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Why be a Servant When You Can be a Son?

Do we honestly understand our status as heirs of the King? This Father's Day message challenges us to ask ourselves whether we are relying on dead ceremony or ritual as the means for relating to our heavenly Father. And, if so, why we would want to move back into a form of worship that was intended to show us our need for grace?

Todd WagnerJun 17, 2007
Galatians 4:1-20

Messages In This Series (8)
One Last Shot at Communicating the One Great Truth
Todd WagnerJun 24, 2007
Why be a Servant When You Can be a Son?
Todd WagnerJun 17, 2007
Why Promise is Better than Performance. And Why Moses Doesn't Trump Abraham.
Todd WagnerJun 10, 2007
Five Piercing Questions, a Prominent Example, and Perfect Truth
Todd WagnerJun 3, 2007
A Right Response to a Wrong Way of Thinking
Todd WagnerMay 20, 2007
Why Men Love Religious Systems and Why God Does Not
Todd WagnerMay 6, 2007
Are You Crazy Enough to Fight for, Talk About and Live for the Gospel?
Todd WagnerApr 29, 2007
The Life that Commends a Man and a Ministry - And the Voice of Truth that Confirms It
Todd WagnerApr 22, 2007

Well, I did a funeral yesterday of the daddy of a friend of mine, and one of the things we talked about was when he died… He died Thursday. If you were watching the news, you'll also note that one Ruth Bell Graham died on Thursday. Now in our little perverted view and understanding of what it is going to be like when we move to the proverbial gates of heaven and stand there, we all think we are going to enter into a conversation where we have to kind of present our resume. Right?

We have to talk about who we are and why that's the club that we ought to be admitted into; in our perverted understanding, we view it that way. That's just a bad day to die, getting in line behind Ruth Bell, all right? You kind of go, "Dadgum!" Do you know what's so amazing about grace? It's the same thing Ruth Bell, the same thing her husband Billy, is going to need. It's the same thing this daddy needed when he died on Thursday, and that is a relationship with the Father, not a resume.

What he needed is to know that he was a son, not to be impressive in his own outworking but to be overwhelmed with the fact that he had nothing that he could ever do to impress the one who said, "I'm holy, and the main thing I want you to understand is that you are not as holy as you need to be…Ruth, Carl, Todd…but I love you. I created you, and I am the Father of all creation, but I want to be specifically the Savior of all those who have faith in me."

We're looking at a little series we're calling the Long Arm of the Law and how to escape its threat to your life, and we're studying a book called Galatians. That's what we're doing. That's what that is. It's a title for the study of the book of Galatians because what happens is that so many of us have this mindset that we have to do a certain amount of things for a certain period of time that significantly outweigh what others have done that is negative, or certainly that we have done that is negative, so the scales tip in favor of God saying, "You're good enough long enough. I may as well take you on my team."

That is a wearisome way to live. It's also a way that appeals to the nature of man because what we want to know is how much something costs. We want to pay it and say, "You're not getting a dime more, so I'm still free. I earned what I'm getting. That means I'm free to use the rest of my resource of life how I would decide to use it. It is a discretionary life that I can live."

What God is trying to do is call us into a love relationship where we don't pay a specific amount. We don't write cards on February 14th and on certain Sundays in May and June to mamas and daddies. We live in a love relationship with each other, and I never say, "Hey, it is up to my discretion now what I will do today because I fulfilled the tax of love on February 14th with chocolates and flowers because I gave you what you said you needed, which is kindness for a few minutes a day."

No, what a woman longs for is love, to be honored and cherished all the days of her life, not during certain seasons, and it is offensive to a woman to say, "I love you when I'm around you, but when I'm away from you, 'None of your business.'" It's offensive to a man for a woman to treat him that way, and it's offensive to God.

He's not looking for you to meet a standard or pay a tax on your own effort. He's looking for you to understand this: If he didn't show up and do for you what you could not do for yourself, you would be in a world of hurt, and then to respond to that love and provision with all you have the rest of your life because you love him.

