Living in Gospel Freedom

Galatians #08  – An exposition of Galatians 4:21-31. this message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, March 1, 2009.

What do you do when you see people you love heading for disaster?  How do you respond when you see a once vibrant faith grow cold?  How do you root out false teaching without destroying young, tender faith?  These were the issues swirling around in Paul’s mind as he wrote to the churches of the Roman Province of Galatia.  At the heart of it all was a distortion or perversion of the gospel. On the one hand Paul was concerned the gospel would be lost if he did not act. On the other he did not want to shipwreck the faith of these young believers.  He needed to address, in very strong terms, those who were preaching a false gospel.  At the same time he needed to encourage and gently correct the wavering faith of these spiritual toddlers.  That is not an easy thing to do.  They are at that point where they are easily influenced by those who have some authority.  They are hungry and eager to learn thus when someone comes along who has knowledge and experience they tend to go along.  They tend to accept what they are told.  After all these are leaders in the church.  They know the apostles.  And so Paul with a firm hand and tender heart seeks to guide them through these troubled waters.  He begins by denouncing those who dared preach another gospel.  In the strongest of terms he pronounced judgment upon them. Then he set forth a sound biblical argument for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone.  He then ask the Galatian believers how it was that he became their enemy?  Was it because he preached the truth?  He called them to remember the joys and passions of their gospel experience.  He warned of the dangers and consequences of a legalistic faith.  And he spoke of his longing for them to look and act like Jesus.  “I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” he said in 4:19.  Now beginning with verse 21 he speaks directly to the Gentile believers in Galatia and walks them through an analogy that would no doubt encourage them while enraging the “Judaizers” in their midst.

Text: Galatians 4:21-31

You have to like Paul – he knew how to rattle their cage. He knew how to anger the old guard – that was his crowd. The issue he is addressing is stated clearly in 5:1 – “freedom.” This text is about living in gospel freedom.  It is about what is necessary for us to be free and remain free.  As we walk through this text together here is what we will find…

Thesis: Living in gospel freedom demands clarity of doctrine and a firm resolve.

Freedom demands that we know what we believe and we stand on our convictions.  I’m not talking about an “angry” faith.  I’m not talking about a biting, judgmental or critical faith.  I’m talking about knowing what we believe and not compromising.  Believing in both the authority and sufficiency of the Scripture and standing our ground. There are three things I want you to note in our text.

  1. Gospel freedom demands that we deal consistently with Scripture.  (4:21-23)
  2. Gospel freedom demands that you clearly define issues, positions and doctrine.  (4:24-28)
  3. Gospel freedom demands that you reject that which is false while clinging tenaciously to that which is true.  (4:29-31)

Conclusions from the Text:

  • We must know the gospel.
  • We must understand the gospel.
  • We must be convinced of the sufficiency of the gospel.
  • We must stand on the gospel.

Living in gospel freedom demands clarity of doctrine and a firm resolve.

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