12 Nov Galatians 10: Slave or free?
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
Do you remember when you were a little kid and you got separated from your parents? When you were little, your perspective on life was about knee-high. So, you looked for the pant leg or the hem of the dress of your mom, you found it, grabbed onto that leg, and looked up in desperation, only to see that woman looking down at you and you had no idea who that person was. I see this happen a lot at our church after the service. Someone would chase after one of the kids, and the kid would run and hide, grab one of the legs, and I thought, “Okay, that’s the wrong leg. Bless you, child.” And the kid would look up and the expression on the kid’s face would say, “Who are you? You are not my mom.” Our passage for today is complicated. Many commentators think this is one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament, and the hardest passage in the book of Galatians. And I agree. Studying this passage was not easy. But at the heart of this passage is a very simple question. It is this: Who is your momma? I was going to title this sermon, “Who is your momma?” but I might get in trouble with my momma, so I changed my mind. But the primary question that this passage asks is, do you know who is your mother? Because knowing who is your mother is the difference between slavery and freedom.
Let’s recap what we have learned so far. Throughout the book of Galatians, Paul is making a contrast between the false gospel and the true gospel. And I try to explain it to you in a different way every week. So, here is another attempt to define the differences between the two. False gospel is relying on the law; True gospel is resting on Christ. When Paul first came to Galatia, he preached, “You are saved not by your own record, but by Christ’s record. You are saved not because of what you do, but because of what Christ has done. In spite of your past guilt and shame, the moment you put your faith in Christ, you are children of Abraham. You can rest in Christ’s perfect work.” That’s the true gospel and the Galatians believed it. But then some false teachers from Jerusalem came and said, “Yes, you need to believe in Christ, but that’s only the first step. There is still a long way. You have to be circumcised. You have to obey the law. You have to look and live like us. Then and only then can you become children of Abraham. You are not there yet.” That’s the false gospel and the Galatians believed it and walked away from the true gospel. Paul then wrote a letter to the Galatians to rebuke them. And in this passage, Paul makes an incredible counterattack. This is the climax of his argument against the false teachers. He contrasts the false and true gospel through the story of two women, Hagar and Sarah, to make an incredible point. And it is this. The gospel has the power to make anyone a child of God, but it is often the good and religious people who get left out of God’s family.
This is why this passage is extremely relevant to religious people. And by religious people, I mean many of us who are in church today. Every Christian is a recovering law addict. I don’t know if you realize it, but there is a tendency toward relying on the law inside all of us. Here is what I mean. We get the gospel. We know that God’s acceptance of us has nothing to do with us but Jesus’s perfect work on our behalf. But let’s be honest. Even though we know that God accepts us because of Jesus, we secretly suspect that God’s love for us is conditional upon our performances. Let’s say we have a great Monday. We do morning devotion, we are joyful, share the gospel with others, give money to a homeless person, buy a gift for our spouse, and are pretty much like Mother Teresa for the whole day. We think, “God must be smiling wide at me today.” But let’s say we have a bad Tuesday. We wake up late, we don’t do morning devotion, spill coffee on our shirts, swear at the car that cuts our lane, lie to our colleague, kick a cat on the way home, and yell at our kids. We think, “God must be shaking his head at me today.” So, on a day that we do well, we feel like God is happy with us. But on a day that we don’t do well, we feel like God is stuck with us. Does anyone know what I am talking about? What happens is we become performance-oriented Christians. We know the truth of the gospel and yet we evaluate ourselves by what we do for God rather than what God has done for us in Jesus. We are in constant danger of forgetting to live by faith and choosing instead to go back under the law. The book of Galatians is written for people like us.
I have three points for this sermon. And I am stealing these points from John Stott. He breaks it down very nicely in his commentary: historical background; allegorical argument; personal application.
Galatians 4:21-22 – 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman.
