We are Children of Promise: Staying True to Sovereign Grace

Brian Mahon - 2/13/2024


Call to worship: Jeremiah 23:1-6

Text: Galatians 4:21-31


Paul builds on the assertion that the false teachers want, however unconsciously, to shut these churches out from the inheritance of Christ. He makes an allegory out of an historical situation to prove his point. The law records Abraham as having two sons, one by a slave woman, another by the free woman. Ishmael was the byproduct of pragmatic unbelief---man's attempt to secure God's promise. Isaac was the byproduct of sovereign grace---God's faithfulness to His promise. And the inheritance goes then to Isaac, not Ishmael. Paul relates these women to the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. He then relates what they birth to what's birthed by Jerusalem below and Jerusalem above. Point being, the Judaizers, conditioning justification on faith plus works, are like Hagar, enslaved and bearing children for slavery. But the Christian is a child of the Jerusalem above. We've been born again, and we are heirs of Christ's work (Isaiah 53 into 54:1). We are the recipients of sovereign grace, grafted into the line of promise. What's born according to the flesh persecutes what's born according to the Spirit by seeking to move them off the Gospel. Scripture calls us to cast out anyone who, through false teaching, would draw us away from the grace that's made us justified sons and daughters of Heaven.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Abraham had two sons, with different origins. (4:21-23)
  2. Paul's interpretation: origin matters for inheritance. (4:24-27)
  3. Promote the line of promise by preserving it. (4:28-21)


Discussion Quetsions:

  1. Read Galatians 4:21-31.
  2. To what story does Paul refer in 4:22-23? Why is it significant that it's in the law? In what ways are these two sons differentiated? Spiritually speaking, what realities are related and contrasted in 4:23?
  3. Paul takes this historical situation and gives an allegorical interpretation and/or application. To what does he first relate Hagar? Sarah? In what sense is there a comparison to be made between Hagar and/or Ishmael and the Mount Sinai and/or the Mosaic Covenant? How does Paul relate them/that to the present religious situation in Jerusalem and, therefore, to the Judaizers invading the Galatian churches? How does Paul view their spiritual state, message, and byproduct?
  4. Without naming Sarah, how does Paul relate her to the Jerusalem above (or it to her)? What does Isaiah 54:1 (in 4:27) have to do with it? How does Isaiah 53 relate to Isaiah 54:1? What does Jesus have to do with Sarah? What is the origin of your conversion? If you've been born again and united to Christ by faith, of what have you become an heir (see Isaiah 53)? What are you called in 4:28?
  5. What is Paul implying about those that have deserted the Gospel for a man-centered, works-based approach to obtaining the inheritance? Have you thought of false teaching as a kind of persecution? What is the Scriptural exhortation in 4:30 for those who would stay true to sovereign grace? What's Paul's consolation in 4:31?

Downloads & Resources