About sarhodes

I serve as the Pastor at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio. I am married to Meagan and we have been married since 2003. We have two children, Mercedes Grace and Abigail Elizabeth. Mercedes was born on September 1, 2011 and Abigail was born on December 4, 2013. I graduated in 2000 from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio (just northwest of Dayton). I graduated with a BA in pastoral studies from Cedarville University in 2006 and the an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. I enjoy movies, especially action moves like Braveheart, the Patriot and Gladiator. I especially enjoy historical movies. I also enjoy documentaries. I enjoy reading: I love historical books, especially Revolutionary War biographies. I enjoy reading theological books as well. I enjoy spending time with Meagan, Mercedes and Abigail. I also enjoy fishing and watching football.

Sons, NOT Slaves, Passing from Slavery to Sonship (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

Sons, NOT Slaves, Passing from Slavery to Sonship (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 3, 2019

What do you think about when you think about inheritance?

CNNMoney reported, “American retirees expect to leave an average inheritance of almost $177,000 to their heirs.” This ranks sixth in the world, but this number does not apply to all Americans, however, since only 56 percent expect to leave any inheritance at all to their children.[1]

My theme today is:

We are no longer slaves but children of God.

Let’s read

Galatians 3:26-4:7:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

  1. Let’s review the context.
    1. Remember where we are at in Galatians. Paul has been writing about the law. The law had a purpose, it was not purposeless. There could be concern that Paul had talked negatively about the law and now people think it was useless and give in to antinomianism. This was a belief that we don’t need a moral law or a law.
    2. Then, in chapter 3:19-25 Paul talks about the law as a guardian.
    3. Now we are picking up after talking about the guardian and the law as a tutor to lead us to Christ.
    4. We were held in custody under the law but then faith came.
    5. The law could not give us righteousness.
    6. Faith came and Jesus came and so we are no longer under custody under the law.
    7. So, this brings us back to verse 26
  2. We are all sons (and daughters) through faith
    1. Let’s look at verses 26-29.
    2. We are all grafted into God’s family.
    3. àthis is an awesome truth, we have a family.
    4. 4:5 will get into this idea of sonship more.
    5. The ESV Study Bible shares: The Greek word huioi(“sons”) is a legal term used in the adoption and inheritance laws of first-century Rome. As used by Paul here and elsewhere in his letters (cf. 4:5–7 8:14–16, 23), this term refers to the status of all Christians, both men and women, who, having been adopted into God’s family, now enjoy all the privileges, obligations, and inheritance rights of God’s children.
    6. In Gal. 3:27, we have a nice picture of being baptized into Christ.
    7. This is a nice picture of being clothed with Christ.
    8. This is like we put on the uniform of Christ.
      1. Baptism seems to be a ceremonial rite.
      2. Baptism was a huge deal at that time and in the first few centuries of the church.
  • Sometimes they had different robes for them to put on after the baptism.
  1. When we are baptized into Christ we have a new life.
    1. Rom 6:3 talks about being baptized into Christ and being baptized into His death.
    2. 13:14: Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.[2]

Max Lucado shares about this:

I make no claim to being a good golfer, but I love to play golf, watch golf, and on good nights I even dream golf.

So when I was invited to attend the Masters Golf Tournament, I was thrilled. A pass to the Masters is the golfer’s Holy Grail. Mine came via pro golfer Scott Simpson.

Off we went to Augusta National Country Club in Georgia where golf heritage hangs like moss from the trees. I was a kid in a candy store. It wasn’t enough to see the course and walk the grounds; I wanted to see the locker room where the clubs of Ben Hogan and Paul Azinger are displayed.

But they wouldn’t let me in. A guard stopped me at the entrance. I showed him my pass, but he shook his head. I told him I knew Scott, but that didn’t matter. “Only caddies and players,” he explained.

Well, he knew I wasn’t a player or a caddie. Caddies are required to wear white coveralls. My clothing was a dead giveaway. So I left, knowing I had made it all the way to the door but was denied entrance.

God has one requirement for entrance into heaven: that we be clothed in Christ.

When someone prays, “Take away my [sinful] rags and clothe me in your grace,” Jesus in an act visible only to the eyes of heaven, removes the stained robe and replaces it with his robe of righteousness.

What did Jesus do for you and me? He put on our coat of sin and wore it to the cross. As he died, his blood flowed over our sins and they were cleansed. Because of this, we have no fear of being turned away at the door of heaven.[3]

  1. In Gal. 3:28: we are all one in Christ Jesus.
  2. This verse does not mean we lose our own identity, it just means our identity does not separate us. We are no longer:
    1. Greek or Jew
    2. Slave or free
    3. Male or female
  3. You are all one in Christ Jesus.
  4. I believe it would be okay to add other nations in here as well. Christianity does not separate based off of nationality or gender.
  5. However, this does not mean there are no longer gender roles.
    1. Ro 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,
    2. 1 Co 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.
  • Col 3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
  1. 3:29: important summary: if you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
    1. This is really awesome
    2. It is a privilege to be Abraham’s descendants and heirs according to the promise.
  • Belonging to Christ grafts us in to be children of Abraham.
  • Now, Paul drives this point home.
    1. 4:1-3: As long as the heir is a child, even though he owns everything he is a slave. He is under guardians and managers, UNTIL the date set by his father. This would be the date of freedom and ownership and sonship. One writes: In Roman culture the father determined the proper time to conduct the ceremony of passage. He took his child out from under the tutelage of his professional guardians and made him a free son. Normally he did this when his child turned 14.
    2. Now this is the application. We were the children, we had the promise, but we were under guardian. We were held in bondage under the elementary principles of the world.
    3. What does that mean? The ESV Study Bible shares about elementary principles: Both here and in  9the expression refers to the elementary principles the Galatians previously followed, which for Jews would be the Mosaic law and for Gentiles the basic concepts of their pagan religions. But the additional overtones of demonic bondage in this phrase should not be ignored; they were, in terms of their mind-set and life situation, under a legalistic system and enslaved, and Paul explains in v. 8 that this enslavement was “to those that by nature are not gods.” Legalistic superstition and demonic domination are closely linked.
    4. Verse 4, Jesus came at just the right time:
    5. I am always amazed at this passage. This passage makes me think, “Wow! God did have a plan!” of course God had a plan and God sent Jesus at just the right time. Now, some can read this and think this is talking about the right time period for the Gospel to spread. Others may think of this as the right time period within historical Judaism. Either way this does have to do with God sending us His Son at the right time. In Romans 8:18-22 the Bible talks about how all of creation had been waiting in eager expectation for redemption. Actually, all of creation is still waiting in eager expectation for the final redemption.
    6. As far as the history of culture goes, at the time when God sent Jesus things were very ripe for mass communication which helped spread the Gospel. As the Bible exposition Commentary says it: “Roads connected city with city, and all cities ultimately with Rome. Roman laws protected the rights of citizens, and Roman soldiers guarded the peace. Thanks to both the Greek and Roman conquests, Latin and Greek were known across the empire. Christ’s birth at Bethlehem was not an accident; it was an appointment: Jesus came in “the fullness of the time.” (And, it is worth noting, that He will come again when the time is ready.)”
    7. Why does this matter? It matters because these Roman Roads as well as most of the area speaking the same language facilitated an easier spread of the Gospel.
    8. God had a plan and God still has a plan! Jesus came at the right time.
      1. Do you ever doubt? Don’t be afraid to admit that you have certain doubts or that you have certain struggles with faith. We all have doubts sometimes. But this shows us that God’s perfect plan considered every single detail.
      2. God is sovereign.
      3. Trust in God, I encourage you to remember that we can trust in Him.
    9. Jesus was born under the law, this means that Christ lived and fulfilled the Old Testament Law.
    10. Verse 5: Christ came born of a woman, born under the law so that He might redeem us.
    11. In verse 6 we see that God has sent forth His Son’s Spirit into our hearts
    12. This Spirit cries “abba Father!” or “daddy”
    13. Verse 7 gives a nice summary. You are not slaves any longer. This implies that they were slaves to begin with. Slaves to what? Sin, as earlier mentioned
    14. If a son than an heir through God.
  1. Applications:
    1. We must rejoice and worship that we are children of God (3:26).
    2. We must live for Christ recognizing that we are baptized into Christ and clothed with Christ (3:27).
    3. We must not allow cultural differences to separate us from others (3:28).
    4. We must and will confess and repent of any racist thoughts (3:28).
    5. We must challenge and encourage unity (3:28).
    6. We must stand up for those who are put down by others (3:28).
    7. We must not misinterpret chapter 3:28 in a way that takes away differences between cultural groups and roles.
    8. Christ came and because of that we have the right to become a child of God (4:5)
    9. Christ came at just the right time (4:5). We must spread the news of this gift (4:5)
  • We must recognize God’s sovereignty.

