Summary: Exposition of Gal 4:21-31
Text: Galatians 4:21-31, Title: Who’s Your Mama? Date/Place: NRBC, 4/22/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Talk about imprinting that baby birds do when they are born.
B. Background to passage: This is Paul’s culminating argument for living a life based on grace instead of works. The Judaizers were probably using this familiar OT story to say that only the physical (circumcised) children of Abraham had a right to claim the promise. They said that we all need to be like Isaac-circumcised; whereas Paul says that they are actually being like Hagar and Ishmael-workers of the flesh. So, Paul, much like in our bible study class on interpretation, goes back to the original text in context, but then adds what the Spirit had shown him as an apostle—an allegorical or typological interpretation of the two mothers, one of slavery and one of freedom. Explain some of the references and all the things that Paul links together for Sarah, and the thing that he links together for Hagar.
C. Main thought: Using the account of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, Paul pleads again with those waivering in the faith to cast out the legalistic salvation by works of the flesh along with those who teach it.
A. Differences in Method (v. 21-23)
1. The contrast between these two mothers goes a long way. We can go back to Gen 15-17 to get the original setting, but remember that Paul is addressing the Galatian heresy. The point of contrast that he is emphasizing is the method or means that they went about to get their sons. Obviously we know the natural means, but spiritually speaking Abraham went into Hagar at Sarah’s request so that they might help God fulfill his promise. They wanted to find a way to save God from failure. And the point related to Galatians is that Ishmael was born by human self-effort and self-reliance. The trust in or reliance on oneself to earn or maintain or complete salvation with good works, ceremonies, or rituals only leads to bondage and death.
2. Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:20, 11:6,
3. Illustration: in a church planting class that I had a SEBTS, the question arose one day about which groups, denominations, and churches we should feel comfortable working alongside for common ministry efforts and goals. the prof said that anyone who does any injustice to the doctrine of salvation through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone was off limits…I thought that was a little narrow, but when you think of it in light of Galatians, he is right. Those that rely on self at any level for salvation are not really saved. "Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward."
4. It’s a good time to remind you, that God needs no help fulfilling His promises. God doesn’t help those who help themselves, God delights in making good on His promises in the light of human inability, so that the full worth and power of who He is can be manifested. We must make sure that our trust lies completely in the grace of God. Avoid any kind of theology or practice that makes human self-effort necessary for salvation to be applied. Catholics and Church of Christ make it really clear. Not Christ and church attendance, baptism, bible reading, charitable giving, evangelism, service, etc. Who are you trusting in? Where is your security? Is it in things that you do? Even in your ministry and service, you rely upon the strength of the Spirit.
B. Differences in Results (v. 24-29)
1. Paul’s point is that a self-reliant faith, one that trusts in human effort to earn God’s favor, will cut you off from God instead of earn His favor. This is what he has been saying all along, except maybe not so clearly since 1:8-9. He says that though you think you are gaining points in heaven, you are actually going further in debt because you are putting your faith in the wrong person. God has already done everything that needs to be done. But other results are evident too. Bondage is another idea that the Galatians would hear. If they were children of a slave, they would still be slaves. Trying to earn salvation make slaves, not bondservants. Thirdly, think of Abraham living in a house with two women that he is obligated to that hate one another. Not rocket science there. He probably woke up every day for 14 years, and even after that, and thought, “man, doing what Sarah and I thought was best was really a bad idea.”
2. John 6:29, Gal 5:1,
3. Illustration: the “do” religion and the “done” religion, Mackenzie saying that Jesus doesn’t love you when you disobey…
4. If we want eternal life you must believe in what Jesus has already done. You must put all of your reliance for salvation on Him, not anything else. You must cast yourself, no strings attached, upon His mercy, selling out to the kingdom, taking up the cross and following Him by faith. If you are trying to earn God’s favor, not only will you be lost forever, you will live a life of slavery to a list of rules that you can never honestly keep. Guilt will be your constant companion. You will never understand who you could be in Christ. Feelings of misery and wretchedness will invade your mind and deplete you of power. Pain, anger, bitterness, and frustration tend to flow into the lives of people that rely on themselves instead of trusting in God and doing things His way. This is why we say that it is NEVER wise to do what God says not to do, even though you may come up with a thousand good reasons. As one preacher said, “the mind’s number one activity is to be used to justify our own actions.” Lots of people may tell you to do what you want to do, but you will regret it in time. But if you choose to rely on Christ alone for salvation you will find ever-increasing joy, freedom to live for Christ, satisfaction, and a friend that sticks closer than a brother.