Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind… What reality should cause us to stop and think? Are we prepared to meet our Maker?
This week on Renewing Your Mind, we have been pleased to feature R.C. Sproul's sermon series from the book of Galatians. We've learned about the Apostle Paul's plea to the Galatian church to return to the true gospel. It's a warning that the church in every generation should heed. Let's continue now with our study of Paul's letter to the Galatians.
We're beginning a new chapter this morning, chapter 4. I will be reading verses 1 through 7, and I'd ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father, in the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of this world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 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. What a glorious passage this is. It summarizes the very essence of the gospel, and this is not simply the opinion of the Apostle Paul in the first century. This is the Word of God.
Please receive it as such and be seated. Let us pray. Father, as we begin to probe the depths and riches of this text that we have before us this morning, we ask that the same Holy Spirit who gives us the authority to say, Abba, Father, will open our ears, our hearts, and our minds to the marvelous truth of the things that are in this text. For we ask it in Jesus' name.
Amen. Friday night, we celebrated the graduation of the class of the Reformation Bible College, and it was a glorious experience for all of those who were present, and we were delighted to hear Dr. Peter Lillebeck, the president of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, give the address that evening. And of course, this is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and all year we're involved in celebrations in remembrance of that event. But there were other great changes to Western civilization. I think of the 18th century, the advent of what was called the Aufklärung in Germany, the Enlightenment, and it spread to France and the rest of Europe and then across the seas to America. But in that so-called discovery of Enlightenment, though it was not a monolithic position held by all the philosophers of that day, the basic point of the Enlightenment was this. Now we know through the advances of science that the idea of God is not a necessary concept in order to explain the origin of the universe or the origin of human life. We know now in our sophisticated scientific understanding in the 18th century that all these things came to pass through spontaneous generation.
Now these were intelligent men, brilliant men, but what they were teaching was nuts, pure nonsense. To assume this whole concept of spontaneous generation was recently pooh-poohed, I read an essay of a scholar, a Nobel Prize-winning scholar from the West Coast who said, we can no longer believe scientifically in the concept of spontaneous generation. We have to modify that concept and speak of gradual spontaneous generation.
We went from nuts to nuttier. And it's one thing to have spontaneous generation, which the more recent scientists said, you can't have that. Things don't just pop into being out of nothing like a rabbit out of a hat. If you want to have spontaneous generation, you have to have it gradually. You have to be patient. You have to wait for it.
Well, if you're going to wait for something to pop into being on its own steam, you're going to wait a long, long time. But in any case, the 18th century Enlightenment had a far greater impact on American culture as we experience it today than does the results of the impact of the Protestant Reformation. If for no other reason than what followed in the wake of the Enlightenment was a whole new theology based upon an attempt to make a synthesis between Enlightenment naturalism and Christianity.
And that was birthed again in Germany in the 19th century, and we speak of 19th century liberalism. And the basic credo of 19th century liberalism was this, that we have to get rid of all aspects of supernaturalism in historic Christianity. The miracles of Jesus, gone. The virgin birth, gone. The transfiguration, it's gone. The substitutionary atonement, that's gone. Of course, the resurrection is gone.
The ascension is gone, and there's no hope of any return of a dead Jesus who remains a corpse buried somewhere in hidden in Palestine. And so the immediate problem that 19th century liberals has is, well, what do we do with the church? Because the church has been built upon 1900 years of conviction of supernatural events. One pastor and theologian of the day whose name was Pearson said, well, what we need to do is be honest and close the church doors because the church is committed to something that's out of date, antiquated, and no longer tenable. And the other man said, wait, wait, wait a minute, you know, all we're trained to do is be preachers, and we've invested billions of dollars in these great edifices that go throughout the land of Europe, the wonderful cathedrals and art and all of that stuff. So we can't get rid of it.
We just need to change it. And as they were looking around for ways to change it, one of the most insightful church historians of all time, Adolph von Harnack, wrote a book called The Vasen or The Being or The Essence of Christianity, in which he tried to reduce the bare minimum of Christian religion to its most basic substance, its being and essence. And he said historically that the real essence of Christianity can be summed up in two principles, the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.
