Thursday, February 25, 2010

SALVATION BY GRACE, NOT WORKS: GALATIANS 4


Theme: Salvation is by grace, not works.

2. Because Christ freed us from the law (3-4)
     D. The Law points to Christ (3:19 - 4:3)
     E. Believers become adopted sons (4:6-20)
     F. Believers are children of promise (4:21-31)


The Law points to Christ (4:1-3).  Continuing in the thought of 3:19-29, 4:1-3 shows how the Law is a road leading to the cross.  Before Christ came, God's people, like child heirs of an inheritance, were under the guardianship and management of the Law.  Because of the weakness of our sinful nature, which opposes God's will (Romans 7:7 - 8:8), the good Law only motivated us to sin, convicted us of transgression, and brought us under a curse (Deut. 27:26; cf. James 2:20; Romans 7). Like miserable tutorage, the Law shut us up in our sin (Galatians 3:22), proving our inability to meet God's standards, and leading us to see the need of Christ as an atoning substitute.  The Law points to Christ.

Believers become adopted sons (6-20).  Christ, having born the curse of the Law by hanging on a tree (3:14-15), is the end to which the road of the Law leads.  Through faith, He frees believers from the curse and tutorage of the Law, making them adult heirs in God's family (4-5; cf. 3:25-29).  Since the Galatians had become sons of God, and adult heirs through faith in Christ(6-7), why would they return again to the miserable tutorage and inevitable curse which any attempt to merit God's blessing brings (8-9)?  Contrary to their former sense of blessing they expressed towards Paul's physical infirmities (12-16), they were now yielding to the false gospel of Judaizers (17-18), by observing OT rituals (10-11). This perplexed Paul, giving him labor pains in his desire to see them restored to freedom in Christ (19).

Believers are children of promise (21-31).  God promised Abraham blessing through his seed with Sarah (ultimately salvation through Christ [Galatians 3:8]).  After becoming right with God through faith in this promise (Genesis 12:3; 15:6), Abraham, when no child was born to him through Sarah, tried to achieve God's promise in the strength of his flesh by fathering a child through Hagar the slave (16:1-4).

As Ishmael (a child born in an attempt to obtain God's blessing in the strength of the flesh) persecuted Isaac (the child born of the Spirit and promise of God [Genesis 21:8-9]), so now the Judaizers (who taught a gospel of justification by faith plus keeping the law) persecuted the true children of God.  God instructed Abraham to cast out the bondwoman and her son (21:9-12), because Isaac, and not Ishmael, would inherit God's promised blessing (typical of salvation through faith in Christ [Galatians 3:8]).  In the same way, believers, as children born of the Spirit (not the flesh) freewoman (not the slave), and promise (not personal merit), should throw out any attempts to merit salvation in the strength of their flesh.

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1 comment:

Randy said...

The following is an excerpt from a comment submitted by Steve Finnell, with my reply included in brackets:

Steve Finnell: "Do believers who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the only Son of God believe because they heard the gospel preached and believed of their own free-will or because God forced them to believe it?"

[Neither. Unsaved man doesn't believe "of his own free will", because in his fallen, unregenerate nature he is spiritually dead, mentally darkened, morally depraved, at enmity against God, and neither willing nor able to obey Him (Ephians 2 - 5; Romans 8:7).

On the other hand, a believer isn't being forced to believe. When God gives men saving faith in the gospel (e.g. Ephesians 2:1,8; cf. Acts 10:44ff.), He also creates in man a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) which agrees with Him (Romans 7:22-23). God continues to work in that new nature both to will and do of His pleasure (Phpesians 2:13).

From the perspective of his old, fallen nature, obeying God will always be contrary to that will, even in the believer (Romans 7; 8:5). From the perspective of the new nature, regenerate man is not being forced to obey God contrary to his will, but is in agreement with it (Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:16).

Thus, man can neither brag that he was saved by "his own free will", nor discredit God for forcing him to believe contrary to his will.]

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