Galatians Chapter 3
The word faith is used in three different ways in chapter 3.
There is the faith of Jesus
Christ. The faith of Jesus Christ is simply Christ's
faithfulness to execute the covenant work of God set forth in
the covenant of redemption. This covenant is set forth for us in
Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he
might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he
also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Christ is the executor of the covenant as he told us in John
6:37-39: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and
him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came
down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him
that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me,
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but
should raise it up again at the last day." Christ is the man
that Isaiah wrote of in Is. 46:9-11: "Remember the former things
of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and
there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and
from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My
counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a
ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel
from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it
to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."
Some examples of the use of the
phrase "the faith of Christ" is set forth below:
1. Rom. 3:22 "Even the
righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all
and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:"
2. Gal. 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works
of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have
believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the
faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the
works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
3. Gal 3:22 "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin,
that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them
4. Eph. 3:11-12 "According to the eternal purpose which he
purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and
access with confidence by the faith of him."
5. Phil. 3:9 "And be found in him, not having mine own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through
the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by
Next, there is the faith of the
individual manifest in his trusting in the covenant work of
Christ. Now faith is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The
only ones that have this faith are those who are born of the
Spirit. Four times in the scriptures, there is a statement: "The
just shall live by faith." The ones that live by faith must
first be made just. They are made just through the atoning blood
of Christ. Second, the ones that live by faith must first have
life. You cannot live by faith until you first have life. Since
faith is a fruit of the Spirit, the life that is required for
someone to live by faith is spiritual life. We receive spiritual
life when we are born of the Spirit. We cannot live by faith in
order to be justified, nor can we live by faith in order to get
life. We must first be given life and be justified by the blood
of Christ in order for us to live by faith.
A person who has been born of
the Spirit of God has spiritual life and has the ability to
manifest faith. This faith is manifest in believing the word of
God and trusting in the promises of God.
The third way the word faith is
used is to delineate between the New Testament form of worship
and the Old Testament form of worship. Jude 1:3 "Beloved, when I
gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it
was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye
should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered
unto the saints." The faith that was once delivered to the
saints is that system of New Testament worship (including
doctrines, practices, and government) predicated on the children
of God trusting in the covenant work of Christ. There are only
two covenants of worship: the Old Testament, known as the law
covenant or law, and the New Testament, sometimes referred to as
The word, "faith," is used in
all three of the ways listed above in the 3rd chapter of
Galatians. A careful reading of the context will show us which
way is being used when the word is found.
Next, we must distinguish
between justification by the blood of Christ by grace and
justification by faith. "Justify is a court room term. To
understand the difference between justification by blood and
justification by faith, we must understand the different
courtrooms in which this term "justify" is being used. To
justify before God means that we are tried in the courtroom of
God and declared to be righteous before God. Nothing we have or
can do can make us righteous before God. We are justified by the
blood of Christ. The atoning blood of Christ atoned for our sins
and Christ's righteousness was imputed unto us. 2 Cor. 5:21:
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we
might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Justification by faith takes
place in another courtroom. While all the elect are justified by
the blood of Christ in the courtroom of God, yet the knowledge
of that justification comes into the heart of the individual
elect child of God through the preaching of the gospel. In the
courtroom of his heart and mind, he first feels the conviction
of sins and feels condemned by sin. When the gospel comes to him
telling him that he has been justified by the blood of Christ
and he through faith believes the gospel report, he now has the
assurance of justification in his heart. This is justification
Not all the elect experience the
justification by faith. They are still trying to get right
through the works of the law or by some rule of law. In other
words, they are trying to get right through their efforts.
Gal. 3:1-4 "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye
should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath
been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would
I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,
or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in
the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye
suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."
Paul tells the brethren of the
churches of Galatia who have followed after another perverted
gospel that they are foolish and that someone has bewitched
them. The Greek word for foolish is "anoetos" and means
"unwise." Obviously the Galatians had made an unwise choice in
believing a false "grace, but" doctrine. The Greek word for
bewitched is "baskaino" and means "to fascinate by false
representations." The "grace, but" doctrine fascinates the flesh
because our fleshly nature likes to think that we can do
something to obtain eternal life. The "grace only" truth gives
all the glory and praise to God. The "grace, but" doctrine gives
glory and praise unto man telling him that he is instrumental in
earning eternal life.
Those who set forth a "grace,
but" doctrine are making false representations of what the
gospel is and what it is that saves from sin and gives eternal
life. The word of God does not support their representations.
Anytime you bring in a legalistic principle of doing something
to get eternal life, you deny the total depravity of man and his
complete inability to change his nature and to understand the
things of the Spirit of God. Further, you rob God of his glory
by denying his grace.
The Galatian brethren had turned
from the truth and were now denying the truth by accepting the
false representation of the false teachers. In the beginning,
the Galatians had heard the truth that Jesus Christ had come and
was crucified to deliver them from their sins and that he had
arisen the third day. They had heard the truth that salvation
from sins was by the grace of Christ. When false teachers came
along and told them that they were saved by grace, but they must
be circumcised in order to be saved, they were fascinated by
this falsehood and they believed the falsehood. Paul told them
that they were foolish to do so.
Next, Paul asked this question:
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the
works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Now this verse
can be taken in two different ways. It could be taken to mean,
"received ye the new birth by the works of the law, or by the
hearing of faith?" or it could be taken to mean, "received ye
the ministry of the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the
hearing of faith?"