That's the story. It is life-giving, and when people tell you, "You'd better keep looking over your shoulder because you may not be good enough," the motivation for living that way is one of fear and concern and worry, and it takes the life right out of you, but when you understand that what you do is born out of love, it changes everything.

Last week, we were in chapter 3 of this book, and we looked at specifically how we were all (in chapter 3 it says) under a tutor or that all of us were under custody and that the law kept us from making idiots of ourselves because it told us what was right and what was wrong, but the law was also a pedagogue, a teacher, who was to show us basically, "You don't know how to behave," so that we would cry out specifically for mercy.

Let me give you a little illustration to get us going today. So many times, what you hear folks do is they will tell you that you want a relationship with Jesus because, if you have a relationship with Jesus, it's going to make your life better. It's going to make every day of your life that much sweeter. Well, I've got to tell you, that is not the right way to talk about why you need a relationship with Jesus.

It is true that when you have a relationship with a loving father that he will protect you from your stupidity and from your foolishness. You won't have to figure life out on your own. You won't have to have about $30,000 in credit card debt before you realize that's not a "spend till you're sad" card. You won't have to go through life as an idiot trying to figure out that following the lusts of your flesh is not going to bring you the joy that you want.

You've got a daddy who has lived a little bit ahead of you who can walk you through some of these things and spare you from some of the futility of the arrogance of youthfulness. It is good. There is a blessing in having a dad who is for you and lays out life, but biblically speaking, the reason that we want a relationship with the Father is because, without that relationship, we are in a world of hurt.

Here is an analogy I want to give to you. It's almost like people are boarding a plane, and if the plane is symbolic of our journey through life, when they walk on, like there's a stewardess who is there saying, "Hey, I would love for you to put this parachute on."

"Well, why would I put that parachute on?"

"Because it will make your flight more enjoyable. It'll make your seat more comfortable. You ought to put this parachute on because when they bring the food, your food will taste richer and fuller and more savory. It'll make your conversation with the person next to you more alive."

The guy goes, "Great!" He puts that little parachute on and walks on the plane. He's kind of knocking people's heads as he walks down the aisle. Finally, he gets seated down, and he finds out that he's not seated very comfortably. In fact, the seat wasn't really made for a parachute, it didn't look like. The people around the plane are not more eager to talk to him and look at him like he's weird. He's not really comfortable when he eats his food because he's hunched forward with his parachute on.

He's going to go to that stewardess… He'll hit that little bell and say, "Get over here! I thought you said that this was going to make my flight more enjoyable. That was the ticket that made me buy this parachute. That's what made me want this parachute." Well, see, that's the wrong reason to put a parachute on a plane.

Now what would happen if, when this gentleman was getting on that plane, the stewardess said, "Hey, I just want to announce to all you guys as you get in line, this flight to Los Angeles is going to make it to Denver, and then we're going down into the Rockies. You need to know this plane ain't going to make it, and so I would recommend you take a parachute. It might be uncomfortable, but I promise, it will be life to you." See, now you put that parachute on, and you walk on, and the other folks look at you and say, "Why have you got that parachute?"

You don't look at them and say, "Because it makes my seat more comfortable." You say, "Because there's going to be a time when we've got to deal with the consequence of the malfunction that is in this thing that we're transporting through. The food's not going to taste any better, but you know what? The food's not even really necessary right now. What's going to be necessary is a provision for life," and you're going to be able to look at people with integrity and say, "I know something that maybe you weren't listening to but that this thing is going down, and if we don't have some provision outside of ourselves, we're going down with it."

Do you see how a person's attitude towards that parachute would be completely different based on how the need for it was presented? See, the law was given to us to show us: You need a parachute. To use biblical language now: You need a Savior. It is true that life with the Savior is richer and fuller, but not for the reasons often promoted.

