Forgive me if you choose to read this and it sounds preachy. I learn best by writing out my thoughts and I am excited about the latest wave of inspiration and learning I have gained through studying God's word. I am going to attempt to put it in my own words here. In studying the book of Galatians, my small group and I have been learning about how faith is so much more than just believing in God.
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!" (James 2:19). We took note in our study last week that Abraham was accounted a man of faith not because he believed in God, but because he believed God. --"just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham" (Galatians 3:6-7).
I've understood this concept for some time now, but this study has given me a way to put it in words: Saving faith is so much more than just believing in God. We must believe God. That means, like Abraham, we must know and believe the promises God gives us. The scripture quoted in the Galatians passage above comes from Genesis 15:6 and refers to the promise God gave Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God spoke this promise several times to Abraham, especially in reference to the promise to give Abraham's descendants the promised land forever (Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 24:7).
But in Galatians (see Galatians 3:16-18), Paul explains that Abraham understood these promises as so much more than just many children and a land to dwell in. Abraham understood that in the promise of innumerable descendants (literally seed), God was actually promising a fulfillment of His original promise of a messiah. To better understand how Abraham could have gotten that message, I took a look way back at Genesis 3. As God is explaining the curse Adam and Eve have incurred by their sin, He also promises that their Seed (a descendant) will one day destroy the serpent who deceived them. He says to the serpent: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15). Way back at the fall of man, God explains that in the end, Jesus wins! What's a bruise on the heel to a crushing blow on the head?!
Abraham heard God's promise to him and believed God. He believed that God would fulfill His promise to bring salvation to His people. And he believed this promised Seed would come from his descendants (which, check out the lineage of Christ in Matthew 1: He does!). Basically, that means that before the law was given to God's people through Moses, four hundred and thirty years later according to Paul (Galatians 3:17), Abraham knew that it was not by following the law that anyone would be saved. Abraham knew that it was not by sacrifices that he was truly made right with God (Hosea 6:6). Abraham believed God. He believed God's promise, and Paul explains that Abraham's salvation came only from belief in God's promise of a Savior who would do for him what his own law-abiding and sacrificing could not. Before the Messiah actually came to save His people, Abraham believed that his salvation would come through Him alone.
Knowing this about Abraham helps answer one of those tricky questions of Christianity. What about all the people who died before Christ? How could they be saved if faith in Christ alone is what saves (John 3:16, 14:6)? Just like Abraham, they could believe God. They could believe that God's Messiah, promised way back in Genesis 3, before a single human died on this earth, would save them from their sins. If only they believed. The laws of Moses, as Paul explains in Galatians 3:17-26 (and Jesus explains in great detail in Matthew 5:18-48), were given by God to emphasize to us our inability to earn our own salvation. Our salvation comes from believing God's promises.
This is a huge concept (as you can see how many scripture passages it takes for me to explain it!) But the coolest thing has been to see the ladies in my group applying it. To believe Goddefines the need to study God's word to know what His promises are. The ladies in my group are digging in to God's word with hunger! As we grow in our knowledge of God's word, we see the contrast between His promises and the lies on which we base some of our decisions. Then, we chose to believe God and our decisions change. We base our decisions and our life on the promises in God's word. The experience of growing in God's word is powerful, as God is powerful to bring it about, and I pray that He will continue to transform us as we continue to discover and believe His promises.
By: Megan Lagoy
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