Listen to the Law!, Part 5
Scripture: Galatians 4:21–4:31
Listen to the Law!
Text: Galatians 4:21-31
I. Section 1: The Historical Basis of the Analogy (vv. 21-23)
II. Section 2: The Spiritual Meaning of the Analogy (vv. 24-27)
III. Section 3: The Personal Application of the Analogy (vv. 28-31)
A. We must expect Persecution from legalists, vv. 28-29
B. We must reject Legalism and those who teach it. v. 30
“God employed the services of Sarah for confirming His own promise. In a word, the casting out of Ishmael was nothing else than the consequence and the accomplishment of that promise, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called,’ (Gen. xxi. 12)- not in Ishmael” (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 21, p. 145).
“By trying to place Gentiles under the law, they proved that they themselves were actually slaves, spiritually speaking, and therefore had no part in God’s inheritance. If salvation comes by grace, then the church cannot tolerate salvation by works. Freedom in Christ can be preserved only by abolishing bondage to the law” (Philip Ryken, Galatians, p. 191).
1. Doctrinal “Casting Out” (1:8-9; 2:5)
“There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His 'blood and righteousness' alone that we can rest” (B.B. Warfield, Works, 7:113).
“If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema” (Canon 9 of the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent)
“If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema” (Canon 11 of the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent)
2. Personal “casting out” (2:11-21; 6:1)
“This only I say, this I ask, this I desire: despise not the works of thy hands; see in me thy work, not mine. For if thou seest mine, thou wilt condemn it. If thou seest thine own, thou wilt crown it. For whatever good works are mine are from thee” (John Calvin, Institutes, 3.14.20).
Q: “But why can our good works not be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of it?”
A: “Because the righteousness which can stand before God's judgment must be absolutely perfect and in complete agreement with the law of God, whereas even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 62).
“He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24).
“So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman” (Gal. 4:31).
© John Fonville
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