Sunday, August 13, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “You Are All Sons of God Through Faith in Christ Jesus”

“You Are All Sons of God Through Faith in Christ Jesus”
Galatians: The Truth of the Gospel
August 13, 2017 :: Galatians 3:15-29

There was trouble brewing.

Paul was writing to these churches that he loved and cared about in the region of Galatia. Many of these of churches, he and Barnabas had founded on their missionary journeys.

But some bad guys with a false gospel had infiltrated these churches and cast doubt on Paul and Paul’s gospel and began convincing the Galatians to believe their alternate gospel which is really no gospel at all. Remember this?

That’s trouble.

So Paul picked up his pen and wrote what one commentator called “a tornado warning” of a letter.

Paul wrote to try to stop them from doing something very foolish and damnable–abandoning the truth of the gospel of grace through Jesus Christ.

This chapter began with the words, “O Foolish Galatians!

Paul was so concerned that these people would leave the truth of the gospel and end up imperiled in spiritual danger.

What was the error of the false gospel?

What did the false teachers want the Galatians to put their faith in?

It was the Mosaic Law, wasn’t it?

They didn’t have a problem with Jesus Christ and putting your faith in Him. They agreed that Jesus was the Messiah.

But they said you may start that way putting your faith in Jesus but that’s not enough. Faith in Jesus is not enough. You also have to begin obeying the Law. And doing the works of the Law.

You might get right with God by faith in Jesus, but you stay right with God by doing the works of the Law.

Is that the gospel?

Is that how you get right with God?
Is that how you stay right with God?

Is that how justification works?

That’s what Paul asked them in verse 2 of this chapter.

“Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard?”

Paul is writing this letter to convince the Galatians once again of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Not through the law. Verse 11, “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because ‘The righteous will live by faith.”

Faith alone.

And last time, he brought up the person of Abraham.

Remember that?

Was Abraham famous for observing the Law or for his faith?

For faith, right?

The Law had not even been given when Abraham was already famous for faith.

Well, that’s what he’s going to talk about today in the last half of this chapter, verses 15 through 29.

There’s a lot here in this section and it gets kind of complicated. There are a few things here I just don’t understand or can’t explain very well.

But just keep this in mind. What Paul is trying to do, through all of this deep history and theology, is to convince the Galatians to NOT ADD LAWKEEPING AS THE BASIS OF THEIR JUSTIFICATION BEFORE GOD.

Not circumcision, not Sabbath keeping, not the kosher diet, not even the Ten Commandments.

Do not add works of the law as the basis of your justification.

That is a false gospel, and it is damnable because it sets aside the grace of God and basically says that Jesus died for nothing.

Everything we’re going to read this week and next time and probably the time after that has the same goal of stopping the Galatians in their tracks to keep them from going off the cliff. To keep them from making that fatal wrong gospel mistake.

But you can see why they might. Can’t you?

I mean the Law of Moses was a big important thing for the Jews, wasn’t it?

And rightfully so.

God gave them the Law at Mount Sinai. It wasn’t something that Moses made up.

We call it the Law of Moses because he was the leader at the time. He was the mediator of the Law Covenant.

But the Law was from God.

It was big and important for the Jews.

So you can see why they might have thought it was all important and important enough to impose on new Gentile, non-Jewish, believers.

So Paul has to explain to them why the Law should not take the place that they are tempted to assign it.

And how does he do that? He reaches back to something bigger than the Law and more permanent the Law.

And that’s the promise.

What is bigger and more fundamental than the Law of Moses? The promises of God given to Abraham.

Does anybody remember 2003?

2003 seems like a long time ago to me. That was 14 years ago.

That was the year that my son Peter was born.

That was also the year that I preached through the book of Genesis. Anybody remember that? That was the year that we met this person Abraham. We called him the best supporting actor in the book of Genesis.

Father Abraham.

And we learned back in 2003 that God had made certain promises to Father Abraham.

Do you remember what those were? There used to be a Pop Quiz every week about them.

What are the 3 main promises of the Abrahamic Covenant?

Offspring, Land, and Blessing.

Very good, class!

Back in 2003, we learned that our God is a promise-making God.

And we also learned that He is a promise-keeping God.

God Always Keeps His Promises.

I don’t know how many times we’ve said that and seen that.

Since 2003, we’ve trekked our way through a lot of the rest of the story, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, the Books of Kings.

And one of the key truths we’ve seen again and again and again is that God is keeping these promises He made to Father Abraham.

Offspring, land, blessing.

Do you see how that’s the Big Story of the Old Testament?

Well, that’s what Paul is talking about in this last half of Galatians 3.

In verse 14, he said that Jesus, by dying on the Cross, “redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to Gentiles (like the Galatians and like us here in this room) through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

But how does that relate to the Law?

That’s the question. So Paul answers it. Verse 15.

“Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.”

He means the case of the Abrahamic Covenant.

If two people make a binding agreement with one another and agree on all of the terms, can somebody else or something else come along and break up that agreement, change it on the two parties?

No. Not legally.

Or take the example of a last will and testament. Because this word for covenant could also be used for a will.

