Sunday, June 17, 2007

Paul Paints Pictures
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Paul Paints Pictures

Intro.: There is a picture downstairs on the wall that must have seen a hundred times before – but two or three weeks ago, it caught my attention.

  1. I was so impressed by that picture that I wrote a short essay detailing my response to it.

  2. Now when I wrote it, I had no idea that I would be using it as a sermon illustration a few weeks later.

  1. Pictures are a wonderful way to tell others of God's love. Whether it is the content of the picture, the emotions they may raise, or the meaning suggested by a work of art.

  2. The same can be said about word pictures. Not art that is drawn, but images that are conveyed by the words we use.

  3. I want to look at a passage today that includes word pictures to help us understand the Christian life.

Read: Galatians 3:23-29


Trans: Last week we mentioned that the letter to the Galatians was the earliest of Paul's letters.

  1. Having said that, there is some debate as to whom it is written.

  2. You see, there are two areas of the Turkish peninsula that bore the name Galatia during Paul's life time. The name originally referred to a geographic area along the southern coast of Turkey. Later, it came represent a Roman Province in the Northern part of the what is now Turkey.

  3. Though there are scholars that favor both sides of the argument, the fact that Paul could not have visited the Northern site till later in his ministy, and this book is though to be an early piece of writing, more and more scholars favor the southern location today.

T.S. Let's look at the two word pictures that Paul paints for us in Galatians 3:23-29.

  1. The First Picture - The Law

    1. Our passage suggests the Law was a jail or jailer. Listen to Paul's words: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.

    2. My first thought when I read these word were, “That sounds strange.”

    3. I normally think of the Law as telling me how to have. It tells me the rules of the road, it tells me the responsibilities I have in paying back my debts, it tells me what I owe my country and what my country owes me. The law is not a jail or a jailer – but it tells me what I need to do to avoid meeting the jailer or going to jail.

    4. I normally think of jail as being the consequences of my bad behavior – no the cause of it.

(Ill.) One day, after a gospel meeting in a prison in Greece, the chief of chaplains of the prisons was discussing with the preacher the wonderful response by the prisoners of Greece to the message of the Gospel: “When you deal with a prisoner, you do not need to persuade him that he is a sinner. His imprisonment is a proof of it. But there are many out of jail who should be in, and because they are out they argue all is well with them and they need no Savior.” You see, for the purpose of the law was to convince us of sin just as the jail did it for those prisoners in Greece.1

    1. Our passage also suggests that the Law was a teacher. Paul tells us the a Law was “Put in charge to lead us to Christ”.

(Ill.) In most cases, the Greek words for “put in charge to lead us” are translated “became a tutor.” In the traditional Greek household the tutor was more than an educator. He was a slave, an unpaid worker, who walked along his charges in many different ways. He was responsible for seeing that they were ready for school in the morning, he would walk them to school. After school, he was responsible for seeing that they tackled their studies in a timely fashion. But because it was a lifetime commitment, the students became friends as well as students – and often, after the student moved from being student to being a productive member of society, he would be set free with enough of a stipend that he could live without employment for the rest of his life. And because his experience often exposed him to the best education of the era, he would often become a very important member of society.

(Ill.) Do you Remember that Olympic sport called curling. I am always fascinated by it, I never remember playing in school and I can't help wonder where the teams, at least in the US, first learn the sport. Anyway, as the stone is thrown the players rough up or smooth the ice in order to force the stone to go in one direction or another. That was what the tutor or the Law was supposed to do – prepare a direction for us to travel. Only, we never could do it.

    1. So Paul concludes this section by reminding his readers, “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

(Appl.) So what? It is a good question. Does it mean that since he law is no longer applicable, that there is no right and wrong. No – it means that we are responsible, not to the the law, but to God. It is with him that we are to have a relationship. And a relationship means that we listen -not so much with our ears, but with our hearts. What does God want from you?

  1. The Second Picture – A Family

    1. That is not quite true – it is really three families.

    2. The first family is the family of man. I don't really want to spend a great deal of time here – because it really comes back to what I have just said. It is because we are a part of the family of man, that we need the law to show us that we are sinners.

    3. The second family is the one with which we are most familiar – we are a part of the family of God.

    4. You are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

(Ill.) Do you remember the song “The Family of God”

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,

I've been washed in the fountain,

cleansed by His Blood!

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

For I'm part of the family,

The Family of God 2

    1. Paul goes on to say that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

(Ill.) The male Jews of the 1st century had a prayer that they cited every morning. Part of that prayer said, “Thank you God that you have not made me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” William Barclay in his Daily Study Bible Commentary suggests that till his conversion, this would have been Paul's prayer. It was a part of his culture, and as a leader of the Jewish community, it would have been part of Paul's life. We get a picture of how much Paul has been transformed by the Gospel when he writes “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    1. The very things that used to divide us – no longer do so. As believers, we are all children of God. We are part of the family of God.

    2. And, finally, we are part of the Abraham's family - not physically, but adopted into the family to whom God made so may promises. The promises – they are ours, because we have been received into Abraham's family.

    3. But let all those rejoice who put

their trust in You;

Let them ever shout for joy,

because You defend them;

Let those also who love Your name

Be joyful in You.

For You, O Lord, will bless the


With favor You will surround him

as with a shield.3

The promises are ours.


1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.


3Richards, L. (1998). Every promise in the Bible. Includes indexes. (99). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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