Read for This Week’s Study: Gal. 3:26-4:20; Rom. 6:1-11; Heb. 2:14-5; Rom. 9:4, 5.
Memory Text: “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:7, KJV)
A truth which was brought out in the lesson and furthered here is that we are not to live like slaves but as sons and daughters of God. The lesson says with all the rights and privileges, but do many know what that really means? Someone today told me that once we believe, we also have to witness. The greatest right and privilege of the Christian is to experience the power of true faith and the righteousness of Christ, which makes us obedient, out of love, to all the commandments of God. These things come naturally when the heart is kept by the power of God through faith. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. We walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light. We truly are “born again” of the Spirit. Faith obeys, for the nature of faith is to say, Not I, but Christ, who lives in me, and Jesus’ life was a life of loving obedience and trust in His Father. Naturally does NOT mean automatically, but the person who walks in the Spirit will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Galatians is not just about “avoiding legalism.” It is doing so, by truly experiencing conversion. Spiritual freedom comes by knowing God, and experiencing the Gospel, as revealed clearly in Galatians. This was the point about the “schoolmaster” in Galatians 3, as well as the discussion of the Two Covenants of Galatians 4. God gave the law to make sin exceedingly sinful and to symbolically represent the plan of Salvation, and when we know and experience Christ, we are free from the power of sin and its condemnation, and we have the reality of Christ, instead of the types and shadows. We have the Christ in the Law, and He lives in us, to bring to us the “fruit of righteousness” as a miracle. We are free in His act, and in His promises. We are not free to rest in an intellectual belief, without the true heart change that God’s grace can bring us.
Sunday’s Lesson – “Our Condition in Christ”
In Christ, our relationship to God and to His law changes from a slavish child to a mature adult, who is free in the gift of Grace to love, to know freedom from guilt and condemnation, and the freedom to live a truly righteous life, while waiting for the day of reunion with Christ. Paul also sees that all people on earth have equal opportunity and access to Christ and salvation, that there are no valid human exclusions to the universality of the redemptive act and purpose of Christ. These verses are not referring to spiritual gifting or ministry calls, but to the universality of the Gospel message, and the access all have, putting away human distinctions, to form the world-wide Body of Christ. We become heirs to all the Covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants. Thus, the “true Israel” are those in faith relationship with Christ, and thus have access to the Covenant promises, which could never have been given to those who do not believe in Christ, and thus are outside His covenant promises. Faith and baptism are our avenue to uniting with Christ, and in Paulien theology, baptism is a radical change of life, motives, experience, as we become “new creatures.” Many of us echo Raymond Holmes’ book, “Baptized but Buried Alive”. We need to experience the total freedom of death and a new life in Christ.
Monday’s Lesson – “Enslaved to Elementary Principles” The principles of the sacrificial system and all ceremonial aspects were instructive in the basics of salvation. They were meant to help us to see the work of Christ as our sacrifice and High Priest but had no salvific power, apart from pointing us by faith to the object of faith, or Christ. Paul does not want us to regulate our lives around rules, but around a heart union with Christ and neither does God. As Jesus said, in John 15:5, “If you abide in me, and I in you, you will bear fruit.” The Galatians, by going back to circumcision and the sacrificial system, were reverting back to a more immature spiritual life. The ritual law was for a time and purpose, but we are to grow to maturity, where by faith we experience all that it represents, as Love is placed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Moral principles remain, but shadows flee away, to the reality of a mature faith.
