Christ's Household - Where Guests Become Family
Sunday, January 3, 2010 -
Galatians 3:26-29 - “.... for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  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.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”
The word “for” at the beginning of verse 26 immediately links up the thought of Paul with what he just said in verse 25. In other words, verse 26 is going to explain why the law no longer serves as the tutor or custodian. And the reason Paul is going to give in these next few verses is that now that faith in Christ has come to fruition, we are now children of God and heirs of the promise made to Abraham. We no longer need the babysitter because, by faith in Christ, we have found the fulfillment of the mature work of God’s grace in our hearts.
1) THROUGH FAITH IN THE PROMISED “SEED” (JESUS CHRIST) WE ARE NOW SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD
Galatians 3:26 - “....for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
Actually, there are two important thoughts here: First, the title “sons of God” is not given to denote maleness, but to signify the idea of inheriting the promised blessing (which in that culture would be passed on to the eldest son). So, Paul is thinking about inheritance, not gender here. And what we have inherited is precious indeed - justification by faith alone (3:8). The depth of relationship to God encased in that phrase “sons of God” can be further seen by the fact that this same description has, in this very letter, been used twice to describe Jesus Christ Himself, God the Son (1:15-16, 2:20). Not that we are now of the same nature of Jesus Christ, but that there is a closeness of relationship to Father God that is deeper and greater than most of us would ever dare claim for ourselves.
Second, because of this wonderful relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, there is certainly no longer any need of the law as custodian to bring us to God. Christ has accomplished what the law could never do.
2) PAUL UNDERSCORES THE PRIMARY ROLE OF BAPTISM IN THE INITIATION PHASE OF THE LIFE OF FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
Galatians 3:27 - “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
If some churches overplay the importance of baptism, making it the means of salvation itself, many Christians undervalue it tremendously. Baptism was extremely important in the teaching of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament. Just as all were sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ (3:26), so all had begun their walk with Christ in the waters of baptism (3:27). The only unbaptized convert in the New Testament that we know of was the thief on the cross beside Jesus.
Very significantly, Paul describes baptism as having “put on Christ”(27). This means two very important things:
a) Negatively, it means putting off the old way of living before we received Christ. Being “clothed with Christ” is usually used in the New Testament to picture the antithesis of walking in an old, worldly lifestyle - Romans 13:14 - “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
b) Positively, being clothed with Christ means being so infused with His life that His character become our own true self - Galatians 2:20 - “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
3) PAUL PICTURES THE UNITY AND THE DISTINCTIVENESS THAT EXISTS AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.
Galatians 3:28 - “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.”
This is a much abused verse in the history of the church. We need to look at what it does and what it does not mean:
a) The unity Paul describes is unity of access to salvation in Jesus Christ. This has been the burden of the entire epistle thus far. We can all become children of Abraham and receive the promised blessing of justification by faith alone through Christ. This isn’t just for Jews, or for the rich, or for any one gender.
b) Paul was not saying these distinctions no longer exist in this world. Paul was still very proud, at times, of his Jewish heritage. Paul wrote to both slaves and free in the churches he addressed. And there is at least one passage teaching that gender distinctions between male and female are a permanent feature of life right up until the resurrection (Matthew 22:30).
c) While these distinctions exist, they are never to be a source of division or abuse in the body of Christ. This unity is deeper than any man-made, ecumenical unity. It is an organic, spiritual reality, created by Christ, the head of the church (see Ephesians 4:14-16). If Christ is head of the body, and if we are the members, the different parts can only be different in task, never in value.
4) THE ONLY DISTINCTION THAT MATTERS, BOTH NOW AND ETERNALLY
Galatians 3:29 - “And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.”
The important condition is in the first phrase - “And if you belong to Christ....” The Bible nowhere offers the hope that all human beings are children of God. The universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man are not Christian concepts. Having just dismantled the distinctions so valued and abused by mankind, Paul closes his argument with the one discriminating factor that matters before the throne of God. All must come to faith in Christ to be justified before God.