International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 12, 2017
Purpose: To resist the temptation to trust human traditions more than God’s gift of freedom through Christ
Bible Lesson: Galatians 4:8-20
Background Scripture: Galatians 4
Key Verse: But now, after knowing God (or rather, being known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless world system? Do you want to be slaves to it again? (Galatians 4:9)
Galatians 4:8-20 (CEB)
(8) At the time, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved by things that aren’t gods by nature. (9) But now, after knowing God (or rather, being known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless world system? Do you want to be slaves to it again? (10) You observe religious days and months and seasons and years. (11) I’m afraid for you! Perhaps my hard work for you has been for nothing. (12) I beg you to be like me, brothers and sisters, because I have become like you! You haven’t wronged me. (13) You know that I first preached the gospel to you because of an illness. (14) Though my poor health burdened you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me, but you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God, or as if I were Christ Jesus! (15) Where then is the great attitude that you had? I swear that, if possible, you would have dug out your eyes and given them to me. (16) So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? (17) They are so concerned about you, though not with good intentions. Rather, they want to shut you out so that you would run after them. (18) However, it’s always good to have people concerned about you with good intentions, and not just when I’m there with you. (19) My little children, I’m going through labor pains again until Christ is formed in you. (20) But I wish I could be with you now and change how I sound, because I’m at a loss about you.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s lesson is a continuation of last week’s lesson, so you may want to review last weeks’ lesson first.
A review of the setting for this letter being written is; after Paul’s initial visit to the area on his first missionary journey, there were well meaning distractors that came and tried to persuade those originally taught by Paul that they and Paul were wrong in their thinking.
They were probably Jews from Jerusalem that thought the only way to worship the creator God was to first become a Jew. This was not only a burden for the male population, because of circumcision, it also meant observing all the Jewish Holy Days, and dietary restrictions.
Imagine the angst when these new Christians, who had been worshippers of unknown gods or Roman and Greek gods, go from the freedom taught by Paul, to the ridged teachings of these Judaizes. Paul teachings were based on faith. But they were more accustomed to symbols, gods and practices, and whose images were readily available.
In Paul’s original visit he had obviously suffered from some sort of vision problem, pink eye, or sty or some unknown problem possibly caused by the Damascus road encounter with Christ.
Paul had not lived as a Jew among them, rather he lived as a man set free from the restrictions of diet and ceremony and lived as one saved and redeemed by God’s grace, through faith, as one whose burdens and sins had been forgiven and an assurance of eternal life was promised and received by Paul. Faith in Christ’s proclamation that He was the one and only Son of God and His life, death and resurrection was real.
Paul’s parenthetical statement in verse 9 (or rather, being known by God) is huge. It confirms what we call prevenient grace. God calls us long before we acknowledge Him, God knows us while we are still sinners and unbelievers.
As you contemplate your Christian life, how free are you? Are you burdened with rules in your Christian life? How do you determine someone else's Christianity? Our life should be lived in gratitude and purpose for what a loving Father has done for us. What is our basis for believing in an eternal life in the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?
My hymn this week is one I use often, but it tells the story so well, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less Than Jesus Blood and Righteousness.”