Galatians 3:26 & 4:6
Galatians 3:26 & 4:6
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. …And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Galatians 3:26 & 4:6 – Context
23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The Law of Moses revealed sin, but did not provide a lasting and thorough means of justification. It is true that people could receive cleansing from the breaking of certain aspects of the Law by offering the proscribed sacrifices at the temple. And there was a general cleansing that happened once a year during the Day of Atonement. But these did not cover every sin and they had to be offered again and again.
So, from the Law people understood that sin offended God, and they knew they had no way to fully and finally deal with it. But in Jesus Christ, through faith in Him, we can receive full and complete forgiveness for all sin. He died once, and is now sitting at the right hand of God presenting that sacrifice on behalf of those who trust Him. We always have access to the throne of grace, and can come boldly to receive mercy and grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Law reveals the problem of sin so that we seek a way of escape. But it does not provide the solution. Instead the Law drives us to Jesus Christ where we can receive full and complete pardon.
Faith and the Law of Moses are two distinct things. Paul’s writings set the Law against faith, and works against grace. And He always joins faith with grace, because faith in Jesus is the way in which we receive grace. Faith is not contrary to grace. Though it is something humans must do, since with the heart man believes, it is not a work in the sense that it can be boasted about (Rom. 10:10). It is a way of receiving grace, not earning it. And Paul always sides the Law of Moses, with the works of the Law. He often uses the word “works” as shorthand for the “doing of the Law of Moses.”
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
– Romans 4:16 NKJV
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
– Romans 4:2-3 NKJV
16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
– Galatians 2:16 NKJV
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
We are no longer under the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses had many purposes in the nation of Israel. It was their national constitution. It unified the people into a nation, and gave them a unique cultural identity as the nation that followed the Creator. It provided them with guidelines for cultural holidays, civil law and religion. It kept them separated from the other nations through ceremonial food laws so that they would not be totally corrupted before the coming of the Messiah.
But now God has established not a nation, but an eternal kingdom in Jesus Christ. He does not accept the offering of animals any longer because those were merely a shadow of the reality in Christ. God’s people no longer need to remain separated from the nations physically to avoid corruption. They have now been filled with the transforming power of God’s Spirit that not only sanctifies them but gives them the power to go into all nations with the good news that all people can receive this delivering power and enter the kingdom of God. Christians follow Christ and submit to His commands, not the laws of ancient Israel.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
It is not through a natural lineage with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that one enters the kingdom of God (John 1:12-13). It is not through the keeping of Israel’s law that one is adopted into God’s family. But it is faith in Jesus Christ which leads to our adoption as God’s children.
This aspect of regeneration (i.e. rebirth) refers to a positional change in our relationship with God. We were dead in sin, under God’s condemnation, but when we put our trust in Jesus Christ we are accepted by God as His children. We are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. This is synonymous with saying we are justified. Our faith is accounted to us as righteousness.
4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
– Romans 9:4 NKJV
22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,
– Romans 4:22-24 NKJV
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
The change of status happens to us because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross, and what He continues to do for us at the right hand of God. We receive this translation from condemnation to acceptance through faith. When does this change take place? Galatians 3:27 tells us that this happens when we put on Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism. When we identify with Christ, God identifies us with Him. Through faith we put of the old body of sin when we enter the water, and through faith in the resurrection of God we rise to new life with Him.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
– Romans 6:3-4 NKJV
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
– Colossians 2:11-13 NKJV
The modern tradition is to “put on Christ” by inviting Him into our heart through the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Others take a more subjective approach by concluding that one puts on Christ the moment they have a “divine witness” of assurance in their hearts. Because of the gracious kindness of our God we can be confident that He has often bowed to our weakness in understanding by granting mercy outside of the means He instructs us in His word. But we must not make God’s kindness a license for presumption. Instead we must seek to follow Him as He has ordained instead of relying on the wisdom and traditions of men. If a person, after repentance, calls on the name of the Lord in faith while in the waters of baptism, we have God’s objective promise that He will meet them there with justifying grace.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Once we are converted through repentance, faith and baptism, God sees us in Jesus Christ. Our nationality, gender or economic class does not determine our standing before God, only our ongoing relationship with His Son has any bearing on our status before Him.
27 “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.
– John 16:27 NKJV
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
God had promised Abraham that through his descendants He would bless all nations. God did not intend to bless the nations through all of Abraham’s descendants, but through one particular descendant. At first we see God narrows the promise down to the descendants of Isaac, not through the line of Ishmael. So, it would seem that Isaac is the child of promise. But later, half of Isaac’s descendants through Esau are passed over, and the promise is given to Jacob. Many thought this was the end of God’s refining of the promise, but it was not. Centuries later God brought the true promised Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.
16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.
