Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
A New Family
Today as we venture through the last verses of Chapter 3 and into Chapter 4, Paul reminds us that we have a new family relationship?different than what we came from, and that in this family
How you relate to your family of origin can affect how you relate to the family of God that you have been adopted into. Some of us had fathers who were distant and cold, and so God often feels hard to reach or relate to in a personal way. Some of us had fathers who were harsh or abusive or very broken?and it makes it hard to understand how God loves us. That?s where we begin in Galatians today, at the end of Chapter 3 as Paul is trying to help these people understand the fundamental change that occurred when they came to faith, trust, and reliance in Jesus Christ. They got a new family and a totally different kind of relationship with Father God?a relationship that makes it so that past family dysfunction and past efforts to attain love and goodness can begin to melt away in the presence of pure love.
Paul has been talking about growing up in terms of no longer needing the Law to guide us or guard us?but now we have the One who completed the Law and completes it in us. When we come into relationship with Him we are often baptized as an outward sign of an inward faith.
Paul uses the expression ?put on Christ.? In the Roman culture a young person would lay aside their ?robe of childhood? for a new robe that signaled they had reached adulthood. So now, Jesus? attitudes and mindset become ours. The more we know Him the more we will think like Him?and then actions follow the thoughts and our will. It does take more responsibility. No more do we follow rules and regulations, now we have an active relationship that should permeate our being.
There were real walls that separated Jew from others. Some Jewish men even woke up each morning and prayed ?Lord I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.? Jesus is the great equalizer. We are still unique in Christ, but we are completely and totally equal. Cultural/economic and even gender issues are meaningless when it comes to our standing before Christ. Just saying that the barriers are put aside doesn?t make it so. It is only as we continue to grow into Christ?s clothes that the default human thinking of inequality is changed.
Legalism also separates. It stratifies us into groups?either because we feel better than others who aren?t as ?holy? or those that feel bad because they can?t seem to be as ?holy? as others appear around them. But Jesus also levels the playing field when we realize He is the only reason we having standing before God and it is His righteous life that we now live.
We are sons of God, have put on Christ, and are one in Christ. We are also ?Abraham?s seed? and ?heirs?. The Jews felt they were automatically ?saved? because they were Abraham?s seed. Paul tells the Galatians that to become spiritual children of Abraham you believe what God promised, not perform a rite of circumcision or become a Jew. We now inherit God?s eternal kingdom. Awesome!
4:1 ? 2
Before children in the Roman society ?came of age? they were no better off than slaves?future owners of everything but until then under rules and discipline. The father in Roman times determined when the child was mature enough to be considered an adult. Until then he used ?guardians? ? overseers of the child (different word than Chapter 3) and ?stewards? ? those that watched over the estate. So it was up to the Father to determine when to bring us from ?immaturity? under the law to ?maturity? in Christ.
Prior to coming to Christ, Paul says, we are like ?children? and subject to something called ?elemental forces of the world.? There are several interpretations of what this means. Some suggest it is the Law of Moses, others the four basic elements of Greek philosophy (earth, air, fire, water). But the one that seems to make sense is that it refers to attempts to earn salvation through some sort of activity. Most of the Galatians were not Jews but pagans so they would not have come from the Law of Moses as a background.
I think most people are aware of a lack in their life that they try to fill in some way. Our feeble attempts to make sense of the world and our place in it constitute these ?elemental? forces. The more we try to better ourselves or find fulfillment in something other than through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the more enslaved to that ?force? we become because it can never really work. It could be pleasure, or security through money or power, physical prowess, philosophical or intellectual order?or any number of religious acts of piety.
4 ? 5
God knew the right time for Jesus to come. The Father ?sent? an obedient Son to be born as a human?a position He will be in for all of eternity (?born of a woman?). Jesus was also under the law, the same position we as humans have, so that He could ?redeem? us out from under the law. To ?redeem? means to buy back and was the price paid for a slave. We as slaves to sin and under laws we cannot possibly keep on a long term basis, have now been made sons by adoption. The NIV says ?the full rights of sons.? Without a relationship God could basically do nothing with us. Even our so-called good works were worthless because they were tainted with the evil endemic in the human soul. Through Jesus we have relationship and the good we do can actually be counted as good. It?s not just accepting the right philosophy; it is about receiving a new life and a new family. God doesn?t just grudgingly accept us and tell us to hide in the corner. He openly accepts us. Incredible!
