Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. Submission is actually an avenue to freedom, not the opponent of freedom, despite what the spirit of the age is always telling us, that freedom is a life of no restraint, a life, don't let anybody tell you what to do, don't ever, just do your own thing, and that's what freedom is.
And what we've been seeing is that's not really what freedom is. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series called Unleashed, as presented at Reynolda Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program today, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. You can find out more about it and even receive a copy of your very own for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So as you listen to today's message, go deeper as we send you today's special offer at pastoralan.org. Find out more about it and make your request or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Again, our website, pastoralan.org. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. Okay, are you ready for some good news? You can not just know about God. You can know God.
In fact, He wants He wants you to know Him, and He wants to know you, and He is the one who's made it possible. We're talking about freedom in a series that we've called Unleashed, because after all, it's really only the well-trained submissive dog that can go unleashed. Submission is actually an avenue to freedom, not the opponent of freedom, despite what the spirit of the age is always telling us, that freedom is a life of no restraint, a life, don't let anybody tell you what to do, don't ever, just do your own thing, and that's what freedom is. And what we've been seeing is that's not really what freedom is. And last week, we saw that when you become a Christian, that you receive the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of adoption, Paul said in Romans, whereby you are able to know that God is your Father, and you have become an heir. And so I said the real picture of freedom is like going from a slave, spiritually speaking, to becoming a son or daughter of God, an heir of God, along with Christ.
So you're now in this family, and that's what real freedom is. Well, today in Galatians chapter 4, we're going to see this same image, but then Paul carries it even further as he talks about what real freedom looks like is knowing God. And we pick up reading at Galatians chapter 4 in the midst of this sort of Christian Magna Carta. This is a proclamation of Christian freedom, and Paul is adamant about the things he's teaching in Galatian. He is furious at those false teachers who have infiltrated the Galatian church and tried to lure people back into legalism, and he is more direct in this letter than any other letter about the power and importance of the purity of the gospel. It cannot be mixed with any law.
And we pick up at chapter 4, verse 1. I mean that the heir, as long as he's a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. So you can have like a child who's living in a home. It could be even a wealthy home, and that child one day is going to inherit all of this, but there's still a time in which the child is just little and the parents have to tell the child everything to do. You know, I mean, you have to eat your green beans.
How many green beans do I have to eat? Six. Well, you're a child and an heir of the great fortune, but right now you're just being treated no different than would a common slave because you have to be told everything to do. But the goal is you're going to grow up out of that. But he is under, verse 2, under guardians and managers. Often people would have a tutor that would basically oversee the upbringing of a child, a guardian, or a manager until the date set by his father.
You're going to come into a time. In the same way, so Paul is just saying like if you think about the people of God, initially they were given the law as a guide to them, but they couldn't keep the law. And so the law just served as like a tutor, but it wasn't really, they were never relating to that. He's talking about there's something much richer that God's always had in mind. And the same way, verse 3, when we were children we were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
Scholars differ on what is meant by elementary principles. I think that it is not just saying the elementary and legalistic things that you might believe that are just religious notions, although that's included in it. I think he's saying the Spirit behind all of that and is probably talking to powers and principalities of the unseen world that have held as their home and wickedness and their deceit. Verse 4, but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, so He's God's Son, but He's human, born under the law, so He comes in in the age of the law to redeem those who are under the law, so that we might not just, what are you saying, not just keep living like under the tutelage of the law, but receive adoption as sons. And as we said, if you were here with us last week, that the ESV translation leaves this word sons, even though it's gender specific, because it's referring to an actual image from the Roman culture where in a childless world a childless couple might decide to adopt a male slave and make him the heir.
So, inheritance passed down in that patriarchal society through the male, and that's why, so it's not gender exclusive, it's just saying we're all like that one through whom the inheritance comes. Verse 6, and because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father, so you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. And we move to verse 8, formally, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. This is part of the reason I think the elementary principles of verse 3 is talking about really ultimately spiritual powers and principalities. He's talking about when you didn't know God and all you had was just a form of religion, you see, He said you were like enslaved, verse 9, but now you have come to know God or rather be known by God. How can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world whose slaves you want to be once more? You can hear His anger rising here.
You observe days and months and seasons and years. What's He talking about? He's talking about festivals and Sabbath days and you can only worship God properly if you do it in this way, at this time, in this place, and you've got to keep all the festivals and you've got to, and in verse 11, just look how human this actually sounds from Paul, but you can hear the great frustration of his heart. He says, I'm afraid I may have labored over you in vain. I mean, it's just strong words that are conveying to us just how important this is for Paul, because these Judaizers, false teachers, they come into the Galatian church and they were essentially saying to them, yes, you need Jesus, but you need Jesus plus you need some other things. You need Jesus plus you need to keep the Jewish ritual of the law of having your baby boy circumcised. You need to keep the festivals and the Sabbath properly.
