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Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 4:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: From what does the heir not differ, as long as he is a child (Galatians 4:1)? Under whose authority must he continue (Galatians 4:2)? What does Galatians 4:3 call the outward ceremonies of the Mosaic code? What does he say that his people (“we”) were, as long as they were under this code? What does Galatians 4:4 call the time that the Father had appointed (cf. verse 2)? Whom did God send forth? Of whom was the Son born? Under what did this place Him? Why did the Son have to be born under the law (Galatians 4:5)? Into what age did this bring the church? Whom has God sent forth in this age (Galatians 4:6)? Into where did God send Him? What does He do there? What is the status of someone who has the Spirit in this way (Galatians 4:7)? And if this is his status, what has he become through Christ? 
In next week’s epistle reading, the apostle is urging the Galatians not to go into slavery on account of the false teaching of the Judaizers. Paul himself is a Jew, and identifies with the Jewish nation. But, he does not have romantic notions about the specialness of the Mosaic system.

In this passage, the apostle presents the Mosaic system as a basic (elements) structure set up in earthly/outward (of the world) things, that God set up for a specific use during a specific time. During that time, Paul says, the Jews were receiving the “slave” treatment. This was not so bad a thing, if you had a perfect Master—better to be a slave in God’s household than a son in any other one!

But, the point was not to keep them slaves, but to prepare them to cry out “Abba,” once the adoption in Christ had gone through, and the Spirit had entered their hearts.

Yes, God had appointed the law, but He’s now given something so much better than the law. Look at the “sent forth” statements of Galatians 4:4 and Galatians 4:6. First, God sent forth His Son. To be One of us, under the law. God sent forth His Son to be One of us!! Then, God sent forth His Spirit. To be in our hearts and cry out from within our hearts. God sent forth His Son’s Spirit into our hearts!!

Yes, Old Testament believers had to be made alive by the Spirit to be saved by believing in Jesus prospectively, looking forward to His coming. But they did not have the experiential knowledge of being united to God the Son, or being indwelt by His Spirit who trains our hearts to cry, “Abba.”

So, when the false teachers were presenting the Galatians with the idea of having their identity wrapped up in keeping the ceremonies that had looked forward to Christ, what they were really doing was distracting them from the far superior realities that had been brought in by Christ Himself. To use the language of this passage: a return to a ceremonial-style church is a choice to live like a slave, even after you’ve come into your inheritance.

Why would anyone do that? There is no doubt that they do. Even where men are not returning to God’s own traditions from the Mosaic law, they are often amassing their own earthly traditions that make up the essence of their Christianity. The fact of the matter is that union with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit are things that are only experienced by living faith that must be given and sustained supernaturally by God. Externals, being the elementary principles that they are, have a much broader appeal and are more under our control to maintain. There is no real waiting upon God necessary in them, and they allow us to make ourselves feel and look like things are well with us.

But they’re slavery. Far better to wait upon God Himself to give us the blessed experience of union with Christ and the work of His indwelling Spirit—employing His means alone, and waiting upon Him for when and to what extent we will enjoy their effectiveness. Let us no longer be slaves but sons—heirs of God through Christ!
What are some manmade traditions that have arisen in the churches? By what means has God commanded us instead to enjoy the realities of adoption in Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

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