the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
As we continue our look at Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, we find (in contrast to the Judaizers) Paul declares the Galatian Christians are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). Previously, he said the promises God made to Abraham had been made to the Patriarch and his child (Galatians 3:16). Now, Paul claims the Galatians are children of God and - as we shall see - heirs to the promises made to Abraham. The key is, they are heirs because of the faithfulness of Jesus. While it is true they must place faith in Jesus for salvation, it is also true that Jesus is worthy of that faith because he is the faithful one. Indeed, the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises were realized through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah.
Unlike faithless Israel, Jesus fully obeyed the Father. His complete obedience was all the more startling having emerged at the end of the long and difficult Mosaic dispensation. The “babysitter” of the law had served to highlight Israel’s lack of faithfulness. For God had said concerning Abraham, I have chosen him so that he will command his children and his house after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. This is how the LORD will fulfill to Abraham what He promised him (Genesis 18:19). Yet, Israel did not keep the way of the Lord by doing what was just and right. Instead they did just the opposite. Hence the constant refrain of the prophets was a demand that Israel and Judah pursue righteousness and justice (Isaiah 1:17, Jeremiah 22:3, Ezekial 45:9, Zecheriah 8:16 etc). They failed to do so until true Israel came on the scene. It was then that Israel was finally recognized as an “adult male when God fulfilled his designs through Christ.” So, because of the faithfulness of Jesus, faith placed in him is saving faith, granting access to the Abrahamic promise.
Paul goes on to say that union with Christ in faith overwhelms all human distinctions. To place faith in Jesus, to be united with him in baptism is to put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). Paul; says it is like putting on new clothes; we might even say it’s like putting on a new skin. Thus, in Christ, one is no longer identified by race, social status or gender. Instead, Believers are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). No one can claim any special status with God. No one can be excluded as unclean. The Mosaic dispensation with its divisive rules and regulations, it’s compartmentalized view of humanity, has no place in the age of the mature Israel; Jesus Christ the true child of Abraham.
With the coming of the promised child of Abraham, the covenant promises God had made to Abraham are actualized. Moreover, this section of Paul’s letter tells us that “believers are individually God’s sons and collectively the true offspring of Abraham. . . .Materially therefore, God’s sons are also the true issue of Abraham and sonship to Abraham is identical with sonship to God.” As Paul puts it, now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you (Galatians 3:29). Paul does not say a “spiritualized promise” or an “eschatological promise” but God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
This is what Jesus had in mind when he said, seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he (the Father) will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:33, parentheses added). This is just what God promised to Abraham: the whole world and everything in it. The whole world under the authority of the true child of Abraham and the real-world blessings of that authority steadily realized over time as the heirs to the promise do what is just and right in the strength of Jesus.