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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Sunday after Christmas:
Galatians 4:1-7




The Sunday after Christmas

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 85:1-8 From Heaven Above 4.55
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #85:9-15 From Heaven Above 4.55

 Redemption, Atonement, Forgiveness

The Hymn #657            Beautiful Savior                    4.24
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #83     Hark! What Mean Those Holy Voices  4:40

KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

KJV Luke 2:33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Sunday After Christmas

O almighty and everlasting God, mercifully direct our ways, that we may walk in Thy law, and be made to abound in good works: through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Meaning of the Gospel


KJV Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

This passage is part of a brief but powerful letter where Paul attacked the attitude of salvation through the law, showing that one cannot mix the law with the Gospel and still have the Gospel.

Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

This analogy is so clear that everyone should grasp it at once. Nevertheless, one could easily show that much of Christendom remains under the law, seeking comfort and salvation from man-made law rather than from the Gospel. This is not a letter aimed at Jews but at Christians tempted by combining the Gospel and the Law.

One branch of my family fell into this, when they were part of the Seventh Day Adventists in Battle Creek. (Kellogg’s cereal was part of this movement, although he broke with them.) It is tempting to think of Jews as heirs of the Promise, therefore following the Old Testament Law would be the perfect combination of the Law and Gospel.


When that part of the family moved to Iowa to farm, they found that the SDA laws prevented them from making a living, so they changed to an Evangelical congregation. Later, a SDA minister impressed me with how obsessed he was with all Old Testament details. Strangely, the Adventists wanted to duplicate the false view Galatians was written to oppose.

The comparison is clear, because the child of a wealthy lord is still very much a servant as long as he is young, even if he is the heir. The tutor is appointed to direct the child and give him training. So the promise of a title is there, but the reality is not.

2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.

Lenski:
Paul himself states what he has in mind. Just as a slave has his superiors who control him and his affairs, so this young heir. Paul thinks of a large inheritance as befits the great spiritual inheritance which he is illustrating. Hence he names two classes of superiors, tutors and governors, which some regard as identical. But the former are those who are placed in charge of the young heir himself, call them guardians; the latter are those who manage his estates, stewards. The latter were often slaves yet were competent men, one being placed over this, the other over that estate of the owner. In our estimation the “guardians” were those who, among other things, attended to the boy’s education.
Since Paul is writing to Galatians who are not merely Roman citizens, it is doubtful whether he refers to Roman law. This provided for a tutor (or several) until the age of puberty, the fourteenth year, was reached, after that for a curator until majority was attained, which occurred at the age of twenty-five years. The “guardians” of whom Paul speaks do not seem to be the tutor and the curator but those whose duty it was to provide the necessary teachers for the young heir. The point is that the minor heir is under others and that of necessity because he is still a minor.
The other point is the length of time he is under others, which is thus again mentioned, but now more specifically: “until the time set in advance by the father.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 193


That is even more true of a young king, who has the title but not the rule. One influential relative or official is the real king as long as the child is too young to be free of adult tutors. Queen Victoria became the most powerful monarch in the world as a teenager, so she depended on adults to guide her in politics.

This is so clear in human government, but people fail to see it at work in the difference between Law and Gospel. The Law says “must” and “ought to” while the Gospel says “want to” and “glad to.”

The exact same thing can be done as a child under the Law or as an adult freed by the Gospel. As children, we always responded to chores with, “Do I have to?”
As long as we were ordered to do it, we did so, but reluctantly.

We can all remember our childhoods enough to recall that we were dependent upon others, chafing against rules but needing them, and wishing we could be grown-ups.

One couple told me about an older teen who complained about being treated as a child. I asked some questions. Does he do his own laundry? No. Cook for himself or you? No. Pay for his housing? I suggested they lay that on him so he could be an adult.
The worst college students are the ones coddled by indulgent parents or special programs where everything is paid. The best are the ones paying their own way and making sure they get their money’s worth.