6 ? 7
That?s why we can call God ?Papa Daddy?. ?Abba? is an Aramaic word for the term children use to address their father at home. It is a personal, endearing, intimate word. We have that privilege with the God of the Universe because He adopted us and not only sent Jesus but also sent His Spirit as a down-payment into our hearts. Jesus died for our sins; the Spirit gives us the assurance of acceptance by God. It cannot be earned or obtained on our own.
We are no longer slaves to anything, except to God Himself. We are now children. Paul uses the singular here: ?son? to help us understand the personal nature of this relationship. You weren?t part of a group that ?slipped into? God?s family unnoticed. Jesus died for you personally and lives for you personally and wants to have a relationship with you personally!
The truth is that you have a new family. No matter how awful your family of origin is or was, your new family is related to Someone who is infinitely caring and loving and good and powerful.
8 ? 11
A lot of people today think they know God. But for all of us there was a time when we had no relationship with Him. The Greek word for ?know? here is for a personal, intimate relationship. You cannot have that apart from Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Indeed, the Lord\'s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
Every person has needs?security, intimacy, joy, purpose. We innately try to fulfill those needs by any means possible. The fallen human nature will turn the fulfillment of those needs into ways that are not like God, thus proving how far away from Him we really are.
Romans 3:23 ?For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.?
We think the things we pursue can fulfill us?even a legalistic approach to being really religious or really good according to the principals of the Bible. But anything short of reliance on the real God for even your ability to do good is legalism and idolatry and not God!
But now, having experienced the Lord ?drawing? you (John 6:44) why would you go back to those things that don?t really do any good?
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one\'s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? NKJV
That ?obedience? is the gospel.
The days, months, seasons and years suggest following the Jewish calendar in order to show yourself more holy. There is nothing wrong with a Jew celebrating the Sabbath or the feasts?and even we Gentiles can celebrate them in a way. But to rely on that to affect your standing before God is ridiculous. Paul is saying ?have I wasted my time with you?? It didn?t mean they were going to lose their salvation but their life would not be fruitful.
Paul had offered the gospel without any requirements. So the Galatians should become free of the Law as Paul became when he came to Christ.
13 ? 16
We don?t know the cause of the illness Paul had but it made him dependent on the Galatians, yet they received him and the gospel with joy. Now that he is giving them some hard lessons on the truth would they treat him as an enemy instead?
17 ? 18
Now, apparently they were enthusiastically receiving the message of legalism. But it?s interesting that the Judaizers were really only interested in wooing the Galatians away from the gospel with the goal to isolate them from a true faith in Jesus. This is often the ploy of the enemy who wants to separate you from the flock in order to prey on you. In this case they wanted the Galatians to focus on them. They wanted to pull people away from loyalty to Paul and to the gospel. Watch out when churches try to isolate you!
Enthusiasm is good, as long as you are true to the gospel. I?ve seen many people get very worked up over the latest craze going around the church. But when I look at them, do they glorify Jesus, build up the Christian in reliance on Jesus, and promote the gospel? If not, then perhaps that enthusiasm is misplaced.
19 ? 20
Poor Paul. The Galatians were suffering from a ?failure to launch.? So now the Apostle has to worry about them like they were baby Christians. The goal is to reach spiritual maturity (?Christ is formed in you?). You can?t do that by going back into legalism. You can sense Paul?s heart of a spiritual parent here. He wants to help these little children grow and mature?he?s at his wits end!
Have you ?put on Christ?? when means you are in the process of shedding other clothing.
Other loves will always disappoint
Legalism never really satisfies. Only reliance on Jesus for everything and letting go of your own abilities
Do you love your accomplishments more than God?
Does your heart cry ?Abba? or is God a distant Father you avoid?
What rules you? If you don?t know Jesus you are ruled by things that can do nothing.