Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Promise of Hope

A sermon based on Galatians 3:11-26 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett

• Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches he had started which were scattered across what is now central Turkey.
• Some Jewish Christians had come into the area after Paul left and told the non-Jewish believers that they had to follow all the Old Testament laws and Jewish traditions in order to be real Christians.
• This was causing a lot of confusion because Paul had told them that all they needed was faith in Christ alone for salvation.

Verse 11 - Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith.
               The scriptures make it very clear that people receive eternal salvation by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5).
               We are not just SAVED by faith, but we also learn to LIVE by faith (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10:38).
               Every day is a new experience in trusting God.

Verse 13 - Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
               Our faith is not in ourselves, or in our church, or in our culture, our faith is in Christ alone.
               Just as we are SAVED by faith in Christ alone, we must also LIVE by faith in Christ alone.
               When we live by faith we experience the reality of Christ redeeming us from the curse of sin.
               The word redeemed comes from the Greek word exagorazo and literally means to buy a person back from the slave market.
               Jesus has purchased us from the slave market of this cursed world.
               Slavery is so removed from the thought process of modern Americans that we struggle to understand what being “redeemed” meant to the Galatians to whom Paul was writing. Let us take a moment to remind ourselves of the evils of slavery by hearing three short testimonies of what slavery was like in America before the Civil War.

               Henry Bibb, The Life and Adventures of an American Slave (1851)
A slave may be bought and sold in the market like an ox. He is bound in chains hand and foot; and his sufferings are aggravated a hundred fold by the terrible thought that he is not allowed to struggle against misfortune, punishment, insults and outrages committed upon himself and family; and he is not allowed to help himself, or to escape the blow which he sees coming. I was a slave. No one can imagine my feelings but he who has himself been a slave.

               James Pennington, The Fugitive Blacksmith (1859)
My master once owned a beautiful girl about twenty-four. One of his sons became attracted to her, for no honorable purpose. The result of his affection was that the poor slave girl had to be sold. Never shall I forget the heart-rending scene when she was taken into the town and there sold to the traders before her parent’s weeping eyes. That same son who had degraded her, acted as salesman. The girl's father, a godly member of the Methodist Church, begged the Master to give him time to find a local person who might buy his daughter so she could remain in the area. But the master refused, insisting she be sold to someone far away so that the “offense she had caused his family” would be out of his hearing forever.

               Dr. Elwood Harvey - American Slavery: Sale of Slaves, Virginia, December 1846
A property near Petersburg, Virginia was being sold. The slaves were told they would stay with the house so they could remain together as families. After the land was sold, the auctioneer's loud voice was heard, 'Bring up the niggers!'
Astonishment and fear passed over their faces. When the horrible truth sunk into their minds that they were to be sold and parted forever, the effect was indescribably agonizing. Women snatched up their babes, and ran screaming into the huts. Children hid behind trees, and the men stood in mute despair.  
A white boy, about fifteen years old, was placed on the auction stand. His hair was brown and straight, his skin exactly the same hue as other white persons, and he had no discernible trace of negro features. Some vulgar jests were made about his parentage. One man said it was wrong to sell white people. I asked him if it was more wrong than to sell black people. He made no reply and the boy was sold.
A slave woman was next called by name. She gave her infant one last embrace before leaving it with an old woman. As she walked across the yard she stopped, threw her arms aloft, screamed, and was unable to move.  I could watch no more and left without knowing what happened to her or her baby.

Slavery to Sin
               Just as these moving stories about the evil of slavery weigh heavy on our souls, so our Lord is grieved as He watches what our slavery to sin does to our lives.
               Sin destroys families, sometimes separating them forever.
               Sin makes us afraid. It stops us in our tracks and causes us to be filled with despair.
              Though we may try to escape, sin has a way of catching up to us.
               What we need is a Hero who will come and buy us back from the slave market of sin and set us free.
               Christ, our Savior did that very thing, paying the price of our freedom with His very life.