If you'll do these things and at times deny yourself food and practice some rigorous ascetic lifestyles and all this, you do this stuff, then you'll be really spiritual. And Paul is furious about this. In fact, if you read Galatians, you'll kind of go, why is Paul so mad and so adamant about this? It's not like these people are off living in rampant, rebellious, licentious lives, all these these terrible fleshly sins. They're just very religious and he's really mad. He's really mad at the Judaizers and he's heartbroken that the people have introduced these little pieces of law back into the gospel.
Why? Because if you have a gospel that's 99% grace but 1% law, that 1% of law can produce an infinite amount of fear. If you are in a relationship with God, 99% because His grace and His forgiveness and the shed blood of Jesus and His righteousness, but 1% because of your own righteousness, your own merit, or your own work, then won't you forever be wondering if you've done enough, even in your 1%? So what Paul's saying is the gospel loses its power and becomes toxic if you take it and you say it's Jesus plus you inject some other little things in there. So what he says that you've moved from was slavery to the elementary principles of the world. These religious notions about rituals, seasons, times, religious practices that you need to keep, you've moved out of that and you've moved out of that slavery into the freedom of the gospel where you've become a child of God.
How could you go back? He said it's the way you were when you didn't know God, but now you know God or he says better yet, God knows you. So the real measure of freedom, the mark of freedom and the avenue of that freedom is knowing God and being known by Him. And being known by Him.
That's Alan Wright, and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. This is what the Lord says. I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents and have compassion on his dwellings. The city will be rebuilt on her ruins and the palace will stand in its proper place. Those timeless words from Jeremiah 30 reveal the heart of God. He loves to restore. In ancient times, cities would often be rebuilt on top of the ruins of the former city.
The new city would stand higher with safer walls and a greater perspective. In Pastor Alan Wright's eight message CD album, Out of the Ruins, you'll discover how God can rebuild your life gloriously out of yesterday's disappointments. When you make your gift to Alan Wright Ministries today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues. Here once again is Alan Wright.
I want to talk to you about the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Some of you may not be aware that Michael Jordan, greatest basketball player of all time, he and I were classmates at University of North Carolina. I don't know if everybody knew that. We were there together the same years and walking those same grounds and hallways. And yeah, we were classmates, Michael and I.
And some time ago, a friend gave me some tickets. It was unbelievable. Unbelievable.
I've never experienced like that. Literally on the floor to watch a Hornets basketball game. The Hornets are owned by Michael Jordan. And you sit down there right behind the bench where sometimes Michael sits.
He owns the Hornets. And then there's all this free food. You can go get this free food and stuff back there in this place.
You walk by a little place. It's got a locker for Michael Jordan. And sometimes they said he goes back there and gets it. And I thought, wouldn't that be something we go to this game if Michael and I, old classmates, were there together? You know, we could just kind of catch up on old times.
Why are you laughing? Okay, it's true. And my whole four years there, Michael never did get to know me.
That is the truth. He just never got to know me. But there's such a big difference, isn't there, between saying you know about someone? I was thinking, you know, how precious, how much I would have loved to have known this man like so many would have and one of the most admired men that ever lived. And I never got to know Billy Graham. I would have loved to.
I would have loved to. He would have been on my list of somebody I'd like to know. And what's so odd is that I felt like I knew him because I studied him. And I also knew some people that did know him. In fact, I met Franklin Graham several times. I met Ann Graham live. I met Michael Jordan. I met Michael Jordan.
Several times. I met Ann Graham Lotz's daughter several times. But I never knew Billy Graham. What's interesting, even more so, is that Ann's uncle, Stanley.
You hear me mention Stanley, who's in heaven now. But he was the Graham's pastor for years at the Montreat Presbyterian Church just up the road here. And so he and Joella, they knew the Grahams well. Many a times that I'd see Stanley and Joella and they had been just recently visiting with the Grahams. I kept thinking maybe sometime I'll go visit with them, you know, too. But I never did.
So I never got to meet them. Interestingly, the Bennetts have shared with us some of the correspondence and things that they've gotten from the Grahams because they wanted somebody in the family to keep it. So I've got some letters that Billy Graham wrote to Stanley.
Really, really great stuff. And I guess the big treasure is that we have a Bible that Billy Graham signed to Ann's grandmother. When Stanley and Joella were missionaries in Brazil, Billy Graham came and did a crusade.
And while he was there, he sent back a Bible for them to take to Mama Bennet, as we called her. And so we've got the Bible that Billy Graham wrote. So we got a lot of stuff, you know, connected to Billy Graham, but I never knew Billy Graham. And what is really interesting about this is that my freshman year in college, I took a course called History of Christianity in America, and the professor became my favorite professor, Grant Wacker, who was a very smart man and who had focused most of his studies on evangelicalism in America.
