Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Are Not Children Of The Bondwoman

Galatians 4:17-31

The Affection, 17-21

The pronoun "they" in verse 17 refers back to Galatians 2:4 "false brethren unawares brought in." These false brethren affect the true believers with their zealous work that they may bring the Galatians under the bondage of the law. The effect is not a good one, because it destroys the freedom that we have in Christ (See Gal. 5:1). They do this so that they may steal the affection of these believers away from Paul and his true Gospel unto themselves and their damnable doctrine of salvation by the law.

Paul here challenges the believers that they may be zealous, but only in a good thing. In other words, the truth matters. He is concerned about them, because he is like a mother who has travailed to birth in his work for them, and they were born again by the message of grace that he brought to them. Now he is travailing "in birth again" as he did in the beginning when they believed in Christ, but now his travail is for their further maturity in Christ so that false brethren will not be able to turn them away from their teaching and preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this point he stands in doubt of them, that perhaps they have not been truly born again as they may profess.

The Allegory, 22-31

These verses relate a familiar story from the Old Testament of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah. We know that the son born of Abraham by Hagar was not the child of promise that God was going to use to both bring a holy posterity to Abraham and to fulfill a promise that would eventually be an allegory to teach salvation by grace.

Ishmael was born of the bondwoman. This illustrates how we through Adam were born in bondage to sin and the condemnation of the law. Isaac was born of Sarah through a promise given by God.

Hagar represents Mount Sinai; Sarah represents Mount Zion (Jerusalem which is above). We see a good contrast of these two mountains in Hebrews 12:18-24, which read soon. Now we are "the children of promise," 28.

There is, then, persecution from those born under bondage toward those who are born free. Therefore, we are to "cast out" the bondwoman (Mount Sinai, the law) and her son (whatever doctrines spring from dependence upon the law).

Instead of cooperating with the Gospel of the law or assimilating its teachings with the true Gospel, we should "cast out" that carnal and damnable doctrine and trust Christ alone for salvation, so that we can be children "of the free." Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Have I Become Your Enemy?

Galatians 4:10-16

"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." These were the observances that both Paul and many of the Galatian believers had done in the past when they were children under the law. But now these observances have been "done away" (2 Cor. 3:11-14). They are but shadows of that which was great, that which was to come, the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16), which Paul preached was in Jesus Christ.

Since the Galatians have taken up again the elements, or rudiments, of the law, from which they were delivered through grace and faith in Christ, he says that he is afraid of them, afraid that he has bestowed his labor, the labor of preaching the pure gospel to them, in vain, verse 11.

In verse 12 Paul encourages them to "be as I am," which intimates that they should be standing in the grace of God (Rom. 5:2) and not in the elements of the law. Paul is only a sinner saved by grace, delivered from the offenses of the law, and made new in Christ; therefore, he can also say "I am as ye are." Their turning back to the law has not injured Paul, but it has injured the cause of Christ and the cause of the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Their witness was overshadowed by the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Col. 2:8).

Paul originally came to them with "infirmity" and "temptation." The infirmity is from a word that means "weakness," so this could have been some type of physical ailment that Paul had (many say his eyesight was dim--Gal. 6:11). The temptation was some type of trial that he may have been having as he did his work among the Galatians. Whatever it was, the Galatians knew of it, and they were well with it and even showed him kindness in it and joy in the message that he brought, which was the gospel of the grace of God, verse 13-14, and they received him as an angel, or as they would an angel of God.

In those beginning days of Paul's preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ, they loved him so and was so kind and blessed to him that they not only spoke of that kindness to him, but they would have also plucked out their own eyes and given to him (which lends another evidence that his weakness could have been his eyes). This is how much they loved, grasped, and propagated the gospel of Jesus Christ at the first, 15.

But now they seem to be enemies of Paul. Why? It is because they have now turned from the pure grace of God (in their teaching) to the beggarly elements, whereunto they desire to be in bondage (see verse 9). It seems that they have become his enemy because he tells them the truth and will not go with them to the new doctrine of Mr. Law; that is, the law mixed with grace, which is not grace at all (see Rom. 11:6). Law and grace have always been enemies, for the law does not allow for grace; it allows only for mercy. Paul will continue to tell them the truth no matter what they do, because once the message of the gospel has gone away from its true character and principles, the message will continually change to please the ears of hearers; but the truth never changes. John 17:17 -- Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When We Were Children

Galatians 4:1-9

Dispensationalism teaches us that this reference to being a child refers to the Old Testament dispensation, wherein those hearing the word of God were still under the Law of Moses, and that they were released from that when Jesus died. This does not seem to be the meaning here, in my opinion.

Being a child and under tutors and governors has reference to our being, as unbelievers, under the law, constrained by the law for a better moral behavior, and sternly corrected by the law as to our many wrongs. We as unbelievers are under the stringent rule of the law "until the time appointed of the father." In our case it would be the appointed time of our Heavenly Father.

When we were children, unbelievers, we were "in bondage under the elements of the world" (verse 3). This explains to us that, when we were lost in our sins, we were under the influence of only earthly and humanistic elements, worldly elements. Even the law is a worldly element, for all the law can do is bring us to guilt and shame; the law cannot bring freedom, yea, it has no desire to free us from itself: it only holds us to itself in jealous ownership. Thus, salvation cannot come by the law, since it is made up of "elements of the world."

In verses four and five Paul explains to us how that we can, despite the law's ever-insistent commands, be free from the law for salvation. It is because God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem us so that we might receive, by his grace, the adoption of sons.

Now that we are free from the law and sons of God, being born from above (John 3:3), we have the Spirit of his Son (the Holy Spirit) in our hearts by which we call out to our Heavenly Father in a very personal way (6), knowing we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17).

Now that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10), we are no more children, but sons, and heirs (7) according to the promise (Gal. 3:29) and according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

Verse eight and nine describe that when we were children we "knew not God" and "did service unto them which by nature are no gods." We served the "elements of the world" and not God. But now, after we are known of God, how can we turn again to the "weak and beggarly elements"? How can we desire to be in bondage as a child under the "elements of the world" when we have been made free from them by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that perfect work that redeemed us by his blood through the death of the cross?