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Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

Option #1: "Forever Freedom"
Galatians 3:23-29

Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

I. It does not come from the Law

    A) Which condemns and imprisons--v23

    B) But also points us to Christ--v24

MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Galatians

Under Law: Bondage--But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. (3:23-24) After using the third person for most of the chapter (vv6-22), Paul ...is identifying himself with all of mankind, Jew and Gentile. Even the most pagan Gentile who has never heard of the true God is under obligation to keep His moral and spiritual standards and, if he disregards those standards, to face the judgment of God.

Paul uses two figures to represent God’s law and its effect on unbelievers, first that of a prison and then that of a guardian.

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (3:25-29)

The Judaizers refused to relinquish the ceremonial law even after making a profession of belief in Christ. To them, trust in Christ was merely added to works of the law. And because they held onto the bondage of the law, they could not receive the freedom of faith. Because they insisted on remaining under the tutor, they never advanced to the care of the Savior.

The law was never intended to be anything more than a temporary means of showing men their sin and of leading them to the Savior. Its internal, moral demands left men ridden with guilt; its external ceremonies (circumcision, offerings, washings, sabbaths, feasts, etc.) symbolized the need for cleansing from that guilt. Now that faith in Jesus Christ has come, a person is no longer under the law as a tutor. He is now out from under the law’s symbolism, the law’s bondage, and the law’s discipline. The law’s purpose has been fulfilled, and the person is no longer "under law, but under grace" (Rom 6:14). God’s moral standards, however, do not change, and the New Testament reiterates them, and the power of the resident Holy Spirit in the believer enables obedience to them (see Eph 2:10).

II. Faith makes us family with Him in this forever freedom--vv25-29

As he unfolds the result of being rightly related to God through faith in Christ Jesus, Paul shows three aspects of the freedom of that relationship. Those who believe in Him and thereby become one with Him are sons of God, are one with every other believer, and are heirs of the promise.

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (3:29) The spiritual promise of eternal salvation and blessing given to Abraham belongs to all those who belong to Christ. They are all heirs according to that promise, which is fulfilled in Christ. This is not a reference to the promises given to Abraham regarding the land (Gen 12:1; 13:14-15; 17:8), but refers to the spiritual blessings that come to all who, being justified by faith just as Abraham was (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3-11), will inherit the spiritual promises given to Abraham. Not all the physical seed of Abraham will receive the promises of salvation (Rom 9:6-11), but many who are not physical seed of Abraham will receive them by coming to God by faith as he did, thereby becoming his spiritual offspring.

John Stott lucidly summarizes his comments on this passage in the following words: "We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses, and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there. We must let Moses send us to Christ" (The Message of Galatians [London: Inter-Varsity, 1968], p102).

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Children’s Message

(Gal 3:26) You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Visual aid: picture of a couple on their wedding day

I know that today is the 4th of July, but I want to talk to you about something else that happens often during the summer months. I’m talking about weddings. Think back to the last time you were at a wedding. It probably wasn’t too long ago.

When I was your age, we had a song we sang about the wedding couple: Here comes the bride, all dressed in white. Here comes the groom, straight as a broom.

Your mom also made sure you got all dressed up for the wedding, and that’s what I want you to think about. Paul wrote about that in one of today’s Bible Readings: (Gal 3:26) You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27) for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

In Jesus' time, the King who paid for the wedding also bought wedding clothes for the guests. (Matt 22:11ff). They were the best clothes you could ever wear. Jesus mentioned in his story that a man showed up wearing his own clothes. It would be like wearing torn blue jeans and a dirty shirt when everyone else was wearing tuxes and gowns. You can guess what happened after that. The King was so angry that he had that man thrown out.

Paul says that when you were baptized you got your wedding clothes. As long as you are a Christian, you are wearing your beautiful wedding clothes. The moment someone stops trusting in Jesus, you look like you’re wearing dirty clothes at a wedding, and that can get you thrown out. You want to be wearing the clothes of your Baptism when Jesus comes back. This wedding is eternal life and you don’t want to miss it, not for anything in the whole wide world.

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Option #2: "He Will Never Forget!"
Zechariah 12:7-10
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

 
The Point: Zechariah = "God remembers"
 
The Problem: we forget that God, the one we pierced and mourn, has won the ultimate victory and is with us in our struggles against the unholy trinity
 
The Promise: God will save us, make us great, and pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on us
 
Notes:
 
1. Context: One of the last Old Testament prophets to be written, Zechariah was a priest who became one of the leaders of the Jews who returned to Judah after the exile, probably returning in 538 B.C. An associate of Haggai, Zechariah seems to have begun his preaching during the efforts to re-build the temple. The message of his book balances a call to repentance (1:3-6 and the series of visions that make up the first part of the book) with the promise of redemption in the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God in the messianic age. In both the overall thrust of his prophecy and the many details he gives, Zechariah is one of the most messianic of the Old Testament prophets. (David Adams)
 
2. Judah came late to the battle with a bad record of previous enmity and yet is the first to enjoy the gift of victory. This marks the victory as purely God's grace and His gift, not a human attainment; not even the royal house or the holy city can claim personal credit. The last shall be first. (Concordia Self-Study Commentary)
 
3. .the spirit of God, sent forth in consequence of the divine compassion for His people, creates in them a new spirit of supplication to God concerning their needs... Supplication is, in Hebrew, a plural of intensification: intense and efficacious prayer. (The New Bible Commentary: Revised)
 
4. He...is "the arm of the Lord," God Himself come down to save, and who is yet smitten by God for the people's trangressions... To look on the pierced form of Christ by faith is to discover what we owe to Him for His suffering on our behalf. (Ibid)
 
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