Saturday, August 27, 2016

Don't be a Hagar! - Galatians 4:19-31

Don't be a Hagar! - Galatians 4:19-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 28, 2015

In the annals of history no one wants to be remembered as a Wrong Way Corrigan who was an American aviator who after a transcontinental flight from Long Beach, California, to New York, flew from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Ireland, though his flight plan was filed to return to Long Beach. Nor do we want to be known as a Charlie Brown the cartoon character who falls for his friend Lucy's duplicitous football fakeouts or who always blows the neighborhood baseball game. And in the Bible we would not want to be equated with Hagar -- or, would we?

Paul in making his case to the Galatians has given them several examples of how they're going back to their old faith habits was headed spiritually in the wrong direction and now he gives them the example of Hagar. She was a handmaiden, servant, of Sarah Abraham's wife. Later after Sarah's scheming to circumnavigate God's plan Hagar becomes Abraham's concubine and gives birth to Ishmael, the father of the Ishmaelites who were and are still a thorn in Israel's side. Paul reminds the Galatians: Don’t be a Hagar! Let's discover why…

READ: Galatians 4:19-31

Few remember Corrigan was one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis or that Charlie Brown represents a steadfast constant in the cartoon lives of those around him, so what can the Galatians and we learn from Hagar? Well we discover that…

I. Hagar represents slavery! (Vv. 19-22)

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

  1. Paul addresses his readers as "My dear children" because he saw them as such. Babes in Christ who needed to be spiritually guided and guarded and interestingly he continues by relating that "for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you"! He begins his illustration by talking about childbirth and then goes into how Abraham and Sarah circumnavigated God's plan for their children! However Paul often felt this way for those whom he had brought to faith in Jesus. He related to the Roman Christians, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love… that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-17, 19 NIV) That was always Paul's desire for those he had birthed in Christ -- he wanted them to mature in Jesus! And so he goes on to tell them "how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!" Like any loving parent he was confused by his kid's behavior and so he asks them, "Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?" Of course they were aware but they had forgotten what it had meant for them so Paul sets up his discourse by reminding them, "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman." Which were they willing to be, a child of a slave or the child of a free woman? One carried no rights or privileges and the other was the heir of all Abraham had! In fact, Abraham's "son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise." Had they forgotten the promise of God to Abraham? Sarah was convinced she knew better than God and persuaded Abraham to join her in her mischief. Yet Hagar was a slave! Hagar represents slavery!

  EXAMPLE: There are few of us who would want to be slaves, however, when Gallup first asked Americans, "Do you, personally, believe in a God?" in 1944, 96% said they did. Between 94% and 98% of Americans said they believed in God in other surveys conducted through 1967. The same question was asked recently and 89% said they believe in God. And in another poll of those who had left Christianity 25% said they no longer believed in God or miracles. What does this tell us? 1) Too much easy believism is being taught, 2) less in depth discipleship is taking place, and 3) personal emotionalism is supplanting spiritual knowledge. Folks are not reading their Bibles. People therefore are willingly returning to spiritual slavery. For Paul Hagar represents slavery!

Interestingly when Mohammed was setting up Islam he did not like the idea that the people he was associated with, mainly Arabic tribes, were descendants of Ishmael. So like those who do not like certain aspects of their history, he simply changed it and made Ishmael Abraham's rightful heir and in the will of God. Yet actual history and events show otherwise. And here Paul tells the Galatians that…

II. Hagar represents the old contract! (Vv. 23-27)

These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."