Paul is now directly addressing “you who desire to be under the law.” What does it mean to be under the law? To be under the law is not a reference to those who obey the law. Obedience to the law is good. Paul expects us to obey God’s law. When he uses the phrase ‘under the law’, he is talking about those who would use the law as a means of justification, as a means of getting right with God. It means they are relying on the law to tell them where they are with God. They say, “If I obey God, if I come to church every Sunday, if I give offering and tithe generously, then God will accept me. God will bless me because I am doing all these things.” That’s being under the law. Obeying the law is good but relying on the law for our standing with God is bad. And so, this is a message that will particularly challenge the religious people in the church. And that’s most of us.
It is helpful to see that there are four kinds of people in the world and the church. I got this from Timothy Keller and I added the labels to make it easier. First, the religious (law-obeying, law-relying people). These people are under the law and are usually very smug and self-righteous. Externally, they are very sure they are right with God, but deep down, they have a lot of insecurity since they can never be sure if they are living up to the standard. That’s why they can’t handle criticism and they are devastated when their prayers are not answered. These people have much in common with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Second, the attendee (law-disobeying, law-relying people). These people believe they need to perform well before God can accept them, but they continue to fail. As a result, they are more humble and tolerant than the religious, but they are filled with guilt and shame. They may come to church, but they don’t want to get involved due to their low spiritual self-esteem.
Third, the secular (law-disobeying, not law-relying people). These people don’t care about God and the law of God. They live however they want. They are usually happier and more tolerant than the religious and the attendee. But there is a strong sense of self-righteousness in them as they are earning their own salvation by feeling superior to others. They usually come to church twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. Fourth, the Christian (law-obeying, not law-relying people). These people understand the gospel and live in the freedom of the gospel. They obey the law of God not because they have to but because they want to. Their obedience is filled with grateful joy that comes from the knowledge of what God has done for them. They are more tolerant than the secular, more sympathetic than the religious, and more confident than the attendee. This is the ideal Christian. But most Christians struggle to live out their true identity and tend to shift to become religious, attendee, or even secular.
And in this passage, Paul is addressing the law-relying people that they are not thinking clearly. He is saying to all who rely on the law, “Do you not listen to the law? Because if you do, you will not rely on the law. The law will only condemn you. The law is pointing you to something other than the law to save you.” And to make his point, Paul is using the story of Hagar and Sarah. Why? Because the Jews pride themselves in being children of Abraham. One time, Jesus had an argument with the Jews. Jesus told them, “You are in bondage. You have to know the truth and the truth will set you free.” And they replied, “What do you mean we are in bondage? We are children of Abraham. We have never been enslaved by anyone. We are free people.” And Jesus replied, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would have listened to me. The fact that you don’t listen to me means you are not Abraham’s children.” In other words, Jesus is telling them that the true children of Abraham are not physical but spiritual. Just because you are Jewish does not make you children of Abraham. And Paul is making the same point here. The false teachers were saying, “You are not really children of Abraham unless you obey all the law and become Jews.” Paul is turning the tables by saying, “Let me remind you that Abraham had two sons: one by a slave woman, one by a free woman.” The two sons were Ishmael and Isaac, and the two women were Hagar and Sarah. And the two sons were born in very different circumstances.
Let me tell you what happened. God promised Abraham that he would give him a son who would inherit all of God’s promises to Abraham. And Abraham said, “God, I am really, really, really old. And my wife Sarah is barren. I don’t know how we are going to do it, but I trust you. You are the one who promised, you will be the one who makes it happen.” Abraham was 75 years old at the time. But after many years of waiting, they were still childless. So, Sarah said to him, “Yobo, I am old, and I am not getting any younger. It is impossible for me to give birth. I have an idea. Why don’t you sleep with my servant, Hagar? She is young and fertile. And she is my servant. So, her child is technically my child.” And note. Sarah did not stop believing in God’s promise. She still believed God would give them a son. She just thought it was up to them to make it happen. She was attempting to fulfil God’s promise through human effort.