He said now we can have a truly humanitarian religion based upon a new gospel, which was called a social gospel, that addresses the fundamental needs of humanity under that great umbrella of the universal truths of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. And the problem with that, of course, is that the Bible doesn't teach the universal fatherhood of God, nor does it teach the universal brotherhood of man. However, I dare to guess that every one of you in this room was raised in a culture that assumed the truth of those two premises, the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.
And I say the Bible doesn't teach this. There is one remote passage, for example, when Paul is at Mars Hill and he's debating with the philosophers, the Epicureans and the Stoics, and he saw an altar to an unknown god, and he declared that unknown god to them in power. And he quoted one of the poets. He says, even your poets are saying that we're all God's offspring. Well, in that sense, you can talk about the universal fatherhood of God in the sense that every human being is a result of God's creation. We're all creatures under God. But the idea or the metaphor of fatherhood in the Bible is not something that's universal, but rather is particular. To be a child of God is an exclusive privilege reserved only for those who are believers in Christ. And likewise, the Bible doesn't teach the universal brotherhood of man. It teaches the universal neighborhood of man where we are to consider everybody around us in the whole world to be our neighbors, not simply if they just live next door, but if they live anywhere in the world, they are our neighbors, and we are to love them as we love ourselves, so that the Bible has a lot to say about how we treat our neighbors. But brotherhood?
No. The brotherhood is a unique, special relationship reserved for those who are adopted into the family of God. By nature, God has one Son. He's introduced to us in the pages of Scripture as the monogenes, the only begotten Son of the Father.
And yet the most wonderful thing that we've heard in this passage today is that this one Son has untold brothers and sisters who are adopted into the Father's family. Let's look at the text. Paul says, I mean, explaining on what was said earlier in chapter 3, Calvin had an apoplexy about these chapter divisions here. He said, how in the world could somebody start a new chapter here when Paul wrote the letters? He didn't write verse 1, chapter 1, verse 2.
There weren't any versifications or chapter divisions. These were read as an entire epistle to congregations. But in any case we read, I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, that he is the owner of everything. This is an incredible statement, but it's one that's tied so closely to everything Paul's been expanding on with respect to our relationship to the Father as adopted children and the relationship of the law that was given to be a tutor or guardian to the people of God until the covenant of promise was fulfilled in Christ. And he's addressing this to those Galatians who have fallen away from the gospel as we know. But what Paul is explaining here is he said, an heir, let's speak metaphorically here. As long as an heir is a child, he's no different from a slave.
What? The slaves are working in the kitchen. They're working outside on the grounds. They clean the house, and they're involved in all kinds of labor. It differentiates them from the children of the estate. Paul says, well, they're still children. Well, you were still children. You weren't any different from a slave.
How could that be? He says, because you haven't received your inheritance. The big difference between you and a slave is that you were mentioned in your father's will, but the slave isn't. And as long as that will has not been executed, in the meantime, you might as well be a slave. Why? Because you're still under a guardian.
You're still under that tutor. And he goes on to say, he is under the guardian and managers until there is a terminal point when you graduate from being a slave or a child to the status of being an heir. And when is that day? He's saying here that the day that you become an heir is the day that your father determines. And not one second before, we know the story in the New Testament of the prodigal son. He was impatient. He didn't want to wait until the appointed day when his inheritance would be realized. And rather, he goes to his father and he said, let me have my inheritance now.
I don't want to wait till I'm too old to be able to enjoy it. Let me have it now. The father said, okay. And you know the rest of the story. As soon as that son got his hands on the money, he left his father's house, went into a far country where no one knew him, no one could accuse him, and he lived a life of riotous, sensuous behavior until he ran out of money and his inheritance was gone and he started to live with the pigs. Again, you know the story. But it was a story about one who was prodigal, one who squandered an inheritance. I think Paul goes on, in the same, we also, we were children, we were slaves or enslaved by the elementary principles of this world, enslaved by the powers of the air, enslaved by our sin, enslaved by all of these things, and yet we speak again of time where the Apostle says, but when the fullness of time had come. In the Greek he says, when the playroma took place.
I love that word. I've talked about it before. When it talks about the fullness of time, I like to use an illustration of a glass. You get a glass and you put it under the spigot and you take and you fill the glass halfway full. That's not playroma. And if you fill that glass to the very top where there's not a scintilla of space left in it, it's still not playroma. You have to leave that glass under the faucet until the glass cannot contain it and the water starts flowing over the sides.