Verse 14 - The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
               The purpose of Christ’s coming was so that we, who do not deserve it, might be blessed.
               The vilest person among us, when he or she places faith in Christ, is REDEEMED from slavery to sin and given the promise of blessings in this life, as well as the promise of eternal life.
               The vilest person among us can receive the promises of God.
               There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of promises in the Bible, but here are nine important ones that represent how important God’s promises are:

Nine Promises of God
• God has promised to supply our every need. Philippians 4:19
• God has promised that His grace will be sufficient for us. 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:2.
• God has promised that there is a way for us to escape temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13. Jude 24.
• God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully. Romans 8:28
• God has promised that those who believe in Jesus will be saved. Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38.
• God has promised to forgive us if we confess our sins. 1 John 1:8-9.
• God has promised to hear our prayers. 1 John 5:14-15
• God has promised victory over death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 1 Corinthians 15:55
• God has promised His people eternal life. John 10:27, 28

Verse 16 - Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say "and to seeds," as though referring to many, but and to your seed, referring to one, who is Christ.
               We often think that the promises of God were only given to the “perfect” people who seem to live a charmed life.
               We are partially right, in that the promises of God are accessible only by a perfect person. But there is ONLY ONE perfect person and His name is Jesus Christ.
               Since the promises of God belong to Christ, He can share them with whomever He chooses.
               Christ chose to share those promises with us!
               Will we accept the gift of God’s promises or will we continue to struggle through life on our own?

Verse 17 - And I say this: the law, which came 430 years later, does not revoke a covenant that was previously ratified by God, so as to cancel the promise.
               The greatest promise God has ever made was that He would send a Savior to redeem us from our sin.
               That promise was made 430 years before the Old Testament laws were written down.
               This means that the promise of God precedes the law of God.
               One does not cancel the other, but to understand both the law and the promise, we must get them in the right order.
               We must first accept the promises of God, and then the Holy Spirit will help us do a better job of keeping the law of God.

Verse 21 - Is the law therefore contrary to God's promises? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law.
               Paul wants to make it clear that God’s laws are not in opposition to God’s promises.
               But the purpose of the law was simply to show us how much we needed the promises of God.
               If we had never read all those rules in the Old Testament, we might not have realized our need for Christ.
               But when we read all those laws, we realized just how much of a mess we had made of things.
               Though we keep trying, at some point we must realize that no amount of human effort to turn over a new leaf will enable us to keep the whole law of God.
               We are just too imperfect. Our very nature is steeped in sinfulness. (Romans 3:10)
               Therefore, we must fall upon the grace and mercy of Christ to receive blessings in this earthly life and the blessing of eternal life.
               How long will it take us to learn this life changing truth?
               How long will we play the game before surrendering to the promises of the Master?

Verse 23 - Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.
               Remember how confined and imprisoned we felt under the weight of our sin?
               Remember our fruitless efforts to change ourselves in our own power and strength?
               Then do we recall the amazing change that came over us when we finally placed our faith in Christ?

Verse 24 - The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.
               The Old Testament law helped us see our need until we finally were able to forge a relationship with Jesus Christ.
               Therefore, we should be thankful for the law, and even thankful for the guilt it placed upon us, for without we would have kept trying to do things in our own strength instead of surrendering to the will of Christ.

Verses 25-26 - But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
               Now that we have relationship with Jesus instead of just a religion of dos and don’ts, we can enjoy all the promises of God through faith in Christ.
               Our faith should not make us dour and sad; it should fill us with joy and excitement because now we can experience all those promises in their fullness.
               Jesus said the He came so that we might have ABUNDANT LIFE (John 10:10).
               Are we enjoying that abundant life?
               If not, what is stopping us from experiencing all of God’s promises?

               We are not only SAVED by faith, we must LIVE by faith.
               Christ has redeemed us from both the PRESENT and the ETERNAL curse of sin.
               The laws of God only make sense after we have accepted the PROMISES of God.
               Since we are the children of God, we should start ENJOYING the promises of God by LIVING by faith each day.


  1. You were on FIRE this morning!!!!

  2. I like this.

  3. Thanks Cheyene and Lonnie. Glad you liked the sermon.

  4. Watch this powerful youtube video made by a young man in our church who struggled with thoughts of suicide when he was only in the 6th grade.