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Lesson 8: From Slaves to Heirs *

Introduction: Last week, Paul explained that the law was just like going to school. When we discussed our days in school, we remembered that school not only taught us important lessons about how to succeed in life, it also taught us that we were not the smartest student in the class. (And the smartest student was taught that lesson the next level up in school!) Now that we have learned those lessons, Paul concludes that "we are no longer under the supervision of the law." ( Galatians 3:25). What does it mean to be unsupervised? How should we live? Let's plunge again into our continuing study of Galatians and find out what God says!

  1. Young Sons and Daughters of God

    1. Let's go out of order for just a bit. Let's read Galatians 4:1. Why is it true that a young child of the estate owner is just like a slave? (Legally, the child has no right to the estate. But time will change that for the child. Time will not change it for the slave.)

    2. Read Galatians 4:2. This reminds us of last week, when we learned that wealthy parents had servants who would take care of their young children and make sure they were taken to school. We learned that the law was this instructor. Who do you think is the "father" in Paul's analogy? (God, the Father.)

      1. Who decides when a child becomes an adult? (Paul tells us that the Father makes that decision. In the United States, this is generally governed by law. But, parents have control over when their children have the right to the parents' wealth.)

    3. Read Galatians 4:3. When humans were under the law they were like school children. While in school we were "under the basic principles of the world." What are those basic principles? (The most basic principle is that if we sinned, we would die.)

  2. Adult Sons and Daughters of God

    1. Read Galatians 4:4-5. Let's look at these two verses closely. What time are we talking about? And, who decided when the time should come? (The time is when Jesus came to this world as a human. God the Father apparently determined that time.)

      1. What do these verses say about the nature of Jesus? (First, that He is the Son of God. Second, that He was born of a human woman. That makes Jesus both God and human.)

      2. What was the purpose of Jesus coming? (To redeem us from the law. To give us the rights of adult sons, instead of the rights of young children.)

    2. Now, let's go back and pick up the verses that we skipped. Read Galatians 3:26-29. The verses we have been reading refer to "sons." Is Paul referring to both men and women? (Yes!)

      1. Then why would Paul call them "sons?" (Sons had superior legal rights to daughters. His point is that when it comes to being a child of God, there is no difference based on gender, race, economic or political status. All are given the maximum legal right.)

      2. How do we become a grown up child of God? How do we move out from under the law and secure our maximum legal rights?(Faith and baptism.)

        1. Notice the precise wording "through faith in Christ Jesus" and "baptized into Christ." What kind of faith is described? Exactly what are we believing? (Since Paul describes Jesus as both God and human, that seems to be a key part of faith.)

        2. Why would Paul use the phrase "baptized into Christ?" How can we somehow enter into Jesus when we are baptized? (Read Romans 6:3-5. This helps us to understand the nature of baptism. Just as Jesus was buried in death, so it is that when we are buried beneath the water in baptism, we participate in Jesus' death. When we rise from the baptismal water, we participate in Jesus' resurrection, and thus His defeat of sin and death. In this way we look forward to resurrection to eternal life!)

    3. Let's go back and re-read Galatians 3:29. What does dying and rising(through baptism)mean about the law and grace? (That we are now part of the contract with Abraham - to believe and live. We have also paid, through Jesus, the penalty for sin. In at least this way we are no longer under the supervision of the law.)

  3. The Spirit of the Sons and Daughters of God

    1. Let's move forward by reading Galatians 4:6-7. What new thing do we learn about becoming children of God? (We have Spirit of God in our hearts.)

      1. What is one role of God's Spirit in our heart? (To call out "Abba," which means "Father.")

        1. What does that mean?(It means that we have a changed attitude towards God. We feel a love for Him, and a relationship with Him just as we would for a normal, loving father. Think of the child who has a wonderful father, and that is the relationship we have with God.)

    2. Read Galatians 4:8-9. Should an attitude that God is our loving and gracious Father make a difference in how we live? (All children have a time of rebellion, but normal children dealing with normal parents want to please their parents.)

      1. Paul writes of unnatural gods and "weak and miserable principles." What are unnatural gods? (The most unnatural gods are those that we make with our own hands. Why would any sane person worship some object that person made? The legalists were doing the same thing - they were worshiping what they had made! By their own effort they had obeyed the law (at least they thought so), and therefore their salvation was "made by them.")

    3. Read Galatians 4:10-11. Paul gives us an example of what he is talking about. How does worshiping your own efforts have anything to do with "special days and months and seasons and years?" (The ceremonial law had all sorts of rules about special feasts, and the timing of certain purification. If the people were going to rely on observing those deadlines and dates for salvation, they were getting back to righteousness by works.)

      1. What about the Sabbath? It is a "special day!" (It certainly means that going to church on Sabbath does not save you - any more than anything else you do saves you. If you have the attitude of "Abba" towards your Heavenly Father, would you not want to spend the Sabbath with Him? I love it when I can video Skype with my son who no longer lives with us. It is not a burden. Not a task. Not something that I think "I'll get credit for doing this!")

      2. We have looked at how we were buried with Jesus and resurrected with Him. Do you recall where Jesus spent the Sabbath after His death? (In the grave.)

        1. Why?

        2. If you were God the Father, and your Son had just been through a horrific beating and abuse, would you want to run to Him right away and comfort Him?

        3. If your were God the Father, and your Son had just won the Super Bowl of the universe, would you want to rush to Him immediately to congratulate Him? ("Yes!" What loving parent would delay? The only way I can possibly account for this incredible delay is that just as Jesus rested on Sabbath after His creation ( Genesis 2:2), so Jesus rested on Sabbath after His victory over sin. I want to celebrate both of those astonishing feats (Creation/Redemption)on Sabbath - and it has nothing to do with the works of my hands!)

  4. Paul's Motivation

    1. Read Galatians 4:12-16. Whenever you hear someone advocate a position, you should ask "What is that person's motive?" If you were a member of the Galatian church, what negative motives could you attribute to Paul's letter? (Pride of opinion. Anger that they should change their mind - and no longer agree with him. Pride of "ownership" - these are people that Paul converted.))

      1. Notice that Paul answers these charges. Is his pride injured? (He says, "you have done me no wrong.")

      2. What about pride of "ownership?" (Paul says "I first stopped in your town because I was sick." It was not Paul's goal to convert this particular group (as opposed to people in the next town). Paul seems to be saying, "I can convert the next town, I don't need to claim "ownership" over you.)

      3. What does Paul say is his main reason for wanting them to go back to grace? (Joy. He wants to give them back their joy.)

    2. Read Galatians 4:17-20. What motivates the legalists to try to turn the Galatians to their views? (Power. They want more followers.)

    3. Friend, Paul tells us that believing in righteousness by faith is like the joy of a child who on his birthday becomes an adult. He is now unsupervised! He has freedom, he has status, he has legal rights. That freedom as sons and daughters of God brings us closer to Him. Makes us desire to please Him. Will you enter today into the joy of grace?

  5. Next week: Paul's Pastoral Appeal.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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