In the book of Galatians, Paul’s teaching can best be summarized as, “Salvation is found in Jesus alone.” Jesus alone, plus nothing else. We are not saved by Jesus plus religion, baptism, our efforts, our holiness, a church, communion, our faithfulness, or anything else you might name. Only by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus can we receive new life and salvation. Religious people in Paul’s day had a difficult time believing this truth, and people today still find it hard to accept. Many prefer to think that their religious efforts will gain God’s favor, and that they in fact, are necessary.
- How have you tried to gain God’s favor by adding to what Jesus has done for you?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 4:21-31 (ESV)
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law; do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.
- Who did Paul address, and what was his challenge to them (vs. 21)? How are Abraham’s two sons described (vss. 22-23)? Which son is free and why?
- What New Testament truth about grace vs. the Law was illustrated by Paul’s Old Testament example (vss. 24-31)?
- How do you “desire to be under the law,” or bind yourself to religious rules or practices, instead of living under the grace of the gospel?
RESPOND TO GOD
In today’s passage, Paul used Old Testament history to illustrate the truth that Jesus, plus nothing else, brings salvation. Some Jewish teachers were adamant that people needed Jesus plus obedience to the Old Testament laws to be saved. Paul explained that salvation is based on faith in the promise of God, not in human, religious efforts to “help God out.” Jesus plus something else keeps us in religious bondage, instead of living in the freedom that Jesus desires for us, and promises, when we trust in him alone for our salvation. Why would one choose to remain in bondage, when faith in Jesus alone leads to freedom?
- Ask God to reveal what “+”you are holding onto that’s preventing you from trusting Jesus alone for salvation.
- Thank God for your salvation that comes through Jesus plus nothing else.