Faith is a fruit of the Spirit:
Gal. 5:22, 23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness,
temperance: against such there is no law." Therefore, in order
to have faith, one must first be born of the Spirit. You cannot
have the fruit of the Spirit unless you first have the Spirit.
Thus, we cannot receive the new birth by either the works of the
law or the hearing of faith. We conclude that Paul is asking the
question: "received ye the ministry of the Spirit by the works
of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
Paul writes in 1 Cor. 2:14: "But
the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:
for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned." One must have been born
of the Spirit of God in order to receive the things of the
Spirit of God. In the early church, there were sign gifts. When
the gospel was first preached to a people, it was sometimes
accompanied by sign gifts. Included in these sign gifts, the
people were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. Even
today, when someone hears the gospel they often are filled with
the Spirit and rejoice in the gospel message. Whether the
brethren at Galatia had the sign gifts I know not, but I they
must have rejoiced at the gospel message. They received the
ministry of the Spirit by the hearing of faith. They had faith
because they were born of the Spirit. They heard the gospel
message by the hearing of faith and rejoiced. They received the
Spirit by the hearing of faith and not by the works of the law.
"Are ye so foolish? having begun
in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" There
beginning in the church kingdom of God was through the Spirit.
How can the commandments under the law covenant placed upon the
flesh bring perfection? Paul was right in calling them foolish.
Righteousness is by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and bestowed
upon the elect in the new birth. This is the work of the Spirit.
We are righteous before God because of this. We cannot hope to
get more righteous through the working of the law. The law
brings us into bondage under the curse of the law.
"Have ye suffered so many things
in vain? if it be yet in vain." The brethren at Galatia had been
persecuted for their belief in the gospel of the grace of
Christ. They had suffered for the cause of Christ. Paul is now
telling them that if they be turned away from the truth and
turned unto legalism, then they have suffered for the cause of
Christ in vain. Most persecutions come from the legalist. To be
under legalism takes away the reproach for believing in the
truth. It also takes away the fellowship we have with the Lord
in worshipping him in Spirit and in truth.
Gal. 3:5-9 "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."
"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?" Paul
continued with his indisputable evidences against righteousness
coming by the works of the law. He appeals to the reason of the
Galatia brethren to consider that the apostle who had ministered
among them and was given sign gifts that the manifestation of
these gifts was by the working of the Holy Spirit and done by
the apostle through his faithful trust in the promises of God.
Nothing in the works of the law can account for these miracles
that were done among the brethren.
"Even as Abraham believed God,
and it was accounted to him for righteousness." We notice the
order. First, there is the work of God in regeneration or new
birth. This is evidenced in the three examples above:
1. Receiving the ministry of the
Spirit by the hearing of faith.
2. Working miracles by the hearing of faith.
3. Abraham believing God by faith and it being accounted to him
Faith is a fruit of the Spirit
and therefore evidence of regeneration.
Following regeneration there is
the fruit of the Spirit manifest by faith of the individual. The
consequence of faith is:
1. Receiving the Spirit.
2. Working miracles.
3. Believing God and this being counted for righteousness.
Believing God does not make one
righteous. Abraham was already born of the Spirit when it was
said of him that he believed in God and it was accounted to him
for righteousness: Gen. 15:3 "And Abram said, Behold, to me thou
hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This
shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of
thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 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
Prior to this passage in Genesis
chapter 15, God had appeared to Abram in Genesis chapter 12 and
the next several chapters show us the actions of Abram. Between
chapters 12 and 15, God had commanded Abram to leave his
country, his father's house, his kindred, and go into a country
that God would show him. Abram did this. Also, God had promised
several things concerning the seed of Abram. In addition, Abram
had built altars to worship the Lord. Moreover, Abram had
defeated the armies of the people who had taken Lot captive by
faith. Then he was met by Melchisedec who blessed him bringing
forth bread and wine. Obviously Abram had already been born of
the Spirit and had been walking with God for some time before
the events in Genesis chapter 15. Abram was already righteous
and his believing in the promise of the Lord was a righteous
action of a righteous man. Belief in the promises of God is a
righteous action of a righteous man.
"Know ye therefore that they
which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham."
Abraham is said to be the father of the faithful. This is true,
not only of the natural descendents of Abraham, but also of the
Gentiles. Abraham is not the father of the faithful through
natural generation, but he is the fatherly example of faith that
we are to follow. When we, who have been born of the Spirit of
God, believe the promises of God, we are following the example
of Abraham who is our fatherly example.
"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." The promise of God was sure, whether
Abraham believed it or not. However, Abraham did believe it and
he received the assurance of faith thereby.
The scriptures, given to us by the inspiration of God, show us
in the events of God's promise to Abraham that the Gentiles are
embraced in the work of the promised seed of Abraham. This was
done in the saying of God: "In thee shall all nations be
blessed." Christ, the promised seed, was faithful to fulfill the
promise of God and to justify the elect in all nations of the
earth. The heathen were justified through the faithfulness of
Christ to fulfill the promise of God and to die on the cross to
redeem them from their sins.
What God said to Abraham
concerning the promised seed and all nations being blessed by
that seed is the same message of the true gospel of the grace of
Christ. That message is that God has a people in all nations of
the earth that he chose before the foundation of the world and
that Christ came to redeem his chosen people from their sins by
his grace. Therefore, we which be of faith are blessed with
faithful Abraham in believing the gospel of the grace of Christ.