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

Being under the Law is the same as being children. While it was true that the Jewish people were given the Promise of the Messiah, that was already realized, so there was no reason to go back to the Law, which kept them together as a nation. Neither was there a reason to blend Law and Gospel, to make believers into Jews with ritual law (kosher, circumcision, and traditions).

All the Jewish traditions and worship practices prepared them for Jesus as the Messiah. That is why conversions to Christianity continue to this day. Everything leads up to the Promise being fulfilled because the Old Testament is filled with references to Christ and justification by faith in Him. My catechism students soon learned that everything in the Exodus pre-figured Christ. As one said, “I am not sure if the answer is Jesus, but all the other answers have been.”

The questions involved the innocent lamb slain for the Passover, the manna, the burning bush, the water from the rock, and so forth.

4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

This is another example of the Two Natures of Christ being, teaching His humanity (made of a woman, under the law) and His divinity (God sent forth His Son). The skeptics want us to think that Paul never mentioned the Virgin Birth of Jesus, but this verse and the opening of Romans both teach the Two Natures clearly. Jesus, in John’s Gospel, often referred to Himself as sent from the Father. And how was that done, except through the Virgin Birth?

What skeptics choose to ignore is the way arguments are made based upon current issues. Paul was not addressing the Virgin Birth but salvation through the Law. Nevertheless, the basics of the Gospel came through in a very short letter. I challenge anyone to make such powerful statements about the Christian faith in so few words. That by itself is testimony to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.

At the perfect time, God’s own time, God sent His Son to reveal the complete Gospel, the atoning sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension. Hundreds of eye-witnesses were available to preach the risen Christ at the time of Paul. They saw and heard the risen Christ teach. Before that, many miracles confirmed Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Lenski:
The whole thought is a refutation of the Judaizers. God’s Son set free all those who were under law; this purpose, being objective, was achieved. Furthermore, it was achieved in order that we Jews should receive the sonship. This was a subjective purpose that was also achieved, but only in the believing Jews, the unbelieving were hardened and cast away (Rom. 11:7). “The sonship” is modified by the context (v. 1–3) and thus signifies the status of sons who have advanced from their minority to their majority, to the status of full-grown sons who are no longer under guardians and stewards. “Adoption” is not the proper word, for it may apply to a babe, a minor son and heir.
This eliminates the question as to whether regeneration as well as justification is included in this “sonship.” In their minority, before Christ came all the heirs were both regenerated and justified although they were still under the guardianship and the stewardship of the Mosaic law (v. 2). When Christ came, when their majority was attained, this involved the end of the guardianship and stewardship of law for them. Ever after that time they were entirely free of it.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 204

To redeem (and Galatians 3:13) is from the verb to purchase for a price. The other word we translate as redemption is to release, as in releasing from slavery.

The idea of blood sacrifice prepared Jews for the atoning death of the Lamb of God. All those sacrifices for centuries were a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ.

This is where people get confused, when they do not comprehend the Means of Grace. Christ paid for the sins of the world. Redemption and atonement are synonyms. Propitation and expiation are also words used the in the New Testament for the atonement.

Luther anticipated what the Concordists faced after the Book of Concord. The redemption or atonement is the Gospel treasure. No one needs to say, “What can I do to make up for my sins?” The payment has been made.

But that is not the same as saying

LCMS Brief Statement of 1932:
Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ's sake, He justifies, accounts as righteous, all those who that is, believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ's sake their sins are forgiven. Thus the Holy Ghost testifies through St. Paul: "There is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," Rom. 3:23, 24. And again: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law," Rom. 3:28.

All the Scripture examples above are wrong, and some are outrageously in error.

God’s declaration of forgiveness is what we call justification by faith. That is always through the proclamation of the Gospel (the Means of Grace) and faith in Jesus.

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

This is a classic passage in the New Testament, often quoted to show us that the Spirit works through the Word to plant faith in our hearts, to move us to say Abba, Father – the Lord’s Prayer.