So, Abraham had a choice. He could either get a son through his own human effort or he could wait and get a son through God’s miraculous work. And Abraham said to Sarah, “Sure, babe. If that’s what you want. I’ll show you how much I love you by sleeping with your servant.” Abraham chose to rely on human effort. He slept with Hagar, Hagar conceived, and Ishmael was born. And Abraham thought Ishmael was it. Ishmael was the promised son. But God said no. Thirteen years after Ishmael was born, God came to Abraham and said, “You and Sarah will have a son at this time next year.” And Abraham was like, “Excuse me? God, did I hear you right? I mean, I’m so old now I can’t even hear you properly. I am 99 years old. And Sarah is 90. How on earth are we supposed to do it? Our bodies are as good as dead. They don’t work anymore. And I already have Ishmael.” God said, “Not Ishmael. Your heir will be Isaac, the son whom you will have with Sarah.” And a year later, Isaac was supernaturally born. God kept his promise.
So, here is Paul’s point. Galatians 4:23 – But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Ishmael was born according to the flesh. It means Ishmael was conceived in a natural way. Ishmael was a human solution to God’s promise. Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands and help God out. They thought they knew better than God. But God rejected their solution. Because what God wanted was not Abraham’s works but Abraham’s faith. So, God gave them Isaac. Isaac was the opposite of Ishmael. Isaac was born through promise. Supernatural conception. Humanly speaking, there was no way Abraham and Sarah could conceive Isaac. Only God can do it. Can you see the point Paul is making? He is saying to those who rely on the law, those who boast that they are children of Abraham because they are Jews, that it is possible to have the right father but the wrong mother. With Hagar, Abraham worked. He tried to be his own saviour. He used his own effort to accomplish God’s promise. That’s the way of Hagar and Ishmael. But the way of Sarah and Isaac is to say, “God, there is no way I can do it. Only you can do it. I cannot save myself. I cannot work it out. I can only trust you to do it for me.” Ishmael and Isaac represent two different ways of salvation: by relying on human effort or by relying on God’s promise; by works or by faith. In other words, Paul is saying, “Abraham might be your father. But who is your mother? Are you Ishmael or Isaac? Because only one of them is acceptable before God, and hence, the true son of Abraham.” Are you with me so far?
Let me bring it into your backyard. Some of you are in the season of waiting right now. You are waiting for your Isaac. You are waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promise in your life. But nothing seems to be happening. And you are very tempted to help God out. It’s not that you stop believing in God’s promise, but you think that it’s up to you to make it happen. You want to accomplish God’s promise in your own way, in your own strength, and in your own time. And God is saying to you tonight, don’t do it. Because God does not want Ishmael; he wants Isaac. What God wants from you is not your works; he wants your faith. He wants you to rely on him to fulfil his promise. Instead of your way, your strength and your time, God wants to do it in his way, his strength, and his time. God does not need you to help him; God wants you to trust him. This is the first lesson from our passage. Some of are you thinking, “It is not as complicated as I thought.” It’s because we haven’t got to the complicated part. But we are now. Here we go.
Galatians 4:24-26 – 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
Let me do my absolute best to simplify and explain what Paul is saying in these verses. This is an allegorical argument, which means that Paul takes something historical and uses it as an illustration to make a point. He is not saying that this is the exact meaning of the story of Hagar and Sarah. But he is using this story to make a theological point. Paul is using the story of Hagar and Sarah to make a contrast between salvation by works and salvation by grace. Hagar represents salvation by works, and Sarah represents salvation by grace. And to make it easier for us to understand these verses, I have a gift for you. I created a chart to help us understand Paul’s argument. There are two sides to the chart, Hagar’s side and Sarah’s side. Let’s look at Hagar’s side first. Hagar was a slave woman who gave birth to one of the sons of Abraham, Ishmael. And Hagar represents the Old Covenant. Why? Because Abraham and Hagar conceived Ishmael through human effort. Ishmael was a product of works. And the Old Covenant was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, which Paul called the present Jerusalem. This is interesting. Why did Paul call it the present Jerusalem? Because if you remember, the false teachers bragged about the fact that they came from Jerusalem, and they had the right gospel. Paul is challenging their claim. He argues that the Old Covenant of Sinai only produced children of slavery. Because the law is filled with, “Thou shall… thou shall…” And the Israelites were not able to obey the demands of the law. They failed to obey the law and it led them to be taken into exile. And that’s what happens to those who believe in salvation by works. They are children of Hagar, children of slavery.