Christ gives us a greater inheritance than anything we could ever receive in this world.

The first Russian cosmonaut, Urie Gagarin, famously said when he got to space, “My atheism has been confirmed. I went up in space and looked around, and I didn’t see any God.”

Shortly after this, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay responding to Gagarin’s statement. Lewis pointed out that if there is a God who created everything, he would not relate to us the way a person who lives upstairs relates to a person who lives downstairs. This seemed to be Gagarin’s assumption: God lives somewhere “up there,” and if we climb high enough we’ll find him.

If God is Creator, Lewis said, then he would relate to us more like Shakespeare relates to Hamlet: Hamlet’s never going to find out anything about Shakespeare by going backstage. The only way Hamlet knows Shakespeare is if Shakespeare writes information about himself into the play.

The gospel goes one better: God inserted himself into the play. He wrote himself into creation, and, amazingly, he did so not only as the Judge but as the suffering Redeemer.[4]



[1]Today in the Word, Feb 2017

[2]Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible(Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Ro 13:14.

[3]Max Lucado, “Back Door,” Christian Reader (May/June 2000), p. 96



The Purpose of the Law (Galatians 3:19-25)

The Purpose of the Law(Galatians 3:19-25)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends church in Poland, OH on Sunday, February 24, 2019

I am going to be going to Galatians 3:19-25 in a minute, but let me introduce the passage by talking about lions and cages. Can you imagine keeping a lion as a pet? These people did and his name is Christian, watch this:


They kept a lion as a pet! Who would do that? When is that okay? Generally, we would all have no problem being around a lion as long the lion is in a cage, isn’t that correct? I like going to the zoo and looking at lions behind bars. I like watching lions on television, but not in my front yard.

Now, think about this: we are the lion and the Old Testament Law functions as bars of a cage to keep us from sinning. Now, if our lion nature changes there is no need for the bars. That is what this passage is about.

Paul has been writing about the Law. Paul has been saying that we are NOT made right with God by the Law. We are made right with God by faith. So, what is the purpose of the Law? That is what Paul jumps into in Galatians 3:19, let’s go there and talk about it.

My theme today is this:

The Law was our tutor until Christ came.

Let’s read Galatians 3:19-25:

Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

  1. “What, then, was the purpose of the law?” (vv. 19–20)
    1. These verses bring to a conclusion Paul’s long parenthesis which began in verse 10 and goes through verse 25. Paul has been talking about the purpose of the law.
    2. We must remember to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. As the New American Commentary points out, Paul seems to be writing in Theological shorthand. Paul will later expand on these themes in the letter of Romans. So, we must look to Romans for any problems interpreting these passages.
    3. Further, the New American Commentary points out: Paul’s meaning is essentially clear: the law is not on the same par with the covenant of promise not only because it was chronologically limited but also because it was handed down by angels with a man acting as a go-between.
    4. In Verse 19 we see that:
      1. The law was ordained by angels.
      2. Moses was the mediator.
  • Moses was less of a mediator than Jesus.
  1. Jesus would come.
  1. The verse says that we needed the law because of our transgressions. There are various views on the need for the law and transgressions.
  2. There are four purposes for the law:
    1. “to provide a sacrificial system to deal temporarily with transgressions,”
    2. “to teach people more clearly what God requires and thereby to restrain transgressions,”
    3. “to show that transgressions violated an explicit written law,” or
    4. “to reveal people’s sinfulness and need for a savior” (cf. 3:20: “through the law comes knowledge of sin”).
  3. All four senses are theologically true, but the last is probably uppermost in Paul’s mind.[1]
  1. One source points out the following: The preventive and provocative functions correspond to the civil and spiritual uses of the law as developed by Luther.95Clearly, Luther thought, God has ordained civil laws for the purpose of restraining evildoers. Just as a rope or chain prevents a wild animal from attacking an innocent bystander, so too the law with its “thou shalt nots” and penal code prevents sinful humanity from going on a rampage and completely destroying itself. Obviously without the civil use of the law, human society could not be sustained.
  2. So, we needed the law to show us that we are sinners in need of a Savior in addition to the other reasons listed.
  3. I think it is amazing that this verse points to Christ as the Seed, the Savior.
  4. By the way, we get the idea of angels involved in the giving of the law and this came from Acts 7:53: You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it.”
  5. Now, moving to verse 20:
  6. We have a lot of discussion about this idea of the mediator. I believe Moses was the mediator, but he was a fallen mediator and that also points to Jesus. That also points to the idea that the law was lacking.
  7. This verse is also attesting to the Shema from Deut. 6:4 that the Lord is One.
  1. “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?” (vv. 21–22)
    1. Paul is totally opposed to this idea, he responds: “Certainly not!” Or, “May it never be.”
    2. The Greek expression Paul used, mē genoito, conveys horror and shock at the very concept under consideration.110Of its fifteen occurrences in the New Testament, thirteen are in Paul’s writings, invariably translated “God forbid!” by the KJV: “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? God forbid” (Rom 3:6). “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid” (Rom 3:31). “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom 6:1–2). “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid” (Rom 9:14). “Is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid” (Gal 2:17).[2]
    3. Verse 21 continues with the point that the law could not impart life. Righteousness could not come from the law.
    4. Verse 22, notice how Paul uses the word translated as Scripture. He says everyone is shut up under sin. He uses the idea of a cage. John MacArthur shares: The Greek verb translated “imprisoned” means “to enclose on all sides.” Paul portrays all mankind as hopelessly trapped in sin, like a school of fish caught in a net.[3]
    5. The promise comes by faith in Jesus.
  • Now, we come to the concluding paragraph (vv. 23–25)
    1. We continue the thought of the second paragraph, summing up the function of the law in terms of a new metaphor, that of the paidagōgos. This is translated as tutor.
    2. We were kept in custody under the law. Think about that. This is like those bars that keep the lion inside.
    3. Verse 24 says that the Law became a tutor.
    4. Verse 24 says that we are justified, which means made right with God, declared righteous, by faith.
    5. We need to talk about this idea of the tutor.
      1. This is what I read about it:
      2. In ancient Greece and Rome wealthy parents often placed their newborn babies under the care of a wet-nurse who in turn would pass them on to an older woman, a nanny who would care for their basic needs until about the age of six. At that time they came under the supervision of another household servant, the paidagōgos, who remained in charge of their upbringing until late adolescence. The pedagogue took over where the nanny left off in terms of offering menial care and completing the process of socialization for his charge. For example, one of the functions of the pedagogue was to offer instruction in the basics of manners as this description from Plutarch reveals: “And yet what do tutors [they] teach? To walk in the public streets with lowered head; to touch salt-fish but with one finger, but fresh fish, bread, and meat with two; to sit in such and such a posture; in such and such a way to wear their cloaks.”124The pedagogues also offered round-the-clock supervision and protection to those under their care. In this regard Libanius described the pedagogues as guardians of young teenage boys who warded off unsolicited homosexual advances their charges regularly encountered in the public baths, thus becoming “like barking dogs to wolves.”125
  • No doubt there were many pedagogues who were known for their kindness and held in affection by their wards, but the dominant image was that of a harsh disciplinarian who frequently resorted to physical force and corporal punishment as a way of keeping his children in line. For example, a certain pedagogue named Socicrines was described as a “fierce and mean old man” because of his physically breaking up a rowdy party. He then dragged away his young man, Charicles, “like the lowest slave” and delivered the other troublemakers to the jailer with instructions that they should be handed over to “the public executioner.”126The ancient Christian writer Theodoret of Cyrrhus observed that “students are scared of their pedagogues.”127And well they might have been because pedagogues frequently accomplished their task by tweaking the ear, cuffing the hands, whipping, caning, pinching, and other unpleasant means of applied correction.
  1. Now, isn’t that interesting? I love that background information. We may translate that word as “tutor,” but it means so much more. The law was a very strong disciplinarian to lead us until Christ. Some translations say, “to” Christ. But it is probably better translated as “until” Christ.
  1. Let’s make some applications:
    1. The Law was important.
    2. The law is still important because it does give us bars, or guard rails for right and wrong.
    3. But the law does not save us, Jesus saves.
    4. It is all about Jesus.
    5. Our salvation was, and is, and always will be, all about Jesus.
    6. STOP trying to earn it.
    7. Our salvation is Jesus plus nothing.
    9. RELIGION is how we earn our way to Heaven.
    10. CHRISTIANITY is what Jesus has done to pay our way to Heaven.
    11. When we fall down spiritually, we can trust the grace of Christ.
    12. Christ paid for our salvation.
    13. More than that, Christ paid for our justification.
    14. Christ made us righteous.
    15. Give Him Praise and glory and serve HIM.