  1. Like Jesus, Paul often used examples in order to make a spiritual point and so he admits that "These things may be taken figuratively", however there was a purpose "for the women represent two covenants." Paul wanted to get the attention of his readers immediately and he knew he would have with the example of Hagar he used. All Jews understood Hagar was a slave and suffered from her mistress' treatment and schemes. Yet, Hagar was not completely innocent; she became arrogant and prideful of her son and was disrespectful toward Sarah. Paul related that the "One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar." "What?!" would be his reader's response. Do not forget Paul was making an example by using a graphic illustration. Paul explains that "Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children." Those who willingly turned back to the Law of Moses instead of their faith in Christ were like the prideful slave woman Hagar! Wow! They were not children of the promise of God but spiritual slaves! As Hagar brought forth a slave, so does the Law. The real promise of God held a better outcome: "But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother." The fulfilled promise of God through Jesus produces better offspring fit for a heavenly realm! Children born of God not according to the faded enslavement of the law! Paul then quotes Isaiah who prophesied the changing fortunes of Israel under a new contract, "For it is written: 'Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.'" Captive Israel was spiritually barren but now enjoyed the rightful progeny of Sarah through Jesus! The new contract, covenant, was now made new through Jesus! Believers are children of the promise, the outcome of God's new contract. Hagar represents the old contract!

  EXAMPLE: The other day I had a phone call from a bank that wanted me to refinance my house. I was nice and patiently explained to them that I only have about a year and a half left on my home and that my interest rate was low. She was not about to give up and explained that their rates were at an all time low. So I asked her, "Do you think it would be wise for me to refinance my home when it is almost paid for at a low rate just so I could add more years to my loan?" She was stumped. I responded, "Neither do I" and hung up. Jesus is our contract that is fully paid, Hagar represents the old contract!

How would you like to find out that your parents were not your real parents? It has happened. Jesus related that there may come a time when some folks will discover that when they thought they were children of God he never knew them. Why, because they believed in the wrong thing: works over faith. You have to have the birth certificate; you must be born again. Paul relates…

III. We are not Hagar's children! (Vv. 28-31)

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

  1. Paul makes his conclusion plain by telling the Galatians, "Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise." They were not children of Hagar and should not want to be, instead like those of us who have trusted Jesus; they were "children of the promise"! Ishmael was born under normal circumstances while Isaac was born to a barren Sarah in fulfillment of God's promise! And Paul continued by reminding them again that "At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit." Had things changed? Nope! He related, "It is the same now." Nothing had changed so why were they going back to those "weak and miserable principles?" (v. 9) Paul compared Ishmael’s persecution of Isaac to the false teachers' who desired they go back into slavery. Least they forget Ishmael mocked Isaac (Genesis 21:8-9), laughing derisively at the younger boy; why would they want any part of that? Pau tacitly reminds his readers how Sarah saw what happened and had Abraham get rid of Hagar and her son and so he asks, "But what does the Scripture say? 'Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.'" Observing the Law of Moses no longer brought any inheritance to anyone! Trying to circumnavigate God's promise was like trying to become a part of someone's family simply by moving into their home without permission or approval! They were to "get rid" of anything that would enslave them again! Those who would falsely teach that salvation is by faith plus works should be thrown out! It is fundamentally incompatible for works of the Law and the grace of God to coincide, so Paul correctly concludes, "Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman." We are not Hagar's children!

  EXAMPLE: Have you ever noticed a family with unruly, whiny, or disrespectful kids and thought to yourself, "Man, I am glad I am not their parent!" Come on, you know you have. I know I have also noticed some parents who I am thankful that I was not their kid! You know what I mean; where every other word out of their mouth is profanity, where yelling is their solution to misbehavior, or where they continually plead with their kids to mind to no avail. Well you know what, I am glad along with Paul to know that we are not Hagar's children!

Conclusion:

Hagar represents slavery! Hagar represents the old contract! We are not Hagar's children!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where's your joy placed? - Galatians 4:13-18

Where's your joy placed? - Galatians 4:13-18
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 21, 2016

A lot of folks do not understand that there is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness can be fleeting while joy is more steadfast and sure, and in fact you can have joy even when everything around you in life is falling apart. Too much of today's world has confused joy with happiness. Lasting joy is not found in things. True joy that lasts not just a lifetime but forever is that which is found in a relationship, not in sinful people but in the one who gave everything to give you everlasting joy!

