What is your religion (lesson review)

This year in 4:TWELVE Student Ministries we are studying the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.  We hope the recaps of the lessons will provide parents with an opportunity for follow-up conversations.  Please use this tool wisely.

Galatians 4:8–20 (NASB95)

8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

 12 I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. 18 But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— 20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

  1. Two very different religions (8-11)
    1. The idolatry of Biblical religion.
      1. They use to be slaves to those which by nature are no gods (8).
        1. It used to be that they were slaves to religions in the pagan temples.
        2. They regularly partook in the systemic worship of gods that were not gods.
        3. They worshipped idols that they had created.
          1. Isaiah 40:18–20 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? 19 As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. 20 He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter.
        4. Now that they were known by God (they had been saved) they had gone back to the process of worship just like they had done as idol worshippers.
          1. Galatians 2:14–16 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
          2. It was now about the ritual of trying to please God, which was just as useless as trying to serve false idols.
            1. “Paul is saying that earning one’s own salvation through scrupulous biblical morality and religion is just as much enslavement to idols as outright paganism and all its immoral practices! In the end, the religious person is as lost and enslaved as the irreligious person.  Why? Both are trying to be their own savior and lord, but in different ways.” – Timothy Keller
          3. They were trying to use the basic principles of the world.
            1. We worship what we believe will save us.
              1. Money
              2. Relationships
              3. Nature
              4. Morality
              5. Purity
              6. Working to achieve righteousness.
            2. Illustration
              1. Prodigal Son
              2. Luke 15
                1. They both wanted the same thing…their Father’s money.
                2. One wanted it right away.
                3. The other wanted to play the slow game.
                4. They both did not want their father they wanted his stuff.
                5. The younger son repented and returned to His Father.
                6. The older son never desired his father and was angry at the restoration of the younger son.
            3. “If anything, the idolatry and slavery of religion is more dangerous than the idolatry and slavery of irreligion, because it is less obvious. The irreligious person knows he is far away from God, but the religious person does not.” – Timothy Keller
      2. Knowing God and being known by God
        1. Verse 9 points out the silliness of the idolatry of biblical religion by pointing out we have known God.
          1. We know the real deal.
        2. Paul seems to correct himself and says or we are known Him.
          1. It is less about how you know God and more about Him knowing you.
          2. 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
          3. “Christians who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons, much less secure than non-Christians, because of the constant bulletins they receive from their Christian environment about the holiness of God and the righteousness they are supposed to have. Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce defensive assertion of their own righteousness and defensive criticism of others.  They cling desperately to legal, pharisaical righteousness, but envy and jealousy and other … sin grow our of their fundamental insecurity.” – Richard Lovelace
          4. We become more secure in us knowing God than God knowing us in Christ.
            1. 1 Corinthians 4:3–4 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.
      3. Discussion:
        1. What are the idols you are most likely to serve?
        2. How is there rest in knowing that it is not about you knowing God, but rather Him knowing you?
  2. Ministry from the GOSPEL
    1. A few notes on the ministry that Paul had to the Galatians (This is an excerpt from Galatians for You.
      1. “Ministry is culturally flexible”
        1. I became like you (12)
        2. This is never flexible with the Gospel. The Gospel is never changing, but the teaching surrounding the Gospel is flexible.
          1. For a long time things like missions were actually colonization because culture was taught just as much as the Gospel.
        3. For us to be effective in ministry we have to be willing to understand the culture we are ministering in.
          1. Live among them.
          2. Eat with them.
          3. Have fun with them.
          4. Understand their problems
          5. Understand their struggles
          6. Hopes
          7. Fears
      2. “Ministry is transparent”
        1. Become like me (12)
        2. The words you say are never as loud as the words you live.
        3. Let others see you living consistently with one who is known by God.
          1. What are your struggles and how you handle them
          2. How you handle disappointment
          3. Relationships
          4. Feel
          5. Act
          6. “Generally, we find faith mainly through relationships with joyful, flawed – but – hones, loving Christians, not through arguments, information and books.” – Keller
        4. “This is not arrogance. If Paul had only said: ‘Be like me’ without becoming ‘like them’, then this would be an indicator of pride.  But Paul is not urging them to be right as he is, but as joyful as he is.” – Keller
      3. “Ministry looks for opportunities in hardship”
        1. It was because of of a bodily illness that I preached the Gospel to you the first time. (13)
        2. Look to do ministry when things aren’t perfect.
    2. Their attitude toward Paul had changed.
      1. They first accepted him well (14)
      2. Now they had no more desire to be a blessing (15)
      3. Now they view him as an enemy because they have been listening to false teachers (16)
    3. Two different motivations for ministry.
      1. False teachers
        1. Seek others to love them.
          1. Better translation of verse 17
            1. They are flattering and making much of you, so that you will flatter and make much of them.
          2. In the sharing of the Gospel there is no need for others to love you. Instead they should love Christ in spite of you.
      2. Biblical motivations
        1. Paul is in agony until Christ is formed in them (19)
          1. The goal in biblically motivated ministry is to get others to follow God.
        2. Care so much about others that you will say the hard things that may even anger others.
          1. Speak it in love for them.
          2. Emphasize the love of Christ
          3. Point them to their need.
        3. Discuss it.
          1. Why do we find it appealing to have others love us?
          2. Is your motivation for ministry to gain the approval of others?
          3. Is your motivation to have others see you as the key to good things?
Johnny KjaerJohnny Kjaer
Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth and Skatepark Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have three children; Leif, Tryggve, and Kjirsti.