Monday, April 28, 2014

Children of the Promise

Since we had a power outage at our church on Sunday (along with most of the city of Sumner!!), I wanted to post some of my notes from Sunday since there won't be a recording on our church website.

Our church is going through the book of Galatians right now and it's an amazing book. Paul is writing back to churches that he planted and sees that his church is being enslaved by legalism. They are being told by false teachers that in order to be saved they must obey laws/rules/man-made customs. And this book, which is a letter, is simply saying that we are only saved by Jesus Christ. That's it. Yes, the law is great at pointing out the sin in our lives, but obeying the law won't justify our lives. 

And so we were in Galatians 4:21-31. In this text, Paul will use an analogy to help the Galatians understand. What you can do is grab your Bible and read along with my notes. 
C. 4 V. 21: Let me clarify what he means when he talks about being under the law. To be under the law is not a reference to those who obey the law. When he uses the phrase under the law, he's talking about those who would use the law as a means of justification. I will obey the law, and in my obedience to the law, I'm going to have right standing before God. God will accept me. God will approve of me, and God will bless me because I am doing these things. Paul says no.
V. 22-23: This is one of the more interesting, compelling stories in the book of Genesis.
Gen. 15:4-5, ‘You will have a son…your offspring will be like the stars.’
Abraham points out some things. "Hey, I'm really, really old, and my wife is really, really, really old. Not only that, she's been barren for her whole life. I just don't know that all of a sudden we're going to have little miracle babies," but he believes and he goes and tells Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah get a little antsy and so Sarah gives Abraham her maidservant, Hagar.
Gen. 16:2, ‘…perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Hagar gets pregnant. This actually wasn’t an uncommon practice. But it wasn’t a wise one. That son is named Ishmael.
Gen. 18:10, ‘I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’
Gen. 18:12, ‘Sarah laughs.’  And in Gen. 18:15, she lies about laughing.
Gen. 21 Isaac is born. ‘The Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100!! Whew!!
Now you should start to be able to see where Paul is going with this. If his argument throughout the letter to the churches in Galatia is basically, "You can't; God can," you can see where he's going. The child born of the slave woman, Hagar, was born by the flesh, i.e. you didn't need God's help for that. You could do it. You could make it happen. Here's a younger woman who is not barren and that is a son born of the slave woman via the flesh not the promise.
But Sarah's baby, Isaac, that baby is miraculous. That son is a son of promise. 
V. 24-25: "Now this may be interpreted figuratively..." Now that's an important little verse, and I know you might not see it's importance, but really the greatest error among evangelicals when preaching, teaching, looking at the Old Testament is we want to make everything allegory. Everything is allegory as though it didn't actually historically happen, but it's just a story that teaches us a moral lesson about the God we serve.
The truth is the Old Testament is historical and rarely allegory(analogies, metaphors). What ends up happening in allegory is that stories are abused. The story of David and Goliath is just butchered, repeatedly. You can conquer your giants. Where are your five smooth stones? We look at him as what our God can accomplish, but the story of David and Goliath is about the workings of God, not the workings of man. It's a literal story that changed the course of human history! Jonah is literally swallowed by a fish. He refuses to go to Nineveh, and he is historically and literally swallowed by a fish. Wait! Can you really believe that?? Oh, I believe it. And things get real goofy when all of a sudden everything is allegory and things aren't true anymore. They are just kind of stories that teach a moral lesson. Officially stepping off the soap box. 
So what we have here is Paul saying, "Hey, listen. That can be taken allegorically." Now let's look at how he does that. "These women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai..." What did we get at Mount Sinai? The Law. "One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children."
For you and I, that might not come across as unbelievable, but for the Jewish people who heard him say that... I mean, he's already at odds and he just open-hand slapped them with that phrase, because to them Hagar is the mother of the Gentiles whom they despise, whom they are trying to convert to Judaism. They would not view Hagar as their mother. They would view Sarah as their mother, but he just said Jerusalem (present Jerusalem, this stronghold of Jewish practice), those are the children of Hagar. They are enslaved.
 V. 26-27: Now that is Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 54, verse 1, who is communicating to the Israelites who have been pushed into exile, who have been dispersed across the nations. Their hope as a great nation is dashed. It's gone. Other nations are becoming powerful. Their once mighty nation is almost dissolved completely. But the prophet Isaiah reminds them, "Oh, no, no, no. It is when you are weak and barren, when you have no ability to bring forth life that God flexes most mightily. It's when you are weak that he is strong. It's when you are barren that he brings life. It is when you have no ability that God makes a way." 
V. 28-29: What we read about in the Scriptures is that we are adopted sons and daughters of God, and that is a beautiful reality. Throughout the book of Galatians what you'll find are these invitations that are laid out for those of us who would hear and believe. This is Easter from last week, that if you would believe in and trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you could, regardless of how you've come in here today, leave differently.
You could leave differently and point to how you walked in today as who you used to be. What you used to do. The anxiety you used to have. The fear you used to walk in. The chains you used to have. You could have this former life, and now the invitation that is being laid out is...Do you want to be a slave or do you want to be a son or a daughter of God?
V. 30: What do we inherit? We all like inheritance, right?! Let me lay out just a few things that pertain to this inheritance of believing in Christ. 
1. We get God himself. This is our first and primary inheritance. There is nothing more lovely and nothing we need more than God himself, and our inheritance in Christ, being adopted as sons and daughters, is we get God.
2. We will get, upon our resurrection, new imperishable bodies. Starting in verse 42 of 1 Corinthians 15. Regardless of how attractive you are right now, your nose and your ears never quit growing. Google it. It means if you live long enough, things start looking strange on you, and you can't hear as well, and you don't have the vitality, and things make you a bit nervous.
The Bible says the new body we receive doesn't get sick. It doesn't get tired, and it doesn't cry tears. So not only do we get God himself now and evermore, but we get a resurrected, imperishable body, and that's good news.
3. We will get suffering, and persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 says this: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." So what is the second word in that? All. See, I would like that verse so much more if it said, "Indeed, some," because then I could separate myself out and go, I need to pray for those people, but he said, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted." We don't change scripture. It is our source of truth.
V. 31: What is our response to this invitation of adoption rather than slavery?
If you choose to be a slave in this life to legalism, you'll be a slave for eternity.
If you choose to be a son or daughter of God now, you'll be adopted forever!!

Have you made your choice?


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