Paul understood this and did not want the Galatian church to be deceived or lured away by the false, shallow, and momentary happiness of the world around them. I know it is hard for some of you to believe but sometimes people have ulterior or hidden motives. They want your friendship, your vote, or your physical presence in order to satisfy their personal lust for power, greed, or pleasure. Paul not only understood human nature he understood the gospel as well. Paul was tacitly asking the Galatians, "Where's your joy placed?" Let's discover where ours is placed this morning…

READ: Galatians 4:13-18

The last verse (v. 12) belongs with the following verses where Paul related how he was received by the Galatians on his first visit to them as found in Acts 13-14 and he lets them know that…

I. Joy is found in other believers! (Vv. 13-14)

As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

  1. Evidently the Galatians had forgotten how when they had first heard the good news "they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." And in fact "The word of the Lord spread through the whole region." (Acts 13:48-49 NIV) In fact when Paul and Barnabas faced persecution by the very Jews who would pervert the Galatians joy, they just "shook the dust from their feet" and continued on "filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 13:50-52) When Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium "they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed" (Acts 14:1) and because of persecution they fled to Lystra and Derbe. Because of a healing they did there the crowds mistakenly thought they were Zeus and Hermes. "Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead." (Acts 14:19 NIV) So here Paul kindly reminds the Galatians, "As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you." Illness! They had tried to STONE him! However Paul continues by reminding them "Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn." Some think Paul could be referring to his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7) and perhaps it was his eyesight, if so it was because of those who tried to stone him in the first place! "Instead" Paul reminds them, "you welcomed me as if I were an angel (messenger) of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself!" Why would Paul say this? Because he knew that joy is found in other believers!

  EXAMPLE: Paul would write the Philippian church that they were to have the same attitude as that of Jesus. That " If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV) That is how believers are to behave toward one another! There is nothing more beautiful, nothing more powerful, and nothing more wonderful than when believers are pulling, praying, and encouraging one another! Some of the greatest joy I have had is in the toughest times of my life when fellow believers were praying for me and encouraging me to keep on keeping on in the Lord! Paul knew this to be true and would remind the Galatians that joy is found in other believers!

Our world so focuses on ourselves and how we feel that we often forget as believers that we are part of the body of Christ in the world. Christians physically and spiritually represent Jesus in a sin-fallen world! Joy is not found in what the body of Christ can do for you; joy is found in serving Jesus in the body of Christ! And Paul reminds the Galatians that…

II. Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from! (Vv. 15-16)

What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

  1. Perhaps Paul had suffered an injury to his eyesight in serving Jesus by being stoned by those he was trying to win to the gospel. And now those Paul had given his all for including perhaps his eyesight were "turning back to those weak and miserable principles"! How could they do such a thing? Paul is incredulous and asks them "What has happened to all your joy?" Where was their faith placed? Did they not remember what he had done for them; did they not remember what Jesus had done for them; and did they not remember what it meant to be the body of Christ in the world? At the time when Paul had witnessed to them and been with them they were more than willing to do whatever it took to serve Jesus! Paul writes, "I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me." Paul would write others, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us!" (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV) The Galatians, like many believers today, were focusing on the wrong thing! They wanted to be accepted, they wanted to feel good, they wanted three easy steps to being happy and successful! The Judaizers were whispering into their ears an easy believism of Jesus plus their guilt. It was ungodly then as it is now! Instead of coming to their senses they got offended and had hurt feelings. This is not what Jesus is about! A believer's joy is not lost because their feelings are hurt! Paul bluntly asks, "Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" Yet this is exactly how many believers in our day and age react when confronted with their sinful attitudes! "You took away my joy in the Lord, you are my enemy." Argh! Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from!

  EXAMPLE: I was incredulous as a new pastor that there were folks who considered themselves "Christian" who wanted to be treated with godly respect but who were unwilling to treat others the same way. Like the Galatians we can sometimes only think of ourselves first and to heck with everyone else forgetting that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28 NIV) They had become so focused on themselves and how they felt that they had left their joy in knowing Jesus behind. So much so that they were treating the very person, Paul, who had first introduced them to the very joy they now had lost! This is why Paul wanted to remind them that joy is found in recalling where joy comes from!

True joy in Jesus is not found in momentary worship on Sundays, regurgitating a stream of meaningless scriptural platitudes, or in trying to message one's guilty conscience. Jesus never taught his followers to "seek first your happiness and your well being and all the joyous things of God will be yours". Quite the contrary, we are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness because…

III. Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus! (Vv. 17-18)

Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you.