Now, let’s look at Sarah’s side. Sarah was a free woman, and she gave birth to Isaac. And Sarah represents the New Covenant. Why? Because Abraham and Sarah conceived Isaac through God’s supernatural work. Isaac was a product of trust in God’s promise. And this New Covenant points us not to earthly Jerusalem, but the heavenly Jerusalem, which is the city of Zion. And all who are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem are children of promise. Because the New Covenant is filled with God saying, “I will… I will…” God is the one who does all the work and all we have to do is receive and trust in God’s perfect work. Salvation is not by works but by grace. And those who receive salvation by grace are children of Sarah, children of freedom.
And then in verse 27, Paul quotes Isaiah 54. Galatians 4:27 – For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Paul is quoting the prophecy Isaiah gave when the Israelites were taken into exile. They thought their life was over. They thought they would never return home again. They seemed like failures. They were weak and helpless. And the city of Jerusalem was empty. It was like a barren woman. It was like the barren Sarah. But God promised through Isaiah, “Now that you know you are helpless, now that you know you can’t do anything, I am going to make you sing. I am going to make you rejoice. Because I am going to make your numbers great. I am going to show you that my grace works in your weakness.”
Now I am going to give you a table that shows everything I just told you.
Slavery: Hagar (a slave woman); Ishmael (born according to human effort); The covenant of law (include a works principle); The present Jerusalem (Judaism); The children of slavery (those under the law).
Freedom: Sarah (a free woman); Isaac (born through God’s promise); The covenant of grace (based on faith); The Jerusalem above (the church); The children of freedom (Christians).
This allegory shows the difference between spiritual slavery and spiritual freedom. Those who try to justify themselves by keeping the law are the slaves, the children of Hagar. But those who are justified by faith in Christ are the free sons and daughters of God, the children of Sarah. So, here is the question that Paul is asking the religious people who rely on the law. “You say your father is Abraham. Okay. But who is your momma?” The Jews pride themselves in being children of Abraham, but Paul tells them if they rely on the law, they are not children of Sarah; they are children of Hagar. And Christianity is not the religion of Ishmael; it is the religion of Isaac. It is a religion of grace. It is not about what we can do to help God but trusting in what God has done, does, and will do in our lives. Christianity is not a religion of “I must do this, I must do that,” but God will.
And let me tell you why we need to hear this. First, let me speak to those who see themselves as failures. Sarah is a huge encouragement for you. In ancient times, a woman’s worth was essentially tied up to her ability to conceive children. A barren woman was considered to be a failure. She was considered weak and unworthy. But the good news of the gospel is that God chose the barren and old instead of the young and fertile. Every other religion says you must be good enough to be accepted. But the gospel tells us anyone can be accepted before God. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you have done. You might have been a hitman for the Mafia or a gigolo. I don’t care if you are one step away from becoming a devil. Rule-keeping will not save you. Spending the rest of your life atoning for your sin will not cleanse you. But if you confess, “God, I am weak. I have nothing to bring. Simply to the cross of Christ I cling”, you are covered in grace. You no longer need to hide in shame because Jesus covers you with his righteousness. He forgives all your sins, and he is in love with you. You are free in Christ. That’s the gospel.
And second, to the religious people. You might be in church all your life. You might receive lots of stickers in Sunday school. You might have a clean history. And you pride yourself in being a good Christian and you look down on those who aren’t. And that’s your problem. Your problem is you are trying to be your own saviour. All your good works are your efforts to earn God’s favour. Your saviour is your own achievements. Jesus may be a good example and a helper to you, but he is not a saviour. You are rejecting Jesus as your saviour. If that’s you, you are Ishmael. And Ishmael is always in bondage. Only Isaac gets to live in freedom. And the gospel is offering freedom for you. You no longer have to rely on your works; you can trust in Jesus’ perfect work. Now you can breathe. The work of salvation has been done. You don’t have to prove yourself anymore. In Jesus, you are already fully loved and accepted. So, this is the irony of the gospel. Those who desire to be under the law and put confidence in their own efforts are children of slavery and have no future. Those who are empty and have nothing except the empty hand of faith are children of freedom and have a future. So, if you still look to other things for your justification, if you still think that you are accepted because you are a good father, a good mother, a good child, as long as you still have something on your hand, you are empty. But if you come to God with the empty hands of faith, you will be supernaturally fruitful.
