Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: In God's plan to bring many sons to glory, there is a definite process that cannot be short-circuited.
Introduction: There is, in our latter day, a relatively popular movement that is rooted in the teaching that, in order to live effectively with joy, one must "count upon one's 'identity' as revealed in the Bible". The idea is that one can address the joylessness of life by reminding oneself of his/her identity as, in the Galatian terminology, an heir of the promises made to Abraham.
However, as we will see in our study this evening, this is a false approach to the problem of a joyless experience. Paul had a much better grasp of reality and, in Galatians 4, he determined to address the issue(s) of how to live more effectively. One of his first declarations has to do with the fact that a "joyful life" is the product of a particular process that is never by-passed.
Thus, we are beginning a new study of a new paragraph in what the editors of our Bibles considered to be a new chapter. The issue with which we are faced immediately in this study is Paul's declaration of reality in regard to "life as an heir".
June 10, 2012
- I. At the Root of Paul's Reality is a Definitive "Hope".
- A. The phrase at the end of 4:1 is "though he be lord of all".
- B. The phrase at the end of 4:2 is "until the time appointed of the father".
- C. Both of these phrases indicate a particular experience at a particular time.
- 1. The experience is entering into what it means to be "lord of all".
- a. Being able to live as "lord of all" ultimately boils down to one thing: the exercise of an undisputed authority over "all".
- 1) Most of the time "all" has definitive boundaries that preclude "all" without boundaries.
- a) Paul's perception of God and His creation is that there are limits to every "all" so that not even God is without boundaries.
- b) Within Paul's concept of "inheritance" the "all" means everything within the boundaries that are intrinsic to the "lord".
- 2) In Paul's illustration, "all" simply means "all of the issues of a 'house'".
- b. What this actually means rests entirely upon the word "undisputed".
- 1) There are two realms of dispute: external and internal.
- 2) The more important of the two is the internal one wherein one is at peace with himself.
- 2. The time is a future date determined by another who actually acts as "lord of all".
- D. The "point" is that Paul understands that having a significant realm of authority to act is an integral aspect of "Life" from God's definition and that God is holding that possibility out to the readers of Paul's letter.
- II. The Reason the Issue Is "Hope" is the Reality of Childishness.
- A. The child's identity as "lord of all" is overridden by the reality of the child's "childishness".
- B. The Problem With Being an Heir: Childishness.
- 1. At issue in all of the Scriptures is one item: the quality of a person's experience in his/her present existence as it bleeds over into a fixed and final state.
- a. In Paul's argument, an "heir" receives an "inheritance".
- 1) The issue of an inheritance is the issue of "final state".
- 2) The issue of an inheritance is also the issue of a delay in the experience that goes with the inheritance received.
- b. In Paul's argument, present sufferings can be turned into future advantages (3:4).
- 1) The whole idea of present sufferings is the idea of a less than desirable present experience.
- 2) The rationale for present sufferings is for an enormously desirable future and final experience. [Even those who argue against any rationale for "suffering" will voluntarily go under the knife in hope that the pain will significantly improve one's future experience.]
- c. In Paul's argument, the critical factor in present suffering in view of future blessedness is a believing perspective.
- 1) In addressing the question of whether sufferings will produce a good end result, the entire point is that one needs the right facts and a legitimate logic.
- 2) In addressing the issue of right facts and legitimate logic, the bottom line is an after-the-facts conviction of truthfulness.
- 2. At issue in Paul's insertion of "childishness" are two realities: no one comes upon the necessary facts and logic quickly or easily, nor does the proper "conviction" automatically follow the facts/logic issues.
- a. As long as one is a "child", he/she will "think as a child" (1 Corinthians 13:11).
- b. There are no guarantees that "time" and "exposure to reality" will move a person beyond "childishness".
- 1) The "facts" are confused by deceptions.
- 2) The "logic" is corrupted by false objectives.
- 3) The ability to "believe" is often frustrated by fears so that "there is no reasoning with" the "child".
- c. But the possibilities exist that "time" and "exposure to reality" will become the tools of the Spirit of God to address these significant hurdles.
- C. The Solution to "Childishness" is "Forced Compliance Over Time".
- 1. The issues are three: servanthood; guardianship; and management.
- a. All three have one root: the lack of the "freedom" to set, or pursue, the agenda.
- b. Servants are clearly under someone else's authority and power.
- c. The term "guardian" is used only three times in the entire New Testament and every time the issue is one of significant "overlord" responsibilities as an "underLord" (Matthew 20:8 and Luke 8:3) [in other words, a "guardian" is an upper level servant in a system of tiered servants/tasks].
- d. The term "manager" is more readily used in the New Testament and is not significantly different from a "guardian" in terms of location within the tiered system, but has a significant focus that does not show up under the "guardian" terminology.
- 1) The issue of a "manager" is the issue of being held accountable: 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (Luke 12:42 and 16:1-8).
- 2) The use of "manager" after "guardian" implies the "tier" within the household wherein the "guardian" is the primary "underLord" who has delegated various "managers" to take care of the specific issues of their particular area of responsibility.
- e. Paul's "point" is that the "lord of all" is a "slave" to slaves.
- 2. As a "slave to slaves", a "child" is compelled to do a host of things that may, or may not, fit into the child's views of "things I want to do".
- 3. This "forced compliance" has the possibility of character formation and the development of wisdom.