We give thanks that you bless us in so many ways—with your word and your presence, with family, good health, and our many needs. May we model your mercy by blessing those around us, that your love would indeed be multiplied over and over again. Go with us now as we speak into the lives of those around us in word and in deed, especially in this Advent season. Grant us strength for the day; grace for those we meet; and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Holiness,
We praise you for blessing us with life, a vision of how to live it, and family to share it with. We praise you for your faithful presence on good days and not so good days. Forgive us for our willfulness. Forgive us for sins against those around us and sins against you. Plant in us seeds of forgiveness and the patience to watch them grow. Plant in us the desire to follow you and to prosper your kingdom. Not just asking for blessings, but becoming blessings to those around us. Blessing not only those easy to love but those who are not so easy to love. Grant us strength for the day, grace for those we meet, and peace in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Almighty God, may our words and our actions reflect your glory and bring honor to your name, this day and every day. In the power of your Holy Spirit, cleanse our thoughts; sanctify our hearts; and redeem our actions that we may be a blessing to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Dios Todopoderoso, que nuestras palabras y nuestras acciones reflejen Tu gloria y traigan honra a Tu nombre, este día y todos los días. En el poder de Tu Espíritu Santo, limpia nuestros pensamientos, santifica nuestros corazones, y redime nuestras acciones que podamos ser una bendición para los que nos rodean. En el nombre de Jesús oramos, Amén.
And because you are sons and daughters, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a child, and if a child, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:6-7).
Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is not transactional?
What if God were like a Facebook friend who after one “bad hair day” simply unfriended you? Who would ever be comfortable in their relationship with such a god? Could you ever really love God knowing that you were constantly being evaluated? Or, turning the question around, could you ever really love God knowing that your love was purchased with wealth or fame?
Aren’t you glad that our relationship with God is a real relationship?
In Galatians 4, the Apostle Paul describes what it means to be a child of an (unconditional) promise. When we are promised a gift (like friendship), we need only believe in the promise. The promise is unconditional. We do not have to do anything to earn the gift. That is what the word, gift, implies. The good news is that God’s grace is a gift.
Law works differently. Law is a conditional promise. If you obey the law, then you earn the reward promised under the law. For example, if you apply to become a U.S. citizen, the law covering citizenship applies. If you meet the conditions of this law, then you are eligible to become a citizen. If you do not meet the law’s conditions and you desire the reward of the law, then you are a slave of the law (and your desire) until you meet those conditions.
With this argument concerning conditional (law) and unconditional (grace) promises, Paul is making two points:
Being under law is like kids waiting to be old enough to inherit from their parents (vv 1-3). Being under law implies immaturity. Mature adults are under no such restrictions. What adult would prefer to be a kid again?
Being under gospel implies freedom from law, but it does not imply freedom from relationship. We are God’s adopted children—children of the promise (vv 5-7, 23-28). Free people do not behave like slaves because they are in relationship with their parents which includes having an inheritance (v 30).
Paul’s discussion of our freedom in Christ continues into chapter 5.
Paul’s discussion of the relationship between Abraham and his two wives, Hagar and Sarah, has generated a lot of discussion over the years. Paul argues that being under the Mosaic covenant (the Law of Moses) is like being a slave to law. Because Hagar was a slave woman, he equates the two (law and Hagar) in his allegory. This causes heartburn for Jewish interpreters because the Jews were biological descendants of Sarah, not Hagar.
Paul’s argument revolves around God’s covenant with Abraham. The Jews have not taken to heart the second half of the covenant to Abraham: And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing(Genesis 12:2-3 ESV). The covenant with Abraham required that Abraham become a blessing (וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה) [to the nations]—which essentially means that the Gospel needs to be told. The Galatians were like Sarah (and the Jews were not) because they more completely fulfilled Abraham’s covenant obligations. At a minimum, sharing the love of God has to start with sharing who God is! Niceness is not enough; obeying the law is not enough (Galatians 5:14).
Our question is: Are we children of Hagar or of Sarah?
How was your week? Did anything special happen?
Who attended the Worship Workshop and would like to give a report?
Do you have questions from chapter 3?
According to Paul, how is a child like a slave? (vv 1-3)
What does this analogy have to do with law? (v 3)
What is the role of Christ? (vv 4-7)
What is the “fullness of time” mean? What about “born of a woman”? (v 4)
What is the argument—that was then; this is now—that Paul is making? What transition is he referring to? (vv 8-10)
What is a transition? (beginning, middle, and end)
What is Paul’s fear, as expressed in this rant? (vv 11-20)
What is Paul’s argument here in verse 11?
What is Paul’s analogy to Hagar and Sarah? (vv 22-31)
How is the law like Hagar; how is it not? Why would Jewish interpreters be upset?