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Covenant Father 19: Abraham's Offspring - Galatians 3

As we come to the end of our look at the life of Abraham, this is what the NT makes of Abraham. Hebrews 11 presents Abraham’s resurrection hope, Romans 4 says that the promise to Abraham comes through faith, and Galatians 3 tells you that if you are in Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring.

Paul begins by rebuking the foolish Galatians for sharing in Abraham’s blessings for the world while acting like their birth or their behavior had something to do with it. “Where did Abraham get his blessings?” Paul asks, “From the flesh? From being circumcised? From the works of the law?” None of these! Abraham received the promise of blessing when he believed the gospel that was preached beforehand. Abraham’s example shows that belief is the true basis of belonging. If you believe what Abraham believed, then you are Abraham’s offspring, and the blessings belong to you on that basis.

And this isn’t just true for Gentiles. Paul says that no one belongs by behaving; everyone is under a curse for not keeping the law, even Jews. The only way for anyone to inherit the promises is through Christ, who redeemed us from that curse by hanging on a tree. Faith unites you to Jesus, the one true offspring that God spoke about long ago.

So far, Paul has argued that you share in Abraham’s blessings by faith in Jesus, because Jesus took your curse. In the next section, he moves on to explain what the law was doing, since it wasn’t given as a means of appropriating Abraham’s blessing. The law was a guardian, meant to keep babies in the faith safe from faith-killing transgressions. Once full-grown faith came, the guardian’s work would be fulfilled. But after the law was given, many Jews began dividing the world into those who followed the rules (Jews) and those who didn’t (Gentiles), instead of focusing on the main divide between the believing and the unbelieving. This is what kept them from understanding who the offspring of Abraham really were.

And so in the final verses of Galatians 3, Paul’s point comes home: God’s family is not a mix of good sons who worked their way in, and lucky sons who snuck in the back door of grace. In Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith. Not many offspring, one offspring. Not many families of God, one family. You belong to this one family by believing in the one offspring.

And the identity marker that identifies Abraham’s offspring isn’t law-keeping, ethnicity, social status, sex, or anything like that. It’s baptism, the seal of faith. The practical application of this is to recognize all of the baptized as your family, as Abraham’s offspring, as fellow-heirs according to the promise. This means that all other distinctions are irrelevant to sharing in the blessings of the gospel. Paul applies this truth in three specific ways:

First, no identifying God’s people by birth or ethnicity. This reality rebukes the sin of racial pride. If there is something about your church that exalts or privileges one race over another, then you haven’t understood the gospel. The foundation of true peace between different races and ethnicities is the fact that we all joined God’s family the same way: by faith.

Second, no identifying God’s people by social status. No rich/poor, master/servant, no boss/employee before God. If there is something about your church that alienates the rich or the poor, then you aren’t walking according to the gospel. You don’t become a son of Abraham by wealth or by poverty. You become Abraham’s offspring by faith.

Third, no identifying God’s people by gender. Hebrews 11 draws attention not just to Abraham’s faith, but to Sarah’s, as well. Since everyone becomes part of God’s family by faith, women of faith are just as much sons of Abraham as men of faith.

Christianity is not a religion for rich white males or well-behaved religious people. Abraham’s faith brings blessing to the whole world, to all who have been baptized into Christ. Our calling and challenge is to live as children of Abraham, applying these truths into the corners of our lives. If you have been baptized into Christ, then believe the promises of God, and receive God’s blessing along with Abraham and the rest of his offspring.

Posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2017 by CJ Bowen