This health, wealth, and prosperity nonsense; that you will be better looking, feel younger, get a better job… You know what? You might become a man who learns to do all things heartily unto the Lord and not unto men, and so your employer will notice a different work ethic, and it might lead to your advancement. You might be an individual who starts to love people and be others‑centered and not manipulative and seducing them to have your own pleasures met, and so your relationships are going to be better, but listen, cancer still exists. Unemployment still happens. Disease still comes. Disappointment is still here.

What you then have, though, is a hope and peace that passes understanding that comes, but you have to know why you need your Savior. Your Savior will shepherd you through even the valley of the shadow of death, which isn't the grave. It just means the dark days that surely will come as you make your way through this region, this earth that isn't as it should be.

Your understanding of why you have a relationship with Jesus is going to completely change when you understand why you need him. That's the purpose of the law. The law was never there to give you life. The law, as we looked at last week, was a mirror. Traveling right through this world is by traveling through faith. Traveling through this life is traveling with love in a relationship with a God who seeks you who is a loving Father, who wants to bring you back into a relationship with him that you have forsaken.That's Galatians.

Look at Galatians, chapter 4, with me. Let's read it. Let's talk about it. He goes, in this chapter, "Now I say, as long as the heir is a child…" If you haven't been reading with us, you don't know that he has been talking a lot about how, when you are a child, referencing what happened in that culture, you're put under guardianship. You're put under a pedagogue, a teacher; a dull, strict authority who tells you what's right and what isn't right, so what he is going to talk about here is a child and a son.

It's very important. The contrast that he's going to develop in order to talk about how lifegiving it is to know Jesus Christ by faith and not to try to earn salvation or earn favor from Daddy by performance… The little phrase I have used with you a lot is: What Paul is trying to move you away from is performance-based acceptance and move to acceptance-based performance. Because I am loved, I am free to do my best to express my love without fear of seeing that my performance isn't enough. I know it's not, so I'll do the best I can, all the while acknowledging, if it weren't for my Dad's grace towards me, I don't have a chance.

The contrast he is going to develop in this particular chapter between a child and a son is not between an immature human and a mature human. It really is between what the child represents, which is a servant and a son. Let me show you that, verse 1: "Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything…" All that means is your last name could be Getty. It could be Perot. Your last name could be whatever famous name you want to pull out… Gates, in today's vernacular. But while you are a 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-old, you are still under a master.

Often in homes like that, and certainly in Roman culture where this book was written, they were under the tutelage often of a servant, someone, in the employee of Mommy and Daddy…a nanny, if you will, a governess…who made sure you didn't burn the house down, kill yourself, or ruin the city, so you were no different than that servant because you were under a master. Even though one day the intention was that you owned everything, you are not yet as you ought to be.

Think about this. The difference between this servant and the son is a few things. First, the servant doesn't have the DNA of the daddy. A son has the nature of the father. Secondly, a servant has a master. A son has a father. Thirdly, a servant is somebody who is really poor, doesn't own anything. A son is rich.

What Paul is going to do is say, "Look, why would you want to go back to being a servant under this master that is the law that was there to show you what isn't right about yourself until you come to your senses and mature in your understanding about how to live and operate in this world," and what Paul is saying is, "The way you are to live and operative in this world is not under law. Law was to show you, you were not holy. Live in love."

The folks who live in love have a father. The folks who live under law have a master who says, "You ain't good." The folks who live under the law are slaves. They have no hope. They're poor. They're in debt, in fact. The wages of their debt are death. The son is an heir to all the riches of the father. The one under law never gets the nature of the daddy. He's always fighting against his nature against the law. The son has the nature of the father. Why would you want to be a servant when you can be a son? That's the argument. Do you see?

What Paul is trying to do is keep people from going back to this mindset of ritualism, religiosity. Specifically in the culture that they were in, they were being challenged to obey some of the Old Testament ceremonial law that was to establish that God is holy. Now what you'll find out (and this is one of the questions folks always ask), "Okay, well you say that, over here, we're not supposed to have this kind of sexual relationship. Well then, how come you don't say over here we're supposed to not wear blended clothes?" Okay?