So, the question is, are you Ishmael or Isaac? John Stott puts it nicely. “The religion of Ishmael is a religion of nature, of what man can do by himself without any special intervention of God. But the religion of Isaac is a religion of grace, of what God has done and does, a religion of divine initiative and divine intervention, for Isaac was born supernaturally through a divine promise. And this is what Christianity is, not ‘natural’ religion but ‘supernatural’. The Ishmaels of this world trust in themselves that they are righteous, the Isaacs trust only in God through Jesus Christ. The Ishmaels are in bondage, because this is what self-reliance always leads to; the Isaacs enjoy freedom, because it is through faith in Christ that men are set free.”
Galatians 4:28-31 – 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
So now Paul is addressing the Christians. Christians are children of promise. And we must always remember this. Christians are not products of works; Christians are products of grace. It is our faith in Jesus that made us children of Abraham. We have no role whatsoever in our salvation. The truth is we were dead in our sins. But God in his mercy and grace decided to breathe the breath of life into us and make us his. Salvation is God’s work alone from beginning to end. We are not subjects of salvation; we are recipients of God’s mercy. By grace, we have been saved. How many of you believe this? Here is Paul’s point. If we are Isaacs, if we are children of promise, then expect to be treated the way Isaac was treated by Ishmael. What happened?
Genesis 21:8-9 – 8 And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. Ishmael laughed at Isaac. Some of you are thinking, “Wait. What’s wrong with laughing at your brother? I make fun of my brother all the time.” In your Bible, next to the word ‘laughing’, there should be a little footnote that says, “or mocked.” So, Ishmael was not simply laughing at Isaac, he mocked Isaac. What did a 17-year-old Ishmael say to a three-year-old Isaac? We don’t know exactly but we can guess. He was probably saying, “Do you know who the firstborn is? Do you know who is going to be the heir? It’s not you. You are just a freaky unexpected child. I am going to be the heir. I am the firstborn.” Ishmael persecuted Isaac with words, with mockery. And Paul says, “Christians, expect to be persecuted by words, not by people out in the world, but by religious people in the church.” Those who believed in salvation by grace alone must expect to be mocked by those who believed in salvation by works. It has always been so.
Think about it. Who were Jesus’s fiercest opponents? It was not the Romans; it was the religious leaders. Who were Paul’s fiercest opponents? Not the Gentiles; it was the Jews. And the greatest opponents of the church today are not the non-believers who do not believe in the gospel, but the religious people in the church who distort the gospel. Why so? Timothy Keller explains it well. “The gospel is more threatening to religious people than non-religious people. Religious people are very touchy and nervous about their standing with God. Their insecurity makes them hostile to the gospel, which insists that their best deeds are useless before God. One of the ways we know that our self-image is based on justification by Christ is that we are not hateful and hostile to people who differ from us; one of the ways we know that our self-image is based on justification by works is that we persecute!”
And I experienced it firsthand. Do you know what is one of my most liked sermons on our YouTube channel? Go and marry a whore (the Indonesian version). It’s a sermon on Hosea and Gomer and how it is a shadow of God’s love for his people. The story of Hosea and Gomer is the story of the gospel. But do you know what is my most hated sermon? Go and marry a whore. I received more criticism on that sermon than all my other sermons combined. Someone commented on the Indonesian version of that sermon, “Pastor botol.” When I first read it, I had no idea what it meant. I thought it was a compliment. What came to my mind was ‘teh botol.’ And ‘teh botol’ is sweet and refreshing. So, I thought maybe it meant that my sermon was refreshing or sweet. I was happy. But it turned out I was wrong, very wrong. A dear friend kindly told me that ‘botol’ stands for ‘bodoh dan tolol’, or stupid and moron in English. Indonesians are experts at making weird abbreviations. And those words came not from non-church people, but religious church people. Why? Because the gospel threatens their self-salvation project. The gospel tells them, “All your striving, all your knowledge, all your commitment, doesn’t do a thing to make you acceptable before God. You cannot do anything on your own strength. You can only receive salvation as a gift by faith. Salvations belong to God alone and to him alone be the glory forever.” The gospel is extremely offensive to human pride. If we hold to the gospel, we should expect to be persecuted by the religious people. So, that’s the negative side.
