Contrasts Between Works and Grace

Galatians 4:16-31

Jerry A Collins




v     What is the nature of truth and how do we discern it?

v     What is the nature and definition of ministry?

v     How can I know fake ministry from genuine ministry?


There are two different ways to look at truth. Relative and absolute. Relative truth says that which is true sometimes, in some places, with some people is not necessarily true at all times, in all places, with all people. Absolute truth says that which is true sometimes, in some places, with some people is true at all times, in all places, for all people. Truth, then is the way things actually are. Relative truth says true things are true sometimes. Absolute truth says true things are always true. What he apostle Paul said he taught the Galatians was the truth vs 16. What they had been hearing from the Judaizers was not the truth—only an attempt to say things to gain a following vs 17. So we have been in a perpetual battle about what is true and not true since the church began. We fight that battle still. So this section begins with an appeal.


15 Their appreciation for the messenger and his message had no limits when they originally heard it and believed it. They had the highest esteem for all of it. They received it, welcomed it, listened to it, and believed it! They were convinced and persuaded.

16 But all of that had changed. They now acted as tho he had become their enemy for the simple reason that he had been telling them the truth. It seems like these Galatian believers have been persuaded otherwise by something that sounds better to them.

17 They have been eagerly courted by flattery so that they would eagerly follow these false teachers. These teachers had no good purpose but wanted to alienate them—the Galatians, drive a wedge so these believers would seek these teachers instead. So false teachers operate by (1) Getting into your good graces by flattery (2) to that you would view them in positive way (3) to influence you about what they believe is true (4) so that you become convinced they have your best interests in mind (5) and you follow them. This is why false teachers remove followers from other influences. Contrast this with Jesus who told us to be engaged as salt and light not to get a following for ourselves. Watch out for leaders wanting to lord it over you. No-one has authority over your life spiritually. You are only accountable to Christ and the responsibility of a teacher or leader is to prepare you for that day by shepherding, equipping, praying, correcting and teaching you but not exercising authority over you. We have responsibility for one another but not authority over each other. Hebrews say obey your leaders but that assumes they are teaching you the Word of God not that they have any other kind of authority in your life. You will stand before Christ at your own day of accountability.

18 It always goes back to motives and here it is motives that are for a good purpose—namely one that is true and not false. Be zealous for that kind of recognition. Don’t look for something else or something better when you already have the truth that you have believed from the Word of God.


19 Here is his true motive.         His

passionate concern is that they become ‘morphed’ into Christ’s character. It does not say ‘until His life is born in you’ because they have already believed. Ministry is not feeding people. Ministry has eternal and theological implications. It’s Gal 2:20 ‘...but Christ lives in me and life I know live in flesh I live by faith in the Son of God’. We all must have ministry where others are being impacted for the kingdom of God and today that is discipleship. It begins with those closest to you and encompasses an ever widening sphere of influence over time. The goal Christ’s character, ambitions, priorities formed in their lives.

20  If only he could change his tome of voice about them because their spiritual development is being arrested and aborted. This is the most perplexing thing about ministry whether you are attempting to have it with your children, extended family, neighbor, colleague, congregation, men, women, teens—they abort the formation of Christ’s life and character in them. False teachers are one means—there are many. Parents grieve because their children aborted spiritual growth. Ministry has its casualties—Jesus had his Judas, early church her Ananias and Sapphira, Paul his Demas, John his Diotrephes. But this work never wasted always eternal value so worth doing. 3. FAKE MINISTRY ALWAYS ENSLAVES—HS LED MINISTRY ALWAYS GIVES FREEDOM

21-23 Here is a contrast between bondage and freedom. First, listen to what the law says if that is what you want 21. To illustrate this consider which of these you are most like 22. Here is an appeal to the founding father-Abe. He did have true faith and this is where they cold trace their blessing from. Two sons from two different mothers—one slave the other free-(Hagar and Ishmael and Sarah and Isaac). One born naturally with no miracle and no promise-according to the flesh. Other supernaturally a miracle—brot life out of a dead womb. With Mary life was implanted in a living womb. Natural physical descent not enough—John Baptist and Jesus both said so. You must repent and believe Mt 3:9; John 8:37-44 to guarantee spiritual blessing. Abe’s natural descendent is not enough for that.

24-27 Here is an allegory illustrating contrast between bondage and freedom. He is not denying the literal meaning of these stories but that these mothers figuratively say something too. So this deeper meaning is based on this true historical account of these women and their children 24. (Allegorizing says the historical meaning is insignificant. Paul’s allegory is based on a true historical account. Allegorizing says the deeper meaning is true meaning. Paul draws parallels to make a point. Allegorizing says the deeper meaning is the true point of the story. Paul did not say the allegory was the point of the historical account. The meaning is always in the words of the original author and Paul under inspiration of HS illustrates his point with an allegory. That does not mean we can look for deeper meanings in scripture beyond the meaning of the author since we are not apostles writing NT today.)

2 covenants correspond to 2 Jerusalem’s—one enslaved presently and the other free forever 25-26. The one with a husband—Hagar and Israel before Bab captivity will be outnumbered by Sarah and post Bab captivity all way to 1000 yr reign vs 27 from Isa 54:1.

28-31 (3 comparisons)  (1) Birth of Isaac to that of xians 28. Both experience supernatural birth and children of a promise Jn 3:16.  (2) Ishmaels persecution of Isaac to false teachers opposition to believers 29. Ishmael mocked Isaac Gen 21:8-9 at weaning laughing derisively—assuming he was getting the estate as firstborn. This same animosity perpetuated between brothers descendents today—Israel and Arab world both Shiite/Sunni. God’s Word always has opposition—Da Vinci code for instance as propaganda not fiction since fiction based in real world. Da vinci manufactures one based on false data untrue to real events.   (3) Action of Abe to obligation of xians 30. Sarah asked to expel slave woman and her son lest he have joint heir with Isaac Gen 21:10-12. So observance of law-keeping has no inheritance in God’s family. No compatibility between system of works and system on faith/promise. So the affirmation that we are not of works but of promise and free as heirs and co-heirs with Christ.

A. Legalism always enslaves people. B. Works heresies always persecute the truth of faith. C. Cast out legalism as method of justification or sanctification. D. God’s grace is our basis of living & triumphs 27.