Monday, November 29, 2010
Galatians Chapter 4
- If you are entitled to an inheritance, left to you by your father upon his death... but not til you turn 18 or 21 or whatever age is deemed right... then you are still in control of someone else. You are still under a guardian's care. You still have to follow their rules and they still have control over your inheritance. You're not free to do as you please with what you own. You own it... but you can't use it how you want...
- footnote- “Paul uses the illustration of slavery to show that before Christ came and died for sins, people were in bondage to the law. Thinking they could be saved by it, they became enslaved to trying—and failing—to keep it. But we who were once slaves are now God's very own children who have an intimate relationship with Him. Because of Christ, there is no reason to be afraid of God. We can come boldly into His presence, knowing that He will welcome us as His family members.”
- Before Christ we had no rights to the inheritance. Our guardian, the law, was solely in charge of our assets.
- But when Christ came, in effect, we had a birthday. We came of age. The time had to be right. If the inheritance was released to early... it would have been squandered through indulgence and lack of common sense (prodigal son). Maturity had to be at a place that we could be trusted with the inheritance.
- God knew the right time. He came to adopt us. Give us the rights of sons, rather than slaves and at just the perfect time.
- Because we are His children, we have... benefits. He sent His Spirit into our hearts to prompt us to “call out Abba, Father”.
- The Spirit is there to cry out our need for the Father. Our need for something more in our life. Something outside ourselves. According to Ephesians, the Spirit is our guarantee that we will indeed inherit the promise.
- footnote- “Under Roman law, an adopted child was guaranteed all legal rights to his father's property, even if he was formerly a slave. He was not a second-class son; he was equal to all other sos, biological or adopted, in his father's family. As adopted children of God, we share with Jesus all rights to God's resources. As God's heirs, we can claim what He has provided for us—our full identity as His children (Romans 8:15-17).”
- Psalm 61:5
- Ephesians 1:4-14
- John 1:16-18
- Romans 8:1-17
- Before Christ, Gentiles were slaves to man-made gods. Our own fleshly sin. But now that God knows us (in the most intimate of ways...) Why would we want to go back to being slaves? We have rights! Privileges! Why throw it away?
- It's like having the option of either spending time in prison or accepting a full presidential pardon. Why would you choose prison when your record can be wiped clean and you can start over with a new life with full citizens' rights?
- The Judaizers were back to trying to earn God's favor through all the things they did. How perfect could they be?
- Mark 10:17-31
-Paul's worried. Did all of the work he did, all the ministering go for naught? Was he now to see them fall away from the God who loves them?
- How many times do we work, pray for a soul, only to see them either fall away, or pull away? Should we get discouraged?
- If you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that say... eating vegetables will cure cancer... wouldn't you want the cancer patients to eat their veggies? Wouldn't you try your hardest to convince them to eat their carrots etc.? What if they argued? What if they insisted that instead of the veggies they wanted a steak. Period. Turned up their noses and threw them all out. Wouldn't it upset you? Wouldn't you try your hardest to get them to accept the cure? Wouldn't you fight for their life? Regardless of whether or not they didn't want to?
- Paul is feeling that frustration. He tells them about the first time they met him and the first time he spoke the gospel to them. Trying to remind them of the first moment they met Christ, the first moment they heard about Him, the first contact with the Almighty God.
- Where were you when you first felt God's presence in your life? Do you remember feeling joyful? Excited? Alive? Accepted? Loved? Grateful?
- My pastor used to say something to the effect that we are never to forget what Grace first felt like. He used to remind himself of when he was first saved all the time. Partly because he was the kind of man who was so grateful to God that he was reminded frequently of where he had come from and the thankfulness that flowed out of him for God always amazed me... and partly because he didn't want to grow calloused to that first raw feeling. He didn't want to forget how vast and great the love of God really is...
- These people forgot. They lost that first taste. They forgot the first blush. It's like... in marriage. After you've been married for 10 years or even 5... you start to forget what it felt like when you first started dating. The butterflies are gone, the nerves have settled, the new has worn off... and you start to forget what it was like discovering each other. You start thinking you've “fallen out of love” or some other nonsense... Love doesn't end because the butterflies stop fluttering... just like God doesn't change just because you become more familiar with Him or He seems not quite as mysterious as He once was (not that God is ever un-mysterious... ha ha).
