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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Barcus & Laura Neal

October 29th, 2023: Freedom as an Heir- Galatians 3:23-4:7

The Old Testament of the Bible allows us to trace the hand of God in human affairs from the Creation of the world. Maybe more importantly, it gives the reader an understanding of the depravity of mankind and makes clear our need for divine intervention. The scripture reveals the failure and inevitable consequences of imperfect humans living under a system of perfect law. Jesus fulfilled the law, demonstrating his ability to save and redeem. His death, burial, and resurrection move humanity out from under the law and lifts them up into the kingdom of grace. The New Covenant is ushered in on the day of Pentecost and will remain in effect until the return of Christ, which is called the rapture.

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

On Mt. Sinai, the people of Israel were presented with and consented to the law given to Moses by God. At Mt. Sinai, Moses and all the people of God understood that the blessings and curses of God would fall upon them in direct relation to how they kept the law. The phrase “keep the law,” means more than most assume. The word translated keep is used in two other ways throughout scripture. One way is pictured as a guard in a high tower guarding those within. They were to cherish, protect, and keep pure the words of God because they are right and holy. The second image is of a nautical one. Sailors would “keep” on course by charting the constancy of the stars. They were to follow the direction of God’s words in order to know how to proceed through life to their eternal destination. We know that God did not require perfect obedience because He knew that humanity was incapable of meeting that standard. That is why, at the same time the law was given, the methods of sacrifice were also provided. God always made a way for sin to be removed and for grace to be given. Those mercies, the substitutionary offerings, were a foreshadowing of the ministry of Christ. God’s people were to separate themselves from the world in order to be the light shining out to all nations, a beacon to show the power and faithfulness of God. The law and the sacrifices showed the suffering caused by sin and the inability of an individual to pay his own debt to God. The procedures of the law did not save them, but their obedience and faith in God to believe He would keep his word to them preserved them in safety until Christ appeared.

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Graduations are commemorated with a ceremony and a lot of celebration. It’s a marked turning point in the life of a student. They have reached the finish line. No longer will they be guided through the system that prepares them for life, they are now launched into the “real” world of jobs, responsibility, and natural consequences. To a much greater extent, the born-again experience of a believer in Jesus moves an individual out of the “classroom” of the law and into a real and personal relationship with God on a whole new level. God desires not only to be known about, but to be intimately known by His children. A schoolmaster is more than just a tutor or teacher, in ancient times the schoolmaster’s job was to watch over, train, and protect the student. In many instances, the schoolmaster was a person who acted in the place of a parent, teaching basics but also bringing the student into a disciplined maturity, constantly giving direction through repetition and pattern.

As a child grows he does not forget what the schoolmaster taught, but he eventually does not need direct supervision in order to stay on track. Paul makes the point that we need to learn the lessons of the law, which show the disposition and holiness of God, but when we are enabled to walk in the newness of life in Christ, we exchange the rote memorization for real-life application. The law shows us our need for Christ; we are always unable to rise to its required holiness, but Christ shows us the hope we have in Him alone to be made righteous through the power of His blood. Our redeemed lives become an outward demonstration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through our obedience to baptism, our words become a reflection of God’s faithfulness and power as we openly confess God and praise Him. In exchange for stone tablets engraved by the finger of God on tender repentant hearts God is tracing His eternal story of truth and compassion.

To a much greater extent, the born-again experience of a believer in Jesus moves an individual out of the “classroom” of the law and into a real and personal relationship with God on a whole new level.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

This is a very interesting passage, one we should take some time to consider. Paul knows very well that there are people who are Jews and Greeks. There are slaves and there are people born free. There is male and there is female. So why does he use this phrase? Those things are not the things that change. When we are born again into the family of God, those things that separate us are gone. We are all one in Christ. We are grafted in, so to speak, into the family of faithful Abraham. We believe God - through faith. Paul goes on later to discuss our many talents and abilities but we are ultimately part of one family, one body, one God. We become unified as God always intended. Knowing who we are in Christ, gives us purpose. We are part of the plan God put in place before the foundation of the world. We are brothers and sisters with every other believer and we have an eternal home in heaven when this life is over. So, the questions of who I am find satisfying answers in the Kingdom of Christ. I am God’s child and a brother or sister to believers. I am here to fulfill His story in me and to do all that I do in order to bring Him glory.

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

This speaks to the fact that schoolmasters “parented” their students, meaning that if you were to see the relationship, you could easily mistake it for a father and a son. However, the relationship we have with even beloved teachers is far different from the relationship of a parent to a child. Under the law we are trained and corrected, but under grace, we are loved and accepted. The behavior of a believer may look similar to the behavior of an Old Testament saint in many ways. We are “created for good works,” but we are not obedient in order to win praise, we obey because God is our father. Christ has made a way to restore us to God. God is no respecter of persons. We all learn and work out our own salvation in fear and trembling, but there comes a time when the Father declares that we are fully grown. In most cultures, there is a celebration of adulthood or an age when a child becomes accountable. Spiritually, this is also true. We are in bondage under the elements of the world until we are freed from the bondage of sin through our acceptance of Jesus Christ. You will reach the age of accountability. You will be spiritually accountable, not to the letter of the law, but for your surrender to Christ and faith in Him.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

What a glorious verse! When the fullness of time… when it was just the right time, not too late- not too early, but right on time, God sent Jesus. Not conceived with an earthly father (fulfilling all the prophecies concerning his birth), and not from a gentile, (fulfilling the law and prophets). We are not step children, we are sons and daughters with the right to call out to our Father, Daddy! No longer a servant or slave to the law, but safely placed in the family of God. No longer without hope and doomed to Hell, because of our inability to achieve perfection, the perfection of Jesus makes us heirs of God, fully restored, gloriously redeemed.

Thank you for studying with us! God bless!



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