A child and an heir of God
Galatians 3:23-4:31 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
4 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
12 I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. 18 But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— 20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
21 Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. 24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. 25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.”
28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say?
“Cast out the bondwoman and her son,
For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
What Paul speaks of in today’s text, the comparison of the religious traditions of the law to the freedom of salvation through faith in Christ, are not as relevant as they once may have been to much of our society. Paul wrote to those who knew and understood what it meant to live in the Jewish tradition and under the law. His exhortation to them was to walk in the fullness and the freedom of faith in Christ, not the bondage of religious tradition. In some ways the same principle does apply to those who seek to be justified through religion, through church membership;, church attendance or through doing good. Religion cannot save anyone. Whether Jew or Christian, whether Catholic, protestant, denominational or nondenominational, there is no religion that can save us. It is through faith, not faith in our beliefs, but rather believing in Christ; that He died for our sins, that we are saved. In the text Paul says: When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. We are saved because of the relationship we have through Christ. We are sons and daughters of God and heirs of His kingdom through Christ.
When I said that Paul’s words may be less relevant today than when they were written, it not because
the principles of the Bible are no longer relevant as some would suggest. It is because there are so many in our culture and society today who have not been brought up with even the very basic knowledge of the Jewish and Christian history and traditions. Nearly
every institution of higher education in the U.S. and Europe was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and instruction. Elementary and secondary education in this country incorporated Judeo-Christian values, prayer and scripture as part of its curriculum.
These though have been abandoned and even outlawed. The value and esteem for these principles also carried over into the society and culture as a whole. Movies and television honored what was good rather than glorifying evil. Music respected and esteemed God
and what is good rather than being filled with vile language, violence and sex. If it weren’t for Disney’s distorted representation of Biblical accounts, many people would have no awareness or knowledge of them at all. Nothing has changed. The
Bible is still true and relevant. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Neither religion nor good works
can save us or anyone. The problem lies in the fact that because there is no knowledge, no understanding and no esteeming of Godly values and principles, the message of grace becomes permission to continue in sin as opposed to a path to God and righteousness.
In Psalm 91 the psalmist says: He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the
terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” All of the promises, the protection, the provision and the blessings of God are for the one or the ones who dwell and abide with Him. They are for those who seek refuge in Him, for those who love Him and call upon Him. In the same way, if we are to be children of God and heirs of His kingdom, we must know Him. We must abide in Him. To receive the benefits and promises of God’s grace, we must believe in and abide in the source of that grace. We must believe in and abide in Christ and the cross.
In the text Paul says: But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? Grace is freedom from all the works and ways of man. It is freedom from religious regulations and laws. It is also freedom from, not freedom to continue in the sinful ways of the world. Grace is the path to knowing God and His righteousness.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; because of grace I believe. I choose by faith to dwell and abide with You and in You that I might have all the benefits of the kingdom of heaven through Christ. Amen.