- Paul is trying to remind them of that first date in a sense. That first kiss. That first time you held hands. Do you remember that joy? That moment with God. When everything was so fresh and so new that you LIVED for those moments with God. Couldn't get enough of Him. Soaked up every experience of Him like a sponge.
- Don't lose joy. Don't forget what it felt like to meet God for the first time. Don't forget where you came from. Remain pliable. Raw. Don't become calloused to the subtle things of God.
- footnote- “Have you lost your joy? Paul sensed that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism. Legalism can take away joy because (1) it makes people feel guilty rather than loved; (2) it produces self-hatred rather than humility; (3)it stresses performance over relationship; (4) it points out how far short we fall rather than how far we've come because of what Christ did for us. If you feel guilty and inadequate, check your focus. Are you living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?”
- False teachers- Judaizers. Trying to win you over into their world. Legalism abounding. They were trying to gain the people's attention. Trying to make the focus shift from the things of God to the things of themselves.
- footnote- “The false teachers claimed to be religious authorities and experts in Judaism and Christianity. Appealing to the believers' desire to do what was right, they drew quite a following. Paul said, however, that they were wrong and that their motives were selfish. False teachers are often respectable and persuasive. That is why all teachings should be checked against the Bible.”
- Side note- False teachers aren't always ones you would expect... in fact... quite the opposite... false teachers are who we expect to be great leaders. Great men/women of perceived faith. Those who project a sense of God that is overwhelming. Those who appear to have it all together. Know what they're talking about. Learned, educated, proper, speakers, etc. However, you must always run it by the Word! Always, always, always! They may seem like great people... but where are their motives? Where does their heart lie? Does what they say line up with the Word? Are they twisting the Word? Are they changing God's decrees in any way?
- Colossians 2:1-23
- II Corinthians 13:3-10
- Paul in his anguish feels like he's going through child-birth. Wait... what? Just like a mother groans in agony in the birth process... so Paul groans in anguish trying to birth the Galatians into the kingdom. God's Spirit in Paul is crying out for these people in such a way that he is in agony for their salvation. Paul is so in tune with God that when He is aching for the people He loves... when He sees them turning away without even fully realizing what they're doing... Paul too cries out in agonizing prayers.
- Should this not be our hearts as well? When we see the unsaved among our family and friends, and even among strangers... should not we too cry out in the Spirit? Should not we too agonize over their malignant condition? How to help? What to do? Prayer seems not enough! And Paul at a distance knows not what to do for them so far away... So he resorts to tough love... Discipline. Confrontation. Face to face tell them they're wrong. It's hard... but sometimes... very necessary...
- They wanted to live under the law... Paul asks... do you even know what the law means? Do you know what you're asking?
- There were two covenants. Paul uses Sarah and Hagar to illustrate the difference in the two.
- Hagar represents the first covenant given at Mt. Sinai. They were then enslaved to the law.
- Sarah represents the second covenant. Brought with Christ's death. This covenant is free. We are no longer enslaved to the law or to sin.
- footnote- “People are saved because of their faith in Christ, not because of what they do. Paul contrasted those who are enslaved to the law (represented by Hagar, the slave wife) with those who are free from the law (represented by Sarah, the freeborn wife). Hagar's abuse of Sarah (Genesis 16:4) was like the persecution that the Gentile Christians were getting from the Judaizers, who insisted on keeping the law in order to be saved. Eventually Sarah triumphed because God kept His promise to give her a son, just as those who worship Christ in faith will also triumph.”
- Paul relates Isaac to the Christian church and Ishmael to the Judaizers. The Judaizers are persecuting the Christians just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac.
- Ishmael was born of human effort. Isaac was born of the Spirit... wow... that's just such an awesome analogy.
- We are not to share the inheritance with the slave's son.
- We are sons of God, free-born. No longer bound by sin, this world, or the law itself.
- Hebrews 8, 9, 10