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Lowell Brueckner

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The Old Testament Gospel


Galatians 3:6-14

V. 6-9 just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? 
 7.  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 
 8. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 
 9.  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

No modern leader can, in any way, put himself in Paul’s shoes, because there is a special inerrant inspiration upon his teaching. There are no errors in the doctrine, which we will attempt to understand in this expositional study of Galatians.

Secondly, I think we have seen conclusively that no one can attempt to lead the flock of God without a thorough understanding of the entire revelation of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We showed that Jesus required it of His disciples in Luke 24:25-27 and 44-46. No one can lay claim to these Galatian scriptures nor apply them to any situation in our times without the same understanding. Any attempt to do so is wild assumption, which cannot be taken seriously.

Now we will try to follow, as Paul goes on from a personal argument in verses 1-5, to a scriptural argument, beginning in verse 6. An argument about personal experience is never enough; we must be able to understand the gospel from Scripture. He reasons with the Galatians and, by the Holy Spirit, also reasons with us, from the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis (Ge.15:6). The true faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the same faith that Abraham possessed. That faith brought him into righteousness and it is the only way into righteousness at anytime and anywhere. It is saving faith that comes from God and produces confidence in God in the believer.

First of all, we must understand, what this righteousness is that Paul is teaching. Simply, it is a state of being in right standing before God. If we have any concept at all of the holiness of God, we will quickly understand that this righteousness will never be attained by our attempts at keeping the law or by any effort in perfecting our behavior. We will always fall miserably short. Abraham found the way that made him absolutely and perfectly right before God and it came by believing God. Just as in verse 6, Paul quotes from the same verse in his great doctrinal presentation in the book of Romans (4:3).

To be “counted to him” means that righteousness is put on his account. In Romans 4:23-24, Paul writes, “But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord.” On the account, where our indebtedness to God was listed in detail, there is now one word… “righteousness”.

Every true believer has the spiritual genetics of Abraham and due to that fact, we are his sons. Spiritual genetics are as real as physical genetics and much more powerful and binding. The Bible has a great deal to say about this subject. When we find the word generation in the New Testament, often it does not refer to time or a people in a certain time frame, as we would normally expect. The Greek root word is the one from which we derive our English word gene. It has to do with a kind of people.

Therefore John Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees a generation of vipers. On the positive side, Peter called Christians “a chosen generation”. Every human being must be faithful to his genes and Jesus was speaking of spiritual genes, when he told the Jews, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did.” He went on to accuse them that they were “doing the works your father did” and then bluntly continued, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

Because we stem naturally from the fallen seed of Adam, every one of us must be converted through the new birth in order to do the will of God. We enter the new creation by faith. Faith made Abraham the man that he was. It was at the very root of his personality; above all else, he was “the man of faith”, and Paul defines the believers in the same way: “Those who are of faith.”  Through faith, we are sons of Abraham and are from the same spiritual nature. Because this is true, we live under the blessing of God, just as Abraham did. 

In that distant past, God foresaw the justifying of the Gentiles through the means, by which Abraham was justified, and here Paul quotes Genesis 12:3, “In you shall all the nations be blessed”. The term “justified” is very close in meaning to the word “righteous”. It means “declared not guilty”. Of course, God not only foreknew the justification of the non-Jewish races, but also foreordained it.

You see, all Paul’s teaching is gleaned from his knowledge of the Scripture. He has no teaching outside of it and he has already warned us, concluding that any extra-scriptural teaching is heresy. It brings a curse upon the teacher. You notice in verse 8 that God preached the gospel to Abraham and there is no gospel besides. It is the same gospel that Paul preached. The message declares the means of being saved, that is, to be blessed, made righteous, to be justified, through faith. You should be able to see then, that the gospel begins in the book of Genesis, not in Matthew.

V. 10-14 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ 
11.  Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." 
12.  But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." 
13.  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— 
 14. so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. 

Using the example of Abraham, Paul has shown us the one means of salvation (which is synonymous with being accounted righteous, or justified). It comes only by faith, which means to believe, to trust, to cling to, to rely upon, God. Any other way is the wrong way and the great problem with the Galatians is that they have elected another way. Paul will now deal with that choice and show that its consequence is to be under a curse.

Here is his logic: The blessing of God upon Abraham came because he believed God, and in like manner, every believer comes under God’s blessing. Those who try to gain His blessing through the works of the law, not only do not attain it, but actually come under His curse. As always, Paul shows that this is not a personal conclusion, opinion or revelation, it is Holy Spirit teaching through the Scriptures.

Jesus established the principle before He began His ministry, when He was tempted by the devil. He attacked the thinking of Jesus by introducing false concepts and Jesus answered him with Scripture. Even when Satan used Scripture and offered a false interpretation, Jesus met the challenge with more Scripture, correctly applied. So Paul will now challenge the doctrine of the Judaizers with the clear teaching of the Bible, citing Deuteronomy 27:26.

The text teaches that everyone who did not “abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” was under a curse. If anyone would perfectly do all things written in the Book of the Law, he would live. However, the brutal fact is that there is no one in creation, who has perfectly done all things written in the law. Therefore anyone who places himself under the law, and commits himself to abide in it and do all that it commands, is living under an awful curse. This is the dilemma facing the Galatian church. Moses warned the Israelites of the curse from the very beginning.

Although the gospel was preached in the days of Abraham and throughout history, it was the minor prophet, Habakkuk, who gave us the solution to the curse in a concise statement, “The just (or the righteous) shall live by faith”. It is quoted three times in the New Testament, in Hebrews 10:38, Romans 1:17, and here in Galatians 3:11. The central theme of the gospel was already given by revelation to the Old Testament prophet. Allow me to paraphrase: The believer is made righteous and receives spiritual life by believing, trusting, clinging, and relying upon God. This was also the theme that awakened the monk, Martin Luther, and brought on the Reformation.  It was a liberating concept, a great release from the curse!

Paul contrasts the two: “The law is not of faith.” Why this conclusion? Because the law requires perfect fulfillment by doing its works; faith does not require works… in fact, faith rests without working by confiding totally in Another, and that one is Christ.

Until faith comes into our lives, we are all under the law and are expected to keep it perfectly. That applies to those who know the law and those who do not know it, the Jew and the Gentile. No one escapes through ignorance. God looked down upon us in mercy and sent His Son, in the first place, to keep the law, so that He would not be under a curse for His own transgressions. Christ redeemed us… He paid the ransom price for slaves to sin… by taking our curse upon His innocent person.

He unworthily, but voluntarily, became a curse in the way that the Scriptures prescribed, not by stoning, but by hanging on a tree: “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Dt.21:23). Knowing this, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (Jn.12:32,33). The Jews did not provide the proper execution, therefore, according to the Scripture, He had to die by Roman sentencing. He died a Gentile death “so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles”.  

Our hearts should feel the offer of praise that Paul uttered, when he contemplated the plan of God to include all the nations of the earth in His salvation: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Ro.11:33),

Peter, and those Jews with him, witnessed the outpouring of the Spirit upon Gentiles in Caesarea and the Galatians, as well, received the Spirit (v.5). It was done not through the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith. Through faith in Jesus Christ, the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit, promised to the Jews. Faith makes a way, where there is no way.

The Moabite was cursed to never dwell among the Hebrews, but by faith, Ruth, a Moabitess, not only lived among them, but was given the highest honor of becoming an ancestor, first of King David, and, more wonderfully, of his excellent Son. Faith rejoices above the works of the law to inherent eternal blessing… the blessing of Abraham, before he was circumcised.  


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