Galatians--Part 12--The Gospel of Abraham
Aug 19, 2010
When Paul speaks of righteousness, it is from the Greek word dikaiosune, from dikaios. It means justice, equity, equality, and human rights. In other words, the "righteousness" of dikaiosune has to do with the manner in which we treat others. We are not to do injustice to others, nor are we to treat people with partiality, but to recognize the God-given rights of all men to equal justice.
This is the essence of the Gospel of Abraham bound up in that statement in Gen. 12:3, "and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Abraham's FAITH is set forth in the statement in Gen. 15:6, after promising him descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven:
"Then he believed [had faith in] the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness."
In other words, Abraham believed that God's promise was true and that it would come to pass. He would be given a multitude of descendants who would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. This is the Gospel preached to Abraham (Gal. 2:8).
Paul takes this to mean that the sons of Abraham are those who actually ARE a blessing to all the families of the earth. Without treating others with impartial justice, there is no fulfillment of the Abrahamic Gospel. Those who are righteous before God are the ones who BELIEVE this promise and who accept this Gospel of justice, equality, and impartiality. They are the ones who will reign with Christ, as we read in Rev. 20:6,
(6) . . . they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
And again, we read where they will reign in Rev. 5:10,
(10) And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests; and they will reign on the earth.
The Law of Moses was a further expression of the mind of God which defined in greater detail the manner of impartial justice that He expected of those elected to rule the earth in righteousness. In other words, God revealed His mind and Law to both Abraham and Moses, but Moses was charged with codifying it [i.e., writing it down] and no doubt also received a greater and more complete revelation of the Law. But to Abraham, too, the Law was revealed, for God told Isaac in Gen. 26:4 and 5,
(4) And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; (5) because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.
Even before Abraham, Noah himself received a partial revelation of the law, forbidding men to consume blood (Gen. 9:4) or to murder other people (9:5-7). It really goes back to Adam himself, when God gave him that first Law forbidding him to eat of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:17).
Hence, the Law preceeded both Moses and Abraham, though responsibility and accountability to it were limited to the progressive revelation over the years. The primary distinction between Moses and Abraham is in neither their faith nor their obedience to the Law. The difference is in the Covenants that they represent. The Mosaic Covenant requires fulfilling the vow of perfect obedience in order to receive this blessing from God, while the Abrahamic Covenant requires faith that God will fulfill His promise in him and in his descendants.
The physical descendants of Abraham were called to dispense the blessings of God to the rest of the world. They were supposed to learn the laws and ways of God, so that they could rule with impartial justice for all. However, they failed to fulfill their vow of obedience, and for this reason the Mosaic Covenant was broken irreparably and rendered "obsolete" (Heb. 8:13).
The house of Israel was cast off and dispersed among the nations, divorced from God (Jer. 3:8), stripped of her Birthright name, and classed as "not My people" (Hos. 1:9). They became as the other nations. The only way that they could regain an elect position with God was through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. This requirement is no different from what God requires equally of all nations, for Paul says in Rom. 3:22, "there is no distinction" in this regard.
God is looking for those who actually believe the Gospel of Abraham and who are willing to treat all men equitably by the Law of Impartial Judgment (Ex. 23:1-9; James 2:9). Those who have true faith are those who believe the Gospel of Abraham, and then the righteous, equitable, impartial mind and will of God is imputed to them in the records of the divine court.
The purpose of Israel's election was to grant them the authority to bless all nations by sharing with them the revelation that they had received through the Scriptures. They failed first because they interpreted election to mean privilege and decided to hoard the Abrahamic blessings for themselves as an exclusive right. Second, they failed because they had an unwarranted confidence that their flesh could fulfill their vow of obedience and could fulfill the requirement of the righteous standard of the mind of God.
God knew from the start that the Old Covenant would not work. Yet it was necessary to give the flesh full opportunity to try to succeed on its own, so that it would be fully evident to all that "there is none righteous, not even one" (Rom. 3:10). God gave men about 1500 years to produce a single man who could fulfill the vow of Exodus 19:8. That was more than enough time to prove the point.
Then Jesus came to do what man could not do. Being born of the Spirit, without human father, He was not tainted by the sin of Adam and was therefore able to do all that the Law required. He treated all men with equity and impartiality, and after His ascension He revealed these principles in greater ways to Philip, Peter, James, Paul, and all the disciples.
Paul vigorously defended these laws against the Judaizers who sought to impose their own traditions of partiality upon non-Jews and to maintain their assumed position of privilege over all others. This was a direct violation of the Abrahamic Covenant, and it proved that they were not really the "sons of Abraham" after all, in spite of their genealogy. They did not believe the Gospel which Abraham believed, but instead they retained faith in Moses and his Covenant of works. They still believed that their flesh could match up to the standard of the Law, if only they were zealous enough and diligent enough to achieve it.
The bottom line is that Israel was called to dispense the blessings of God to all nations, so that all might come to understand and experience the righteousness of Christ. The impartiality of God was revealed from the beginning. Though the plan started small with just one man, it was designed to end with the reconciliation of all men. Anyone who believes and accepts the calling of Abraham is a "son of Abraham" in the sense that Paul uses it in Gal. 3:7.
This is the twelfth part of a series titled "Galatians." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones