are related to in the greater Memphis area. Needless to say, introductions can take a while.
When I was seven, we went up to Little Compton, Rhode Island to spend quality time with various aunts, uncles, and cousins I had never met before. Other than mocking the accents of my two Yankee cousins (actually, second cousins, once removed), I was impressed to hear that Uncle Clay was off in New York trying to become a singer/actor. A few summers later, we turned on our TV and watched his debut on the Lawrence Welk Show.
You should have seen how tall I walked into school that fall. I had a famous uncle! He was on TV…every week! Not only did it change how I thought of myself, but, who knows, maybe I would follow in his footsteps. I mean, it’s in my blood!
From example to ancestor. We are backing up and repeating one verse this week in order to get the flow of Paul’s thought. At the end of last week’s passage, Paul brought in Abraham as a star witness to his argument. The only way to become right with God is by faith in Christ. You can almost hear the protests begin. That’s fine for now, but what about back then? What about…Abraham? And all those other guys?
Paul goes right to the top of the heap. Abraham, too, was justified by believing God, not by anything he did. He is the perfect example of the gospel in the Old Testament. But, as Paul continues to write, Abraham turns out to be more than a test case for true faith, he is actually their ancestor. Yes. You heard that right. Jewish Abraham became the forebear of the Gentile Christians, not by blood, but by faith.
And he’s ours, too. Impressed? Let’s find out why this is great news not just for them, but for us today.
This week’s questions. Paul makes two points about Abraham. His faith is a model for our faith. And his inheritance is passed on, not through blood, but through faith.
1. Read Genesis 15:1-6. Why did God count Abraham righteous? What specifically did Abraham believe? Against what evidence did he believe it?
2. How does Abraham himself relate to us? Read Genesis 12:1-3. What was God’s promise to Abraham? Where do we fit into this promise? According to Galatians 3:8 (and Romans 4:16), what would you say is the “gospel according to Abraham”?
3. Why does trusting in the law for salvation only bring a curse (Galatians 3:10)? Read Deuteronomy 27:1, 10, 26. Do you recognize perfectionism anywhere in your life? How does this feel like a curse?
4. How thoroughly does God want to bless us by faith in Christ? Read Deuteronomy 28:1-6 to see the type of blessings earned by obeying the law perfectly. How does the promise to Abraham exceed this? See Galatians 3:14, Ephesians 1:3-14.
5. If the quality of our faith saves us, then faith is a work. It is not the quality, but the object of our faith that makes the difference. How specifically did Christ save us from the curse of the law according to Galatians 3:13 and Deuteronomy 21:23?
6. If his death took our curse, what did his life accomplish when measured against the demands of the law? How did he earn the blessing that he passed on to us? Do you see that faith can’t be a work, just an open hand to receive?
7. Do I tend to start my day with a sense of debt (being behind in my performance and payments) or even with a sense of starting from nothing? How would it change my outlook today to bank on the perfections of Christ?
8. “The just will live by faith.” What do I tend to live by? Doing or believing? How might living by faith change the way I treat those around me?
Bank on your inheritance as a daughter of Abraham by faith. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56. We have seen it, too. Rejoice!