  1. Paul would not put up with phony piety from anyone because Paul knew that "such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." (Romans 16:18 NIV) In fact Peter would also have strong words for those who would lead astray sincere believers by saying that "These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:17-19 NIV) In a world where folks try to fill every waking moment with their own satisfaction it must be difficult to realize this is not what a walk with Jesus is all about. Paul put it into perspective for the Galatians when he told them, "Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good." The Judaizers were not interested in developing the Galatians in their faith, quite the contrary. In fact Paul related that "What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them." Paul did not have a problem with folks having strong feelings about God and tells them that "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you." Being zealous, having strong feelings is fine but it can lead the spiritually weak away from the importance of following Jesus by faith instead of emotions. The Galatians needed to be strong even when Paul was not there with them! Paul would tell the Philippians that "this my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ". Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: So much of Christianity focuses on the individual in our day that we could be accused of spiritual self-indulgence. While Jesus came to seek and save the lost, we can forget that this also includes others as well. Like the YouTube musical parody that depicts a worship leader singing, "It's all about me Jesus, it's all about me!" Christians can become spiritually confused when they focus on the wrong person, themselves instead of Jesus. Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

Conclusion:

Joy is found in other believers! Joy is found in recalling where joy comes from! Joy is being enthusiastic for Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

No turning back! - Galatians 4:8-12

No turning back! - Galatians 4:8-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 14, 2016

It is interesting to me how over the years I have met those who while they do not believe in God have sold themselves into other philosophies or people that in the balance of things are really rather odd. We live in the information age but it's as if critical thinking has gone out the window. Far too many fall prey to what "popular" opinion teaches rather than what reality truly is. A good example of this is when those who lean towards progressive thought claim conservatives are "Nazis". Nazis were socialist and politically progressive in their thinking; the problem arises when one does not know what the definitions of these terms are. As Forrest Gump's momma would say, "Stupid is as stupid does." My dad would say that "There is no turning back from being foolish."

The Greek-thinking Galatians were not only being influenced by Judaizers (those who supported Jesus plus the Mosaic Law) some were also turning back to their old gods. While many today realize that Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, and Athena are just mythical, made up, they readily give credence to the millions of Hindu gods, the atheism of Buddhism, or the false philosophies of agnostics, Latter Day Saints, Islam, or Jehovah's Witnesses. Why would anyone turn back to myths or things that were manmade? Paul did not understand this either and let's discover what he taught about how there is no turning back...

READ: Galatians 4:8-12

Contrary to our politically correct thinking, there is only one way to the God. Paul knew this as well and wanted the Galatians to understand…

I. There is no turning back to false gods! (Vv. 8-9)

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

  1. Sometimes folks need to be brought back to reality when they are considering doing something really stupid. The Galatians were in this kind of a situation and Paul was not going to allow them to do something that could harm or weaken their faith in Jesus. And so Paul reminds them that "Formerly" in their past before accepting Jesus, they "did not know God" and in fact they "were slaves to those who by nature are not gods." The gods they had trusted before were so much wood, stone, metal or clay. Before their conversion to Jesus and religious freedom they had been enslaved to manmade statues! Now there are those in our day who equate Jesus with the same false gods as a myth. However, we know historically, through archeology, and through personal eyewitness testimony that Jesus truly existed and did what he did! There is no mythos there. In fact the vast majority of academia understands that Jesus was a real person who walked this earth, taught what he did, and changed the world because of his message. Just because someone today wants to yell "Jesus is not real" or "God is dead" the actual truth is quite different. It is like yelling there was no such thing as the moon landing or the vapor trails jets leave behind are mind-altering chemicals. Science, reason, and evidence declare otherwise. The Galatians had left behind those pieces of wood, clay, stone and metal for a living Jesus! And so Paul writes them "But now that you know God" and also that they were "known by God--how is it that [they were] turning back to those weak and miserable principles?" The wording here means they intrinsically fundamentally knew and were completely known by God! They had heard the gospel from Paul himself, had believed it, and experienced it as well! Why then would they want to go "back to those weak and miserable principles?" They were giving up on Jesus and turning back to false gods! Paul asks them, "Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" Paul understood that there is no turning back to false gods!

