Summary: We must always keep pressing on with Jesus.
Keep Pressin' On
Text: Gal. 4:8-20
1. Illustration: Bob Dylan in his song, "Pressing On," said, "Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind. Say, "Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign"
What kind of sign they need when it all comes from within
When what's lost has been found, what's to come has already been? I just keep pressing on. On and on and on and on. Pressing on
Well, I'm pressing on To the higher calling of my Lord."
2. That, in essence, is what Paul is telling the Galatians, and us; we must keep pressing on.
3. From this section of Paul's letter to the Galatians we learn that we must...
a. Keep moving forward
b. Keep living in joy
c. Keep up your guard
4. Let's stand together this morning as we read together Gal. 4:8-20.
Proposition: We must always keep pressing on with Jesus.
Transition: First, and foremost, we must...
I. Keep Moving Forward (8-11).
A. Why Do You Want To Go Back?
1. In studying Paul's letter to the Galatians that Paul was dealing with a group of people who were trying to move forward by going backwards.
2. Paul starts this section by reminding them of the past. He says, "Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist."
a. Put differently, there were two religious dimensions of their religious past: (1) they did not know the God of Israel, the true God of the world, and
b. (2) the gods they did know were "by nature… not gods" (McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary – Galatians: From biblical text...to contemporary life, 216).
c. Before they came to Christ their religion was that of works, and they were slaves to various man-made gods that were actually no gods at all. The unredeemed are slaves not only to the law but also to idols (MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, 110-111).
3. Then Paul brings them back to the future, saying, "So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? 10 You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years."
a. Paul goes on to state that now that they are converted, they have a good beginning.
b. He corrects his own language in his description of their conversion: "so now that you know God—or should I say, now that God know you…."
c. This correction is designed, not to teach that they did not know God, but to put the emphasis where Paul usually puts it: on God's sovereign grace as the initiating force in conversion.
d. He insists that people do not seek God (cf. Rom. 3:11: "no one who searches for God"); rather, God seeks people.
e. John 15:16 (NLT)
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
f. Humans are so caught in their sin and so in love with their sin that they do not seek holiness and love in and of themselves (McKnight, 216).
g. That good beginning has now become a bad situation; that is the Galatians' problem.
h. In spite of having received the knowledge of God, they have reverted back to their former ways. Paul wants to know, "How is it that you are turning back?"
i. He asks, "Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?"
j. Their move from idolatry to Christianity and now to Judaism is for Paul no different than a venture back into "idolatry" or "paganism" (McKnight, 216).
4. Then Paul brings them to the seriousness of the situation. He says, "I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing."
a. This bad situation leads to Paul's fear: "that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you."
b. Paul had worked hard on the Galatians' behalf and for the universalism of the gospel.
c. Any pastor knows the heartache and fear that come when a parishioner wavers, stumbles, and even falls away.
d. That is all Paul is saying here, and he will say similar things to other churches and try to rectify the problems (McKnight, 217).
e. How sad for such a faithful servant of the Lord to believe that all the life-threatening, sacrificial service he had given in behalf of the people of Galatia was worthless.
f. All the travel, illness, loneliness, struggles, even the stoning he received in Lystra that left him for dead, was for nothing if they reverted to their old slavery (MacArthur, 112).