And Dr. Wacker was trained at Stanford and Harvard, very smart guy. And our first week in History of Christianity in America, I had the privilege of being in Dr. Wacker's recitation section that met on Friday at a small group, about 20 of us. And he was reading through the rollbook and going around and calling out his name.
We're kind of introducing ourselves. And he got to a young man, a student named Sandy Ford. And Dr. Wacker said, oh, that's interesting. He said, I see here that your middle name is Layton. And he said, that's so interesting. He said, because Billy Graham's brother-in-law is named Layton Ford. And Sandy said, yeah, that's my dad.
You just got to catch this moment. On our syllabus of study for this semester is a section on Billy Graham. Here is Dr. Wacker, Stanford-Harvard educated, who later in his life is going to write a definitive biography called America's Pastor of Billy Graham. And so all of a sudden, Sandy Ford, who's the son of Layton Ford, brother-in-law to Billy Graham, is sitting in this small classroom at Carolina.
And it gets quiet. And Dr. Wacker says, so Billy Graham is your uncle? And he said, yeah. We're like, wait a minute, Stanford-Harvard over here doesn't got anything on freshman Sandy. He's a freshman in undergraduate school, but he knows Billy Graham.
We could talk to Dr. Wacker about everything and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but we come over and say, Sandy, what does he like to eat at Thanksgiving? What's he like being around him? What's he like being around him?
Is he fun? He knew him. You see, even the smallest child that knows someone trumps the smartest and brightest and most diligent person who just knows about someone. And Paul is saying to the Galatians, the heart of the gospel and everything that makes it good news is that what God's done for you in Jesus Christ is he has made it possible for you to know him, not just know about him. So why would you return to a life of just knowing about him, trying to achieve some religious status through your legalism? And he's pleading with them.
Once you knew him, know him again. The battle spiritually that was going on in the Galatian church is one that we face still. They were lured by the Judaizers towards a substitute for knowing God, ceremonial law. The implication was vivid that when you turn your Christianity into a law-based allegiance to principles and ceremonies rather than a relationship with God through Jesus, you're not just abandoning the beauty and power of God's life, but you're returning in effect to the same demons that controlled you before you ever knew Jesus. That's a stark thing to say, but that's what he's saying. Do not succumb to the allure of the Judaizers who want you to have Jesus plus something.
It will poison your faith and turn it against you. If there's one percent of law, then the accuser can stand and say, Allen doesn't deserve to be blessed. He hasn't fulfilled his one percent.
It wasn't enough. Until it's a hundred percent grace. And then in a hundred percent grace, the enemy's tactics fall impotently to the ground. God in Jesus Christ, Paul said elsewhere in Corinthians, disarmed those principalities by canceling the written code and nailing it to the cross. He said by fulfilling the law on our behalf and ushering in a new covenant of grace, he took the bullets out of the enemy's gun.
And when you go back to law, you arm the enemy again. See, hell is satisfied just as much with our religiosity that substitutes for knowing God as hell would be satisfied with our rebellion. And in the Galatian church, it wasn't their rebellion. It was this religiosity. Relationships get sabotaged when instead of it being about knowing and being known, it becomes about performing and expecting a return.
If you have a relationship that is downgraded to where it's about, I'll do this and therefore you do this, and I expect if I do this, then you'll do this, and that's what the relationship is about, then it's not a real relationship, is it? It's an arrangement. And that can happen with Christians and God. Alan Wright and today's teaching, Free to Know God.
It's in our series, Unleashed. Alan is back with us in the studio here in just a moment, sharing a parting good news thought for the day. Stay with us.
with Safer Walls and A Greater Perspective. In Pastor Alan Wright's eight-message CD album, Out of the Ruins, you'll discover how God can rebuild your life gloriously out of yesterday's disappointments. When you make your gift to Alan Wright Ministries today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's messages in an attractive CD album or through digital download as our way of saying thanks for your partnership. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Unlock the power of blessing your life. Discover God's grace-filled vision for your life by signing up for Alan Wright's free daily blessing. If you want to fill your heart with grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at PastorAlan.org. Back here in the studio with Alan Wright and our parting good news thought for the day on this teaching, a free to know God from our series on Unleashed. And by the way, Unleashed, just to remind folks, is the picture of a well-trained dog who can be off the leash and there's true freedom, but you know that dog's a well-behaved dog. Only the well-trained dog can go unleashed.
That's right. I was out for a walk the other day and an Unleashed dog came over started racing at me and barking at me and a master came over apologizing and I wanted to say that dog needs to be leashed. But when we're really submitted to God, then there's immeasurable freedoms. He's a God of freedom.
And today what we're seeing, Daniel, is absolute extraordinary. We're not just privileged to be able to know about God. We can know God. He wants to be known and God wants to know us. And that is a glorious thought. Today's good news message is a listener supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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