We concluded our previous article by noting that unconditional faith in God’s promises enabled Abraham to be accounted as righteous before God: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Gal 3:6). We know this is because Abraham exhibited total faith in God’s promise that he would be the father of an uncountable multitude (Gen 15:3-6), notwithstanding the seeming impossibility of his age and Sarah’s barrenness.

In Galatians 3:8, Paul cites God’s earlier promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “in thee shall all nations be blessed”, not only to prove that God is calling the Gentiles as well as the Jews, but also to establish that the Gentiles would be justified on the basis of faith, not works—“the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham”. Both of these promises in Genesis 12 and 15 were given to Abraham well before the event of his circumcision in Genesis 17.

Then in verse 9 the apostle concludes this opening section of Galatians 3 with the words, “So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (ESV ). To the Judaiser, acceptance before God was all about earning salvation by doing works, and at the same time being proud of their natural descent from Abraham. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul’s point about “faith” in God’s Word as the means whereby one is related to Abraham would have come as quite a shock to them.

Abraham’s acceptance was first and foremost because he “believed” the Word of God. Moreover, based on Abraham’s unconditional faith, God made universal promises to him that all nations would be blessed, and these promises were made well before the Jewish nation came into existence. In Genesis 22 Abraham demonstrated this unconditional faith in action, when he was prepared to obey God and sacrifice Isaac—while still trusting that God would fulfil His promises.

So how is Galatians 3:1-9 relevant for us today? Although the specific danger of Judaism is not knocking on our ecclesial door, the potential for us to be deceived by various false teachings, which are in direct opposition to what God has clearly expressed in His Word, is as great a danger as ever. True believers—spanning every generation since the first century—have always faced the same issue. The nature of the particular trial is different for each generation, but the crux of the trial always comes down to whether or not we will have faith in what God says, notwithstanding all the assertions by men that seem to point in a totally different direction.

God wants every believer throughout every generation to unconditionally believe what He has plainly stated in His word.

If we were living in the first century, and were a member of the ecclesia at Galatia, do we think that we would fare any better? Do we think we would easily reject the deceptive teaching of the Judaisers? A good indication is to consider if, right now, we allow what God has plainly stated in His Word to be modified according to what the world around us asserts is true and acceptable. This includes the Bible’s plain teaching on historical matters, doctrinal matters, and practical matters regarding our way of life.

Sometimes due to the various difficulties we face living the truth today, we wonder if it might have been easier to demonstrate steadfast faith in God in a different era—perhaps 50 years ago, or even 2000 years ago. On the other hand, we feel a sense of relief that we are not living in an era of great religious persecution, as we don’t know if we would have sufficient courage to withstand the suffering, or even accept a torturous death, for publicly confessing our belief in the truth of God’s Word. However, human nature is the same; we are no more or less courageous, neither are we naturally any more spiritual than those who lived in a previous age. But if today we are prepared to maintain unconditional faith in what God has plainly declared in His Word, then this is sufficient to demonstrate that we would have been on the right side of the various issues faced by true believers in previous eras.

The false teachings confronting us today include various branches of humanism which have saturated all aspects of modern life and are in direct opposition to what God has declared in the Bible. The world presents its false teachings in a seemingly credible manner via promoting its own reputable ‘experts’ who reach their conclusions by deliberately removing God from the table of consideration, and then this is reinforced via the mass media and education system. Such humanistic teachings include outright rejection of God’s first-hand account of how He created life upon this earth as recorded in the book of Genesis. It also includes the constant promotion of various forms of immoral behaviour as being ‘normal’, with many governments around the world, including Australia, redefining the very definition of marriage to no longer be exclusively between a man and a woman. these teachings stand in stark contrast to God’s will and character, and they challenge our calling to shine as lights “in the midst of a crooked and perverse” generation (Phil 2:15).

As we are surrounded by a humanistic world, it’s important to ask: Is our faith and way of life unconditionally based on what God has stated in His Word? Or do we require confirmation from our peers of what is presented in the media, or what certain ‘authoritative’ human experts are stating, before we will accept what God has plainly written? To put it another way: Does the internal witness of what God has declared in His Spirit Word take priority over any other source of information? Do we believe that the entire Bible is truly inspired, or God-breathed, and therefore as relevant for us today as it has been for every generation?

When God asked Abraham to leave Ur and move to a land that God would show him, Abraham didn’t demand that God first hand over the title deeds to the land of Israel. When God promised Abraham that his seed would be like the stars in Genesis 15, Abraham didn’t seek a second opinion from human experts as to the possibility of Sarah’s barren state being reversed. And when God asked Abraham to offer up Isaac, he didn’t doubt God’s ability to fulfil His promises through Isaac. Abraham believed in God—unconditionally. Although God was with him and blessed him with many things, from the outset Abraham was prepared to give up all of his wealth and his comfortable way of life in Ur, simply because he knew that listening to, trusting in and obeying God’s Word is the wisest thing he ever could do.

We know that Abraham, like us, made mistakes and did not always demonstrate complete faith in God’s Word. In contrast we know that our Lord Jesus Christ exhibited perfect obedience to his Father’s will. Jesus always relied on his Father’s Word, and never appealed to any other authority, even though he was the wisest man to ever walk this earth. He constantly pointed out that his teaching was not his own doctrine, but what he had heard from his Father ( John 7:16). He answered the most dificult questions, including his own temptations, by referring to the Scriptures. He went to the cross knowing that everything prophesied concerning him in the Scriptures had to be fulfilled ( John 19:28). Even after his resurrection, he referenced the Scriptures to explain to his disciples the true meaning of his sufferings, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer,” etc. (Luke 24:46). Christ had unconditional faith in his Father’s Word. Let us follow Abraham’s—and more importantly, our Lord’s example—and ensure that our faith is growing based on the bedrock of God’s Word. Let us be certain that our viewpoint is always based on what God has plainly revealed in His Word, and not be deceived by “what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim 6:20 ESV). Let us make the Scriptures our ultimate resource to help us through every challenge we face—whether the dangers are humanistic philosophy, or the various temptations we face in life—in a world that, in general, has little regard for the wisdom and moral standards declared by the Creator of heaven and earth.