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Lesson 8 August 12-18
Read for This Week’s Study: Gal. 3:26-4:20; Rom. 6:1-11; Heb. 2:14-18; 4:14, 15; Rom. 9:4, 5.
Memory Text: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7, ESV).
Paul tells the Galatians that they should not live and act as slaves but as the sons and daughters of God, with all the rights and privileges thereof — a truth that the young Martin Luther needed to hear. As his convictions of sin deepened, the young man sought by his own works to obtain pardon and peace. He led a most rigorous life, endeavoring by fasting, vigils, and scourgings to subdue the evils of his nature, from which the monastic life had brought no release. He shrank from no sacrifice by which he might attain to that purity of heart which would enable him to stand approved before God. He was, he had said later, a pious monk who strictly followed the rules of his order, and yet he found no peace within. “If ever monk could obtain heaven by his monkish works, I should certainly have been entitled to it.” Yet it didn’t work for him.
Only as he later began to understand the truth about salvation in Christ, as revealed in the Galatians, did he ever start to have any kind of spiritual freedom and hope for his own soul. As a result, too, our world has never been the same.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 19.
Sunday August 13
Keeping Galatians 3:25 in mind, read Galatians 3:26. How does this text help us understand what our relationship to the law is, now that we have been redeemed by Jesus?
The word for at the beginning of verse 26 indicates that Paul sees a direct connection between this verse and the preceding one. In the same way that a master’s son was under a pedagogue only as long as he was a minor, Paul is saying that those who come to faith in Christ are no longer minors; their relationship with the law is changed because they are now adult “sons” of God.
The term son is not, of course, exclusive to males; Paul clearly includes females in this category (Gal 3:28). The reason he uses the word sons instead of children is that he has in mind the family inheritance that was passed on to the male offspring, along with the fact that the phrase “sons of God” was the special designation of Israel in the Old Testament (Deut. 14:1, Hos. 11:1). In Christ, Gentiles now also enjoy the special relationship with God that had been exclusive to Israel.
What is it about baptism that makes it such a significant event? Gal. 3:27, 28; Rom. 6:1-11; 1 Pet. 3:21.
Our union with Christ symbolized through baptism means that what is true of Christ also is true of us. Because Christ is the “seed” of Abraham, as “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17), believers also are heirs to all the covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants.
Dwell on this thought that what is true of Christ is also true of us. How should this amazing truth affect every aspect of our existence?
Monday August 14
Having just compared our relationship to God with that of sons and heirs, Paul now elaborates on this metaphor by including the theme of inheritance in Galatians 4:1-3. Paul’s terminology evokes a situation in which an owner of a large estate has died, leaving all his property to his oldest son. His son, however, is still a minor. As is often the case with wills even today, the father’s will stipulates that his son is to be under the supervision of guardians and managers until he reaches maturity. Though he is master of his father’s estate by title, as a minor he is little more than a slave in practice.
Paul’s analogy is similar to that of the pedagogue in Galatians 3:24, but in this case the power of the stewards and managers is far superior and much more important. They are responsible not only for the upbringing of the master’s son, but they are also in charge of all the financial and administrative affairs until the son is mature enough to assume those duties himself.
Read Galatians 4:1-3. What is Paul saying there that, again, should help clarify what the role of the law should be in our lives, now that we are in Christ?
To regulate one’s life around these rules instead of Christ is like wanting to go back in time. For the Galatians to return to those basic elements after Christ had already come was like the adult son in Paul’s analogy wanting to be a minor again!
While a childlike faith can be positive (Matt. 18:3), is it necessarily the same thing as spiritual maturity? Or could you argue that the more you grow spiritually, the more childlike your faith will be? How childlike and “innocent” and trusting is your faith?
Tuesday August 15
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4, ESV).
Paul’s choice of the word fullness indicates God’s active role in working out His purpose in human history. Jesus did not come at just any time; He came at the precise time God had prepared. From a historical perspective, that time is known as the Pax Romana (the Roman Peace), a two-hundred-year period of relative stability and peace across the Roman Empire. Rome’s conquest of the Mediterranean world brought peace, a common language, favorable means of travel, and a common culture that facilitated the rapid spread of the gospel. From a biblical perspective, it also marked the time that God had set for the coming of the promised Messiah (see Dan. 9:24-27).
Why did Christ have to take our humanity in order to redeem us? John 1:14; Gal. 4:4, 5; Rom. 8:3, 4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 2:14-18; 4:14, 15.
Galatians 4:4, 5 contains one of the most succinct accounts of the gospel in Scripture. The coming of Jesus into human history was no accident. “God sent forth His Son.” In other words, God took the initiative in our salvation.
Also implicit in these words is the fundamental Christian belief in Christ’s eternal deity (John 1:1-3, 18; Phil. 2:5-9; Col. 1:15-17). God did not send a heavenly messenger. He, Himself, came because only God could save us.
Although He was the divine preexistent Son of God, Jesus was also “born of woman.” Though the virgin birth is implied in this phrase, it more specifically affirms His genuine humanity.
The phrase “born under the law” points not only to Jesus’ Jewish heritage but also includes the fact that He bore our condemnation and was born in order to die for our sins.
It was necessary for Christ to assume our humanity because we could not save ourselves. By uniting His divine nature with our fallen human nature, Christ legally qualified to be our Substitute, Savior, and High Priest. As the second Adam, He came to reclaim all that the first Adam had lost by his disobedience (Rom. 5:12-21). By His obedience He perfectly fulfilled the law’s demands, thus redeeming Adam’s tragic failure. And by His death on the cross, He met the justice of the law, which required the death of the sinner, thus gaining the right to redeem all who come to Him in true faith and surrender.
