Before reading this post, click here to read Galatians 3. In this post, I intend to show the heart of the gospel and the place of faith in connection with my previous post on Galatians 3. Here, Paul says in verse 6, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” This verse, and others like it, is central to the gospel because the ultimate promise of God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Christ by faith (see v. 8), and Paul uses the progression here to reiterate his statement in verses 1-5.
The word translated ‘counted to’ in verse 6 comes from the Greek word logizomai (here, in v. 6, elogisthe). It deals with reality, not suppositions. In other words, Abraham believed God’s promises and God declared him righteous according to his faith. His declaration of Abraham according to faith is definite, guaranteed and promised. Philip Graham Ryken adds in his commentary on Galatians, “To put it in financial terms, [God] accounted [Abraham] as righteous. Trusting God was like opening a bank account. Immediately, God transferred righteousness into Abraham’s account” (Galatians, Reformed Expository Commentary, 97).
But, Abraham’s righteousness according to faith begs the question: how is it that he is righteous according to faith? Ryken continues, “This does not mean that Abraham was actually righteous, only that he was declared righteous” (97). However, Scripture tells us that those who sin have reaped wages according to their works, namely death (Rom. 6:23, cf. 3:9-23). This shows the magnitude of v. 8. “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.'” God would justify the ‘children of Abraham’ according to the righteousness of his Son by faith.
So, Paul spells out the gospel in vv. 10-14. The progression goes like this:
- All who rely on the works of the law are cursed by the law (v. 10).
- No one is justified before God by the law (v. 11a).
- The righteous shall live by faith (v. 11b).
- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (v. 13).
Christ’s substitutionary atonement fulfills the promise to Abraham, through faith: “In you shall all the nations be blessed” (v. 14, also cf. v. 16). “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (v. 29). So when you read verses like Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” read verses 21-22, 24-26 also. Paul is saying that the gospel is Good News for salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Sinners who believe “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith,” not by works whatsoever (vv. 24-25). This gift of justification is one that upholds the righteousness of God, clothes us in Christ (see Gal. 3:27), and magnifies the glory of God.