Gal 3:21-29; 4:1-11
God’s adopting grace is a beautiful truth and expression of His love that He displays to each and every one of us who are children of God…..the sons and daughters of God. What we have seen over the past few months is….
- We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
- We are justified, we are right (standings) before God the Judge.
- We adopted into His grace by His love alone.
Again as a reminder! God sent His Son so that we might receive the position of sons/daughters. Adoption required someone who comes at the right time. Adoption requires someone who possesses the right qualifications. Adoption requires someone who has the right resolution. By doing this God sent His Spirit so that we might experience the wonderful privileges as sons and daughters.
This means…..We live with NEW identities before a holy God. We know get to taste and enjoy intimacy with God. We are assured and guaranteed an inheritance from a holy God. But! Before all this happened, something was wrong, not with the Triune God, but with us! You were a slave to sin, before God the Father adopted you though the grace of the gospel. Why do I say that? (v21-v24). What is the purpose of the Law if it cannot save us? What purpose does the Law serve then? If salvation has always been by faith and never through our merit of good works. If the covenant promise of Abraham was fulfilled in Jesus, what purpose did the Law have? The Law was and is intended to reveal sin in its true character as transgression towards a holy God. The Law shows the depth of man’s transgression against God. Sin existed before the Law, but man did not recognize it as transgression until the Law came. “Transgression” is a violation of known Law. (v19)
Paul said this in Rom 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” We read in Rom 7:12-18 the battle we all face “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. You know what you’re to do and you don’t do it….because you can’t apart from the finished work of Christ on the cross who became a curse for us and the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. Until Christ came we were all blind to our lawless deeds and sins before a holy God. Like this illustration I came across! “In 1992, a Los Angeles County parking control officer came upon a Cadillac illegally parked next to the curb on street-sweeping day. The officer obediently wrote out a ticket. Ignoring the man seated at the driver’s wheel, the officer reached inside the open car window and placed the $30 citation on the dashboard. The driver of the car made no excuses. No argument ensued-and with good reason. The driver of the car had been shot in the head ten to twelve hours before but was sitting up, stiff as a board, slumped slightly forward…..He was dead. The officer, preoccupied with ticket-writing, was unaware of anything out of the ordinary. He got back in his car and drove away.”
Many people are unaware to the fact that many are ‘dead in transgressions and sins.’ What should catch our attention most is their need, not their offenses. They don’t need a citation; they need a Savior.” The Law reveals our desperate need of a Savior. The Law is meant to show men what hopeless sinners we are without Christ. The Law reveals our hopeless state so that we would cry out to God to save us from our selfish destructive ways. The Law demonstrates the unworthiness of man to receive free and unconditional blessing…for man to be to blessed it must be by the good grace of God. The Law as Paul said is our “Guardian” until Christ came. (v24) Other translations say “Tutor or Schoolmaster”
What does that mean Guardian, Tutor or schoolmaster? The law has never saved anyone, and it never will. God did not give it to redeem us from sin but to show us our need of salvation. That's why the apostle Paul called it "our tutor." This is a better translation of the word. The word “tutor” in the Greek is “paidagogos” was more than just a teacher or schoolmaster as other translations go. But rather a slave employed by Greek or Roman families whose duty was to supervise young boys in behalf of their parents. John MacArthur said this in his commentary “they took their young charges to and from school, made sure they studied their lessons, and trained them in obedience. They were strict disciplinarians, scolding and whipping as they felt necessary.” Paul told the Corinthian believers we often behaved like spoiled children. 1 Cor 4:14-15 “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Because as a tutor the Corinthian believers were warned about this! “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” 1 Cor 4:21. We even read in the Old Testament the importance of the rod. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” Prov 23:13
The Hebrew writer said this “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
Heb 12:6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Heb 12:4-8
See a tutor plays a big part in one’s life. The duty of a tutor was never permanent…it was a great day when a boy finally gained freedom from his tutor, guardian, schoolmaster. Understand the purpose of the tutor was to take care of the child only until he grew into adulthood. And as John MacArthur said “though the two of them might remain close and friendly, the tutor having completed his assignment, had no more authority or control over the child.” As I’ve said already the sole purpose of the Law to lead men to Christ, that we might be justified through His adopting grace. The law was our custodian to bring us to Christ. And having been brought into a right relationship through Christ Jesus, and relying on Him alone for justification and salvation, we become sons of God. Because we have been purchased from the slave market of grace as we put on Christ (26)
What does these mean for us His adopted children? If the Law doesn’t save us and it’s our tutor that points us to Christ and our desperate need of His grace. What does this mean for us?