I like to run, but I do not like running on the treadmill. On the treadmill I always feel like I am not going anywhere. The scenery always looks the same. I have to look at the odometer to know if I did anything. That is what the Law was like, you don’t go anywhere, there is no salvation.

I am a terrible swimmer. I can swim enough to drown, and I realized that on a NJROTC trip in 1998. I was in Pensacola, Florida and we were visiting Navy bases etc. We then went to the beach. Everyone was swimming out to a sand bar. I started swimming and kept going trying to get there. However, the waves kept pulling me back. I kept swimming and I was not making any progress. I was starting to get worn out. I was swimming and not getting any closer. I was getting fatigued. I kept swimming and looking up over the surf and I literally was getting further away. Eventually, I called for help and one of them helped me out and then pulled me back in. I don’t know if I ever have been so tired in my life.

That is what the law is like. We get worn out trying to earn our way to Heaven. The law was a disciplinarian, a tutor trying to show us we needed a Savior in addition to giving us guard rails.

The law could not make us righteous. Jesus paid for our sins on the cross and Jesus gives us His righteousness.





110Note the various translations given to this use of the optative to express an emphatic negative wish: “certainly not” (Phillips); “of course not” (JB); “unthinkable!” (NAB); “no, never!” (NEB); “das sei ferne!” (Luther). For once, Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch translation misses the mark for being too weak: “not necessarily.” On the wider use of this term in the NT, see C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953), 23.

[2]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 258–259.

[3]Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195?mt=11


124Plutarch, Mor. 439f–440, cited in Young, “PAIDAGŌGOS,” 160–61.

125Ibid., 159.

126This incident is cited by Alciphron in EP.3.7.3–5, quoted by Lull, “ ‘The Law Was Our Pedagogue,’ ” 489–90.

127Epistle 36; Young, “PAIDAGŌGOS,” 162, n. 138. Cf. Libanius’s likening of the pounding of the boat’s oars on the sea to the pedagogue’s lash upon a child’s back (Epistle 1188, 3–4; ibid.).

Human Law Shows the Promise to Abraham Stands and Is Fulfilled in Jesus(Galatians 3:15-18)

Human Law Shows the Promise to Abraham Stands and Is Fulfilled in Jesus (Galatians 3:15-18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Hands-Tied Experience

Imagine if I was preaching in a straight jacket right now…

I would illustrate our tendency to return over and over again to the constraints and strictures of the Law instead of enjoying the fact that we are “Free to Enjoy” the new life God gives us.

We limit ourselves by thinking we are saved by keeping the law. We limit our ability to rely on the Holy Spirit. We end up literally tying our hands because we are living on our own strength and not the strength of God.

Think more about grace… 

I know a family who adopted an older child from an unspeakably horrific orphanage in another country. When they brought her home one of the things they told her was that she was expected to clean her room every day. When she heard about that responsibility, she fixated on it and saw it as a way she would earn her family’s love. In other words, she isolated the responsibility and applied it to her existing frame of thinking that was shaped by life in the orphanage. Thus, every morning when her parents came in her room, it was immaculate and she would sit on the bed and would say, “My room is clean. Can I stay? Do you still love me?” Her words broke her new parents’ hearts.

Eventually, the girl learned to hear her parents’ words as their unconditionally beloved child who would never be forsaken, not as a visitor trying to earn her place in the family. After she knew that she was an inseparable part of the family story, even correction and discipline did not cause her to question her family’s love for her; she understood correction and discipline to be part of what it meant to be in the family.[1]

We are continuing our series on Galatians. Galatians continues to show that we are saved by grace and not by the law.

My theme today is:

Human Law Shows the Promise to Abraham Stands and Is Fulfilled in Jesus

Let’s read from the text:

Galatians 3:15-18:

Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

  1. The covenant doesn’t change.

We see this in verse 15.

Notice that Paul begins the verse with “brethren.”

He has not used a loving term of endearment since chapter 1:11.

One writes: We are struck by the fact that Paul addressed the Galatians here as “brothers,” a term of endearment he had not used since 1:11, although it would occur again seven other times in the letter (4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18). Although the Galatians were confused, foolish, and bewitched, and although Paul felt betrayed, perplexed, and forlorn about them, still they were adelphoi, “brothers.” This term of relationship is especially appropriate at the beginning of a passage that will seek to answer the questions: “What makes a family a family? Who are the true children of Abraham, the heirs of the promise, and thus entitled to call one another brothers and sisters?”[2]

God set a covenant with Abraham and Paul is about to show that that covenant does not change.

