The church has always had to address issues in which the simple truth of the gospel is misinterpreted. Paul addressed two of those issues in the third chapter, one of them regarding the Law.
Simply put, the law pointed out man’s weakness and his need for the Redeemer. Scripture makes this plain when we read, “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them” (Deuteronomy 27:26). No one can perfectly and consistently live in obedience to the Law, and yet some people wanted to live under its curse rather than under the grace of God through Christ Jesus.
The other matter that caused problems for the church was brought about by Jewish converts to Christianity who claimed special status in being descendants of Abraham. I cannot imagine Abraham finding any agreement with this, and it certainly was not pleasing to God.
It harms the believer when his physical life takes precedence over his spiritual life. God cleared up this matter of being a physical descendant when He told Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). Paul explained this in Galatians 3:16 when he pointed out the singular use of “seed” to mean Christ Jesus and God’s promise of salvation by faith.
Our belief in Christ Jesus brings us into a special relationship as “the children of God.” How can you be saved and become a child of God? Paul said, “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
A believer wants to be baptized because Christ Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Matthew 16:16). Baptism is a confession of belief in Jesus and it is the church ordinance so closely connected with salvation. It is in baptism that we “put on Christ,” becoming branches attached to the precious Vine.
Putting everything in order, Paul wrote that believers are the seed of Abraham and heirs entitled to the blessings of the promise God made to Abraham. Explaining the benefits of the promise, Paul used the example of the relationship between a father and son.
When he is young, the son cannot enjoy all that his father possesses. In fact, in a wealthy family, the son was usually under the supervision of slaves, and this is where Paul described Israel’s spiritual condition. Israel had been under the supervision of the Law, but that did not have to be so after Christ Jesus died on the cross.
Paul said God sent His Son “To redeem them that were under the law.” Why would anyone want to leave grace and go back to living under the Law?
Paul sums up these things concerning believers as sons and heirs, saying we have the Holy Spirit living within us, something the Law never did for people.
Describing the kind of relationship all believers have with the Lord, Paul said we are not servants, but sons and heirs of God. In part, this is precious to us because we have a Father in heaven, not a master.
Secondly, if God were our master, then our obedience would come about solely because of our fear. As sons and heirs, we obey God because we love Him.
Finally, a servant really has no future prospects. The relationship as sons and heirs reminds us that we have a future. We are given eternal life because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church.