A sermon based on Galatians 3:27-4:7 developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett
Historical Background on Galatians:
• Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to churches scattered across central Turkey that he had personally started to reach non-Jews.
• 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.
• The first three chapters of Galatians make it clear that both Jews and non-Jews are saved by faith in Christ and not rituals or traditions.
• This does not mean that rituals and traditions have no place in our spiritual journey. It simply means that rituals and traditions ONLY have value if we first have FAITH.
• Once we discover real faith in Christ, then we begin to find meaning and value in the various traditions and rituals of a particular church.
Verse 27 - For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.
• After having made a strong case that religious rituals only have meaning if genuine faith comes first, Paul then addresses an important Jewish tradition that became a key element of Christian theology, the ritual of baptism.
• Jews used baptism throughout their early history in a variety of ways.
• In Jewish thought, baptism symbolized purity of heart, soul, mind and body.
• Jewish people were often baptized several times throughout their lives as they achieved various spiritual milestones.
• Certain Jewish sects practiced DAILY baptism as a part of their religious celebrations.
• When John the Baptist arrived on the scene, he borrowed this ancient Jewish custom as a symbol for Christian repentance.
• Jesus Himself endorsed John’s use of this symbol by being baptized even though He did not need it.
• Jesus also commanded us to preach the Gospel and baptize those who accept it.
• Baptism was an important religious tradition in Jewish culture, but they had lost the meaning of it because they no longer had faith.
• Likewise, when we are baptized, or take part in other religious rituals, without faith, it leaves us feeling empty.
• But when we have real faith, our baptism is like a wonderful garment that fits well.
• Though we will never be worthy on this side of heaven to approach God the Father, because we are covered with Christ, we can approach God with confidence.
• We approach God not in our own strength or power, but in the Name of Christ alone.
• But if we are not IN CHRIST when we are baptized, then it does nothing for us but make us wet. This is why faith MUST precede baptism.
Verse 28 - There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
• Once we find genuine faith in Christ, then all the barriers between us fall away.
• In Christ we are not ranked by our level of Bible knowledge, or our race, or our economic situation, or our gender.
• In Christ we are ranked by the grace of God as equals and we can go as far with the Lord as we allow our faith to take us.
Verse 29 - And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
• Once we belong to Christ, then we become an heir to all the riches, power and glory of God the Father.
• Though we may not have received all that yet, it has been promised to us.
• If God has promised us so much, why have we not yet experienced the reality of those promises?
Verse 1 - Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything.
• Paul uses the example of a child who is the heir to a fortune but cannot use any of that money because he is not yet of age.
• Though such a child technically owns it all, it does him little good until he reaches maturity.
• Likewise, we have often not yet experienced all the realities of God’s promises because we are still immature in our faith.
• We often act like spiritual children when we should be moving toward maturity.
• It is amazing how many people have been Christians for five years or longer but act like they just got on the Jesus track yesterday.
• Though we may yet not be as mature as we hope to be, are we more mature in the faith than we were five years ago?
• We will never be able to experience all the promises of God if we remain babes in Christ.
Verse 3 - In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world.
• Before we became Christians we were in slavery to our sinful nature.
• All the religious rituals in the world are unable to free us from our slavery to sin.
• We must first place our faith in Christ.
• God is full of grace and gives us time to grow.
• But we cannot use God’s grace as an excuse to not grow.
Verses 4-5 - When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
• There comes a time when God the Father expects us to grow up.
• This was important enough for God the Father to sacrifice His only Son Jesus on the cross to redeem (buy back) us from the world.
• Our spiritual growth cost God His Son.
• Do we really appreciate His sacrifice?
• But God not only bought us back from sin, He has also adopted us as His children.
Verse 6 - And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”
• God knows we cannot do this on our own, therefore He sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to help us grow.
• How often has the Spirit told us to do something, or NOT to do something, and we ignored Him?
• When we ignore the Spirit, we are acting childish.
Verse 7 - So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
• When we let the Spirit guide us, we begin to grow up.
• When we begin to grow up, we no longer act like the slaves to sin we once were.
• Instead we begin to act like the heir of God that we are.
• Various rituals in the church are designed to help us along the way to maturity, but if we do not start with a foundation of faith, the process bogs down.
- The value of religious rituals is in the faith that under-girds them.
- Though we were once in slavery to sin, genuine faith in Christ frees us from that slavery.
- God wants our faith to mature so that we can experience all of His promises.
- Religious rituals that are under-girded by faith can help us in mature in our faith.