Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Freedom # 13: Faith + Nothing = Salvation

The Judaizers in Paul’s day were leading young Gentile Christians into the heresy of adding circumcision, along with the observance of the Sabbath, special feast days and other ceremonial laws as requirements for salvation. 

Paul in Galatians 1:8-9 recognizes these false teachers as cursed of God and warns Christians to beware of their heresy.  The false teachers were teaching that since Abraham is the spiritual father of those in the faith, that to be a true son of Abraham,  circumcision and observance of the ceremonial laws were necessary. No doubt, they attempted to prove their position by going back to the Old Testament.  

The Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 had already settled the matter, but these Satan-inspired teachers continued to corrupt the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith by requiring the addition of works for salvation.  

Down through the centuries, various heresies have arisen that would add baptism or sacraments of the church, or works to the Biblical truth of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ apart from any works or self effort  

So in Galatians 3 Paul answers these Judaizers by using the same Old Testament Scriptures to show them they were wrong.   Let’s examine this interesting  and crucial Old Testament evidence. 

First of all read the first four verses of Genesis 12.  There you learn of God calling Abram (later called Abraham) from his home in Ur of the Chaldees (present day Iraq) and going to his new home in what is now the land of Israel. There God promised to give him the land and bless him and his seed and make them a blessing to the whole world.  Abram immediately believed God and began his journey to the land of Canaan.  Notice in verse 4  that Abraham was 75 years old at the time of this move.   

Now turn to Genesis 17 and read the entire chapter. Note here that God called Abraham to be circumcised and note in verse 24 that he was 99 when he was circumcised.  His circumcision took place 24 years after he had been called to follow God’s leading into Canaan 

Turn back to Galatians 3 now and read verse 6-7. “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that those who are of faith. the same are the children of Abraham.”  What was it that caused God to count Abraham righteous?  His belief in God. Verse 7 says that those of us who believe God are also counted righteous with Abraham. As sons and daughters of faith in God, we are Abraham’s children, whether we are Jews or gentiles.  Don’t forget that Abraham was 75 when he was counted righteous. 

The Judaizers in Paul’s day were telling the people that if they wanted to be children of faith, that is, children of Abraham, then they must do what Abraham did.  He was circumcised.   So the male gentiles were required to be circumcised.  But wait a minute!  When was Abraham circumcised?  Genesis 17:24 says he was 99 at the time of his circumcision.   When did God declare him righteous?  Genesis 12:4 says he was 75.   Twenty-four years before he was circumcised God had declared him righteous.  Circumcision had nothing to do with it.  The reason he was circumcised was to mark him and his male descendants as different from the gentiles.   

Circumcision had to do with his national identity.   Faith in God had to do with his spiritual identity.  That’s why we who believe God by trusting in Jesus as our Saviour are children of faith just as Abraham was a child of faith.  Circumcision and ceremonialism have absolutely nothing to do with our spiritual standing before God. God sees us righteous and blessed simply because we believed in Him.  

Now turn to Romans 4 and follow along with me. Verse 3 declares that Abraham believed God and his faith in God was counted unto him for righteousness.  That is, God saw him righteous and blessed.   

Verse 4 says that if Abraham had been  declared righteous by any good work then it would not have been the blessing of God’s grace. Rather God would have been indebted to bless him because of his works.  That is unthinkable. God is not a debtor to anyone.  

Verse 5 emphasizes that we are not counted righteous through our works, but through our faith alone. 

Verse 6 shows that David, another Old Testament saint and a man after God’s own heart, was made righteous; not by works, but by faith alone.

In verses 7 and 8 Paul quotes from David’s  32nd Psalm.  

Verse 9 asks the question, “Are only those blessed with salvation who are circumcised, or is salvation also available to the uncircumcised? 

In verse 10  Paul reminds us again that Abraham was blessed by believing at the age of 75, twenty-four years BEFORE he was circumcised. 

Verses 11 & 12 make the point that though Abraham was circumcised as a sign or a seal of the righteousness he had twenty-four years earlier when he believed God SO THAT he might be the spiritual father of Jews and Gentiles, regardless of whether they are circumcised or not.   

Then in verse 13 Paul hits a grand slam by making it crystal clear that the righteousness that it takes to go to Heaven is not a righteousness we earn by keeping the law, but it is a righteousness given to us by the grace of God apart from the law. You can continue reading through the rest of the chapter and this same truth is emphasized throughout the chapter.  

Look at Romans 4 once more.   How was Abraham saved? 

NOT BY WORKS   4:1-8 

NOT BY CIRCUMCISION  4:9-12 

NOT BY LAW  4:13-16   The Law of Moses came 430 years later. No, Abraham was saved by faith alone and he lived by faith as you will see in Hebrews 11:8-19 

God still has plans for Israel in a national sense.  That’s talked about in Romans 11. You can learn more about those plans by going to my series in PROPHECY on this web site.But in this present church age, salvation for Jews and gentiles, comes only through faith in Christ apart from any confidence in our own works and apart from any ceremony in the church.  

I’m not saying that works don’t matter.  Though they don’t help save us,  good works are a fruit of salvation.  They evidence our love for Christ and our works spring from a heart that loves Christ; not by enslavement to legalism.     

August 30, 2007 Posted by | Freedom | Comments Off on Freedom # 13: Faith + Nothing = Salvation