Forming Children of God
May 14, 2017
Scripture: Galatians 4:8-20
I. A child of God knows the freedom of God’s grace.
A. The Galatian Christians were thinking about returning to slavery. Galatians 4:8 says that the Gentiles in the Galatian church used to be slaves to those that by nature are not gods. They used to worship idols. But they were now God’s children – knowing and known by God (vs. 9). Because they are now God’s children Paul is amazed at how the Galatians are acting. He writes in vs. 9, “how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
B. Paul is saying to the Gentile Christians that you have traded one form of slavery for another. You used to be slaves to idols. Now, you want to be slaves to follow the whole of the Jewish Law (vs. 10). But you are no longer slaves but sons according to Ephesians 1:4-5: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” God chose you by His grace.
II. A child of God enjoys the ministry of God’s Word.
A. We see in Galatians 4:12-14 that it was in a time of weakness and sickness that Paul first preached the gospel message of the Bible to the Galatians. How did they receive that message? Paul asks in vs. 15, “What then has become of the blessing you felt?” The Galatians felt blessed when Paul first preached the Gospel from the Bible to them. They were happy to hear the Bible’s message. Paul then encourages the church to return to the Bible teaching he had given them. Paul had become like a Gentile (vs. 12). He was no longer a slave to the Jewish Law.
B. Paul did not like being sick, but his suffering was an opportunity that God was giving him to teach the Bible. And your suffering is an opportunity to teach your children. We Christians suffer well because we know that in our suffering God reveals His strength to us. One lesson that Paul learned from God in his suffering is found in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
III. A child of God is transformed into the image of Jesus.
A. In Galatians 4 we see that the point of reading and hearing the Bible is not information. The point of reading and hearing the Bible is transformation. God wants to change your life. What is the change that God wants to see? We find it in vs. 19: “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” God wants to see Jesus in us. He wants us to look like Jesus. It is an interesting picture Paul uses. First, Paul pictures himself as a mother in labor giving birth to some baby Christians. But then Paul changes the picture. Paul pictures the Christians in the church as the mother. And who are those Christians about to give birth to? Jesus! They give birth to Jesus in their lives and they look more and more like Jesus.
Moms, by God’s grace help your children love the Bible and live as children of God also.
The letter to the Galatians
Commentaries on Galatians by Philip Ryken and Thomas Schreiner