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Children of Promise

Galatians 4

Chapter three discussed the impossibility of justification by works and the necessity of faith. Chapter four builds a case against works by exposing them as slavery.

  1. A legal illustration (1-2)
    1. As long as the heir is a child he is no better than a slave in regard to freedom.
      1. He is under guardians
        1. Watched over
      2. He is under trustees
        1. Who manage the estate
      3. The heir makes no decisions himself.
    2. As children (immature) they were subject to the elementary stages of religious experience.
      1. A mentality of human works as a means of righteousness. (8-10)
        1. Slaves to false gods (
        2. False religion promotes “weak and miserable” principles.
          1. Days, months and years
            1. Colossians 2:16
    3. It is time to grow up! (2, 4-7)
      1. When the time was right (set by the Father) the Son came from heaven into our world to redeem us from slavery to the “weak and miserable” way of life.
        1. Christ became a human under law (subject to).
        2. Christ came to bring us into maturity (sons).
        3. Christ making us sons causes us to be recipients of the Spirit.
          1. We take possession of our inheritance with full liberty.
  2. An historical perspective (21-31)
    1. The works of man vs. the promise of God

75—Abraham is called by God to go to Canaan; and God promises him many descendants (Gen. 12:1-9). Both Abraham and his wife, Sarah, wanted children, but Sarah was barren. God was waiting until both of them were “as good as dead” before He would perform the miracle of sending them a son (Rom. 4:16-25).

85—The promised son has not yet arrived, and Sarah becomes impatient. She suggests that Abraham marry Hagar, her maid, and try to have a son by her. This act was legal in that society, but it was not in the will of God. Abraham followed her suggestion and married Hagar (Gen. 16:1-3).

86—Hagar gets pregnant and Sarah gets jealous! Things are so difficult in the home that Sarah throws Hagar out. But the Lord intervenes, sends Hagar back, and promises to take care of her and her son. When Abraham is 86, the son is born, and he calls him Ishmael (Gen. 16:4-16).

99—God speaks to Abraham and promises again that he will have a son by Sarah and says to call his name Isaac. Later, God appears again and reaffirms the promise to Sarah as well (see Gen. 17-18).

100—The son is born (Gen. 21:1-7). They name him Isaac (“laughter”) as commanded by God. But the arrival of Isaac creates a new problem in the home: Ishmael has a rival. For fourteen years, Ishmael has been his father’s only son, very dear to his heart. How will Ishmael respond to the presence of a rival?

103—It was customary for the Jews to wean their children at about the age of three, and to make a great occasion of it. At the feast, Ishmael starts to mock Isaac (Gen. 21:8ff) and to create trouble in the home. There is only one solution to the problem, and a costly one at that: Hagar and her son have to go. With a broken heart, Abraham sends his son away, because this is what the Lord tells him to do (Gen. 21:9-14).

  1. Children of Hagar
    1. Slaves in bondage to Law
    2. Merely human in perspective
    3. Temporal
    4. Opposed to the true children of faith
      1. Ishmael persecuted Isaac.
      2. The Judaizers  were troubling the Galatians.
    5. Will be cast out without inheritance
  2. Children of Sarah
    1. Free
    2. Miraculous in perspective
    3. Eternal
    4. Is an heir with Christ
      1. I Peter 1:3-5
  1. Application
    1. Meditate on the fundamentals of faith (Gospel).
    2. Rejoice always in the righteousness of God by faith in Christ
    3. Remind yourself that the righteousness of Christ is experienced through relationship not regulation.
    4. Reject (slavery) legalism.
      1. Do not relegate the Christian life to rules.