4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Paul first asks the Galatians if they have gone back to the works of that law for no reason. It is useless to expect salvation from the works of the law. It is vanity! The law was merely a covering for sin – salvation erases it. Jesus too away our sins – removed them as far as the East is from the West (psalm 103:12). He has washed me white as snow (Is 1:18). He will cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Notice these verses do not say this will happen by the works of the law. They are accomplished by faith alone, by confessing our sins.
The miracles that were being performed by the disciples are covered next. Were they the result of the law? NO. They were the result of faith – faith in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit within them. Remember Jesus what Jesus said just before He ascended to heaven in a cloud; Acts 1:8 records these words:
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Note that in verse 5 He tells them they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. We spoke of this in the last lesson. Now He tells them this Holy Ghost will give them power to witness. This witnessing is by many different means, not just verbal in nature. This witnessing includes the Gifts of the Spirit, which we read of in 1 Cor 12:8-11
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spiit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
These gifts are still the sign of the Holy Spirit. Miracles back then were recorded often, and the people flocked to them. Just look at all the people that followed Jesus. He performed miracles all the time. We read accounts of miracles the disciples performed, and I’m sure there were many not recorded.
Peter and John at the steps of the temple heal a lame man (Acts 3:1-10)
Ananias and Sapphira fall down dead for lying to God (Acts 5:1-10)
Peters shadow and has hands heal multitudes who have gathered (Acts 5:15()
Paul casts out an evil spirit from a woman (Acts 16:18)
Paul sends handkerchiefs to the sick and they are healed (Acts 19:12)
We will not delve into the rest of the gifts at this time, since Paul only mentions miracles here. We will leave that for a future study. Jesus told them miracles would be a witness to Jerusalem first, then Judea and Samaria and then throughout the earth. Paul started the last part of this prophetic word from Jesus. I think at first the other disciples forgot about it. Peter at first protested about going to Cornelius, but later went and had a great result (Acts 10). These miracles are works of faith, not a result of the law.
Next, Paul dicusses how Abraham pleased God by His faith in God. Abraham had left Canaan with his family, gone to Egypt, then back to Canaan. He separated from Lot and then fought the battle with the 5 kings to get Lot back. Then these words come in Genesis 15:5-7
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
This is before offering Isaac. The belief He had to gain that righteousness was based on the promise given by the angel of God above That his seed would be like the stars of the heaven. At this time Abraham was 100 years old. This part of Genesis is commonly known as the 2nd Covenant between man and God, or the Abrahamic Covenant. God never breaks His Covenant, and this one is today passing onto Abraham’s seed.
The important thing to remember here is what that seed is. It is not just Abraham’s fleshly seed, although the Jews are blessed by that part of the Covenant. The seed of faith in God’s promise is the important one. It has passed down to us today! We are Abraham’s seed by faith, and God blesses us on that Covenant when we believe Jesus Christ and confess our sins. Nothing about works.
God told Abraham that his seed would be like the stars of heaven. The stars are too numerous to count. They cover an immense area and are afar off. This was a promise that eventually, the seed of Abraham would be greater than the nation of His offspring. It would include the Gentiles as well. At this time there was no Jerusalem, no Jews, no Israel. The seed of Abraham is greater than that.
We should all be eternally grateful for Abraham believing God. I think we often forget how important he is to us and to this faith that we have. Without this Covenant God would not be obligated to bring in the Gentiles. He would not be obligated to pass the blessing on by faith alone. This covenant is one of five God has made with man. The others are:
Covenant with Noah that He would never flood the earth again (Geneses 9:11-17)
Covenant with Moses to make Israel His nation (Exodus 19:3-6)
Covenant with David that his heir would sit on the throne of Israel eternally (2 Sam 7:12-13)
Covenant through Jesus – the New Covenant of salvation by grace and faith and the symbol of that Covenant being His blood shed for us (Luke 22:20,Heb 8:8-12)
When you look at these Covenants, you can see how important the Covenant with Abraham is. While we know that God keeps His promises, He puts the highest regard on these Covenants. We should take special note that all of them apply forever.
Paul concludes with stating the fact again. All who come to God by faith are included in the blessing of Abraham. He will go on to explain further as we proceed.