If you've read your Bible, you know in the Old Testament, you weren't supposed to wear clothing that was mixed and blended. If it was cotton, let it be cotton. If it was wool, let it be wool. Don't put cotton and wool together. And they go, "Why don't you say that anymore?" Well, because we are no longer children who need to be told that we're idiots and who need to be shown that we're not holy, that we're not like God wants us to be, and so what God has told us is to mature and understand and now to live in love relationships.

The ceremonial instructive law is done. It was fulfilled. I'm going to show you how in a minute again, but what you need to understand is that the morality of God is still the same, and the moral law of the Old Testament is repeated in the New Testament because the Father who loved you morally and didn't want you to destroy yourself by immoral actions still loves you morally in the New Testament and doesn't want to destroy you morally in the New.

The difference is that now you're not immature and thinking that God can be bought off by certain attendance practices and tithes. Now you know that your Father is a gracious Father, a loving Father, and so you'll listen to him because you want to, not because you're a kid and know you're going to get a whupping if you don't. You've seen the mercy of God.

You know, I was thinking about this, and let me tell you what the biggest difference I think is between children and adults. To me, this is an "aha" moment. Adults understand the necessity of grace to make relationships work.

One of the reasons that you see relationships fail in Hollywood is because Hollywood is a culture of what I'm going to call perpetual adolescence. It is children who, because of the riches that they are given while they are still unwise, are able to continue to do what they want when they want to do it like spoiled little children with no boundary, with no governess.

They keep getting into relationships thinking, "Hey, you're going to love me just because I'm so stinking beautiful, stinking rich, and stinking famous, and when you don't get that, I'll move on!" They don't understand that no matter how rich and famous and beautiful they are, that they're still offensive in the context of relationships, and they can't believe that somebody wouldn't love them.

If you think about the way high school culture, junior high culture, college culture often works, everybody is out there trying to earn love: "Am I funny enough? Am I witty enough? Am I cute enough? Do I dress right? Do I drive right? Do I have an impressive enough job, impressive enough pedigree? Can I tell enough stories about my past that they won't go check out that they'll like me? I want you to like me based on what I earn."

See, here's what people who have been married a while know (and you shift into this incredible, rich, peaceful love), which is "Hey, man. The lies are gone. The history is no longer impressive. The money won't hold. Unless you extend me grace and I extend you grace, unless we're committed to each other in an unwavering way, unless there's acceptance that we're both in process, this thing isn't going to work no matter how beautiful we are, rich we are, or impressive we are."

That takes a real maturity to start to go, "Can we love each other that way…with grace, acceptance and commitment as building blocks towards a healthy marriage?" See, that's the same thing in our relationship with God. He's saying, "Grow up and understand! Unless God is good to you and gracious, this ain't going to work because you're not that pretty."

Verse 2: " [The child] is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father." This would be 12 or 13 in Jewish society, a little older in Greek society, a little older in Roman society. Then at the fullness of time, at just the right time, the father allows the son to move into adult society. We don't come from a Jewish heritage, and so most of us have never been to a bar mitzvah. There's a prayer that the father prays at every bar mitzvah.

The prayer is this: "Blessed be thou O God who has taken from me the responsibility for this boy." That's the daddy's prayer at a bar mitzvah. The son then says, "Hey Father, God of my father and now my God, on this day which marks my sovereign passage from boyhood to manhood, I humbly raise my eyes unto thee and declare with sincerity and truth that henceforth I will learn your commandments and undertake to bear the responsibilities of my actions towards thee."

In other words, he becomes a man, and he is no longer under the tutelage of his father, and now he is free to live with the consequences of his own choices. Now if he is lucky, he has learned through the instruction of somebody that if you just do what you want to do when you want to do it, that is a recipe for disaster, so you should not lean on your own understanding, but you should humble yourself and learn to live another way with somebody a little bit more informed than you.