– Galatians 3:16 NKJV
Many in Paul’s day refused to accept this. They demanded that as Jews, they were the chosen people of God. They were descendants of Israel, they were those who were given the covenant through Moses. These Judaizers taught that if someone wanted to become part of God’s chosen people, they would need to be circumcised, which was handed down from the time of Abraham, and that they were also required to keep the Law of Moses.
The apostles and elders in Jerusalem rejected this error in Acts 15. In Galatians Paul is confronting it, as he does elsewhere in his letters. This is Paul’s main argument in Romans 9, where he argues that people are made a member of God’s chosen people, not through lineage or the Law of Moses, but through faith in Christ. Christ is the chosen Seed, and all those who trust and obey Him are counted as the children of promise, according to God’s mercy and choice, not lineage or works.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel… 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), … 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy…. 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
– Romans 9:6, 11, 16, 30-33 NKJV
1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.
In these verses Paul picks up what he said in 3:23-25 and expands it a little. He is telling us that before the coming of Christ, God had given the promise of sonship and inheritance. But now in Christ the promise has arrived and we begin to share in the inheritance as God’s children through faith. The Old Covenant was written on stone, the New Covenant was going to be written on the heart, by the Spirit of God. That which was written on stone could restrain sin to some degree, but could not defeat the power of sin. Now that we have received the adoption of sons, and have become heirs of God, God has something greater for us than the Law of Moses.
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Jesus lived under the Law of Moses. And though He was an obedient Son to His Father, the curse of the Law fell on Him. He died forsaken on a tree. He took our death so that we might receive adoption as God’s children. Through Jesus’ sacrifice we are cleansed of our sins. Through His resurrection from the dead and exaltation to the right hand of God as our Advocate and High Priest we are counted righteous for His sake. In this justified (i.e. counted as righteous) state we are given an even greater favor; we are declared the children of God. Through Christ we receive the forgiveness of our past sins, a vindication as righteous through the Person of Christ and the abundant favor and grace of being adopted as God’s children. This is the relational aspect of regeneration.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
But God does more than just declare us as His children. After the declaration, because He already counts us as His children, He actually treats us like His children and pours out the Spirit of His Son upon us. He comes to live inside of us through His Spirit. In adoption God does something for us; He declares us righteous and beloved. But in this second aspect of regeneration God does something in us. He brings about a transformation in our hearts so that we love Him and desire to obey Him as His children.
We see this displayed in Jesus’ baptism at the River Jordan. After coming out of the water God declares from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” And then, since the Son is pleasing to the Father, the Father pours out the Holy Spirit upon Him without measure. So it is with us, but with one distinct difference. Jesus was indeed pleasing to the Father because He always did what was pleasing to the Father. But we are well-pleasing to the Father only because of our identification with Christ through faith. So after our repentance and through faith, when we are baptized and put on Christ, God counts us as His children, declaring us righteous. That is the first aspect of the new birth. And then, since we are now well-pleasing to the Father because of our faith in Jesus, God pours out His Spirit upon us in order to make us (day by day) into what He has already declared that we are, His holy children. Regeneration is first acceptance, then transformation. This is how we are born of God.
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
We who are in Jesus Christ are not under the Law of Moses. We have been adopted as God’s children and received His Spirit to live in us and transform us day by day. God is writing His law on our hearts through the Spirit, we do not need the old law that was written on stone for a particular nation. We now submit to the commands of Jesus Christ that are for all men everywhere. By the power of the Spirit we put sin to death and live obedient lives.
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? … 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
– 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, 15-18 NKJV
20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
– Matthew 28:20 NKJV
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
– Romans 8:13-14 NKJV
Galatians 3:26 & 4:6 – Doctrine
Galatians 3:26 & 4:6 – Doctrine
Through verse 4:6 in light of verse 3:26 we see how the two aspects of regeneration are related to each other. One is positional. In that first aspect we are declared to be the children of God relationally through faith. The second aspect is experiential. That is to say, it is not just something God says about us that we receive by faith, but it is a change that is worked in our hearts. The first is grace because it accepts us though we don’t deserve to be accepted. The second is grace because God actually treats us like children and begins to work a change in our hearts.
One is born of God, biblically speaking, when they have been converted and received God’s Spirit. Conversion includes repentance towards God in which we turn away from rebellion and determine to live a life of obedience to God. Repentance must be followed by a genuine faith in the resurrection of Christ and His lordship over all things. And this conversion should culminate in a person calling on the name of the Lord in the waters of baptism. Once one has met these conditions they can trust that God has kept His promise and forgiven, justified and adopted them. Then by faith they can begin to seek God as their Father through Jesus Christ and trust Him to supply them with all they need through the Holy Spirit.
21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ … 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
– Acts 2:21, 38 NKJV
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. … 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
– Romans 10:9-10, 13 NKJV
16 ‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.‘
– Acts 22:16 NKJV
13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
– Luke 11:13 NKJV
2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?– 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
– Galatians 3:2-6 NKJV