If I die, and my will leaves all of my money (both of my dollars) to Heather Joy, can the executor of my will, say my brother, come out and say, “I don’t like that idea. I’m going to give Matt’s two dollars to the Society of Coconut and Pineapple Lovers.” Can he do that?

Not legally.

How about God? Can God say, “I don’t feel like keeping these promises that I’ve made to Abraham? I’m tired of coming through with offspring, land, and blessing to that guy and his dumb children. I’ll just ignore those promises.”

Will God do that?

Not and stay God.

God is faithful. God always keeps His promises.

Now, whom did He make those promises to? To whom need He be faithful? V.16

“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed [“sperma, offspring”]. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Now, that’s tricky.

I’m not sure I understand it completely. Because “seed” can be a collective singular and often is. In fact, Paul’s going to use it like that in just a few verses!

But he’s got a point he wants to make.

The promises were made to Abraham and most deeply, most fully, most ultimately to Abraham’s ONE SEED, his chief offspring, the God/Man Jesus Christ.

All of the promises of God find their fullest fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

God always keeps His promises IN JESUS.


Isn’t that interesting?

But what does this have to do with the Law?

Where does the Law come in?

Answer? Much later! And it doesn’t change anything in the Abrahamic Covenant. V.17

“What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.”

Yes, the Law was big, but it wasn’t that big!

The PROMISE is what’s big!

And the promise doesn’t change. V.18

“For if the inheritance [receiving the promises] depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.”

The Law was never the point.
The Law was never the big story.

The Law didn’t fundamentally change the big story.

It just got added to the story.

It’s like when you have your computer on and you have a window open with one program or app and then you open another app without closing the first one.

Does the second app stop the first one?


Maybe it’d be better to say, does opening an app close down your Operating System?

It might, but it’s not supposed to! And it crashes the app, too, if does.

The promises of the Abrahamic Covenant were (and are!) the operating system of the big storyline of the Bible, and the Law was just an app that was opened for a time alongside the promises.

The Mosaic Law was another temporary covenant set up run for a time during the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Why? V.19

“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.”

Now, that’s complicated.

I’m not sure I get it all or can explain it well.

But notice what is clear. The Law had a good purpose, but it was temporary.

“Until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.”  Who’s that? That’s Jesus.

The Law had an expiration date.

If you pulled it out of the fridge and smelled it to see if you wanted to eat it, you would check the expiration date on it, and it would say, “Use only as your covenant until the Seed had come.”

And if the Seed had come? Should you use it as your covenant? No!

Why would you?

Why would you when you have a better covenant being enacted right before you very eyes?

Paul says it’s better because it’s older and because it’s more direct.

The Law (v.19) “was put into effect through angels by a mediator (Moses).”

But the Abrahamic Covenant was direct from God to Abraham and to his Seed.

I think that’s what he means by v.20.

He might be pointing out that the Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional.

The Mosaic Covenant had lots of conditions in it. “Do this and this will happen.”

But the Abrahamic Covenant was really one-sided, wasn’t it?

What was Abraham doing when God made His promises to Abraham?

He was sleeping!

Remember that? He arranged the path through the sacrifices and instead of both of walking through the carcasses on God did, so to speak.

God made these promises unilaterally and will keep them no matter what.

All according to His grace.

Yes, Abraham was to obey God, but the promises were all of grace and not conditional on that obedience. They were all taken by faith.

The promises are HUGE!

So the Law is, relatively, pretty small.

And it didn’t save. Did you see why the Law was added? V.19 says, “because of transgressions,” and I think that actually means to increase transgressions.

The Law was given to show God’s people how sinful they really are and how much they needed a Savior. But it didn’t save. V.21

“Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? [Paul you sound like you think they are against one another. But Paul says...] Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.”

The promises are bigger than the Law, but they are not antithetical to the Law.

It’s just that the Law was never meant to save.

The Law wasn’t strong enough to save because of sin. V.22

“But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”

There he goes again with the faith thing!

We saw this point back in Romans, you might remember.

I talked about a plate of brownies.

If Heather makes a plate of brownies, and then says to me, “Do not eat the plate of brownies,” what do I now want to do?

I want to eat the plate of brownies.

And what if I did eat the plate of brownies?

Did her law make me a transgressor?

Is there something wrong with her law if I broke it?

No, there was something wrong with me.

And her law just revealed it. It just showed me what a glutton I am and what a thief I am.

The Mosaic Law did the same thing. It showed that people are prisoners of sin and a need a spiritual jailbreak. V.23

“Before this faith [in Christ] came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.”

That “put in charge” in verse 23 is literally that the Law was a “pedagogos” a guardian or a nanny or a big bad babysitter.

The pedagogos was a family slave or employee that was put in charge of the little kids to keep them out of trouble and make sure they made it to adulthood.

They were the big bad bodyguards and babysitters that went everywhere with the kids to make sure they made it from being minors to being adults.

Paul says that’s what the Mosaic Law was doing it. It was getting God’s people from childhood to adulthood. Showing them that they needed a Savior.

Remember how the Law functioned in the Books of Kings?

