Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 33
ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS – PART 2
Now in our last lesson we were looking at the fact that Abraham was justified by faith + nothing.! I can’t emphasize that enough, although I should be known for that by now. Our salvation rests on nothing that we can do in the flesh, but it is all resting on the finished work of the Cross through His death, burial, and resurrection, and now we appropriate it by faith. Then after we have received salvation, then yes we move into an area of service and what ever you put on it. But not for salvation. Now in verse 7 Paul continues on with Abraham as his theme.
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, (in other words those of us who have entered into a salvation experience by faith only) the same are the children (or the sons) of Abraham.”
Now I’ve got to stop there for a while. How many people have come up to me and said, “Well we’ve always been told that when we became a Christian we became a Jew.” And I always tell them, I don’t know who told you that but they are way out in left field, because a Jew is a Jew by virtue of, first and foremost, his birth, his genetics, his blood line, and the keeping of the Law. But a Gentile is a Gentile of the Gentiles, and if you’ve had salvation then you are simply a Gentile sinner saved by Grace, and not a Jew. Then they point to this verse we have just read. “But the Bible says, we are children of Abraham.” Well you’ve got to realize what the Bible is saying, and not take it out of context. What the Bible is really saying here in verse 7
“…they which are of faith, (way) the same are the children of Abraham.”
We have entered in the faith way + nothing the same way that Abraham did, and so consequently we are spiritually now connected to this man Abraham. Now to follow that up we’ve again got to go all the way back to Genesis. I’m sorry. I hadn’t planned on doing this but we must. So let’s turn to chapter 13, and there are some interesting words in this passage. Now of course this is the chapter after the Abrahamic Covenant was given so he’s already on covenant ground, he already has all these promises. Now look what God says to Abraham.
“And I will make thy seed…”
Or your off spring. Also here is another little quirk of Hebrew. You have to discern from the context whether the word seed is singular and speaking of Christ or whether it’s plural and speaking of the whole Nation of Israel. Now that takes some doing I know, and I know when we taught Genesis I gave the example even in our English language. You can have 12 sheep over there, and 1 over here, but what do you call them? Sheep. It’s the same way with the Hebrew word that pertains to the word seed. It can be plural, but the same identical word can be singular, so you must use your where with all to determine from the text is it speaking singular, and the Messiah, or it is speaking plural the children of Israel. Well this one is plural.
“And I will make thy seed (the off spring) as the dust of the earth:…”
Now what’s dust? Is it earthly or heavenly? Well it’s earthly. So his earthly protegee would be as the numbers of the sand of the sea. In other words the Nation of Israel would be in terminology of course that is comparative. Compared to the rest of the nations of the ancient world were by far more in number. Now turn the page to Genesis chapter 15, and verse 5. And now look what God promises.
“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and (count or) tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
Now what was God doing? Playing games? No. God in His infinite Sovereign Grace was promising Abraham 2 different groups of people that would be connected to him. Now naturally the dust of the earth was his earthly offspring who came by the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now when God brings him out and tells him to look toward the heavens, now God is talking about a heavenly connection. Most of you have been hearing me teach long enough to know that we have two concepts in Scripture, “The earthly people Israel and The heavenly people who are the Church.” All right Abraham is being promised a connection to both of them. He will have an earthly progeny which was the children of Israel, but he’s also going to have a heavenly progeny which are those who have entered in like he did by faith, and faith alone.
So now you have this two fold promise the Nation of Israel which would be earthly, but also a group out there some place who would be connected to him only in the realm of the spiritual. Now I think that I’ve already made my point as you come back to the Book of Galatians. Let me put something on the board, and maybe it will help a little bit. On the time line we have Abraham back here 2000 years before Christ. Also on this time line we have the finished work of the Cross at Calvary, and then here you and I stand in this interval from the time of the early Acts, and I think especially with Paul’s ministry, and the Body of Christ is being called out.