Do you know when Todd Wagner gets in trouble? When to this day he leans on his own understanding instead of saying, "What's my heavenly Father who loves me say to me?" Some of you folks in this room are 70 years old. Some of you are 80. Well, that isn't much in light of an eternal Father who has been a little bit ahead of you in this game, not to mention that his nature is perfect, and though by grace your nature will be his, for now, it's in process, so you should live at 80 like an 8-year-old should live in my house: "Daddy, what ought I do next?" and it will be well with you.

Verse 3: "So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage…" There it is again. "…under the elemental things of the world." Let me show you where this idea shows up in scripture one other place. In Hebrews 5:12 all the way through 6:2, this is what it says. Now watch this; this is what Paul is saying. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles…" Literally the ABCs of God. "…and you have come to need milk again instead of solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness."

In other words, everybody who's doing their ABCs can't read words. They're just doing their ABCs. What Paul is saying and what the writer of Hebrews is saying is, "You guys keep going back to this basic instruction, which is, 'The law is good. God is good. You ain't,' but after a while and you figure that out, it's time to move on and deepen your love relationship that is offered to you by grace.

I'm going to show you that idea right here in the book to the Hebrews, the people who wanted to keep going back to ceremony, when what God was trying to show them through ceremony was, "You will never be good enough through ceremony." This is what he says. "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." God is good. I'm evil.

Therefore, leaving the ABCs which taught us about the need for a Savior, "…let us press on to maturity…," not laying again a foundation of righteousness, which is "You've got to stop believing that your works will make you acceptable to God." That's what he means when he says, "…not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works…""I don't need to go back and show you again that you are not as good as your governess wants you to be. Your room's a mess. You're selfish, and you beat your sister." On and on and on and on. You know that.

He says, "…of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." What he is saying is, "I don't need to go back and tell you that there's going to be an accounting that every single person is going to give. Let's press on to maturity." It's like an individual who has a PhD sitting in some grand library somewhere, and he's sitting there at a table with all this great literature around him, and he's singing, "ABCDEFG." People go, "What are you doing? Read the book. Look at the wealth of truth that is around you. Don't go back to the elementary ABCs."

Now the ABCs are important…that's Galatians 3…because the ABCs show you how to build the word. Here's what's so cool about this. The ABCs of the Old Testament are what allow you to understand the word of the New. Watch. Hebrews, chapter 1, verses 1-3 says that from the very beginning what God did long ago is he spoke to the fathers and the prophets in many portions and in many ways, but…

"…in these last days He has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the** world. And He is the radiance of his *glory and the exact representation of His nature, and* upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten you'? And again, 'I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me'?"**

Now I'm going to come back to that last part: I shall be a father to him and he shall be a son to me. It's going to be important in just a minute, but watch this. Going back to the first part, what he says is, "Look, in these last days, what God has done now is he has brought forth the Word which you can read because you have the ABCs right. "In the beginning was the Word…" He's been here a long time. "…and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Watch this: The Word will become a son; "I will be a father to him," but the Word wasn't always a son. The Word was always God. Here, over here, "I'm going to teach you the ABCs. Your works aren't going to work. Figure that out, so when you put the letters together of the Old Testament, you can read the Word and understood what it means. This is the Savior." Do you get it?

At just the right time, he brought him forth. Look at this, verse 4, "But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son…" Those words sent forth is the idea of that word begotten. I will bring him forward from who I am. God has eternally existed in three persons, but the idea of the Son being in submission to the Father as the Son is something that God did for the purposes of bringing you to a place that you could never be on your own.

Watch this. Philippians, chapter 2, verse 5. He says, "You want to grow up? Then you '…have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God…' See also the exact representation of his nature. He was always God, very God of very God, but he took on the form of something else. He didn't regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a son, "…the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient…" even to the point of death on a cross.

