Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: The actual experience of "the day set by the father" begins when a person breaks free from being in bondage under the elements of the world.
Introduction: In Paul's attempt to get the Galatians back on track so that they can live "by grace through faith", he pulled up an analogy from the culture wherein a child, who was a legitimate heir of the household's privileges, was held in "slavery" until the work of the slaves over him/her had accomplished its purpose of bringing a sufficient maturity in the child so that the father could turn the responsibilities and privileges of the household over to him/her.
By doing this, he set up a potential misunderstanding because of the general New Testament teaching that when a person is justified "by grace through faith" he is "born" into the family of God and is a baby who needs the "milk" doctrines of the Word of God in order to grow into maturity. Rarely does anyone think that faith in the Gospel is the final step of maturation; most everyone sees it as the first step. But, Paul's text in Galatians 4 is unambiguous in its declaration that it is redemption that qualifies a person for transitioning out of the bondage of an heir under guardians and managers (NASB terminology) so that he/she can be given the gift of the Spirit and allowed to take his/her place as a son who is no more a servant (4:7). Paul definitively told the Galatians in their significant spiritual immaturity that they were "no more" servants, "but" sons and heirs.
This evening we are going to attempt to understand Paul's words so that we can see the significance of his analogy.
June 17, 2012
- I. Understanding the "We" Who "Were Children".
- A. The Bible is clear that no individual is a "child" of God who has not been delivered from his/her bondage under Sin by faith in the Person and Work of Jesus, the Christ.
- B. Therefore, to understand Paul's cultural analogy we have to understand that he sees "the heir who is a slave, under other slaves" as some form of "a child of the father" who has not been given the privileges and responsibilities of a "lord over all".
- 1. To grasp his meaning, we have to see what he is saying in two particular issues.
- a. First, he pointedly says that it is the point of redemption that allows the "adoption of sons" that, then, leads to the giving of the Spirit so that the period of servanthood it over.
- b. Second, he deliberately makes a distinction between the "we" who were redeemed from under the Law and the "ye" who are Galatian sons.
- 2. The only way this analogy works is if there is a "son" who was under the Law, but was delivered into the adoption of sons by redemption.
- a. The problem here is that, typically, we do not see anyone as a "son of the Father" who is not yet "redeemed".
- b. The solution seems to be Paul's typical theological practice of seeing all things under the "unity" thesis.
- 1) For Paul all of humanity was "one" in Adam and redemption creates a new "oneness" of a regenerated humanity in Christ (this is the argument of Romans 5).
- 2) In our context, there are only two human beings who were actual recipients of the promises: Abraham and his single Seed.
- 3) In order to come into the blessings and privileges of the promises, particular individuals must enter into Christ by "baptism" (not of water, but by the Spirit) so that they, because they are now "in Christ", get to experience the impact of the promises made to Christ.
- 4) The point is this: the only time in history that there was a "son" of the Father who had not been trained so as to arrive at the point of "adoption" was the time when "Israel" was the "son".
- a) This makes the nation, the son.
- b) This does not make the individuals in the nation sons.
- c) It was the nation that was subjected to the Law that leads to bondage so that the plans for the "sonship" of the nation could develop.
- d) Because of the confusion, Paul argued in Romans 9:6 that there has always been an Israel within national Israel that was made up of those individuals who had personally experienced what the nation experienced because they "believed".
- e) The point is this: Israel, as God's son, was placed under Law so that it could be brought to Christ so that Paul can use national Israel as his analogy in our text.
- II. Understanding the Bondage.
- A. In a nutshell, the bondage is a lifeless forced compliance under threat of death.
- B. The point: there is no life in bondage.
- III. Paul's Point: It is at the Point of Faith That a Person Receives the Basis for Life.
- A. At issue is one fact: all is "by grace through faith"; nothing is improved by "Law".
- B. This means that the initial "lesson of maturity" is the only such lesson; it never gets any easier, nor does it ever get any harder.
- C. Thus, the initiation into the adoption of sons is also the culmination: the Spirit always responds to faith and never responds to "law".