Tuesday’s Lesson – “God Sent Forth His Son”
Jesus came in direct fulfillment, prophetically, of the Messianic passage of Daniel 9. God took the initiative in our salvation, and the Gospel includes the truth that Christ took upon His divine nature our sinful human nature, to unite with us, so that He could “condemn sin in the flesh”, by an obedient life, even unto death. “Born under the law” is used by some to indicate that He came under the Jewish law, and today we are free from that. The point of Paul is that, like all humanity, He was born in the Incarnation, and would bear our condemnation as the Second Adam, the Head of Humanity, who would redeem the race through His act of love and faithfulness. It was thus necessary for Christ to assume our humanity because we could not save ourselves. By uniting his divine nature with our fallen human nature, Christ legally became qualified to be our Substitute, Savior, and High priest as well. He reclaimed all that the first Adam had lost through transgression. By his obedience, He worked out a perfect righteousness. And redeemed Adam’s failure. By His death on the Cross, He paid the corporate penalty for all mankind, and thus gained the right to redeem the race, and to ultimately save, experientially, those who come to Him in true faith and surrender. The Jews were not required to be saved BY keeping the law, for as Heb. 4:2 says, they had the same Gospel preached to them as we do, in the New Covenant, brought out in Hebrews.
Wednesday’s Lesson – “The Privileges of Adoption”
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Because of His love for all sinners, He redeemed the race. I Timothy 4:10. He is the “Savior of all men, especially those that believe.” The Greek word for especially, malista, is used 8 times in the NT, and always means “especially.” In the corporate sense, Christ is the Savior of all men, by paying the redemptive price, “saving” the race from the second death Adam and Eve should have immediately experienced, giving them probationary time to experientially “believe” and receive Christ by faith.
Paul uses the imagery of “adoption” with all the privileges understood for that term in the first century. These included the impossibility of the adopter repudiating (deny) his son, an inheritance, full provision for needs, there was no possibility of slavery, and the natural parents could never reclaim the person. Of course, the “son” could leave the adoptee. Question - Does Jesus adopt the believer, or did He adopt the corporate world, and it becomes effective in those who believe? I would suggest that the act of redemption and taking all humanity into Himself at the cross was a corporate, and legal adoption of the race, justified unto life, and entitled, again, legally, to all the rights and privileges. Man is called to the cross, to respond by both faith and a heartfelt appreciation for the cost of Calvary, and the degree of love revealed there, and to “receive” the adoption. The word “Abba” in Gal. 4:6 is like saying ‘da da’ today, a very intimate word for the relationship we can have with God through Christ.
Thursday and Friday’s Lesson – “Why Turn Back to Slavery?” Paul’s concern for the Galatians, drawn out even further as we proceed through the book, was that they had placed themselves under a “curse” and had “fallen from Grace.” It should be noted that one cannot “fall” from Grace, unless they first had it, and so Once Saved, Always Saved is exposed as the demonic doctrine it is, for it subtly teaches the Edenic lie of Satan that “sin won’t hurt you”, or “you will not surely die.” One cannot remain saved while no longer possessing Grace. The Savior will never abandon us, but man can choose to revert back to “slavery” for God never violates free will choice. Some try to negate the Sabbath by Paul’s statement about observing “days and months and seasons and years.” This is a reference to the Jewish calendrical year of types and shadows. If the Sabbath brought bondage, then God gave Adam and Eve bondage, before the sin problem existed, when He made “all things good”, and that is impossible. As God observed, and blessed and sanctified the First Sabbath, it is obvious He did not place Himself in bondage, nor did He intend to do that for man. The Sabbath is a part of that perfect plan for man, created and given to man, to be a blessing and constant reminder that God, as our Creator, provides and can now recreate us in holiness. If the Sabbath is bondage, then when Jesus taught that it was “lawful to do good on the Sabbath”, and then directed us to go to the world and teach “ALL things whatsoever He commanded”, that would mean that He intended for us to teach bondage to the whole world. The Great Commission is Good News, not bondage, and all Christ’s teachings represented the freedom of the New Covenant.
Man cannot trust to any works of righteousness that we may do. We trust wholly in the merits of a crucified and risen Savior. Do not resist the adoption as sons, received through a total surrender in trust in Christ. Do not resist the work of the Holy Spirit, but be led by the cross in repentance of the sins that crucified our Savior. Put away childish ways, and live in spiritual maturity in the freedom we have in Christ.
~Pastor Thomas Cusack