Religion v. Grace

Galatians #06 – An exposition of Galatians 4:1-11. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, February 15, 2009.

Many years ago there was a “Christian” comedy group called Isaac Air Freight.  They were popular in the 70’s and early 80s.  On one of their albums they did a routine called The Saving Game.  It was patterned after The Dating Game.  The contest sat on one side of a screen while he was introduced to three prospective saviors.  After questioning each he would then have the opportunity to choose his very own savior.  The contestant, whose name was Buck Weizer asked, “Savior number one, what must I do to be saved?”  The response was, “Oh, I don’t know.  I wouldn’t really worry about it.”  Number two, same question.  “Ya gotta earn it doi’n religious tings.  Go to church.  Eat twinkies and always wear blue.”  Not finding much comfort and a bit nervous Buck asked, “Number three – same question.  “A calm, comforting voice responded, “Believe on Me and you will have everlasting life.”  Not too surprisingly Buck chose savior #3.  The tragedy is that life is not a game show.  While contestants hear the voices of various saviors an alarming number are opting for savior #2!  A great number of people are listing to the voice that says, “You gotta earn it.”  The gospel as revealed to us in Scripture seems too good to be true.  Wherever it is preached it is questioned.  It just doesn’t seem right that we can receive life eternal and abundant without “doing” something.  The notion of salvation by grace alone through faith alone is too difficult for some to believe.  In addition it says, “No one is good enough.  You are hopeless and helpless apart from God’s grace.  That means you have to swallow your pride.  We want to take some credit for our salvation.  The gospel says, “No.  It is all of God.”

This is not a new problem it has been an issue since the dawn of the church.  Paul was dealing with it in the churches of the Roman province of Galatia in the mid first century.  False brethren had come into the church and had perverted the gospel.  They perverted it by adding to it.  Faith in Jesus was necessary but not enough.  You must embrace Judaism.  You must follow the law, perform the ritual, and observe the Sabbath and then you can become a member of God’s family.  Paul’s strong and at times harsh response is preserved for us in the book of Galatians.  His basic message is that it is for freedom’s sake that Christ has set us free so do not allow yourself to be enslaved all over again to a system of rules and regulations.  Paul goes to great pains to show that the law is good.  God gave it and it has a specific purpose.  That purpose is to reveal our sin.  To make clear to us our need of a savior.  The purpose of the law was not, is not now, nor ever will be, to save anyone.  Its purpose is to drive us to Christ.  Its purpose is to bring us to the end of ourselves.  To cause of to “despair” of ever being good enough on our own so that we throw ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ.  Our text this morning is from the 4th chapter of Galatians the first 11 verses.

Text: Galatians 4:1-11

Thesis: Joy, life and freedom are not known through a meticulous, slavish devotion to religion but in knowing and being known by the true and living God.


  1. Religion while promising life and freedom enslaves and binds the soul where as grace genuinely and radically alters the believer’s status before God.  (4:1-7)
  2. To abandon grace in order to embrace religion is to reject the gospel, deny God’s redeeming work and to in fact reject God himself.  (4:8-11)

Paul does an amazing thing – he places Judaism on the same level as paganism as those “elementary principles of the world.”  Why?  Because to embrace the shadows/pictures once reality has arrived is to move from life to death!

This entry was posted in Galatians, Sermon Podcast, Sermon Series. Bookmark the permalink.