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Summary: Exposition of Gal 4:21-31

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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.


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