2. The covenant was to Abraham’s seed, Christ.

  1. In verse 16, Paul shares that this covenant was spoken to Abraham’s seed.
  2. Paul shares that this was Abraham’s seed in the singular and that would be Christ. The verse says: Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referringto many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
  3. The ESV Study Bible shares: God spoke promises to Abraham on several occasions, but probably Gen. 13:15 and 17:8 are particularly in view. And to your offspring. Paul knows that the singular (Hb. zera‘) can be used as a collective singular that has a plural sense (he interprets it in a plural sense in Rom. 4:18). But it also can have a singular meaning, and here Paul, knowing that only in Christ would the promised blessings come to the Gentiles, sees that the most true and ultimate fulfillment of these OT promises comes to one “offspring,” namely, Christ.
  4. God is faithful to the promise which is fulfilled in Christ.
  • Now, the law came later, but does not change the promise.
    1. Verse 17 expands on this. What I am saying is this: the Law, which camefour hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
    1. There are a few explanations of how Paul got 430 years. The ESV Study Bible shares: Paul is apparently referring to the Septuagint translation of Ex. 12:40, “The dwelling of the children of Israel . . . in Egypt and in Canaan was 430 years,” which would mean 430 years from Abraham to the exodus (the Hb. text does not include “and in Canaan”). Another explanation is that Paul is not counting the time from the first statement of the promise to Abraham but from the last affirmation of that promise to Jacob before he went to Egypt in Gen. 46:3–4. This method would then count the entire time in Egypt as the time from the “promise” to the “law.” If this is so, then Paul is relying on the Hebrew text of Ex. 12:40 to affirm a 430-year stay in Egypt.
    1. Exodus 12:40 shares: Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.
    1. The point is clear. Even though the law came later, it does not change the promise made to Abraham.
    1. Remember in context Paul has been talking about salvation by grace through faith.
    1. Look at verse 14: in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
    1. Look at verse 6, quoting Genesis 15:6: Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
    1. God is faithful to His promise that we are saved by grace through faith as it was with Abraham.
    1. In Luther’s commentary on this text he drew the individual believer into the sequence of salvation history Paul had outlined and encouraged those who felt condemned by the accusation of the law to reply: “ ‘Lady Law, you are not coming on time; you are coming too late. Look back 430 years; if these were rolled back, you could come. But you are coming too late and tardily; for you have been preceded for 430 years by the promise, to which I agree and in which I gently rest. Therefore you have nothing to do with me; I do not hear you. Now I am living after Abraham a believer; or rather, I am living after the revelation of Christ, who has abrogated and abolished you.’ Thus let Christ always be set forth to the heart as a kind of summary of all the arguments in support of faith and against the righteousness of the flesh, the law, works, and merits.”89[3]
  1. The covenant is based on a promise.
    1. Notice this in verse 18.
    1. Forif the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
    1. Now Paul brings up an inheritance.
    1. Think about inheritance. The promise of a future inheritance is one of the many promises God makes to us in the Bible. But the concept itself is difficult for us to comprehend. One way to think about it would be to turn to some familiar names across the pond. When Princess Diana died in 1997, she left a sizeable inheritance for her two sons, William and Harry, in the amount of $20.4 million. With investments and interest, that amount grew during their teens and twenties to $31.4 million. But the provision was such that William and Harry were only able to inherit this considerable estate after their 30th birthdays. In June 2012, William turned 30 and inherited his portion. Harry will inherit his portion on his 30th birthday as well. The estate is theirs. It is has been promised to them. It is in theirnames, and it has been set aside for them. In the same way, as followers of Christ, we have an inheritance. Based on Jesus’ promise, it is ours. It’s in your name, and it’s set aside for you. At the right time, you too will receive your inheritance in full.[4]

Let’s apply this passage:

  1. We are saved by Jesus plus nothing, We must worship Jesus and not the law.
  2. We must recognize that God keeps His promises. His promise to Abraham was kept in Christ.
  3. We must recognize that our inheritance is in Christ and not the law. If it is by the law Christ died for nothing (verse 18 and Gal. 2:21)
  4. Our thinking must be on Christ and not the law.
  5. Our view of salvation must be focused on Christ and not the law.
  6. We must not neglect the importance of the law either but see it as a second step to the promise. Like what was written: In other words, for Paul the law was not merely a late addition in the history of salvation; rather it was a completely different kind of covenant than the one God had concluded with Abraham centuries before. G. E. Mendenhall has described the contrast that was at the heart of Paul’s distinction between the two covenants:[5]

It is not often enough seen that no obligations are imposed upon Abraham. Circumcision is not originally an obligation, but a sign of the covenant, like the rainbow in Genesis 9. It serves to identify the recipient(s) of the covenant, as well as to give a concrete indication that a covenant exists. It is for the protection of the promise, perhaps, like the mark of Cain in Genesis 4. The covenant of Moses, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite. It imposes specific obligations on the tribes or clans without binding Yahweh to specific obligations.86[6]

  1. We must trust in Jesus who keeps His promises.


[1]David E. Prince, “How Biblical Application Really Works,” PreachingToday Skills Article (January 2018)


[2]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 244–245.


[3]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 249–250.

22Submitted by Jared E. Alcántara, Princeton, New Jersey; source: Frank Lovelace, “Prince William turns 30, inherits share of Diana estate,” Newsday (6-20-12)


[5]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 249.

86G. E. Mendenhall, “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition,” BA17 (1954): 62. See also the discussion in Bligh, Galatians, 274–81.

[6]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 249.

The Problem of the Law, but the Solution of Jesus (Gal. 3:10-14)

The problem of the law, but the solution of Jesus

(Galatians 3:10-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, February 3, 2019

Bryan Loritts writes:

Recently I was sitting in a doctor’s office with one of my young sons, and the nurse wanted to draw blood from him for a test. As you can imagine, he did not want to have blood taken from him. Who does? So he told me, “Dad, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.”

The nurse said, “Here’s the deal, buddy. We’ve got this numbing spray. We’ll spray the numbing spray on you, and then we’ll stick the needle in you, and you won’t even feel it.”

But my son kept saying, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”

Finally I said to the nurse, “Ma’am, I know what I’m about to ask you may be out of bounds, but can you stick me first? Can you do it without the numbing spray? I just need to show my son.”

She said, “Yes, I’ll do it. We’ll keep this between us.” 

So I put my son on my lap, and I said, “Watch Daddy.” I rolled up my sleeve and stuck my arm out. Then the nurse stuck me and drew blood. A smile came over my son’s face. Yes, he was still a little nervous, but when he saw that Daddy already went through what he was about to go through, with no numbing spray, he stuck his arm out. It gave him courage.

In the same way, when you find yourself in the midst of hard times, look to the place where they drew Jesus’ blood. Look to the cross, and there you will find rest for your souls.[1]

Today, we are continuing our series on Galatians and we are continuing with the emphasis on Jesus taking our place on the cross and we are saved by faith in Him. No one could keep the law.

The Old Testament law can be explained the following way. I had a professor in a class share: I am going to give you a test and none of you can pass it, but if you fail the test then you fail the course. That is how he explained the books of the Law. In fact, the Bible shares just that. The law just gives us knowledge of our sin (Romans 3:20; 7:7-9).  We cannot keep the law.

Romans 3:20 says:

because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

My theme:

The problem of the law, but the solution of Jesus

Or, to say it another way:

The law curses but Jesus saves.

Let’s read Galatians 3:10-14:

 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The Moody Bible Commentary explains the logic of this passage:

The logic of vv. 10-14 runs this way:

  1. The blessing of the Law is promised to those who obey it (v. 12, quoting Lv 18:5).
  2. What Paul left unstated is that the blessing is never actually received. Instead, those who rely on works are not able to do ALL that is WRITTEN IN the law (cf. Rm 3:20; 4:15; 5:20; 6:14).
  3. Thus, all who rely on law are CURSED (v. 10, quoting Dt 27:26).
  4. The truth of statement 3 above is confirmed. Since Hab 2:4 says that blessing comes by faith (cf. Rm 1:16-17), it cannot come by obedience to law.
  5. Through his crucifixion, Christ redeemed (exagorazo refers to buying someone or something out of a dangerous position; cf. 4:5) believers from the penalty of the Law (the curse; v. 13 quoting Dt 21:23).
  6. Thus the blessing that was promised to Abraham—including the Holy Spirit (cf. 3:2)—comes to all those who have faith, even Gentiles (v. 14).[2]
  1. Let’s talk about the curse of the law (verses 10-12)
    1. The verse is saying we are cursed for following the works of the law because we cannot keep them. There is a quote from Deut. 27:26.
    2. This is a larger section about being justified by faith.
    3. The point is clear, if we are living under the law we are cursed if we do not keep the whole law.
    4. Verse 11: the just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4) so no one is justified by the works of the law (this is evident) because no one can keep the whole law.
      1. David Jeremiah’s study Bible, (page 1626) shares: the law is like a chain that moors ships to a dock. Just as one broken link causes the entire chain to fail, so one transgression breaks the entire law. Since this is an all-or-nothing proposition, no amount of work can save us— only God can declare us just (James 2:10). Paul cites the words of Hab. 2:4 as proof of this truth.
      2. Gal. 2:16 shares: no one is justified by the works of the law.
    5. Verse 12: the law is not of faith, the man who does them, lives by them (Lev 18:5)
    6. David Jeremiah points out (Page 1626 of his study Bible) that Lev 18:5 reminds us we have to keep the whole law and no one could do that but Christ.
    7. If you practice the law you have to live by the law, rather than living by faith.
    8. Verses 10-12 are negative about living under the law.
    9. Verses 13-14 switch to Christ.
    10. One source points out: if someone really were to fulfill the entire corpus of Pentateuchal law, with its 242 positive commands and 365 prohibitions (according to one rabbinic reckoning), then indeed such a person could stand before God at the bar of judgment and demand admittance to heaven on the basis of his or her performance. Yet where on earth can such a flawless person be found?[3]
    11. The same source shares: That no one can obey the law perfectly and so receive life on this basis (Lev 18:5) is demonstrated on a national scale by Israelites who, no less than the Canaanites, had polluted the holy land and had been expelled therefrom because of their sin. Thus both of these texts point to Israel’s historical plight and God’s eschatological solution as the context for Paul’s presentation of the work of Jesus Christ.[4]
    12. Keeping the law is compared to the character of Sisyphus in Greek mythology, they are forever consigned to rolling a huge boulder up a mountain only to have it come crashing down upon their heads again and again.[5]
  2. Jesus’ solution, Jesus saves (verses 13-14)
    1. Verse 13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (there is a quote from Deut 21:23)
    2. Again the idea switches to redemption in Christ.
    3. Verse 14: the blessing of Abraham has come upon the gentiles in Christ… through faith
    4. I like the David Jeremiah Study Bible point (on page 1627): “The Judaizers boasted of being sons of Abraham— direct descendants of the father of their faith and thus members of God’s chosen people. But now that Christ has come, all who put their faith in Jesus receive the promise of the Spirit and become spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham.”
    5. This verse begins with “In order that” and this is a purpose. Christ redeemed us (verse 13) with the purpose that, verse 14: the blessing of Abraham might come to the gentiles, so that, we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
    6. Christ redeemed us and this means we have the promises of Abraham and this is great!!! This is awesome!!! We have the blessing of Abraham!!!
    7. I like what one writers shares: Paul was working here with the idea of an “exchange curse” by which the sin, guilt, and hell of lost men and women are placed upon Christ while his righteousness, blessing, and merit are imputed to those in whose place he stands. Luther spoke of this atoning transaction as “a happy exchange.” [6]
    8. One writes: Yet Christ emerged victorious over sin, death, and the eternal curse. This he did “for us.” For this reason the doctrine of atonement can never be merely a matter of cool theologizing or dispassionate discourse. For us the Son of God became a curse. For us he shed his precious blood. For us he who from all eternity knew only the intimacy of the Father’s bosom came “to stand in that relation with God which normally is the result of sin, estranged from God and the object of his wrath.”All this—for us! What response can we offer except that of wonder, devotion, and trust![7]
    9. In verse 14 Paul summarizes his train of thought in chapter 3 up to this point. There are 2 conclusions: 1) the blessing of Abraham is available to all the gentiles in Christ and 2) that the promise of the Holy Spirit might be bestowed by faith.
  • Applications
    1. This is an encouraging passage about our righteous status before God.
    2. Oftentimes we are drained thinking we cannot meet someone’s expectations. In this case we could not keep the law and so God took care of us.
    3. Isn’t that awesome, God took care of us. Does that encourage you?
    4. Are you encouraged that though God’s standard is too high for you to reach, he took care of you?
    5. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins. Here, let me tell you a story. A teenage boy took his new car out for a spin. As he was driving along the highway, he saw flashing lights behind him and quickly pulled over. The cop told him that he had been going 40 miles over the speed limit and he had to take him to court. The boy trudged into the courtroom and saw his father sitting in the judge’s seat. Now the father has a problem. His son is obviously guilty, but he loves his son and doesn’t want to hurt him. The father gives his son a $100 dollar fine for speeding; he has to be just so he can’t do anything else. Then, the father hits the gavel and ends the case. The son is of course very upset, but can you even imagine how the father felt? Then, the father steps down from the bench, takes off his robes, and pays the fine for his son. Just as the father had to sentence his son, God must sentence us. But even as the father paid the fine so also Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross (Romans 4:25). Even though the father paid the fine, the son is still guilty of speeding. Though, Jesus paid the price for our sins, are we still guilty?
    6. No because Jesus did not only forgive us but gave us His righteousness. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus did more than forgive us. I have another illustration:
    7. A father and daughter open a joint checking account and as soon as possible the daughter started to spend the money. After the money in the account ran out, she kept writing checks. Of course, these checks bounced, and the bank placed heavy fines on her. Finally, she had a major negative balance and realized that she owed more money than she could pay for. Her father found out and paid back all the money. The bank had put a hold on the account because of the negative balance so the daughter was left without an account to draw from. Then, the father transferred the account into his name only and opened up a new account for her with $1000 in it. Like that story, Jesus transferred our sin to His account and then transferred His innocence to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). Now when God looks at us, He sees us as innocent and worthy of heaven.
    8. Jesus forgives us and gives us right standing before God.
    9. We have the blessing of Abraham, we have righteousness before God, we have the Holy Spirit too.
    10. Isaiah 44:3 shares: ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
      And streams on the dry ground;
      I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
      And My blessing on your descendants
    11. Don’t forget the HOLY SPIRIT.
    12. We receive the promise of the Holy Spirit.
    13. In Galatians 5 and 6 Paul will expand on what it means to have the Holy Spirit.
    14. We do only receive this promise through faith, we must have faith in Jesus.
    15. There was a famous acrobat and wire walker whose greatest trick was to walk a wire over Niagara Falls pushing a wheelbarrow with 200 pounds of flour in it. He walked to one end and walked back, and the crowd cheered SO loudly for him.  He asked the crowd to raise their hand if they thought that he could push an actual man in the wheelbarrow over the falls, and everyone there raised their hand. Then he asked the crowd to raise their hand if they were willing to get in the wheelbarrow, and no one raised their hand. That is faith.[8]


Scot McKnight shares:

I often compare the role of the law in history to the role typewriters have played in the development of word processing. The technology and idea of a typewriter was eventually developed into an electronic, faster, and far more complex computer that does word processing. But when typing on a computer, we realize that we are still using the old manual typewriter’s technology. Further, we realize that the computer far transcends the typewriter. Everything that a typewriter wanted to be when it was a little boy (and more!) is now found in the computer. This compares to the law. Everything the law wanted to be when it was young (as revealed to Moses) is found now in Christ and in the life of the Spirit. Thus, when a Christian lives in the Spirit and under Christ, that Christian is not living contrary to the law, but is living in transcendence of the law. It is for this very reason that life lived primarily under the law is wrong.

When the computer age arrived, we put away our manual typewriters because they belonged to the former era. Paul’s critique of the Judaizers is that they are typing on manual typewriters after computers are on the desk! He calls them to put the manual typewriters away. But in putting them away, we do not destroy them. We fulfill them by typing on the computers. Every maneuver on a computer is the final hope of the manual typewriter. “Now that faith/Christ has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law” but not because the law is contrary to the promises; rather, it is because the law is fulfilled in Christ and the Spirit in a manner similar to the way a typewriter is fulfilled in the technology of a computer. And I am profoundly thankful for both![9]


[1]Bryan Loritts, from the sermon “The Great Exchange,” preached at Fellowship Memphis, in Memphis, Tennessee

[2]The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 75784-75791). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[3]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 235.

[4]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994).

[5]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 237.

[6]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 242.

[7]Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 242.


[9]Scot McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary: Galatians (Zondervan 1995), p. 184

The Gospel in the Old Testament (Gal. 3:6-9)

The Gospel in the Old Testament, Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 27, 2019

Slavery… think with me about slavery:

Frederick Douglass grew up as a slave in Maryland in the early nineteenth century and experienced slavery’s every brutality. He was taken from his mother when he was only an infant. For years as a child, all he had to eat was runny corn meal dumped in a trough that kids fought to scoop out with oyster shells. He worked in the hot fields from before sunup until after sundown. He was whipped many times with a cowhide whip until blood ran down his back, kicked and beaten by his master until he almost died, and attacked with a spike by a gang of whites.

