Tag Archives: Abraham

Galatians 4:21-5:1 – Children of the Promise.

Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NRSV)

In this section Paul uses the allegory of Abraham having children by the slave woman, Hagar, and the free woman, Sarah, for the two covenants – the first, the law given on Mount Sinai and the second, corresponding to the covenant from Jerusalem above, given through Jesus.

Were we born into slavery or freedom? Through an act of the flesh, or through faith in God’s promise?

We are all, like Isaac, ‘children of the promise’, born through faith and into freedom.

Paul had known the weight of the Law, he had lived as a very strict Pharisee, but now he had tasted freedom in Christ he could not imagine choosing to be enslaved once again by the law that leads to death. It is no wonder that Paul’s pleas in this letter are so heartfelt and genuine. His pleas touch your spirit, as you touch his heart while reading his letter.

Were we set free to remain free or so that we could choose to go back into slavery? As Paul says, ‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5:1 NRSV). Are we going to be firm and remain living in the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross or are we going to act as if Jesus never died and rose again and return back to slavery?

Heavenly Father, Thank you that I am a child of the promise, and as such I choose to remain in the freedom that Jesus won for me. Help me never to go back voluntarily into a slavery to a system that can condemn me but never save me. Amen.

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Galatians 4:1-7 – Children and Heirs.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 NRSV)

In Paul’s letter to the Galatian church he is dealing with Judaizers who were saying to the Gentile Christians that faith in Jesus alone was not enough, but that they also needed to become Jews and live under the law of Moses.

The whole letter is a treatise from Paul calling Jew and Gentile alike back to living by faith, not by works. This is central to the gospel, and the crux is Jesus’ death on the cross. It is not the whole counsel of God on faith, works and their relationship to the rest of the gospel. We need to see things in context, only then will we be good workmen and women when it comes to our handling of the Word of God.

The law of Moses was given to the Jews, yet all it did was reveal the sinfulness of all people. Even throughout the OT time we see that people lived by faith just as Abraham had done. But the law was necessary, at least for a time.

Jesus was born a Jew, ‘of a woman’ as Jewish lineage even today is through the female side of the family. If your mother is a Jew, then you are a Jew. He redeemed everyone under the law (the Jews) first, and then everyone else (the Gentiles) through the blessing of Abraham. We are now all equal children of God!

We are now children of God and this means something, this is one thing that makes being a Christian unique that, ‘God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts’. We are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and what the Holy Spirit says in our hearts to God is ‘Abba, Father!’ We never need to doubt our relationship with Father God because the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, living inside us confirming that relationship both to us and to Father God.

We are now heirs who are old enough to receive our inheritance through what God has done for us.

Father God, help us to grasp what it means to call you Father and to live as children and heirs in the freedom you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Galatians 3:15-29 – Clothed with Christ

… in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29 NRSV)

Faith in Jesus Christ is the greatest leveler that there is! It is ‘through faith’ that we become ‘children of God’ by believing in him and what he has done for us, and in who he is and trusting in him alone. Also when we are baptized we clothe ourselves with Christ, so when God the Father sees us he only sees us in Christ, this means he sees us all the same as he sees each one of us in Christ.

It is because of this that there is no longer any division between us on grounds of race and religion, ‘Jew or Greek’, on grounds of social or economic status, ‘slave or free’, or on grounds of gender, ‘male or female’. We are all of equal standing and importance united in Christ.

As Jesus was Abraham’s offspring and the heir to the promise that God gave to Abraham, so we are now also heirs to those promises as we are now in Christ.

These truths say a massive amount about who we are as Christians, and about how we should live.

Who we are? We are…

  • All equal;
  • A people of promise;
  • A people of faith;
  • In Christ Jesus;
  • Heirs;
  • Under grace not law;
  • Children of God;
  • Free!

How should we live? We should live…

  • Through faith;
  • In unity (though not uniformity);
  • As free people;
  • As God’s friends and family;
  • By grace.

Let’s really get hold of who we are in Christ Jesus, it will transform us both individually and corporately!

Galatians 3:10-14 – Jesus Lived By Faith… So Can We.

Jesus is unique. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law completely. But did Jesus live by works or by faith. Jesus was fully God, but he laid aside all the rights and privileges that were included in that when he became a man. All he did when he was on earth was because he was a man who was untainted by sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit and in conversation with the Father.

As Jesus fulfilled the Law he would not be under the curse for not fulfilling it. Jesus was righteous and Paul quotes, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith’ (Galatians 3:11 NRSV), so Jesus must have lived by faith. What hope does this have for us?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14 NRSV)

This also means  as Jesus lived his life by faith and empowered with the Holy Spirit so can we.

