Galatians 3:8, “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.”
This morning, society chooses to impugn standards by either ignoring them, replacing them with inferior ones, or believing there are no standards whatsoever. A standard is something by which others of its kind are measured. Whenever we talk about weights and measures, these units of scale are only as accurate as they measure up to the appropriate standard. If something bears the mark of 99% accurate, then it is supposed to be 99% of the standard of its kind. Politics in the United States are supposed to be measured against the standard of the land: the constitution. Law enforcement should exercise authority as accurately as possible measured against the law of the land. On a much greater level, there is a standard or “measuring stick” that supersedes all others in this world.
Many times, when people despise the standard of the Holy Scriptures, a favourite story of my youth comes to mind. When my natural father was posed with Bible despisers, he would ask the simple question, “If this won’t be your standard, what will you take?” Sometimes the answers revolved around self, science, or intelligence. With each of those so-called standards, he would briefly but pointedly identify their inherent problems. Is self your standard? Honestly, how often do you let yourself down, get things wrong, have to retract, make a course correction, etc.? Is science your standard? How often do scientists have to do the same things due to “new and ground-breaking” information? Is anyone intelligent enough to inhabit the plane of infinite knowledge with no holes or logical flaws? Each of these standards, and any others that could be paraded forth, inherently have problems that stem from a lack of perfection.
In Galatians 3, Paul investigates some very heady things, but the heart of the middle portion of this book is really driven home in the last verse of this chapter. Paul has been labouring (once again) with details about the famous character of Abraham. He was an important and pivotal figure for the Jews and their history, but Paul unequivocally shows and proves that Abraham’s natural progeny is not the ultimate thought of the promises given to Abraham. Rather, being part of Christ’s family makes us part of Abraham’s family as heirs according to promise. Natural succession is vastly inferior to spiritual heirship in Christ by grace. However, in the midst of this grand declaration of the embrace of Jew and Gentile in the promises of Abraham through the work of Christ, Paul makes a simple point that should forever destroy any thought of the inferiority of the Bible as a standard for living and banner for truth in this world.
Our verse describes one of the famous promises given to Abraham that in him would all the nations of the earth be blessed. Later in this chapter, Paul proves that that blessing came to it fullest fruition in the person and work of Jesus Christ. However, notice how Paul ascribes the promise made. The promise came through preaching – but before the gospel – by the scripture. In essence Paul says, “Before there was a gospel, the scripture preached unto Abraham saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.'” This preaching comes foreseeing what would indeed take place in the hearts of Gentile people (faith being planted there), and them having peace with God in their conscience as a result of that. During Abraham’s day and many days thereafter, this did not happen, for the Gentiles were excluded from the oracles of God (Romans 3:1) and even those regenerated Gentiles had little knowledge about the workings of God.
All that has changed in this age due to the appearing of Christ, finished work on Calvary, and the subsequent blessing upon Gentiles of hearing the glorious gospel preached according to the Holy Scriptures. Paul says the scripture foresaw this, preached this, and promised this to Abraham. If we look at the places where this particular promise was made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3, Genesis 22:17-18), how does this promise come forth? In both cases that the promise is found, God audibly declares the promise to Abraham. What a blessing to hear the thundering declaration of God that He would take delight on you and your family! What a blessing to be able to recollect those blessed moments where you could say, “God spoke to me.”
Paul’s point by the usage of language is that we have similar blessings through the weight and authority of the Holy Scriptures. How many times have you been posed with this line of thought (or perhaps posed it yourself from time to time), “Well, we just can’t really know for sure. Maybe if God spoke from heaven the way we read about, then we would know. No one can really know, so we shouldn’t judge those that are different since anybody could be right.” Sadly, this line of chaotic, nihilistic thinking is picking up steam in many Christian circles today. Satan, no doubt, delights to see God’s children wandering aimlessly while believing that, “We just don’t really know.”
If God spoke those promises to Abraham and Moses did not pen them down until centuries later, what should we take from Paul’s usage of the word “scripture” as it preached to Abraham. If Abraham did not have written word to look at and only the promise of God through voice and personal visitation, then we can firmly state with the sincerest of conviction that the Scriptures themselves are of the same standard and authority as God’s spoken voice. The mindset “we just can’t know for sure” flatly denies the stamp of approval that God gave His Book as authoritative to the fullest degree. (II Timothy 3:16-17) While I, like most of God’s children, sometimes yearn to have those times of God’s thunder of promise in audible fashion, consider just how much better it is today. Abraham did not have the New Testament epistles that dictated in glorious fashion the work of God and finished work of Christ. He did not have the wonderful accounts of His Saviour during His time here, nor of the accounts of the Lord’s faithful church in the early days after Christ’s ascension back to glory.
What Abraham had was indeed glorious, for He was the Friend of God (James 2:23) that heard God speak, but he still knew very little of the details of how God would do it and eventually did do it. Did Abraham know the name of His Saviour? Did Abraham know about the Lord’s church that He would establish in this world? Did Abraham know many of the things recorded in the New Testament? The Scriptures that we have today record for us the name of Jesus, the borders and beauty of the church, and many other magnificent things such as the resurrection and second coming of Christ. These Scriptures that we have to live by and ultimately draw hope from (Romans 15:4) bear the same weight as what God spoke to Abraham. Not only do they have the same weight, but they give us today richer and fuller insights than people had before they were written.
What is our standard today? Or worse, do we live like we really have one? Whether folks might think of themselves or others as their standard, may we perish all such thoughts. The scripture is given by the direct moving of the hand of God (II Peter 1:19-21), and we can be assured that what it says is right every time. We can know some things for sure, for the word of God says so. It is the measuring stick for everything else. Is something true or false? Is something right or wrong? Will this happen or not? If the Scriptures declare one way or another, rest assured friends that that is the way it is. Just as surely as if God speaks it Himself, just as surely are these words of life written in verity.