  EXAMPLE: I remember telling a man that he had willingly "given up on Jesus". He had graduated from a Christian seminary, fell for a Mormon girl and left the teachings he knew to be true because he had gotten her pregnant. He was ashamed but I encouraged him that God loved him and to come back to what he knew to be true. Paul would be extremely blunt to the Corinthian Church about their wanting to turn back to false gods when he wrote them, "Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons." (1 Corinthians 10:19-21 NIV) He would tell them, "We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 NIV)  For Paul there is no turning back to false gods!

In our day and age we have been so poorly influenced by "correct" thinking and those who want you to falsely reason that finding the middle ground is actually a good thing. If you think this is wise when was the last time you compromised and let a restaurant serve you food that was served to someone else the day before? Most folks would not be so foolish and Paul wanted the Galatians to understand that…

II. There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned! (Vv. 10-12)

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.

  1. For Paul the proof of their compromise was in the pudding of what they had actually been doing. He writes, "You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!" The Galatians actions smacked of wanting to be liked by their "homies", their peers in their old way of life rather than following their faith in Jesus. The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that "They kept special days (weekly Sabbaths), and months (new moons), and seasons (seasonal festivals such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles), and years (sabbatical and jubilee years)." However they were probably also celebrating the festivals of their old paganism. They just could not let go. They would rather be accepted by their old friends than live for the Lord! There are those who constantly flirt with ungodly behavior in order to be accepted by the world. John would teach, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15 NIV) And Paul further reiterated to others that "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) Paul therefore was kind of disgusted with the spiritual weakness of the Galatians and how they were way too willing to give up their faith and go back to idols! He bluntly tells them, "I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you." Remember how Paul had asked them if they were "so foolish" back in chapter three and if they had actually "suffered so much for nothing" (Vv. 3-4)? So he intensifies his argument and writes, "I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong." Paul had become just like them after his conversion, leaving the Law of Moses and following Jesus by faith. He became just like the Galatians he addressed. For Paul there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

  EXAMPLE: One of the greatest compromises that promised peace but brought about the deaths of millions and the enslavement, torture, and imprisonment of millions of others was when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed a peace pact with Nazi Germany and declared it provided "peace in our time". While perhaps in some instances of marriage, raising children as parents, or finding a way out of a mutually disastrous situation compromise may be called for, but in spiritual things, never. One cannot compromise their faith and think it works for good. Even a little sin is ungodly. Paul understood this and this is why he taught that there is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

Conclusion:

There is no turning back to false gods! There is no compromise where Jesus is concerned!

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

God's children! - Galatians 4:1-7

God's children! - Galatians 4:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 7, 2016

What rights do children have? Some would say, "Way too many!" while others would declare, "Not enough!" Yet how the ancient world saw children is quite different from our modern day perception of every child being an "honored child". This might be kind of shocking to our sensitive ears but children were considered a kind of property and in some cases they were seen only as a means to establish a heritage. By today's standards and how overprotective some parents are you might say, "We've come a long way baby!"

Paul had just gotten through establishing the fact that we "are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus". However what did this mean for the Galatian believers and for us today? Some mistakenly think that everyone is a "child of God" simply because they exist and while we are all created in the image of God we are not all children of God. This rather odd idea comes from the movies and TV rather than actual Biblical theology. Do any of you remember the TV show Touched by an Angel? It should have been called Tainted by a Heresy instead because while it was cute it wasn't biblical in any way shape or form. While we are all created in God's image we are not all children of God no matter how many soft-spoken grandmother types tell us so. Paul wanted his readers to fully understand what this meant for their lives to be God's children. Let discover what Paul meant…

READ: Galatians 4:1-7

In the first two chapters of his letter Paul established the divine origin of his apostleship and his message. Then he turns to the fact that the Law could do nothing for us now that Christ had come. We are saved by faith not works and when we believe we become God's children and in fact…

I. As God's children we are no longer illegitimate children! (Vv. 1-3)

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.