It told them whether the kings were thumbs up or thumbs down, right?

And it showed them again and again how thumbs down they were and how much they needed the Savior to come.

But now the Savior has come!  V.25

“Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. [What are we? Here’s the good stuff. Verse 26] You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...”

So why would you want to go back to the Law?

Do you see how his logic is working?

Is the Law a bad thing? No way.

It was wonderful and did its job.

But we don’t need it as our covenant any more.

It’s not in force any more.

It’s not our law.

And it’s certainly not our basis for being right with God!

The Law did not set aside the promise (v.17)
The Law was added because of transgression (v.19).
The Law was temporary.
The Law couldn’t save.
The Law had us locked up.
The Law was a big bad babysitter.

It did its job!

But I don’t want a babysitter any more. Do you?

I don’t want training wheels any more. Do you?

And I certainly don’t want to put my faith in my law-keeping.

That’s just folly in every way.

Because Jesus has come and faith in Jesus changes everything.

In the last four verses Paul tells us that us about three things that we are because we are in Christ Jesus. And they are glorious. And they are so much better than trying to keep the Law.


V.26 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...”

That is an amazing sentence.

Memorize it. Take it to heart. Repeat it to yourself every day.

I am a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

I know, ladies, that it might be a little difficult to think of yourself as a son.

So you can switch in “daughter” there, if it helps.

But don’t totally abandon the language either because in the cultural context, the sons were those that inherited from the Father and it reminds us that we are sons IN CHRIST JESUS who is The Son par excellence.

So when God looks at you and me, He sees us in the His beloved Son with whom He is well-pleased.

Think about this. God is your Father.

God is your Father.
God is your Father.
God is your Father.
God is your Father.

Not by law-keeping but by faith in Christ Jesus.

God is your Father.

Think about all of what that means in terms of your standing, your acceptance, how God sees you, what God thinks of you, how God feels about you.

This why the Kerlin’s motorcycle group has that name, because it’s just that amazing!

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus [v.27] for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

When you put your faith in Christ and you publicly symbolized it by going down into the waters of baptism identifying yourself with Jesus’ death and coming up out of the waters identifying yourself with Jesus’ resurrection, you were, in effect, putting on Christ Jesus like new clothing.

And now God sees you in His beloved Son!

Just think about that!

Isn’t that enough?

Isn’t that better than the Law?

We are sons of God.

And we are one.


In Christ Jesus. V.28

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So much has changed!

Now it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Greek (a Gentile), if you have faith in Christ Jesus you’re in! Circumcised or uncircumcised.

It doesn’t matter your social situation. Whether you are a slave or a freeman.

Your sex doesn’t matter. Only males could get circumcised but male or female can trust in Christ!

These distinctions do not define our salvation.

They still exist. These differences don’t disappear. It isn’t saying that there is no such thing as Jewish. Or no such thing as a freeman. Or no such thing as male or female.

Those things still exist. But they are not ultimate!

They don’t determine our worth or our value before God.

And they don’t keep us from being united to one another.

“You are all ONE in Christ Jesus.”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, [American or Mexican, White or Black] for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The ground is level at the foot of the Cross.

And we ought to act like it.

We should never allow ourselves to think of ourselves as better than any other Christian.

And we should do everything we can to strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Because we are ONE.

Not on our own but IN CHRIST JESUS.

And law-keeping certainly didn’t do that!

We are sons. We one in the Son. And because of that, we are heirs.

#3. WE ARE HEIRS. V.29

“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

I love that!

In verse 16, Paul made it clear that the Seed of Abraham was ultimately Jesus Christ.

But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t the seed of Abraham in Him!

We are.

If we belong to Christ (by faith!), then we are in Abraham’s seed and are Abraham’s seed. Father Abraham is our father because we are in Christ.

And that means that we inherit every one of the promises that God made to Abraham.

Did you know that?

Did you know that you all kind of blessing guaranteed to come your way not because of anything you have ever earned or done but just because you belong to Jesus Christ?


“Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod.”

The spiritual offspring of Abraham because we are in Christ Jesus.

“And heirs according to the promise.”

It doesn’t get better than that.

The application, I hope, is obvious.

Put your faith in Jesus Christ and don’t add law-keeping to the basis of your justification.

If you haven’t put your faith in Christ Jesus, why not?!

Look what you’re missing!

Sons of God, One in the Son, Heirs according to the promise.

Why would you want to miss out on that?

And why would you want to add works of the Law to the deal when the Law has already done its job and there are promises to take hold of by faith?!

And if you are trusting in Jesus Christ then revel in it!

Meditate on those words, “Sons, One, Heirs.”  Every day.

Center your life on Christ Jesus because that’s where the blessing is!

If you have Christ, then you have everything.

“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

And God always keeps His promises!


Messages in this Series:
01. To the Churches in Galatia
02. Turning to a Different Gospel
03. Preaching the Faith He Once Tried to Destroy
04. So the Truth of the Gospel Might Remain With You
05. Acting in Line with the Truth of the Gospel
06. I Live By Faith in the Son of God
07. You Foolish Galatians!