But even so, when Frederick considered trying to escape to freedom, he struggled with the decision. He writes in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave that he had two great fears.

The first was leaving behind his friends:

I had a number of warm-hearted friends in Baltimore, friends that I loved almost as I did my life and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends.

His second fear was this: “If I failed in this attempt, my case would be a hopeless one it would seal my fate as a slave forever.”

Today, people who find themselves in slavery to sin, and who think about escaping to freedom in Christ, may have similar fears. They may fear leaving behind friends. They may fear they’ll fail in their attempt to break from sin and live free for God.

They should take heart from Douglass’s experience. On September 3, 1838, he remembers:

I left my chains, and succeeded in reaching New York without the slightest interruption of any kind I have been frequently asked how I felt when I found myself in a free State It was a moment of the highest excitement I ever experienced I felt like one who had escaped a den of hungry lions.[1]

So, I wonder, are you a slave? Thank God we can be set free, but not through the law, only by Jesus’ blood.

Today, my theme is:

Abraham was justified by faith and so are we.

Let’s read Galatians 3:6-9:

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.”So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Last week we began a new section of Galatians. Paul started writing about how they, and we, are made right with God through faith. In these next four verses Paul uses Abraham as an example.

  1. Abraham was made right with God by believing.
  2. This is verse 6, quoting Genesis 15:6.
  3. Paul writes about this using the exact same term in Romans 4:3.
  4. In Romans 4, Paul writes about justification. Here, Paul is writing about justification.
  5. To be justified means that God declares us righteous. In this case Abraham was justified before God and so he was declared righteous.
  6. Let’s talk about justification for a minute:
  7. So, what is justification? Is it “just-as-if-I-never-sinned”?
  8. Not really. Unfortunately, I have used that but there is so much more to justification then that.
  9. Justification is a legal term.
  10. Justification has two parts:
  11. Forgiveness of sins
  12. Imputed Christ’s righteousness
  13. Without forgiveness of sins we are guilty, so this removes the guilt.
  14. Imputing Christ’s righteousness takes the wrath of God away from us and makes it so that we can stand before God. Imputing Christ’s righteousness restores our relationship with God.
  15. Suppose we Stand before the JUDGE— He examines the defendant against the evidence (using omniscience). The judge is God and He is examining us.
  16. He pronounces judgment. Later will follow the pronouncing of sentence.
  17. HIS JUDGMENT = NOT GUILTY by reason of the Atonement of Christ.
  18. Rom 4.5 “Justifies the ungodly
  19. The definition of justification is To Declare Righteous
  20. NOT, To Make Righteous as that would be (Sanctification, and finally glorification)
  21. Therefore, your right standing is a declaration of the judge, not the result of your actually being good.
  22. Forgiveness of Sins

Romans 4:8

“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

  1. Justification implies a freedom from guilt.
  2. Not that we are not guilty, but that we have been freed from its condemnation. Rom 8:1 is about this.
  3. The Implication is God receives us as he would his own son (Heb 4.16).
  4. So, that is justification
  5. Isn’t that awesome! We are not just forgiven!
  6. We are declared righteous. We are declared right with God.
  7. This is all about grace:

Hounded by the Pharisees, betrayed by a friend, forsaken by His disciples, brutalized by police, beaten by His inquisitors, led in disgrace to a rigged trial.

Arrogant men sitting in judgment over Him, crowning Him with thorns, mocking and disdaining. Beating Him without mercy, nailing Him to the cross, the worst of tortures, stretched out between thieves.

Miserably thirsty, utterly forsaken by His Father for the first time, the picture of complete aloneness.

Hell on earth! Not just one man’s hell, but the hell of billions. At any moment—in a millisecond—He could have called legions of angels to deliver Him and destroy His enemies. Instead, He bears forever the scars of sin, rebellion, mockery, and hatred… the scars of God’s grace.

The cost of redemption cannot be overstated. The wonders of grace cannot be overemphasized. Christ took the hell He didn’t deserve so we could have the heaven we don’t deserve.

If you’re not stunned by the thought of grace, then you aren’t grasping what grace offers you, or what it cost Jesus.[2]

  1. In verse 7, Paul says that we can be assured those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. This is how we are all sons of Abraham, we are grafted in.
  1. Abraham was told all of the nations would be blessed through him, quoting Genesis 12:3.
    1. This is verse 8.
    1. In verse 9, Paul wraps this up saying that we are blessed with Abraham who was the believer.
    1. Once again, we cannot be saved by works.

WHITE OUTS by Pastor Rick Sams

  White outs come in the form of blizzards where you cannot see a thing. No wants to think about these after the brutal winter we’ve had.

  Then there’s the kind we used before computers. Wite-Out dates to 1966 when an insurance-company clerk named George Kloosterhouse and a guy who waterproofed basements developed a correction fluid for typing mistakes. It was originally called “Wite-Out WO-1 Erasing Liquid.”*

  Have you ever sent a text message that you regretted? Now you can electronically “white it out” by using Apple’s app called “Wiper Messenger.”**

  Don’t you wish we had a “white out” for all your words and actions?

  We try to use white out when we say we’ve “stretched the truth,” but we’ve flat out lied.

  We call it “spin” when it’s actually false reporting.

  “Re-inventing” products is really the same old stuff in a bigger package and bigger price.

  “Revisionist history” is just bad research and recall.

  “Pardon my French” is a cover up for swearing. I’ve heard French and what follows this phrase is not French.

  “Bless their heart,” is often used right after we’ve smeared  someone, as if this makes it right.

  “Communication breakdown” is often a cover for laziness or somebody not doing their job.

  “Mistakes” are too often sins.

  “Affairs” are adultery.

  “Issues” are really problems–usually big and bad.

  But the Bible says there really are do-overs and white outs: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18b).

  Jesus’ death on Good Friday didn’t just white out our sin. He took our pain and penalty on Himself, which was separation from God.

  But you must RECEIVE this gift for it to “work.” You must receive HIM: “To those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 1:12; 11:25).

  What a Savior. What a white out.


* “Forgiveness Is God’s Gift to ‘Wite-Out’ Mistakes,” John Ortberg, PreachingToday.com 8/5/14 **“Delete Your Conversations from Other People’s Phones,” Kim Komando blog (9-9-14)

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)



[1] Kevin Miller, vice president, Christianity Today International, Wheaton, Illinois

[2] https://www.epm.org/blog/2013/Dec/11/cost-grace

The Galatians Conversion (Gal. 3:1-5)

A small town police chief spoke at a public forum about preventing hate violence. Hours later, he discovered that his son is a suspect in a hate crime.

The area had been rocked by a recent spate of attacks on Sikhs, including the beating of a 71-year-old man named Singh Natt by two teen assailants in nearby Manteca. Union City Police Chief Darryl McAllister had been speaking to members of the local Sikh community, trying to engage them in strategies in violence avoidance.

The next day, chief McAllister left the following words as part of a note on the department’s official Facebook page: “It is not that often that I find myself sharing with the general public issues that pertain to my personal family life. I feel it is a MUST that this be one of those rare occasions.”

After recapping the details of the attack, he continued: “I am completely disgusted in sharing with you that, later yesterday evening, I received a call from the Manteca PD that the suspect in this horrific crime turns out to (be) my 18-year-old son.”

Tyrone McAllister, who was reportedly estranged from his police chief father, was taken into custody and charged with attempted robbery, elder abuse, and assault with a deadly weapon, in connection with the attack. Manteca police were able to locate him after his father provided relevant information.

In the statement, Chief McAllister also wrote that he and his family were “shaken to the core.”[1]

Sometimes we are shocked to the core about something. Sometimes we expect better of certain people, or groups and we are greatly disappointed when someone we respect, and love does something contrary to our expectations.

I think that is going on in this passage. Paul reveals his emotions. I believe he is disappointed in them. Let’s look at the passage.

My theme is:

We are saved by faith in the Gospel, we grow in our faith by the Holy Spirit’s work.