Heavenly Father, help me realise that Jesus lived a life of faith as a man empowered by the Spirit, so I can live a life just like him. Help me to live such a life touching others, doing miracles and revealing you glory. In his name, Amen.

Galatians 3:6-9 – Blessed to be a Blessing.

Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. (Galatians 3:6-9 NRSV)

In Paul’s argument for righteousness by faith not by works this passage is central! We are justified by faith alone because it has in fact always been that way!

Abraham was righteous because he believed God and put his trust in him, and all who believe are his descendants, whether they are Jew or Gentile. In fact God declared the Gospel even to Abraham when he declared, ‘All Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ Which they are through Jesus death on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.

God made promises to Abraham which he believed, these promises actually had a far greater scope than Abraham could have imagined yet we only receive those promises the same way as he did, by belief and by faith, not by works.

This is another reason why Paul looks to Abraham as the father of faith rather than Moses or anyone else. Moses lived by faith, yet he will always be associated with the law, not with grace. Abraham, on the other hand, predated the law, and the covenants that God made with him were not conditional of works being fulfilled. Abraham’s part was to believe, God’s part was to fulfil what he had promised.

If we are true descendants of Abraham then any works we do will not be to try to make ourselves right with God, but as a result of our belief in God. We will want to do what God wants as a demonstration of our faith in him. After all true obedience to God is an act of faith. It is an outward expression of the faith we have.

Let’s walk in Abraham’s blessing, and as we are blessed through him, so let us be a blessing to others!

Prayer is … #2 Conversation

Prayer is a conversation, it is a two-way dialogue, not a one-way monologue.

You’re overstating it, you may say from looking at the previous sentence, but it is a point that cannot be overstated!  I could refer to places in the New Testament for this, but you may be surprised to know that this was well understood in the Old Testament.  Here are a few examples.

The example of Abraham.

Well there is Abraham for starters, ‘he was called a friend of God’ (James 2:23 NRSV), and what do friend do but talk with each other!  When he interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah he was involved in a literal, physical conversation with God see Genesis 18:16-33, he was also bold enough to negotiate with God, but was wise enough to know where the limits were.

This is quite a challenge!  How much are we prepared to argue someone’s case before God?  Not for a Christian, but for a non-Christian to be saved!  After all, ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9 NRSV).  We should not think that Jesus is slow in returning which is the context of this verse, but as with Sodom and Gomorrah, when he does there will be judgement, and by then all choices about eternal salvation will have been made.  Until then, let us be like Abraham praying for mercy and salvation, and wrestling in prayer for those who don’t know Jesus.

The example of Moses.

Moses is another great example of how prayer is a conversation, and again the best example we have of this from his story are when he was interceding on someone else’s behalf.  We see this in the time when Israel sinned by worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 33).

God was angry, the people he had brought out of Egypt had spiritually returned to Egypt by making and then worshipping an idol.  God was more than angry, he was going to destroy all of Israel except Moses and his family, and make a nation out from him alone.  But Moses stood up for the Israelites, not because they had not sinned, but for the sake of the patriarchs and because if God destroyed them all the Egyptians would have a cause to celebrate and say that God could not complete what he started!

The result of this pleading.  God ‘changed his mind’ (Exodus 32:14 NRSV) because Moses had asked him to, ‘Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people’ (Exodus 32:12 NRSV).  We may deserve God’s judgement, but if we humble ourselves, pray and seek God’s face he can, and will, send revival (see 2 Chronicles 7:13-14).

Like Moses we can cause God to change his mind, or we can stand by, be fatalistic about it and see others perish.  Prayer is so powerful if we only grasp it, it is not just for the weak, and for old ladies (though it is for them also), in fact to pray like Moses did takes both strength and humility, and comes first of all out of a close relationship with God.

Are we, like Moses, prepared to lay down something that could be to our advantage, to see God’s kingdom advance?  What a challenge!

Prophets, priests and kings.

I could give other examples, when the nation of Israel came to together to pray, it was the prophets, priests and kings who would pray.  Why?  Because these were the people who would not just speak to God, but who could listen to God’s reply!

Under the New Covenant we are all prophets, priests and kings so this responsiblity of prayer and intercession now falls on us, and we can fulfil that task because we can have a conversations with God!

Lord Jesus, help us to learn to listen as well as talk when we pray, because only then can we pray and intercede effectively for those who don’t know you.  Help us to take up the challenge, and to lay down our agendas for the sake of others to build your Kingdom.  In your name we pray, Amen!