A BELIEVING CHURCH IS A BLESSED CHURCH
A Study of Galatians 3:1-9
Just when you figure you’ve got it all worked out, your plan unravels: you didn’t get that job; your house deal fell through; a relationship went “south” even though you’d been as nice as can be. Life doesn’t always work out regardless of the precautions you have taken. Yet, whether you know it or not, God has made promises to you about your future. The text shows how you can come to recognize those promises, and see them realized. Trust followed by faith in God through Jesus Christ hold the key. There is a point where you have to let God take over. The dots will eventually connect, but it may be far more complicated than you can imagine.
Pastor Paul from the pulpit
Have you ever wondered how something works? Have you ever said to yourself,
– “If I could just connect the dots, I’d be able to figure this thing out.”
Don’t be so sure!
Sometime last year, my wife – who was then my fiancée – bought a treadmill. It seemed like a wise purchase at the time because I was trying to lose weight and she wanted to stop paying monthly gym fees. The plan was to leave it at my house, and when she came over, she could work out on it. I would have constant access to it – but first we had to put together the contraption.
The promotion stated it was easy to assemble, and they even had testimonials from people who had bought this particular model. However, it was much bigger than we had expected, and it sat around for months unopened, primarily because we were a little intimidated by its size. The thought of putting it together was overwhelming!
One day, when my 12-year-old nephew was visiting, my wife enlisted his help in assembling the treadmill. As I watched them struggle to lift parts and line up connections, I decided to help … before someone got seriously injured! In the end, we managed to put it together by closely following the directions. But there was one small problem: It did not stay closed when folded.
Here we see that, sometimes, even when you follow directions and connect the dots, you still cannot get it right!
In the third chapter of the Book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul deals with a similar issue. It appears some in the Galatian church just cannot seem to get it right. Paul, without mincing words, gets right to the point. He asks,
– “What is wrong with you?”
In verse 1 and again in verse 3, the same question phrased differently is repeated. He says,
– “Who has bewitched you?” and “Are you so foolish?” Literally, you just do not get it!
Paul is dealing with faith and the promises of God. Specifically, he is addressing how we use our faith to activate the promises of God. I am sure that there are many in Christendom who wonder how faith works. To answer this question, let us see what the Apostle says.
In verse 2, Paul asks,
– “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”
Here we see that faith does not come from human effort or self-reliance. Indeed, that is probably one of the surest ways to defeat faith.
The problem with self-reliance is that, in order for something to work out favorably, other variables beyond our control must work with us.
When you apply for a job, you might have all of the qualifications and meet or surpass the experience requirements. Yet, this is no guarantee that your application will be reviewed or selected. This is despite the fact that you believe you qualify for the job.
The Bible says in Romans 10:17 (NKJV),
– “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
The Bible teaches us that the seeds of faith are sown into the hearts and minds of believers as they listen to and hear the Word of God.
God’s Word is like a seed planted in the soil of our hearts and minds as we hear It proclaimed from the pulpit, during Bible study, or at Sunday school. Once there, It waits to grow, be developed and, ultimately, bear fruit in our lives.
We all know from science that if you plant a seed but fail to water it, the plant may grow, but it will be weak. After exposure to the elements, it will probably die. To nurture His Word, God gives us His Holy Spirit, which helps it grow – just as a gardener would nurture a seed.
As we continue to receive God’s Word through reading and study, It empowers the Holy Spirit. Eventually, the Holy Spirit unlocks our ability to understand what is being said, and the mystery surrounding God’s Word is dispelled.
Indeed, as our understanding grows, we are able to apply more and more of God’s Word to our lives, and have fulfilled more and more of God’s promises. Simultaneously, as our understanding and application of God’s Word increases, our faith increases, because we will have clearly seen God through His Word working in our lives, and in the lives of other believers.
Very often, Biblical concepts, much like academic concepts, tend to be abstract. This is why, beginning in verse 6, Paul provides a concrete example. He says,
– “Consider, Abraham.”
Think about Abraham, and look at his interaction with God. Abraham was 75 years old when God first called him, and it was 25 years later when the promise of God came to fruition. As we look at Abraham and his wife, Sarah, we see that faith is not automatic. First, God instructs him to leave the comfort and security of his family and home. Where did God tell him to go? To a land that God would show him. In other words, Abraham had no idea where he was going. Here we see that faith grows as a part of our development. God starts us off with simple tasks that are designed to build and develop our trust in Him. For before you can have faith in God, you have to trust God.
Abraham underwent many tests. He did not pass all with flying colors. As he approached Egypt, he was in fear of his life. He concocted a plan with Sarah to tell Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister. The king promptly took her to be his wife. God stepped in and inflicted sickness on the king, which led him to send Abraham and Sarah away.