But on the positive side, if we hold to the gospel, we will receive inheritances. Christians are the true heirs of Abraham. Children of Hagar will not inherit the blessings of Abraham. In fact, Paul commands us to cast out Hagar and her son. The church should never tolerate the false gospel and those who promote the false gospel. We can disagree on many things about Christianity, but we can never disagree on the gospel. The gospel is what makes Christianity, Christianity. The one thing the church must never get wrong is the gospel. The moment we add, change, or subtract anything from the gospel, we destroy Christianity. Yes, we will be persecuted for standing firm in the gospel, but we will receive inheritances through it. It is not one or the other. It is both. Christians will receive both the pain of persecution and the privilege of inheritance. And knowing what’s in store for us enables us to stand firm in the gospel, despite all the persecutions. Let’s say one day I receive a phone call that tells me I have $100 million waiting for me in the bank from an uncle I never knew I had. So, I quickly get into my car and make my way to the nearest bank. Along the way, I get hit by a truck and my car is smashed. I will not cry and complain, “Oh no, my car. My beloved Hyundai. I just bought it a few months ago. What am I going to do now?” No, I would not do that. I would go to the bank, pick up my $100 million, and buy a Honda Jazz. Or a Ferarri. Depends on my mood. I’m not saying persecution is easy. But I am saying the persecutions we experience are not worth comparing with what God has in store for us.
So, here is Paul’s argument. “Galatians, who is your mother? If you are Christians, you are the sons of promise. Sarah is your mother. You are children of a free woman. So, do not return to slavery and throw away your privileges as children of Abraham. You are not sons of Hagar. That’s not who you are. If you listen to the false teachers and try to gain God’s acceptance by being religious, you are nothing but slaves. It won’t work. But if you understand what Jesus has done is enough, you are free. Christians, you are not Ishmaels; you are Isaacs. So, live out your royal status already given by grace in Christ.” So the question for us is, are we living as free children? If we are still working to gain God’s approval, we are in spiritual slavery. Only those who believe the gospel are free.
Let me close with this. Christians, you are children of Abraham. But Paul reminds us that you can be related to Abraham in two ways. One makes you a slave; one makes you an heir. One is the way of the law; one is the way of the promise. One is the way of work; one is the way of grace. One is the way of the flesh; one is the way of the supernatural. It all depends on who your mother is. So, the question is, how can you have the right mother? Here is how. You need to see the beauty of the only son who is free but became a slave for you. Think about what Jesus has accomplished for you in the gospel. The lawmaker became human and subjected himself to live under the law. The infinite became finite to live the perfect life that you could not. The one from Jerusalem above humbled himself and came to the present Jerusalem. Jesus lived a righteous life and yet he was persecuted and rejected by the religious people. He was without blemish, and yet he was cast out from Jerusalem and crucified outside of the city as a criminal. The true free son of the covenant was treated like a slave. Why? Because Jesus took what you deserved. Jesus endured the slavery you deserved because of sin so that when you put your faith in him, you become children of freedom. Faith in Jesus makes you the children of the free woman and the heirs of Abraham. Christians, this is who you are in Christ. If that’s true, why would you ever trade your freedom in the gospel for the slavery of the law? Let’s pray.
- What struck you the most from the sermon?
- Explain what is wrong with Sarah’s solution (Hagar). Can you see the tendency in yourself to make the same mistake? Why?
- What is the difference between Ishmael and Isaac? How does it set Christianity apart from every other religion?
- Why do you think the children of the flesh will always persecute the children of promise? Give some daily life examples.
- How can we stand firm in the gospel amid persecution?