Let’s read Galatians 3:1-5:

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

  1. Let’s put this passage in context.
    1. This is a new section in Galatians and a major section:
    1. For the broader section: The main points are that Paul talks about how Abraham had received righteousness, which means, right standing with God, not from the law because this was way before the law. Abraham had this righteousness by faith alone.
    1. Paul develops this by going back to Gen 15 and then adding on how God had said that Abraham’s seed (Christ) would bless the nations.
    1. Paul then goes into his next evidence which is that Jesus has become a curse for us.
    1. Paul talks about how the law requires obedience and we are cursed for not being absolutely obedient.
    1. Paul then talks of how Christ was the curse for us. Paul then moves into how we are free and not as slaves. We were slaves at one time when we were young and immature. However, with Christ came adoption and therefore, we are not slaves. Paul then moves to the allegorical story of Hagar. This was his close which showed that we are descendants of the free woman. This was Paul’s appeal to our lineage. This takes us through Galatians chapter 4.
    1. Each of these main points is significant as Paul had built in transitions from one to the other. He transitioned smoothly from Abraham to the law, to the curse to the fact that Christ is the curse. Paul went back to the law again and then back to Christ. Then Paul moved into slave versus free which transitioned to adoption and then lineage. They flow nicely. Paul assumes the reader had understanding of the Old Testament.
  2. Let’s look at these verses.
    1. Paul says that they have been foolish.
    1. Paul says they have been bewitched.
    1. John MacArthur points out when Paul talks about them being “bewitched” it has the idea of “Charmed or misled by flattery and false promises. The term suggests an appeal to the emotions by the Judaizers.”[2]
    1. One source shares: this Greek word means: To bewitch as with the eye, to cast an evil eye. A Greek commentator on the work of the poet Theocritus observes that the noun báskanos means one who with his eyes kills or destroys. Superstitious people believed that great harm might result from the “evil eye” or from being looked upon with envious and malicious stares. In the NT, it means to utter foolish babble, i.e., to mislead by pretenses as if by magic arts, to bewitch (Gal. 3:1).[3]
    1. When Paul calls them “foolish” he is not insulting their intelligence. They were not lacking IQ, but in spiritual discernment.
    1. Paul says that “Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified…” About this Ben Witherington writes: Scholars have long puzzled over the meaning of Gal 3.1b, which reads literally “before whose eyes Jesus Christ having been crucified was put on public display.” Did Paul put on some sort of early version of a passion play? These questions however tend to reflect how little some scholars know about Paul’s use of rhetoric, and in this case the rhetorical device known as ekphrasis… it is the use of vivid language that conjures up stark visual images in the listener’s mind. So, we need not imagine Paul putting on a passion play to impress the Galatians, we need only imagine that he gave a very vivid, with lots of visual imagery, description of the crucifixion of Jesus.[4]
    1. The rest of these verses are about how they were saved and how they grew in their faith.
    1. Paul uses rhetorical questions and uses 5 of them in these 5 verses..
    1. In verse 2, Paul says he only wants to know one thing, “did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” This is summing up the next few verses.
    1. The obvious answer is “hearing with faith.” They received the Spirit, they were saved by hearing the Gospel and accepting the Gospel.
    1. Paul continues with questions in verses 3 and 4 and sums it up in verse 5.
    1. In verse 3, Paul goes to another level. He started verse 2 asking questions about how they were saved and now he asks questions referring to how they grow in the faith. He asks if they are perfected by the flesh. The flesh usually means the law. So, the idea is do they grow in Christ by the law or by the Spirit. The obvious answer is the Holy Spirit.
    1. In verse 4, Paul seems to refer to suffering which means that they have suffered persecution and if they suffered for the law it was in vain, it was worthless.
    1. Then, verse 5, this comes to the original idea: So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
    1. The obvious answer is by hearing with faith.
    1. In the next few verses, which we will get into next week, Paul substantiates this with two Old Testament passages.
  • Let’s apply:
    1. We need to not be arrogant, we must know that we are saved by faith and faith alone.
    1. Looking at verse 1, we must not allow anyone to divert our focus from Jesus and proper doctrine. We must not allow the devil to do this through false teachers.
      1. We must stay clear of the major heresies such as: Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.
      1. However, we must stay clear of smaller heresies as well. We must make sure we do not let anyone steer us the wrong way.
    1. We must recognize that we are not saved by our own works.
    1. Looking at verse 2, we must recognize we did not receive the Spirit by works of the law, but by hearing and faith.
    1. Looking at verse 3, we must recognize that we did not begin by grace and then be perfected by the law. We are still sanctified by the Spirit, not our works or by the law.

I recently read the following:

Some time ago, I attended a conference in which a well-known speaker related the cultural and value differences between his current home in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and his childhood home in a small town in the Southwest United States. These cultural and value differences found their expression in a set of rules. As a young man, his church culture enforced a particularly prescribed set of rules: no dancing, no drinking, no card playing, no long hair. These were rules that could not be violated. To do so would not only invite censure from the community, but he was also warned that it would put his eternal standing with Almighty God in jeopardy.

As it sometimes happens with this kind of upbringing, the conference speaker moved as far away from his hometown rigidity as he could. He escaped to the Pacific Northwest—a part of the United States known for its laidback attitude and freethinking ways. The speaker believed that he had finally found a community that would be free from the constricting rules and legalisms of his childhood. He was in for quite a surprise. While he had indeed moved far away from the many rules of his childhood town, he discovered that the rules of his new neighborhood involved minute intricacies relating to garbage, the banning of plastic bags at the grocery store, and skateboarders or musicians in the common areas of his upscale townhome complex. The wrath of God may not have been invoked in the threats of punishment, but the speaker suffered the self-righteous censure of this community just as bound by legalism as the one in which he grew up. In both communities, oddly, he found that the rules seemed more beloved than the people they were meant to shape.

The writer continues to say, Regardless of the community rules involved, human beings seem to be lovers of legalities. She then continues to write, maybe we love rules because it is easier than loving people.[5]

Remember, we cannot keep the law. We are saved by Jesus’ blood on the cross and we grow in our faith by Jesus’ blood on the cross.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus Forever (Rev 22:5)

[1] Jelani Greenidge, Editor, PreachingToday.com : source: Dakin Adone, “After brutal attack on a Sikh man, police chief is ‘disgusted’ to learn is son is one of the suspects,” CNN (8-10-18

[2] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195?mt=11

NT (New Testament)

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4] https://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2018/12/11/paul-and-ekphrasis-the-meaning-of-galatians-3-1b/


[5] https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/a-new-legalism

Crucified with Christ, live by the Spirit (Gal. 2:20) Vision Sunday

Today, we celebrate the 2018 year and look forward to the 2019 year. God used Bethel for a lot of ministry last year. But, we must also believe that God is going to use us for a lot of ministry this year as well. This year, 2019, our vision is to fulfill the Great Commission by being contagious Christians. How can we do this? We can do this because we no longer live and Christ lives in us.

I want to look at Galatians 2:19-20 and talk about living for Jesus. We must make Jesus number 1 and we can do so much for God’s glory when we partner with Jesus and let Him live through us. He must be number 1.

I read the following:

Toward the beginning of the second century, the Roman emperor decided that Christians had become so numerous that there was no use trying to stamp them out anymore, so he made peace. He even decided to put a statue of Jesus in the Pantheon, among the statues of the Greek gods. A symbol at the top of the Pantheon said, “Caesar, king of kings,” indicating his position as “first.”

