We’ve been doing a study through Genesis lately and I have been amazed. Abraham truly is the father of the faith. He really didn’t have anything to go by other than hearing and believing God’s voice. He didn’t have anyone to disciple him or show him the way he had to move step by step in faith getting to know God along the way.
When you get to the New Testament you discover the Apostle Paul harkens back to Abraham on many occasions to make his argument about what the New Covenant is all about. For instance in Romans 4 he points us to Abraham to show us how he was declared righteous by simply believing God. He then goes on to explain how Abraham was actually declared righteous before he was circumcised which means he’s the father of all who believe whether they were Jew or Gentile. He tells us circumcision was actually a seal of the righteousness of faith not the reason for it.
You see Abraham lived way before the Law was ever given therefore Paul uses him as an example. The Law was only given as a temporary keeper until the real keeper came along namely Jesus. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
The whole point of the Galatians letter was because those churches had been infiltrated with Judaizers, a group of Jews, who moved in telling them they had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. Paul vehemently opposed them with some pretty harsh language. He said, “If anyone preaches another gospel let them be cursed!” He then asked the Galatians “who has bewitched you?” It was as if the Judaizers had put a spell on the Galatians by pushing the Law on them. Paul was not going to stand for it for one minute!
Just as in Romans 4, Paul in chapter 3 &4 of the Galatians letter points them back to Abraham. He reminds them Abraham was reckoned righteous by his believing God and not by his circumcision. He then does a brilliant job of explaining how the Promise God had given to Abraham wasn’t cancelled out by the giving of the Law with Moses. The Law in fact was given to lead us to Christ not add to Him.
What has occurred to me is there are significant portions of the New Testament dedicated to teaching believers to keep their eyes on Jesus. It seems we all live with the ever present threat of drifting back to our pre-Christ lifestyle. The book of Hebrews for instance admonishes the Jews to not go back to the Law. I suppose it’s not too difficult to imagine their dilemma. Their whole history was filled with stories of Moses, the commandments, the Temple, priests, sacrifices, etc. Now they’re being told to turn away from all of that and turn to Jesus. For some it was tough to let go.
On the other hand the Gentiles or pagans had their own past to deal with. Most of them came from backgrounds filled with idols, fleshly living or both. Once they came to Christ they had to be told not to return to their idols or heathen lifestyle’s. On top of that there was the added element of some of the Jewish religious leaders trying to convert them to Judaism.
Ultimately the answer is rather simple. Keep your eyes on Jesus! Whether Jewish or Gentile the answer is the same. “Turn your eyes on Jesus!” Make the final decision He is enough. The Law, idols, etc. cannot add anything to Jesus and in fact if we attempt to add anything to Him we will find ourselves turning from Him entirely. This is what Paul meant when he told the Galatians “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law (or anything else for that matter); you have fallen from grace.” You see falling from grace means you are looking somewhere besides the finished work of Christ for your salvation. I don’t think it would be too much to say God has done all He’s going to do for us in His Son Jesus Christ!