Heirs According to Promise: On the Fullness of Faith in Jesus Christ

Brian Mahon - 11/19/2023


Call to worship: Acts 15:7b-17

Text: Galatians 3:23-29


Paul, reasserting the temporary nature and function of the Mosaic covenant, states its final purpose: to clarify that the sinner's only hope of a right standing with God is by faith in Jesus Christ. Once Christ came, and faith in seed matured to faith in Jesus, the Mosaic covenant had served its purpose. Faith had come full, so that being part of the family of God was no longer identifiable by observing the law. As with justification, so also adoption was through faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism is the new covenant sign, identifying the person who, through faith, has been received into the family of God. It has no part in justification, but a very significant one in identification of the justified by faith. It signifies that one has put on Christ, so that Christ, or being a Christian, has become our dominant and unifying identity. While admitting ethnic, social, and gender distinctions, such distinctions give no leg up in the family of God. As we're Christ's, we're Abraham's offspring, equal heirs of grace according to the promise of God.

Sermon Outline:

  1. The law, as temporary guardian, promoted justification by faith. (3:23-24)
  2. Faith, coming full in Christ, suffices for being a justified child of God. (3:25-26)
  3. Baptism, publicizing that faith, makes those children visible heirs. (3:27-29)


Discussion Questions

  1. Read Galatians 3:23-29. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. How can Paul say that the law came after faith, as he's argued thus far, only to here imply that the law came before faith? What does he mean in 3:23 by 'faith'? What does he reiterate about the nature and function of the Mosaic law covenant? What did it imprison in 3:22? What now in 3:23? In what way were we under the law? Could it be said that a believer, like Moses, was under the law? If so, how so? What was the ultimate purpose of the law?
  3. What does Paul mean that 'faith' has now come? Why would that now free us from the guardianship of the law? Prior to the advent of Christ, was a believer not a 'son' of God? How has Christ, and faith in Him, made children of all, regardless of ethnicity? How is Paul bringing Genesis 12:3 (Gal 3:8) to a head in 3:26? How does the exclusivity of faith in Christ actually make the blessings of the Gospel free and available to all the world?
  4. If faith in Christ has brought the Mosaic law covenant to its retirement, how are God's people to be identified today? What role does baptism play in the unfolding drama of redemption? Does it play into our justification? If not, what? How does water baptism relate to the repeated themes of faith, union to Christ (spiritual baptism), and the family of God in these verses? According to the Bible, is one's profession of faith, or their independent life, or their church attendance, etc., *sufficient for *identifying them as an heir of God with Christ?
  5. In the text, what is sufficient for that? Is it okay for a Christian to remain 'invisibly' or 'privately' so? When a person has been baptized into Christ, what have they 'put on'? How does that adornment act as a unifier in the family of God? Does Paul mean that the Christian has lost their ethnic, social, and/or gender distinctiveness? To what is he referring in 3:28? What has all of Galatians been about? Who is our standing place, our righteousness, our Lord, our all, our 'deed' as heirs of grace?

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