All right I think I’ve already made my point. How do we become members of the Body of Christ that is being called out? By faith + nothing! Abraham became the Friend of God and his righteousness because of his faith + nothing also! And this was done just by believing what God said. Now if you were in an algebra class what would I be able to say? There’s an equality. Right? This is equal to this. Why? Because Abraham received eternal life the same way the Church age believer does, we all came in the same way. Now to make my point, how did people back here from Adam, Abel, Seth, Noah, and all the way up to Abraham, how did they come into a right relationship with God, faith + nothing? No way, but rather it was faith + sacrifice. They couldn’t approach God without the sacrifice. Coming up to the Cross even in Christ’s earthly ministry, did Jesus ever teach the concept of a salvation by faith and faith alone. No. What were they to do? They were still to be adherence to the Law of Moses, they also had the added responsibility of repentance and water baptism, + their faith. But faith alone wouldn’t cut it. Even in the early chapters of Acts, it wasn’t just faith and faith alone. They had to repent and be baptized, and that was a requirement. It wasn’t just empty words, but a requirement.
But then along comes the apostle Paul with faith + nothing, and this is why he had so much opposition. And that’s why I imagine out there at least silently I’ve also got that opposition. I don’t hear it personally, but I know it’s out there. “Les you make it too simple! You’ve got to repent and be baptized.” And I’ve even had people call and say, “Well we’ve always been told that you have to repent, be baptized, and speak in tongues before we’re saved.” Well that’s not faith + nothing, that’s faith + something. OK now what’s my point?
That just as surely as Abraham was saved by faith + nothing when he believed God when He told him to go to a land that He would show him. We, in the Body of Christ, are saved by faith + nothing when we believe God when he tells us to believe the Gospel for salvation in I Corinthians 15:1-4. So by the basis of faith + nothing Abraham had imputed righteousness, you and I as members of the Body of Christ have also imputed righteousness, and that makes us just like Abraham. Does that make sense? No one else in all of God’s economy had that privilege. Let me show you in the Book of Hebrews. Maybe that will make my point. Chapter 11 – the great faith chapter. It goes clear back to Genesis chapter 4.
“By faith Abel (believed God? No. He offered. He did something) offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” By faith, primarily, but it was faith plus. Now you come all the way down to verse 7.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear (and what did he do?) prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
He did something. Now, let me ask you. If Noah would have stood out there in the Middle East and said, “Alright God, I believe you that a flood is coming,” and never built an ark, what would have happened? He would have gotten washed away along with the rest of them. But along with his faith that a flood was coming, what did he do? He built an ark. And all the rest of the way up through Scripture, all those great men of God, Jacob, Isaac, David and all the rest. They were men of faith, but faith alone? No! Faith plus Temple worship, plus Law keeping, plus this, plus that. Am I making my point? But Abraham never made a sacrifice until years later. He did not do anything he just simply believed God. God saw that man’s faith and He imputed righteousness to him. And so it is with us. Without out doing a thing, we just simply say, “Yes Lord, I believe it, that you died for me, that you were raised in resurrection power, with all my heart.” And that’s all God is looking for. Now let’s go back to Galatians chapter 3. I could stay in Hebrews 11 another few minutes and prove the same thing. That all those other heroes of faith were also attached with some type of a human work.
“And the scripture, (the Old Testament) foreseeing (God’s foreknowledge sees the end from the beginning) that God would justify the heathen (Gentiles) through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”
Now I know there are some great theologians who stand on the premise that Abraham knew the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. And I stand on my hackles and say, “No way! No way could Abraham, and there’s nothing in scripture to indicate that he did. There is nothing to indicate Abraham foresaw the death on a Cross and the burial and resurrection of the Messiah.” Now, he had an inkling. All the Old Testament prophets had an inkling that God was going to do something. And they also understood from Isaiah onward that God was going to have salvation for the Gentiles. But they didn’t know how. In fact, we may have looked at this previously on a program – I don’t think I have, but I may have. Come back with me to I Peter chapter 1. It kind of rings a bell that we may have kind of looked at it a few programs back, but it won’t hurt to look at it again.
I Peter 1:10
“Of which salvation the prophets (the Old Testament writers) have inquired and searched diligently, (if they knew it all, then why look and ask. But they didn’t.) who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; 11. Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
In other words, did those Old Testament prophets understand this gospel of Grace? Well, of course not! God never intended for them to understand it. He had been keeping it secret. In fact, come back with me to Romans chapter 16. This was our theme verse all the while we were sailing the Mediterranean last week and as we had our classes before and after noon. We reveled in that, but the weather wasn’t all that commodious so it wasn’t all that glorious. But we reveled in the word, Romans 16. Now if the Old Testament prophets had understood the gospel of Grace, and if Abraham would have seen that Christ would indeed come and die and be raised from the dead and offer salvation to the whole world, then this verse becomes almost spurious, but it isn’t. It’s the truth.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.”
