Are we sons of God by Faith?
Are we sons of God because we have observed the law? Or Because I am a Protestant, I have a clean life, I do good or because I come to church, which is the decent thing to do?
The Galatians got into a real hassle with Paul, they started so well, but they were ending so bad, so removed from where they were, or where they began.
It is like us, or some of us, aren’t it! We start our journey with the Lord in Faith only to find ourselves arguing or place in the table of the Lord by patting ourselves on the back, saying “I have done so much for this church, I need to be respected”. If you ever think like that you have not understood the Gospel at all or moved from the Gospel towards the Law.
The Gospel is not just to be believed, but it is what sustains us for life here on this earth!!
So I would like to say three things about this passage!
“Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. Galatians 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Galatians 3:4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? Galatians 3:5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1–5 NIV11-GKE)
What we have here is very strong!! Paul is not messing about he is direct and to the point.
- You foolish Galatians!
- Who has bewitched you?
- Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
- Are you so foolish?
- After beginning through the Spirit and you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
- Have you experienced so much in vain – if it was in vain?
- Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?
There are so many things to be said here, but I want to keep the main thing. I asked this morning “Who’s sons and daughters, are we?
Why? Because at the very heart of all these questions lays an essential truth and a very uncomfortable rebuke!
What is the critical truth?
The critical truth is that they were, and we are born again through the Gospel of Grace. Which is free and because it is free has the power, the power of God to transform every single life who believes that Jesus is Saviour, Lord and Messiah.
The Gospel of Grace can set you free from the bondage of sin and from trying hard to be good and therefore placing the Law of God at the centre of your lives and not the Gospel.
The Gospel of Grace makes you and me a new creation, and the old has gone, the old one has died with Christ. I am a new creation.
The only law that I can live by is the law of Grace.
What is the rebuke?
Paul calls them foolish twice! Because they moved from Grace to law. They exchanged Grace for the law. And in that exchanged, what the Gospel put to death, has now been asked back. Notice I did not say resurrected.
I believe that once you are saved, you are always saved. I hold that if you have professed Christ with all your heart, then you are saved, secured, and welcomed into the Father’s fold.
Your former life and mine are now dead in Christ, and we are alive forever with him as his new creation.
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss, they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Hebrews 6:4–6 NIV11-GKE)
Who is responsible for these Galatians to fall into the trap of putting Law before the Gospel?
I believe that the responsibility is shared.
Paul’s rebuke has two elements.
- You foolish Galatians
- Who has bewitched you?
The Galatians were foolish by agreeing on something that is opposed to the Gospel of Grace. To agreed that food laws, sabbath keeping and circumcision were the marks of the only followers of Christ. They agreed with a LIE!
Who is the Father of lies?
Satan, and he has enough power to deceive, bring confusion and even crueller to make-believe followers of Jesus that it is ok to replace Grace for law and therefore the sad outcome is that our Spirit doesn’t grow, but the flesh does!
Who has bewitched you? Who cast out a spell on you? The Father of lies. The very word that Paul uses here id the word for falsehood, for incantation, for a spell.
So at the very heart, Paul is asking: Have you forgotten who you are?
- By Faith alone
“So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of Faith.” (Galatians 3:6–9 NIV11-GKE)
We are sons and daughters by faith alone! We were credited righteous before the God Almighty on the merits of Jesus and by believing in Jesus. It is Jesus alone who justifies us through Faith.
The Westminster Confession says “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification.”
If we are not clear that Faith is in Christ is alone the instrument of our justification, listen to Paul as he makes a beautiful defence of Justification by Faith. The very fact that makes us righteous with God.
What does he do?
Does he appeal to the Mosaics Laws? NO
Does he appeal to Abraham circumcision covenant? NO
He appeals to Abraham’s Faith in God as He believed God that out of his descendants a nation will be born, a people that will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and as numerous as the constellations above.
Paul is citing form Genesis 15 “Then he believed in the LORD; and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6 NAS20)
In other words, if you want to believe the Law, the entire law, then you need to believe that foundation of being accredited righteous and therefore justified it is and always going to be by FAITH. Abraham experienced in his flesh and Spirit what was to be made righteous.
It was not an act of obedience, that is, he did not work out his obedience in and through sacrifices but by an act of Believing God and that was enough for God to accredit him God’s righteousness.
Paul says: “Those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith”.
Either way, if you go through the rout of Abraham, you will know that he has been credited righteous through Faith in God and if you remember who you are, then you will understand that Faith in Christ brings righteousness.
- By One Death alone
“Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” Galatians 3:12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Galatians 3:10–14 NIV11-GKE)
Today we are celebrating communion. We are celebrating that the curse of the law is no longer active in our lives. We have been set free from the curse of the law.
This is the most powerful and most appealing argument of becoming rigorous before God.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his Grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22–24 NIV11-GKE)
The first part of the Apostles Creed says
I believe in one God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
We are children of God, born again by faith in the Son of God. Jesus. This will never change, and if it does, you are under a spell from the evil one.