Galatians 3:11


Not only, says the apostle, did you begin the Christian life in faith, but even Abraham, whom the Jews reverence as their great exemplar, and whose heir they profess to be, even he was justified by faith; and therefore they who enjoy his blessing are the possessors of the same faith.

I. ABRAHAM WAS A MAN OF FAITH. He knew nothing of the Levitical Law. He walked by faith. His faith was not assent to a creed. Nor was it an intelligent conviction of any "plan of salvation" obtained by means of a miraculous foresight of the atonement to be accomplished many centuries later in the sacrifice of Christ. It was a grand, simple trust in God. It was shown in his forsaking the idols of his forefathers and worshipping the one spiritual God, in his leaving his home and going he knew not whither in obedience to a Divine voice, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, in his hope of a future inheritance. Such a faith is personal reliance, leading to active obedience and encouraged by confident anticipation. Abraham's faith is the model faith for us. For us faith is to rely upon Christ, to be loyal to Christ, to hope in Christ, and also to accept the fuller revelations of truth which Christ opens up to us as Abraham accepted the Divine voices vouchsafed to him. For the contents of faith will vary according to our light, The spirit of it, however, must be always the same.

II. ABRAHAM'S FAITH WAS RECKONED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS. The special point in Abraham's character was not his holiness, but his faith. God's favour flowed to him through this channel. It was the way through which he, though imperfect and sinful, as are all the sons of Adam, was called to the privileged place of a righteous man. This is recorded of him in the sacred history (Genesis 15:6), and therefore should be admitted by all Jews. So much for St. Paul's special argument. For us the important lesson is that, if so famous a saint, living even under the older religion, was accepted through faith, how much more apparent is it that faith is necessary for us! The reasons for relying on faith are

(1) historical - faith justified Abraham, therefore it will justify us;

(2) theological - faith brings us into living fellowship with God, and so opens our hearts to receive the forgiveness that puts us in the position of righteous men; and

(3) moral - faith is the security for the future growth of righteousness, with the first effort of faith the first seed-grace of righteousness is sown.

III. PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S FAITH IS THE CONDITION OF PARTICIPATION IN ABRAHAM'S BLESSING. Jews claimed the blessing by birthright. Jewish Christians offered it to the Gentiles on condition of their becoming as Jews. Both were wrong. Abraham received his blessing through his faith. It was necessarily conditioned by faith. Only men of faith could have it. Therefore Jews who lost faith lost the blessing. But all men of faith are spiritual sons of Abraham. Therefore all nations are blessed in Abraham just in proportion as they have a similar faith. Indeed, the finest legacy left by the patriarch was his faith. Canaan came and went. Spiritual blessings such as faith includes are eternal. - W.F.A.









But that no man is Justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident.
I. WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION.

1. To be justified is to be brought into a right relation to law.

2. Justification is the bringing of a man into right relations with all law-loving and law-keeping beings.

3. When God justifies He brings us into a condition of potential righteousness.

II. JUSTIFICATION IS IMPOSSIBLE THROUGH THE LAW.

1. Not ceremonial but moral law.

2. The Bible assumes

(1)that man has broken this law, and

(2)that no amount of obedience can restore him to his lost dignity.

III. JUSTIFICATION IS POSSIBLE THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.

1. His atonement is the ground of it.

2. Faith in that atonement the means.

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

I. LIFE IS RECEIVED BY THE FAITH WHICH MAKES A MAN JUST. A man begins to live —

1. By a full acquittal from condemnation and from penal death as soon as he believes in Christ.

2. As one raised out of spiritual death.

3. No form of works, or knowledge, or profession, or feeling, can prove him to be an absolved and quickened man; but faith does this.

II. LIFE IS SUSTAINED BY THE FAITH WHICH KEEPS A MAN JUST.

1. He who is forgiven and quickened lives ever afterwards as he began — by faith. Neither feelings, devotion, nor acquirements become his trust; he still looks out of himself to Jesus.

2. He lives by faith as to all the forms of his life.

(1)As a child and a servant.

(2)As a pilgrim progressing and a warrior contending.

(3)As a pensioner enjoying and a heir expecting.

3. He lives by faith in every condition.

(1)In joy and sorrow.

(2)In wealth and poverty.

(3)In strength and weakness.

(4)In labouring and languishing.

(5)In life and death.

4. He lives best when faith is at its best, even though in other respects he may be sorely put to it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE SOUL IS THE LIFE OF THE BODY.

II. FAITH IS THE LIFE OF THE SOUL.

III. CHRIST IS THE LIFE OF FAITH.

(Flavel.)

The law is like a noble vessel which man has damaged so that the waters flow through many a leak. As the waves rise higher and higher, and the prospects of destruction become more stern, and every effort is seen to be but wasted strength, these words come over the drowning soul, "As many as are of the works of the law are under a curse." But Christ Jesus has come on to the sinking vessel, and, engulfed in the waves, has taken upon Him the effect of our folly and sin. And by His death the curse that rested upon us rests on Him.