It was kept secret and there was no way the Old Testament saints could know it. It was in the mind of God. There was no way He was going to let them understand. The Twelve didn’t understand. (Luke 18:34) Now from all the prophetic references in the Old Testament about His death and His resurrection, you would have thought that the Twelve would have understood that He was going to die. But did they? No! They had no idea that He was going to go to that Roman Cross. And when He hung there, did they expect to see Him on Sunday? Of course not! They thought it was over with, and all done. What did Peter say? “I go fishing.” Why? Everything was now hopeless. But you see God kept it secret. He didn’t reveal it to people. I think it’s the same way today. A lot of people are kept blind to the truth of the Gospel until God opens their eyes. But the minute He opens their eyes they become intensely responsible, because that’s His sovereign grace.
Now let’s come back again to Galatians chapter 3. So the gospel which was preached unto Abraham was a not a gospel that Abraham understood. He had a concept that God was going to send a redeemer. Every Jew, even if he has a segment of believing left in him today, is looking for the Redemption – the day of Redemption. What is their day of redemption? When Messiah should come. Now they have a few of those things mixed up, but nevertheless, this whole concept of resurrection and Israel coming in to a place of redemption was certainly on Abraham’s mind. But to be able to associate it with a death, burial and resurrection and the shedding of that atoning blood of Christ. They had no concept of that! Because God didn’t expect them to.
“So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”
Now, let’s put that in a little plainer English. Maybe some of the new translations have already it. “So they who are of the faith way, (that’s us) those of us who have come into a right relationship, the faith way plus nothing, are blessed with the man of faith, Abraham.” And so Abraham was the friend of God. You and I as believers are the friends of God. We’re no longer enemies. And all because of our faith in what He has said and what He has said concerns that which He had accomplished in the work of the Cross.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:…”
Do you realize how many millions of people are in that position and they don’t know it? They are supposedly Law keepers. They are supposedly keeping the commandments, and thereby thinking they are pleasing God. They are not pleasing God. They are placing themselves under the curse! Unbelievable, except this is what the Book says. Legalism in what ever form you want to put it, anything that says I want to do it my way. I’m going to do this and that. That person puts themselves under the curse of God. Now the word “Curse” here is more than just puncturing a voodoo doll with a needle. This verse is the real thing. This is the curse of the Almighty. In fact, let’s go back and look at Deuteronomy 27. And this is why our Bible tells us Christ was under the curse of the Law. And in this chapter he’s coming through all the horrible things that man can do that brings down the wrath of God. But we’re not going to look at all of them. And in verse 26 this is what Paul is referring to in Galatians. He’s warning people: “Look when you say that you’re going to keep the Law in order to merit favor with God, there’s no way that any mortal man can do it. So where do they put themselves? Under the curse! I want you to see it with your own eyes.
“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.”
Now what does that mean? That if you don’t keep every last jot and tittle of the Law as no man can do, and only God could do, you’re under the curse of God. It’s plain and simple. And this is exactly what Paul is making reference to. It’s a tremendous warning. Don’t try to put yourself under the Law because since you’re human, you cannot keep it anyway. But when you put yourself under a so-called legal system, you are actually putting yourself under the curse of God. Now that’s serious business. That’s serious language. It’s not mine – it’s the Book’s.
“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.”
Listen, that’s what the Law commands. Do this! Do that! Let’s go back to Exodus 19 for a moment. Israel has just been led out of Egypt and they are gathered around Mt. Sinai and God is preparing to, with Moses and Aaron, bring the Nation of Israel under the system of Law. And now look how Israel responds.
“And all the people answered together, and said, All that the Lord hath spoken will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.”
I wonder what the Lord said? He must have smiled and said, “That’s what they think.” Because, you see, people cannot keep the Law and yet anytime someone says they’re doing the best they can, and they are keeping the Law, then they are putting themselves under the curse.