As it turns out, the couple ended up seeing their wealth increased. Through this, we see even in those times when our faith is not at the level it should be, God protects those who walk with Him.
God does not expect us to be perfect, but God does expect us to walk with Him.
Even after this incident, God told Abraham that he would have a child. Once again, Abraham, being human, looked at himself and thought,
– “I am 100 years old and my wife is 90; how is this possible?”
In fact, the Bible records that when Sarah heard the news, she laughed. God pointedly asked,
– “Why are you laughing?”
Then, they both conspired to make God’s promise come true by taking the matter into their own hands. Many Biblical scholars believe this is the reason there is so much strife in the Middle East today. Their son was Isaac, father of the Jewish people. However, Abraham was also father to Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar, Sarah's handmaiden. Ishmael is considered by many to be father of the Islamic peoples. Hence, both peoples lay claim to the Holy Land.
The Bible says in Genesis 15:6,
– “Abraham believed and God credited it to him as righteousness.”
This, my friends, is how you use faith to access the promises of God. Abraham, who is referred to as “the man of faith,” was not perfect in his execution, but nonetheless he trusted God, and acted upon his trust in God.
The realization of God’s promises in our lives is not contingent upon perfect faith. The promises are realized when we live and act as though we believe God will do what God said He would do.
The fact that Abraham and Sarah had a child at the age they did was a medical miracle. It is important for us to understand that miracles and belief go hand in hand.
I do not encourage believing in the miraculous. I do encourage believing that God can do the miraculous.
– “Miracles are the work of God.”
When you look at every act of miraculous healing and deliverance throughout the New Testament and Scripture as a whole, in every case belief in what God – or God in Christ Jesus – could do was the chief component.
As we consider Abraham, we learn a couple of lessons about realizing the promises of God in our lives:
* We need to know the promises of God – The primary reason Abraham believed was because God told him what He was going to do. God speaks to us today through the preaching, teaching, and reading of His Word. As we spend time listening to and studying The Word, we become acquainted with the promises of God. Before we can believe what a person can do, we need to know what they say they can do.
* We need to act based on the promises of God – Even though Abraham did not do everything God told him to do perfectly, he still acted. When God told Abraham to go, he went. When God told Abraham he would have a child, he got together with his wife and she conceived. The Bible says,
– “Faith without works is dead.”
This is where human activity is required. When it comes to the promises of God we must live and act as God tells to live. The Bible says,
– “Will a man rob God? Yet, you rob me in tithes and offering.”
God commands us to bring the full tithe into His storehouse – the church – so that there will be food enough eat. God says,
– “Prove me in this and see if I will not throw open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon that you will not be able to hold it all.”
These are clear instructions. If we fulfill our end of the bargain, it compels God to fulfill His end of the deal.
The Bible contains instructions for every area of living and there are promises attached to them all. It works like this: God promises that if we do it His way, we will be blessed. In other words, God tells us what He wants us to do; we do what God tells us to do; and we realize the promises of God in our lives. The only human work required is to comply with God’s instructions.
* We need to trust that God will do what God promised – As we examine the life of Abraham, it is clear that he knew the promises of God, he acted on the instructions God gave him and, finally, he believed that God would do what He said He would do. This is how faith works.
The error we all make is to think we have to make things happen, and when they do not, we become frustrated, and in some cases lose faith. Yet it is God’s responsibility to work things out, and to do what He said He would do. We must only do our part and follow God’s directions.
The life of Abraham teaches us that the blessings and promises of God are not accessed through our attempt to usurp Him and make things happen. They are realized through total dependence on God, and believing He will do what He said He will do. There really are only two ways to look at God’s promises:
– Either God will do what God said God will do
– God is a liar!
My friends, it is that simple. God has made many promises throughout Scripture, and He desires that all His promises be fulfilled in the believer’s life.
Believers must know the promises of God, then act and live in line with realizing those promises. They must also trust that God will do what He said He would do.
The process is:
– We hear and receive God’s Word;
– God, through Jesus Christ, gives us the Holy Spirit to act on His Word and empower us to live the Word we receive;
– As we live out God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, the promises of God begin to materialize in our lives.
The key to seeing God’s promises realized is to receive The Word in God’s son Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God.
If you do not know Jesus Christ, please take a moment to pray this prayer so that you, too, can receive the Living Word of God.
I know and acknowledge that I am a sinner. I repent, right now, of all my sins, and I am asking you to forgive me. You said in your Word, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). I am calling on the name of your Son, Jesus, to come into my heart and be my Savior.
You also said, “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). I believe with my heart that Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead so that I may have eternal life. I confess Him, right now, as my Lord.
I ask you Lord Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to live on the inside of me, and help me to live a life that is pleasing to both you and God, the Father.
In the name of Jesus, I submit this prayer.
Sunday 13 September 2009
May God Bless You