Monday, February 13, 2012

“Heirs to the Promise” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday February 19, 2012

Purpose: To understand our identity as children of God and heirs to God's promise

Scripture Text: Galatians 3:15-18; 4:1-7 (NRSV)

Galatians 3:15-18
(15)Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. (16)Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ. (17)My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. (18)For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

Galatians 4:1-7
(1)My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; (2)but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. (3)So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. (4)But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5)in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (6)And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (7)So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

When we began our study of Galatians a few weeks ago, we noted that the theme for Paul's letter was Christian freedom. Which means Christians are free from the yoke of the law, therefore our salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by obedience to the Mosaic Law. It is by the grace of God, and our faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished on Calvary, that we are made acceptable to God. None of us would ever be holy enough or good enough to achieve a position of being righteous enough to warrant any form of salvation by following rituals and rules. It is only by Grace through faith that allows God to accept us as part of His family.

Paul's exasperation with the Galatians comes from the fact that they had previously accepted the fact that their hope and salvation came from God's grace and their faith in what Paul told them from his first hand experience of what Jesus revealed to him on the road to Damascus. Now a group of well meaning Jews had come to them with different criteria of how redemption and salvation are attained, and told them they must first become followers of the Mosaic Law, and observe all of the traditions and purification ceremonies required by the law, in order to become a Christian.

Paul tries to persuade them by reason and illustration that the law has been superseded by the “offspring” (singular) promised to Abraham some four hundred thirty years prior to the giving of the Law by Moses. Paul's point is that the original covenant made with Abraham was not nullified by the giving of the law by Moses. Paul's point is, that singular offspring was Jesus Christ. The law was not a replacement for the original covenant, but was given as a way for a community to coexist together. The law established an ordered society until the promise was fulfilled by the birth, death and resurrection of the Messiah, who was Jesus Christ. The salvation of the Jew was still by God's grace and the people's faith in God's instructions.

In Chapter 4 Paul continues his argument using as an example of minor children that become heirs, but they are no different than slaves until they reach the age where the property becomes theirs and it is no longer under the control of a guardian or trustee but theirs.

Being an heir, whether by birth or adoption gives us special privileges, one of those is our relationship with our Father. When Jesus uses the words: “Abba! Father!”, it is equivalent to us using the term “Daddy.” That is how our relationship changes when, by faith we accept God's grace into our lives.

Being an heir sometimes requires responsibility, being a son or daughter also carries a unique blessing. When someone tells us we look or act or have the same passion as a parent it often makes us feel good and also we have a sense of closeness with our parent. Isn't the same true when we are a child of God?

For us as Christians we need to ask ourselves this question: How is the observance of spiritual disciplines different from the discipline of obedience to the law? What are some of your “spiritual disciplines”? Do you go to church, fast and pray, study the bible?

1 comment:

Zenobia Toney said...

As a Sunday School teacher, I find your lessons very helpful in my presentation to my class. Thank you for the insight.