That's playroma. That's the fullness of time, the time that is so pregnant, it is so ripe that it will be burst if we wait another second. And what Paul is saying is when the fullness of time came in all of human history, not one second late, not one second early, the fullness of time had come. God sent forth His Son into the world.
And we had the wonderful chorus this morning of the musical version of the statement of faith on Christology, which is desperately needed in our time that the church may once again affirm now and forever the person and work of Christ, the One who was truly man and truly God, two natures in one person, accomplished for us our salvation. That didn't happen as an accident. It didn't happen as plan B where God looked down at things going progressively worse than the first century and says, maybe it's time for me to do something.
I've got an idea. I decide to send my Son into the world to be incarnate and to redeem my people from the curse. No, from all eternity, the date of the birth of Jesus was on the calendar of God, and He came. Just as Paul warned in Acts 17, we said the former days of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent.
Why? Because the Scripture says because God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world by one who will be the holy and righteous judge who He has vindicated by raising Him from the dead. He has appointed a day of judgment, and He has appointed the judge. And that day can never be moved back or forward in history. Now, you live in a culture that for the most part does not believe that there ever will be a judgment day.
All you have to do to be justified before God in this day and age is to die because we assume that everything gets better. I've almost finished an almost 2,000 page biography of Frank Sinatra, one of the most corrupt men that ever walked the face of the earth. And you get to the end of the book, the last chapter, there's a picture of Sinatra's tombstone, Francis Albert Sinatra, and it gives the dates and so on to the top, and it says, the best is yet to come. I almost cried when I saw that.
Now, I believe in last minute conversions, and it's possible for Sinatra the best is yet to come, but I wouldn't count on it. But he assumed that there was no real judgment day. We're not really held up accountable.
He did it his way, and we applaud that. And again, the Scriptures tell us it is appointed once for man to die and then the judgment. When you draw life's last fleeting breath and your eyelids are closed in death, you will not suddenly become unconscious or annihilated or swallowed up in oneness in the ocean.
You will awake in the next second and face your maker. There's not one person in a hundred that really believes that today. We do everything in our power to get rid of the idea that we're going to be accountable for how we have lived our lives, what we have done, what we have left undone. But make no mistake about it, God is appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. But in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman born under the law. That's the critical point, to redeem everyone who was under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters, children of God. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. In order to be part of the family of God, we have to have the Spirit of God changing our hearts until we cry, Abba, Father.
We assume that without realizing at all what it means to be able to say that. To be able to get on our knees and say, Father, Jesus had this debate with the Pharisees, you know, and they didn't believe in Jesus, and Jesus said they needed to be free. And the Pharisee says, what are you talking about free? We're not slaves. We're the children of Abraham. We're the children of God. Oh, Jesus said, you are of your father, the devil. Everybody in this room by nature is a child of wrath.
Do you believe that? Every one of us when we came into this world, we were born under the wrath of God, under the law of God, until the curse was removed and we were adopted into God's family, the most precious and beautiful event of our life. And so he ends this passage by saying, so, what does it mean? It means you're no longer a slave, but a son, and by extension, a daughter.
And if sons and daughters then heirs through God. The call of the gospel is for sinners to repent and trust in Christ's finished work on the cross, and the promise is that those who believe will be adopted as sons and daughters of God. We have heard great news today here on Renewing Your Mind. As we continue R.C. Sproul's sermon series from the book of Galatians, studying God's Word is vital to our growth as believers. Romans 15 says, For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Let me encourage you to contact us today and request our resource offer. It's the heart-bound edition of Dr. Sproul's commentary on Galatians. In this volume, R.C. guides us through Paul's passionate letter to this troubled church. The early church struggled to maintain the purity of the gospel, so in our day we must pay attention and teach the good news that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we will send you this commentary.
You can find us online at renewingyourmind.org, or if you prefer, you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343. As we look ahead to Christmas later this month, we need to ask ourselves if we're in the right frame of mind. Why did Jesus come?
What was His mission, and how did He accomplish it? Next week we'll feature Dr. Sproul's series, Coming of the Messiah. I hope you'll join us beginning Monday for Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-10 06:03:12 / 2022-12-10 06:11:22 / 8