What's the idea here? The Trinity has always been there, but the Trinity said, "Because we love man, I'm going to be a son to you, Father, and I will be one that will give my life for others." Watch this. He says, at the fullness of time, "…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…" Son of God, born of a woman; Son of Man, under the law, just like you were under the law.

Then it goes on to say, "…so that He might redeem…" Which is to say buy back. "…those who were under the Law…" Under the teacher who showed them they weren't good enough. "…that we might receive the adoption as sons." Why? Because the perfect Son fulfilled the law, and yet, he paid the debt of the law, which was death, but since he didn't owe that, he could then offer it to those that he loves, and you could be brought into the benefit of the provision of the Father. "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father'"

You see, a slave could never do that. That word Abba is the word for Daddy. Jesus uses it one time. When he had taken on the form of a man and been found in the appearance of a man, he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he knew that the thing that he needed to do in order to bring those who God loves, that he loves, into relationship with him who did not fulfill the law, was he had to go to a cross.

You find Jesus saying, "Daddy, if there's any other way to do this, I'd love to do it that way," but because he's a perfect son, he said, "But not my will, your will be done." Even though he was God and knew that that's what needed to done, he did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, and so he let it go, and he lived as a man in faith and said, "This doesn't make any sense to me, but Daddy, I'm not going to lean on my own understanding. If this is the only way that we can go redeem my brothers and sisters, let's get it on!"

His Daddy said, "This is it, Son. Go, give yourself for them because you are perfect, and I am perfect, and your perfect sacrifice can cover the offense against me, a perfect God, so the imperfect people can come into relationship with us again so we can share with them our glory, which we want to do because we are loving." You want a dad like that? You get into a relationship with Jesus.

Look what it says. "Therefore you are no longer a slave…" if you have faith that Jesus is that perfect provision, but you are a son, and if you are a son, then you're rich, "…an heir through God. However at the time, when you didn't know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods." Things that you invented on your own to make yourself righteous before God's eyes. "But now that you have come to know God…" Or rather by the grace of God to be known by God. "…how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things…" in order to be enslaved all over again? You've become a son by grace.

Why would you go back to being a slave under the master of law and performance? Why not be a son who is rich, living in love with the father? Be controlled not by fear. Be controlled by faith and love. Here we go! "You observe days and months and seasons and years." He says, "I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain. I beg of you, brethren, become as I am for I also have become as you are."

Paul is saying, "Here, look, become free like I'm free from Old Testament ceremonial law. I became like you, somebody who didn't care what he ate, somebody who didn't care if wore blended clothing, so why would you go back and become like I was when I had told you I didn't need to be that way because I needed a Savior, that I've found the perfect Savior is God, the Father, expressed through the Son?

Here's what he says, "Don't go back to keeping the calendar." Verse 12. "I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time…" Now Paul is going to go here and make a shift, and he's going to say, "I can't believe you're doing this. You guys were so good to me. You received me."

When Paul went to Galatia, apparently there was something going on. Some people think it was an eye disease. Some people think it was malaria which led to an eye disease. It doesn't matter, but you have to understand this: Back in that day when there wasn't a lot of good health and science and medicine, when you got sick, you were disgusting. People loathed you. They'd often spit on you. They'd put you outside the community, and if you got well, you were welcome back, but you were quarantined and set apart.

Paul said, "For some reason, that's not the way you treated me." He said, "I came to you, and I preached to you," and "…that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe…" but you even received me as a messenger of God, as Christ Jesus himself. I'd tell you I wasn't, but you thought I was a gift from God. Where then is your sense of blessing that you had when I came? "For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." That's how much you loved me. "So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?"

Here's what's going on. Paul said, "I'm coming back to you. After I left, some people came back along and said, 'Hey, your love for Jesus is fine, but make sure you keep the ceremonial law,'" and Paul is going, "Don't go back to keeping the ceremonial law. Keep the moral law, but be a son who lives in a love relationship with the Father, and let the law of love and faith inform you, not a bunch of dos and don'ts. Live by the moral why, not the moral what.