  1. Paul wanted to explain to his readers exactly why the Law of Moses no longer had any effect on our lives and how when we place our faith in Jesus we become God's children. Since he was speaking about the Law of God he used a legal illustration. He writes, "What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave". Before any child was of age in the ancient world they were considered completely under the control of their parents and so were seen no more different than "a slave". Why, because like a slave they had no rights in the ancient world. And "although he owns the whole estate" in that he would inherit everything, he was still seen as a child without any privileges of an adult! In fact Paul goes further and related that "He is subject to guardians and trustees"! Like a slave the child could not make any decision for their own lives. They were constantly watched over, guided by, and "subject to [their] guardians and trustees until the time set by his father." The parent would establish a will, a contract, a testament securing his heir's authority and future authority. Paul then brings it back to what this means for us as believers and to where the Galatians were falsely headed by reminding them, "So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world." Most of us and probably most of the Galatians were never Hebrews however they did understand the basic law, "the basic principles of the world". Until a child came of age as a son, which varied in the Jewish, Greek and Roman societies they had to follow these principles. Under Roman law the age of maturity for a child was set by his father and involved a ceremonial donning of a special toga and his formal acknowledgement as son and heir. But now because of Jesus we become God's children and heirs by faith in him! Therefore, as God's children we are no longer illegitimate children!

  EXAMPLE: Sometimes adopted children can wonder if they were ever loved by their birth parents. It can be a very real concern for them. In fact some can grow up doubting themselves because they think that there must have been something wrong with them in the first place for their parent to want to give them up. Instead of focusing on the love of the ones who gave up everything to adopt them, they focus on the wrong thing. This can be true in the lives of Christians as well. Far too often folks can focus so much on wondering if they have to do something in order to please God or to be worthy of his love. And God resoundingly tells us by his testimony to us. He loved us so much that he sent us his son that we might become his children! As God's children we are no longer illegitimate children!

Sadly, sometimes even in the most loving families there can be children who grow up feeling like they do not belong or are lost in the shuffle. When one is adopted usually the adoptive parents desire and desperately want to make the child feel loved and accepted. How wonderful then to know that…

II. As God's children we receive all the rights of being his child! (Vv. 4-7)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

  1. The answer to any law is to know the law and to have a good advocate or lawyer on your side. The old contract had been fulfilled and now there is a new one being enforced. In fact the old contract expired when the new one was implemented! This is why Paul wrote that "when the time had fully come, God sent his Son". Just as a human father during Paul's day chose when his son was ready to receive his full rights and authority as an adult so God chose the time for Jesus to come into the world to transition us from the old law and into being children of God by faith! God's timing is always perfect! Our advocate has arrived! "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." When we become children of God through our faith in Jesus we receive every good thing God has to offer. That is what grace is all about because we do not deserve any of the inheritance he gives us! Jesus paid the price, he "redeemed" us and made us part of the family! Yet there is more to it than just that, Paul relates that now "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" God sent Jesus to be our advocate (lawyer), to pay the price of our redemption, and to give us his Spiritual seal which allows us to see God as our "Abba Father"! Our Papa God! Wow! We have the full rights of being God's children and enjoy all the benefits of the Holy Spirit living in us! Like a legal document that has been stamped by a special notary we are signed, sealed, and delivered by God because of our faith in his Son! The entire Trinity is at work! Paul relates, "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." Now I do not know about you but I am excited to receive all I can from God as his child. As God's children we receive all the rights of being his child!

  EXAMPLE: We have no reason to wonder if God loves us or not. We have no reason to ever doubt his devotion to us. We have no reason to ever think we are illegitimate children in any way shape or form. The beautiful wonderful truth is that we are fully adopted into God's family because of our faith in his Son and we have the living proof of his Sprit living in us! Paul would write the Roman church: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." (Romans 8:15-16 NIV) So stop wondering if God loves you, stop living in fear because you are his child, and stop doubting that you are good enough because if you have accepted his Son as your Savior you are his child and as God's children we receive all the rights of being his child!

Conclusion:

As God's children we are no longer illegitimate children! As God's children we receive all the rights of being his child! Are you a child of God?

This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.