We are baptized in Christ (v27)
This is a beautiful picture of immersion into the life of Christ. This is what water baptism symbolizes and signifies. As Paul wrote “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Rom 6:3-4. Keeping in mind that Paul is addressing Judaizers and confused believers when he said “baptized into Christ.” Paul talks about the picture of baptism, which in certain ways replaces circumcision. See baptism is an important identifying marker of the Christian. Paul was in no way saying that you must baptize in order to be saved. Or speaking of Spirit Baptism that one receives at the point of salvation. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” 1 Cor 12:13. What he was saying is this…….baptism is an outward picture (expression) of an inward reality.
That reality being, a transforming identification with Christ. Baptism plays a very important part in one’s transformation. Why do I say that! Baptism is not just an optional thing to consider. If you are a follower of Christ, this is an extremely important step of obedience. Baptism is public expression to Christ’s leadership and authority over ones life. It’s not necessary in order to be saved, but it is a fruit of obedience commanded by God. And Jesus said to the Apostles (leaders) "…All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matt 28:18-20
We are clothed with Christ (v27)
Paul speaks of putting on Christ like a garment. In the Old Testament culture, when you passed from childhood into manhood and received your full rights as a son, you would literally put on different clothes. The rule applies to us (those) who are God’s sons and daughters “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Col 3:1-10. Paul also said “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’ Eph 4:24. Our old self in Adam is removed and discarded when we become new by faith in Christ. You are His adopted children………..Now Talk, Live, and Walk like It.
We are united in Christ (v28)
There are so many barriers that separated people in the first century…and sadly these are barriers that still separate people today. This refereeing to ethnic and racial barriers….in this time frame, the Jews and the Greeks. Jews considered anyone outside their camp unclean and not worthy of fellowship. This is why the Judaizers were telling them that they need to become like them in circumcision. They never understood the freedom and unity we have in Christ. For us! Experiencing unity in Christ is one of the greatest joys especially when you’re on vacation or visiting a different country. To attend another bible believing church somewhere else, is wonderful to worship with other believers who are hidden in Christ. Traveling around the globe or on vacation there are so many differences that would separate us:
- Different political views
- You approach life differently
- You might speak a different language
- Eat differently
But one thing unites all of God’s sons and daughters….the bond we have in Christ. See! It’s not a socially, politically, or economically manufactured unity……it’s a unity that comes from each person being in Christ. Our union in Christ automatically establishes our genuine communion with other genuine Christians. Not one of us is better or worse, we all need grace and we find it in Christ alone.
We each belong to Christ (v29)
Do you realize what Paul is saying here in (v29) “And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”
We belong to…..
We belong to Christ. We live new identities in Christ and that brings an intimacy with God. Why do I say that? By what we read in Gal 4:6 “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" See before this happened we were held captive by God’s Law. Apart from Christ, we were held prisoners by the Law….meaning locked up in sin and death. We were slaves under the elemental forces of this world……but know everything has changed. (Gal 4:3) “Abba Father” It was a term of endearment used by young children of their father and could be translated “daddy” or “papa”. We also see this expression being used in Romans 8:13-16 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God," This is what the Holy Spirit does for the son or daughter of God. Bringing us into a personal intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father whom we may approach at any time, under any circumstance knowing He always hears us and lovingly cares for us. You and I had a tutor set in place before the foundations of the world. For some of you it came quick and relatively painless. For others like me, it took 30 years of discipline and correction to see the desperate need for a Savior. And I saw that need, when He adopted me by His grace into His family through the gospel.
My Sunday question is this! Who here is still under the authority of the tutor? Because the answer to that question is the adopting grace of God. Stop fighting and come home. Humble yourself at the feet of the Christ and repent and believe as the prodigal son did when he returned.