Because Christ makes us a brother, a member of God’s family, we are able and willing to call upon Him in every time of trial or need. We do not live in bondage to the Law but in freedom through the Gospel.

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Isaiah 65:21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.


Hedonists
The hedonists misunderstand this. They imagine they can do whatever they want and use the Gospel as an excuse, saying, “I know I am a sinner, so I know I am forgiven.” Paul disposed of this lame approach in Romans 6, but the idea has great attract for the Old Adam. 

New Law-Givers
Rick Warren and his disciples are good examples of returning to the Law. At first Pietists emphasis the small group, prayer, and Bible study. But because they do not teach the Means of Grace, they think something is lacking. They return to the Law by saying they have to transform society and make the world a better place. Every denomination that embraces Pietism goes from the small group to the new laws – with Moses as the Savior. Soon they see how there are many others who also want to transform society, so they lay aside all differences and join in union efforts to transform society. We are far worse off today than we were before people were transforming society.  

Lenski:
This translation assumes that the sonship of the Galatians is now to be proved, and that the possession of the Spirit is the proof. But the sonship is proved in v. 4, 5, and what is now added is the result of this sonship, the corroboration of it, exactly as is done in Rom. 8:14, 15, which treats the possession of the Spirit as one of the great results of justification. A result may, of course, be used to prove its cause; but here Paul does not reverse matters in this way, he states the cause and then its result. In 3:2 he inquires for the source of the effect and thus does reverse the two.
The moment we note that “sons” means sons who are no longer in their minority but in their full majority, we see how Paul has, indeed, proved the Galatians to be such sons: God’s Son has abolished all minority, no minor heirs now exist, all guardians and stewards over minors are now and forever abolished. It is in this sense that the Galatian believers are “sons” also with the evident result of such mature sonship and freedom from superiors, namely that God commissioned the Spirit of the Son with the cry of sons, “Abba Father.”
Note the close parallel: “God commissioned forth his Son” (v. 4)—“God commissioned forth the Spirit of his Son.” These are the two great historic acts. All the promises of Jesus regarding the sending of the Spirit apply, John 14:16, etc.; 15:26; 16:13, etc.; Acts 1:8. The fulfillment came on Pentecost and remained for all believers of all time. The things to be noted are not the outward miraculous signs which occurred at the time of Pentecost, which are like the angels singing at the time of the nativity; but all the statements of Jesus that the Spirit could not come to the disciples until Jesus had gone to the Father. When redemption was entirely complete, the Spirit came, “commissioned forth” as Jesus had been. Then all the guardians and the stewards were dismissed, the Spirit took their place, for the heirs’ minority was ended, the Galatian believers were “sons” in this full sense.
We need scarcely say that the Spirit wrought in the Old Testament, that the faith of the Old Testament believers was produced by the Spirit. To think that the Old Testament believers were devoid of the Spirit is to imagine an impossibility. Pentecost ushered in a new era, the era when the Spirit is able to glorify Jesus as one having come, to take all that Jesus has achieved, to declare it unto us, John 16:14; this is his world-wide mission. And this means: no longer minor heirs waiting for this era. “You are sons.”
For such “sons” the Spirit of God’s Son is intended. When Paul says that he is in “our” hearts and changes from the second person plural to the first, we must go on to v. 7 where he changes to “thou,” the singular, every individual. These different pronouns are not stressed over against each other; they merely turn the thought in every direction. “Our” hearts thus include Paul and the Galatian believers. Paul himself and the great mass of Jewish believers in the Christian Church had come to faith after the Son brought redemption. This includes the 3,000 who came to faith after the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. Like the Gentile believers, all of them at once became “sons.” Do not forget that among the 3,000 there were not a few proselytes (Acts 2:10), former Gentiles. All of them were not minors but sons in their majority. There was no further waiting for the testamentary promises to be fulfilled, no further supervision for minor heirs.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O. : Lutheran Book Concern, 1937, S. 205.


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