by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8 July 29, 2012 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(193)Thesis:The "Abba-son-heir" logical progression is specifically designed to move us so far into the realms of "Grace" that we no longer feel any "need" to put distance between us and God.
Introduction:It is clear from a casual perusal of the two paragraphs of Galatians 3:25-29 and Galatians 4:1-7 that Paul is repeating himself. It is obvious that he is addressing the believer's freedom from "Law" and that this "freedom" is underwritten by the actions of God and the individual's confidence in those actions as both sufficient and effective (3:26 -- we are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus ... 4:4-5 -- God apostelized His Son so that we might receive the adoption of sons).
Thus, we have to ask ourselves what emphatic point Paul was attempting to make in the psyche of his readers. What is so "big" that it needs a "double-whammy" to put it in its place?
I. The Issue of Inheritance is Obviously the "Big" Answer.
A. There is an easily followed progression.
1. First, "you are no longer a servant" is deliberately tied to the outcome of being subjected to demanding taskmasters (explained in 3:24) until the day of "adoption".
2. Second, "you are a son" is deliberately tied to the result of "adoption" out of the ranks of the slaves.
3. Third, "you are an heir" is the next logical progression from "sonship".
B. This makes "being an heir" the big point just as it was in 3:29.
1. In the prior paragraph that ends in our "being heirs", at issue was whether, or not, we would be allowed to participate in the "promises" of "The Promise".
2. On the whole, this is the "carrot" -- the appealing scenario that pulls us in the direction of "remaining in the grace of God".
3. In the current paragraph that ends in our "being heirs", at issue is whether, or not, we have been removed from "the curse of being slaves under law".
4. On the whole, this is the "stick" -- the scary scenario that drives us in the direction of "remaining in the grace of God".
C. This means, then, that the "Big" Answer is that God has made us "heirs" so that we are not to be subjected to the awful disaster of "Justice Applied", but are, rather, given an inheritance in the eternal Life of God.
II. So What is the "Big" Problem?
A. Without dispute, the big problem was originally addressed in 1:6 as a departure from God.
B. Equally indisputable is the fact that the next paragraph of Paul's letter addresses the marvel of 1:6 in terms of "turning again to weak and beggarly elements" (4:9).
C. Thus, in both cases we should be able to see something that "drives" the problem.
1. In the case of 1:6, as it is then developed by the apostle, the issue seems to be a lack of confidence in the "apostleship" of the apostle.
a. Such a loss of confidence automatically leads to a lack of confidence in the "message" of that "apostle".
b. Putting the focus upon the "message", then, automatically means that "salvation by grace through faith" is no longer deemed legitimate/desirable.
2. In the case of our current context, the issue seems to be a lack of confidence in the heart of the description of God and His actions on our behalf.
a. No one turns to other "elements" unless he/she sees a flaw in the current "element".
b. Paul's answer to this boils down to a specific characterization of God as "Abba".
1) This is not a widely used term in the New Testament, but its uses all point to the same realities: a particularly terrifying scenario on the horizon met by a particularly comforting fact about "God" (Mark 14:36 and Romans 8:15).
2) This characterization of God specifically means that a person has reverted to being a helpless child in need of a potent parent who loves him/her.
3. The two contexts boil down to one major "driver" of the problem: the fear that the message of the grace of God is simply not true.
a. We know the issue is "grace" because Paul deliberately phrases his "heir" terminology in terms of dia + the genitive (the identification of the effective agent).
b. We know the issue is fear of the failure of hope because that is the only "weak link" in the entire concept.
1) Paul's argument that God has made "apostolic" provisions is indisputable in terms of the impact those provisions will make for a certain kind of person.
2) The only "exclusionary" element in the entire message of the indisputable impacts is the fact that those impacts will not/can not be applied to anyone who does not "believe" in the One Who has committed to providing such an inheritance.
D. Thus we conclude that the "Big Problem" is a deeply seated fear that God is not really an "Abba" and the "Big Answer" is that He is.