Wednesday August 16
In Galatians 4:5-7, Paul expands on his theme, stressing that Christ has now “redeemed those who were under the law” (vss. 4, 5, ESV). The word to redeem means “to buy back.” It referred to the price paid to buy the freedom of either a hostage or a slave. As this context indicates, redemption implies a negative background: a person is in need of being liberated.
From what, though, do we need to be freed? The New Testament presents four things among others: (1) freed from the devil and his wiles (Heb. 2:14, 15), (2) freed from death (1 Cor. 15:56, 57), (3) freed from the power of sin that enslaves us by nature (Rom. 6:22), and (4) freed from the condemnation of the law (Rom. 3:19-24, Gal. 3:13, 4:5).
What positive purpose has Christ achieved for us through the redemption we have in Him? Gal. 4:5-7; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 8:15, 16, 23; 9:4, 5.
If these rights are guaranteed on an earthly level, just imagine how much greater are the privileges we have as the adopted children of God!
Read Galatians 4:6, realizing that the Hebrew word Abba was the intimate word children used to address their father, like the word Daddy or Papa today. Jesus used it in prayer (Mark 14:36), and as God’s children we have the privilege of calling God “Abba,” as well. Do you enjoy that kind of intimate closeness to God in your own life? If not, what’s the problem? What can you change to bring about this closeness?
Thursday August 17
Read Galatians 4:8-20. Summarize on the lines below what Paul is saying there. How seriously does he take the false teachings among Galatians?
Paul does not describe the exact nature of the Galatians’ religious practices, but he clearly has in mind a false system of worship that resulted in spiritual slavery. Indeed, he deemed it so dangerous and destructive that he would write such an impassioned letter, warning the Galatians that what they were doing was akin to turning away from sonship to slavery.
Though he didn’t get into specifics, what does Paul say the Galatians were doing that he found so objectionable? Gal. 4:9-11.
Might there be any practices in Seventh-day Adventism that take away from the freedom that we have in Christ? Or instead of the practices themselves being problematic, what about our attitudes toward the practices? How could a wrong attitude lead us into the kind of bondage that Paul warned the Galatians about so vehemently?
Friday August 18Further Thought: “In the council of heaven, provision was made that men, though transgressors, should not perish in their disobedience, but, through faith in Christ as their substitute and surety, might become the elect of God predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to [H]imself according to the good pleasure of [H]is will. God wills that all men should be saved; for ample provision has been made, in giving [H]is only-begotten Son to pay man’s ransom. Those who perish will perish because they refuse to be adopted as children of God through Christ Jesus. The pride of man hinders him from accepting the provisions of salvation. But human merit will not admit a soul into the presence of God. That which will make a man acceptable to God is the imparted grace of Christ through faith in [H]is name. No dependence can be placed in works or in happy flights of feelings as evidence that men are chosen of God; for the elect are chosen through Christ.” — Ellen G. White, “Chosen in Christ,” Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893.
Summary: In Christ we have been adopted into God’s family as His sons and daughters. As God’s children, we have access to all the rights and privileges that such a family relationship entails. To relate to God on the basis of rules and regulations alone would be foolish. It would be like a son wanting to renounce his position and inheritance in order to become a slave.
Every day the police questioned Prabha. They beat her hands and woke her in the middle of the night for further interrogations. They questioned Prabha’s brothers and mother, trying to find some thread that would incriminate her. How long had she planned this robbery? Where had she hidden the gold and rupees?
Prabha begged her family’s gods to help and promised to shave her head if they would free her, but nothing happened. The questioning continued, and Prabha grew more weary.
One night as she slept on the cement floor she dreamed that a man in white touched her and told her to not be afraid. “I am with you,” He promised. “Soon you will be free.”
“Who are you?” Prabha asked the man. “I am Jesus,” He answered.
The next day the police questioning continued. But this time when they beat her, instead of crying she prayed, “Jesus, if You are the true God, please help me.” Two hours later she was released from prison, but she had to return the next day for further questioning.
Every day Prabha went to the police station. If they had a new clue, they questioned her about it. If they caught a thief, they called her to identify him. This continued for more than a year.
Prabha remembered her dream, and she and her family began attending a Christian church. One day an Adventist lay member visited Prabha’s home. He offered to teach them more about Jesus. When the he told them about the Sabbath, Prabha’s brothers challenged him.
“Why do Christians worship on Sunday if the Bible commands them to worship on Sabbath?” The Adventist explained that the Sabbath was established at Creation, affirmed in the Ten Commandments, and honored by Jesus, even after His death.
A few weeks later the Adventist invited Prabha’s family to attend evangelistic meetings. They agreed and invited some friends. Following the meetings Prabha and her family were baptized.
Soon after Prabha’s baptism the thieves who had killed Ma were arrested. The police asked her to identify them. In an ironic twist, the families of the thieves asked Prabha and her family to pray for their imprisoned husbands. The thieves served only one year in prison. Six of the eight accepted Jesus as their Lord, and one is now a lay preacher. The two thieves who refused to become Christians died violent deaths.
Good came from Prabha’s troubles. Her family found Jesus; thieves were converted; and Prabha now serves as a Bible worker. ___
Prabha Mamidi lives in Vizianagaram, India, where she continues to serve God.
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