The Christians could have been honored at how far they had come. Not long before, they were just a rag-tag group of fisherman in the backwoods of Israel, and now they’re in the Pantheon! But instead of being grateful, they sent a letter to the emperor telling him that if he didn’t take down the statue of Jesus, they certainly would. Jesus will never be among your gods, they said, because he is above all of them.[1]

The founder of the Salvation Army said to his fellow “soldiers”: “Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”

Please read with me Galatians 2:19-20:

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

  1. All believers have been crucified with Christ.
    1. To be a Christian means that I believe that Jesus died and rose again for me. I trust in Him for salvation, I confess my sins to Him and I commit to Him.
    2. If you are a Christian you have been crucified, wow! That is a strong picture. I believe that Paul used this word picture for dramatic effect. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is entirely true, but there is a reason that Paul used a dramatic picture here. In a metaphorical way we have been crucified with Christ. We no longer live, but Jesus lives within us.
    3. Let’s review Galatians. Paul writes to the churches of Galatia to counter these false apostles who have bewitched them (Gal. 3:1). The churches in Galatia have come to an error of works salvation. They have started believing that they had to live by the law. Paul is extremely assertive in this short New Testament letter.
    4. So, Paul is writing about law versus grace and, you know what? I think we need the same message. We have similar issues. No, we don’t have issues with the Jewish Law. But as Christians we go two different ways.
      1. We believe we have to earn our salvation.
        1. We know this is not true. Grace is unmerited favor. If you look at Gal. 2:21 Paul writes that if righteousness could come by the law, then Jesus died in vain. He died needlessly.
        2. But, when we add legalistic standards for Christians, we become a cult, and we make Jesus’ death on the cross in vain.
        3. We do this if we practice Christianity religiously. Most in our churches are not guilty of this at all.
      2. Or, we throw away any moral law. In this case the Christian’s life does not match his faith. This is a problem.
        1. We do this when we do not preach what Jesus preached and what this verse is saying. Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
        2. If Jesus taught that why don’t we preach this?
        3. How can we preach this message without teaching/or showing that we work out our salvation? We were created for good works (Eph. 2:10).
        4. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit changes us. Think about the following:

About six years ago I read a book which someone at my church recommended.  The book tells the life of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. He was famous for setting records for how fast he could run the mile.

Later he was planning to enter the next Olympic competition, but it was canceled because of WWII. Zamperini entered the war and served on a B 24. He was shot down and spent 47 days at sea and then around three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was badly mistreated in the POW camps. 

Following the war, he dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder. This caused him to plunge into alcoholism which brought on a host of other problems. He was married and had one child, but his marriage was being threatened with divorce. Every time he closed his eyes at night he was plagued with memories of his time as a POW. He was filled with hate and wanted to kill one particular guard

(Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), who was later included in General Douglas MacArthur’s list of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Finally, in 1949 as the 31-year-old Billy Graham was preaching an evangelical crusade in Los Angeles, Louis’ wife gave her life to Christ at the crusade. She eventually convinced Louis to also attend. Louis attended once and was convicted but left in anger during Graham’s invitation. Louis’ wife Cynthia convinced him to attend again. He did and started to leave again during the invitation. But he was convicted and went forward giving his life to Christ.

Following the conversion his life changed dramatically. He went home that night, and at the time when he would usually drink alcohol to excess, he dumped his alcohol down the drain. His hate was changed to forgiveness. His marriage lasted until his wife’s death. He never had nightmares of his time as a POW again. He later went back to Japan and spoke to the guards who were accused and convicted of war crimes. He forgave them. But the one guard who was the worst to Louis, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), was thought dead and Louis never was able to talk to him. Later they found out he was alive and Louis was scheduled to meet with him. But he was not able to meet with him as Watanabe declined the invitation.

I believe, when we really know Jesus, we really know Him, when we are saved we commit to Him, and in time, our life will show it. This is because we are dead to the old self and Christ lives in us.

  1. Paul says in this verse that he has died to the law. How? He died with Christ to the law.
  2. He has been crucified with Christ. I have to believe that people would have cringed when they heard him use the verb “crucified.” They would have known what crucifixion meant. Historians cannot tell us apart from the Bible much about crucifixion. People were afraid to write about it. Many times, we can find extra Biblical evidence for many things, but not crucifixion. Scholars get much of what we know about crucifixion from the Bible. We are told a few things though. The Romans would crucify people publicly and they would crucify people at set times of the year in order to make a statement. They wanted their enemies to see crucifixion and think, “Don’t mess with us.” The Romans did not invent crucifixion. They copied it from the Greeks and maybe even another country.
  3. People would have this image of crucifixion in their mind when Paul used that term.
  4. But the point is that we died with Christ when we became a Christian. We died to our old self. We died to sin.

What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? It means that when we became a Christian we died to our old self. We died to our sin nature. So, how do we live?

  1. All believers are to live by the faith in the indwelling Christ (2:20b–21).
    1. Paul says that he no longer lives, but Christ lives within him.
    2. Does Christ live in you?
    3. If you are a Christian the answer is yes. Yes, Yes, Amen.
    4. The Holy Spirit indwells us.
    5. How did Jesus do His miracles on earth? He laid aside His glory to become man. He had the Holy Spirit with Him. He was fully human and He is fully human, but the Holy Spirit was with Him. You know the Holy Spirit is with you as well. The Holy Spirit is in you. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul wrote that we are the Temple of God. He used the same word which would describe the part of the Temple where God resides. God resides in us. We have the Holy of Holies in Us. Amen!!!
    6. So, as believers we do good works because Jesus dwells in us and He does those good works.
    7. How did Louis Zamperini change his life? He didn’t. Jesus changed him. When he became a Christian Jesus said, “I am not having any of that.” Jesus said, “I am taking over this house and I have some cleaning up to do.”

Now, I believe that as Christians we can sometimes push Jesus aside. He lives within us, but… We don’t want Him here. We do not make Him welcome. We just let our old self reign in us. So, my challenge for you today is that you let Jesus live within you. Make Him feel at home. Let your worldly self die and by faith let Jesus live. Jesus lives within you. The Holy of Holies is in you!

If I came to my wife and said, “Sweetheart, you’re first on my list of women,” my wife wouldn’t have it. She would tell me—in no uncertain terms—that she’s either going to be the only one on the list or she’s not going to be there at all.

If that’s true in my relationship with my wife, then how much more so with Jesus! He is why we exist. We were created by him and for him. That means he can never be merely an important commitment in our lives.[2]

Now, as we look at our 2019 vision, to fulfill the Great Commission by being contagious Christians, how can we fulfill it? We can fulfill it by being in Christ.

Our 2019 vision has specific goals:

There are 9 listed but some are more general, only 3 are specific to church ministry and resources (numbers 4, 5 and 6) and number 4 is already started.

This is how we will be contagious Christians.

  1. Asking God in prayer for 15 new believers to be added to our fellowship in 2019;
  2. Contagiously touching 1000 people in the next year with the love of Jesus;
  3. Through intentionally communicating the gospel with 150 people through acts of service, loving relationships and words;
  4. We will continue the dance ministry;
  5. We will research the effectiveness of certain sports ministries beginning a sports ministry by the end of the year OR deciding against it for specific reasons. Reasons could be: not the right time, not enough money, no volunteers, theological differences, etc; UPWARD SPORTS SHOULD BE LOOKED INTO.
  6. We will research Celebrate Recovery with a plan to begin this in 2020 or to decide against this or postpone this.
  7. We will pray about this vision in the worship service;
  8. We will train the congregation to respond to this vision by sharing it in worship every few weeks. Pastor shares: “We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Let’s practice the last one:

We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Lastly, The church has 5 major purposes: evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. These are all important and they all fall under “disciples” in our mission. However, in 2019 Bethel needs to focus on outreach. We must focus on “’making disciples.” This is why the 2019 vision is focused on being contagious. People could comment that worship is left out and the Holy Spirit is left out and discipleship is left out and fellowship is left out. However, those are all implied by the noun “Christians” and they are all in the Mission. They are all in the core values.

We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus Forever (Rev 22:5)


[1] https://jdgreear.com/blog/jesus-not-just-important-must-first/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5d612a0d75-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-5d612a0d75-8711878

[2] https://jdgreear.com/blog/jesus-not-just-important-must-first/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5d612a0d75-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-5d612a0d75-87118783