Summary: The grace of Christ takes us from slaves to sin to heirs of the Kingdom.
The Incredible Journey of Grace
Text: Gal. 3:23-4:7
1. Illustration: A current top selling, box office hit is the movie entitled "The Hobit: An Unexpected Journey." The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands. Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum's "precious" ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities... A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
2. All of us are on a journey too. It is a journey called "The Incredible Journey of Grace."
3. This journey begins with us...
a. Stuck In Prison
b. Redeemed As Children
c. Adopted As Heirs
4. Let's all stand together as we read Gal. 3:23-4:7
Proposition: The grace of Christ takes us from slaves to sin to heirs of the Kingdom.
Transition: The journey begins with us...
I. Stuck In Prison (23-25).
A. Placed Under Guard
1. Paul begins this section by illustrating the situation we find ourselves in before the grace of Christ.
2. He says, "Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed."
a. After using the third person for most of the chapter, Paul reverts to the first person (we).
b. In using we, he first of all identifies himself with the Jewish people, to whom both covenants were given.
c. But in a broader and more comprehensive sense he is also identifying himself with all of mankind, Jew and Gentile (MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians, 92).
d. Faith, as spoken of in the Scriptures, does not refer to some innate human power that, when used to its greatest capacity, gives us merit with God no matter what the actual content or object of that faith.
e. The central point of the gospel is in whom our faith is placed—that is, in Christ. Abraham was justified by his faith and, along with other Old Testament believers, had to trust in God’s grace without knowing much of God’s plan; but their faith was in the coming Savior.
f. Until people could put their faith in that Savior, the law kept them in a kind of protective custody.
g. In a sense, it kept people out of trouble, kept them away from the evil into which their natures might otherwise have led, until faith in Christ would be revealed.
h. That faith then sets people free from the law but leads into the desire to obey God wholeheartedly out of love for him (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 778).
i. Now we might say that doesn't sound so bad; protective custody is okay.
j. Well it may be protective, but it is still custody, and we are not free to do as we please.
k. We are help prisoner of both sin and the law.
3. Paul then puts it another way. He says, "Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith."
a. A paidagōgos, (tutor) was not a teacher or schoolmaster but rather a slave employed by Greek or Roman families, whose duty was to supervise young boys in behalf of their parents.
b. They took their young charges to and from school, made sure they studied their lessons, and trained them in obedience.
c. They were strict disciplinarians, scolding and whipping as they felt it necessary (MacArthur, 95).
d. The picture of the law serving as a guardian and teacher shows that the law was a temporary measure meant to lead us until Christ came.
e. This leading was meant in the sense of the law watching over us until we could receive our “adulthood,” our full relationship with the Father, through Christ’s coming.
f. What was the ultimate purpose of the law? Paul repeated it in the last phrase, that through faith in Christ, we are made right with God.
g. The law had its usefulness in pointing out the wrong and providing constant reproof. The law, through imprisonment and discipline, taught us (though negatively) that justification with God really is through faith alone.(Barton 779).
4. Now Paul shares the good news when he says, "And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian."