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Summary: Pentecost 6(C) - Believers are heirs according to God’s promise. We learn that God’s law makes sinners prisoners but it is our Lord that makes sinners his children.

BELIEVERS ARE HEIRS ACCORDING TO GOD’S PROMISE

July 16, 2006 - PENTECOST 6 - Galatians 3:22-29

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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Friends in Christ:

Sometime during our lifetime we probably have received an inheritance. Maybe at this time in our lives we are looking at writing out our own will doling out those things that others might expect as their inheritance. Maybe we are still hopeful that we might have some inheritance that we don’t even know about. In any case an inheritance is something that many people often hope for. An inheritance can be very valuable according to the world, or it can be a very sentimental thing and not have much worldly value. In the end if anyone receives an inheritance, it means that they have gotten something that they probably did not deserve. In the least an inheritance means a person has gotten something that is more than what one had before.

Today, our text talks about the eternal inheritance that God has provided us. It is something that we have not deserved. It is an inheritance that we could not earn for ourselves. It is far greater than any inheritance we might receive on earth. Paul describes it in Titus when he says: "(God our Savior...saved us), so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7). That is our inheritance. We have, as God’s inheritance yet to come and which is guaranteed already, the hope of eternal life. That is what gets us through these tough days here on earth. We look forward to the inheritance that is stored up for each one of us in heaven for eternity. We want to consider these words in Galatians with that thought as Paul says at the end:

BELIEVERS (WE) ARE HEIRS ACCORDING TO GOD’S PROMISE. This is an inheritance for us. We remind ourselves that:

I. The law makes sinners prisoners, and;

II. The Lord makes sinners children.

I. THE LAW MAKES SINNERS PRISONERS

Make no mistake that what Paul writes here is to emphasize the difference between the devastating effect of the law and the power of Christ through the Gospel. So he says in verse 23: "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners of the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." A very vivid picture, isn’t it? Paul says we were held as prisoners, put into jail and locked up and the key was thrown away because of God’s law. The law is not able to save anybody. Instead, the law locks up people as prisoners when it says to people, "You are a sinner, and you can’t save yourself. Do this and don’t do that." The law has the world locked up as prisoners.

That is how our text began, too, in verse 22: "But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin." There is no escape from it. Everyone is born into this world with sin as part of his or her inheritance. Adam and Eve sinned. Since that first sin, they passed on that sin to everyone. Scripture reminds us that we are not born into this world as neutral, and even though babies are born so cute and cuddly, but as enemies of God, sinful from the very beginning. They are prisoners of sin. Why is Paul emphasizing that? Well, remember the conflict that was going on. There was the preaching of the Gospel that Christ died for the sins of the world, and that is all that believers needed. They are saved by grace through faith. That was a radical change in the church. The leaders of the synagogue had always emphasized the law: "You have to keep and obey the law. You have to do something to save yourself." They were called Judaizers. They wanted to mix the law with the Gospel. Paul writes that the law keeps you as a prisoner. The law locks you up and throws away the key. The law cannot save. Salvation is only by faith. So he wanted them to understand that. Even though these false teachers came into the church after he had left, it didn’t change God’s message. The law made sinners prisoners.

In verse 24 it says: "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." It almost sounds like the law can save. But the law doesn’t. The law drags down a person. Once a person is put into jail, they have lots of time to think. Once they are held as a prisoner, they sometimes see the error of their ways. That is the law. He says the law will beat a person down and remind them of their unworthiness, their wickedness, and their sinfulness until a person finally realizes there is no hope or help except Christ. That is the law, pure and simple; and it cannot save. That is what Paul wanted these believers to understand. When those who were coming and saying, "You have to believe, but you must also do something for salvation." That was wrong. Not much has changed from generation to generations, century to centuries. Today, we still stand with the same kind of teachings today. We still stand in a time when there are great big churches that would teach the same thing. Worst is, there are some who deny that sin is sin. We know that and we’ve heard it. In our day and age there are a lot of sins that have been swept under the rug, because everybody is doing it. There are a lot of sins that have been called diseases, and so now they have disappeared as sins. Sin is still sin. It still infects us and still can keep us as a prisoner locked up with the key thrown away, because there is no escaping. No one could lead a good enough life. No one can try hard enough to get into heaven. Some people think you can, but God says, "No. Be perfect because I am perfect." Of what does that remind us? The Psalm writer says, "Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one"(Psalm 53:3). All but Christ has sinned. All the world from the very beginning until the end of time has sinned. Maybe towards the end of time, sin might be a word that is erased from the dictionaries; but it still is a word that cannot be taken away from the Bible. It is something that can’t be taken out of us, because it is there.

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