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

Faith engrafts us into Christ; by faith we are inserted lute the vine; but the plant that is engrafted, must also be fruitful, or else it shall be quite cut off from the root, and thrown into everlasting burning. And this is the full plain meaning of those words so often used for the magnification of faith, "The just shall live by faith."

(Jeremy Taylor.)

A schoolmaster teacheth a boy gratis, but the youth cannot possibly attain to learning unless he be industrious; but it doth not therefore cease to be free on the teacher's part because the learner's pains are required.

(Arrowsmith.)

Men who are saved by faith become just. The operation of faith upon the human heart is to produce love, and through love, obedience, which is only another name for morality or holiness, the flower of the new nature. The Christian man should aim after the highest degree of spiritual culture and heavenly perfection; yet his salvation depends not on his attainments, but upon his faith in a crucified Redeemer. Faith is the fruitful root, the inward channel of sap, the great life-grace in every branch of the vine.

I. IN THE PUREST SPIRITUAL SENSE IT IS TRUE THAT THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH. Great saints must be great believers. Little-faith can never be a matured saint.

1. The nobility of the inner life depends upon faith. A man whose life is hid with Christ in God is one of the aristocrats of this world. In proportion as the spiritual life is developed, the man grows in dignity.

2. The energy of the spiritual life depends on faith. Wherever the spiritual life fairly pervades a man, it is a force which cannot be bound, fettered, or kept under; a holy fury, a sacred fire in the bones. But this energy can only be exerted under the power of faith.

3. Growth in the spiritual life depends upon our faith. Faith enriches the soil of the heart, fills our treasuries with the choicest gold, and loads our tables with the daintiest food for the soul.

II. FAITH IS OPERATIVE IN OUR DAILY LIFE.

1. It sustains the just man under all his trials, difficulties, sufferings, or labours.

2. It has an effect upon the dispensations of Divine Providence.

III. THIS IS ALSO TRUE IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AS A WHOLE.

1. The Church lives by faith, not speculation.

2. By faith, not retiring despondency.

3. By faith, not "the proprieties."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Jews in the Talmud have the saying, "The whole law was given to Moses at Sinai, in six hundred and thirteen precepts." David, in the fifteenth Psalm, brings them all within the compass of eleven. Isaiah brings them to six (Isaiah 33:15); Micah to three (Micah 6:8); Isaiah, again, to two (Isaiah 56.); Habakkuk to this one, "The just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4).

(Lightfoot.)

See the spider casting out her film to the gale, she feels persuaded that somewhere or other it will adhere and form the commencement of her web. She commits the slender filament to the breeze, believing that there is a place provided for it to fix itself. In this fashion should we believingly cast forth our endeavours in this life, confident that God will find a place for us. He who bids us pray and work will aid our efforts and guide us in His Providence in a right way. Sit not still in despair, O son of toil, but again cast out the floating thread of hopeful endeavour, and the wind of love will bear it to its resting place.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW.

1. Its authority. It was the Word of God.

2. In reference to its precepts, perfect obedience was required (Deuteronomy 33:2).

II. THE PENALTY WHICH THE FAILURE OF OBEDIENCE INVOLVED. "Cursed is every one that continueth not," etc.

III. THE RUIN TO WHICH THOSE ARE EXPOSED WHO ARE SEEKING JUSTIFICATION THROUGH THE WORKS OF THE LAW. "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." Lesson — The folly of those who are seeking justification by works. To expect to be warmed by the keen northern blast, or to have our thirst quenched by a draught of liquid fire, were not more — were not so — incongruous. This were merely to expect that a positive appointment of God should be altered, which is not in the nature of things impossible — which in particular cases has actually taken place. That were, to expect a revolution to take place in the moral nature of Him "with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning."

(R. Nicholls.)

I. The blessedness of the righteous is obtained by faith.

II. IN CONTRAST TO FAITH, THE LAW GIVES THE PROMISE OF LIFE ONLY TO HIM WHO WORKETH. The law says: "The man that doeth them shall live in them." The law knows nothing of faith; it secures blessings only for those who obey its precepts.

III. HAVING PROVED THAT THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS OBTAINED BY FAITH, AND THAT THROUGH THE LAW THERE IS A PROMISE FOR THE OBEDIENT ONLY, THE CONCLUSION IS OBVIOUS THAT NO MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. The man who seeks to establish his own righteousness may "justify himself" in his own estimation, or in that of his fellow-men, but he cannot make himself acceptable in the judgment of God. In the lower courts, where partial justice is administered, he may succeed in obtaining a favourable verdict, but, entering into the presence of God, he stands condemned.

(R. Nicholls.)

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