I got a call yesterday when I was out of town doing this funeral from a guy on a cellphone who was with my girl at a movie who went to go see a movie that was sold out, and so he said, "Hey, we want to go see this movie, and your daughter says she needs to talk to you before she goes."

I said, "My daughter doesn't need to talk to me. My daughter knows the rules. My daughter knows that she shouldn't see movies that are going to be destructive to her heart or her mind. They're going to fill her hear with images that she doesn't want to celebrate and meditate on, lest she be informed by them any more than I do, and so we don't go see a movie until we go to one of those websites that tells us what's in the movie, and she can evaluate it on her own." He says, "Well, we're at the mall. What should we do?"

"Well, her sister's at home. Have her call her sister to look at one of those websites and check it out."

"Well, the daughter at home thinks it's okay, that this movie will work."

"Great! Well, it sounds like my daughters have processed this well, and you tell my daughter who's there with you to go to the movie that I say that if she gets in there and determines that they didn't make a good choice that she has the freedom to get up and walk out."

He goes, "Oh, so you don't want to tell her whether she can go or not?" I go, "No. She's at the age now where she knows what's destructive to her heart and what is a blessing to her heart. Let her decide." He goes, "Okay."

Now she went in and saw the movie, and I think just because she is a little prophetess and likes to make a stand, she probably walked out… I know she walked out, but I think she did it just to pharisee her little righteousness in front of her buddies, which is another whole conversation to have, but whether it be out of pharisaical pride or loving wisdom, I'm glad that she's wrestling with things and trying to make some good decisions, so we'll figure out which one it was later, but good for her for doing that.

I want to tell you something. This little text right here really spoke to me because, I want to tell you, what Paul's saying is, "I'm back, and there's some people who came alongside of you now and told you that Jesus wasn't enough and you need to do the ceremonial things, not the moral loving things but the ceremonial detail," and if you go back as Paul and you tell them the truth, sometimes people don't like it when you keep telling the truth.

I tell you, there are some people that by the grace of God, God used me to deliver them and bring them by God's truth out of a lifestyle of great self-destruction, pain, and dysfunction, but often after the initial joy is gone; sometimes two, five, ten years down the road those same people come to another place in life where they have to decide if they are going to follow Jesus, and when you go back and you say to them again, "Hey, it's time still to act like a loving son and do what the Father says." They go, "This doesn't make sense to me that my Dad would want this."

I've seen people grow to hate me who love me, as a means to which brought them to faith, later hate me because I'm reminding them of what it means to live by faith. That's what Paul is saying happened in Galatia. "Where is that sense of blessing you had? Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?" Verse 17: Look, there are folks that are out there. They "…seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them."

In other words, they want to shut you out of heaven, telling you that salvation by grace through faith is Christ alone isn't enough, the Bible alone isn't enough and so you need something more than Jesus, or what they'll tell you is, since they don't want to live under moral law, they'll tell you, "Get out of the moral law and Wagner and the Bible and Jesus and all that different stuff. That doesn't make sense, man. That's a little too radical!"

They seek you because they want you over here to validate the way they are living, and since it kind of feeds your flesh and fear and you don't want to do what the Father says because you can't see it right, you'll go over there, but they don't want you over there because they love you. They want you over there because they're miserable, and misery loves company. I've seen it.

"But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you." I seek you this way because I love you. Verse 19: "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you…" He says, "I wish to be present with you, and I hope that, when I come, I can change my tone because you're confusing me." Here's the deal. He's saying, "Look, man, I was there when God used the words of truth that I preached to bring you into a new relationship with him, and that was painful preaching and ministry on my part. I labored then."

What he is saying is, "I should not have to be going through labor with you again, children. You're already born. Why don't you act like who you should be, a son, not going back to a wrong view of who God is, not going back to dead works or, in this sense, a sense that God is not loving? Why am I going through this labor with you to have this conversation again? Why am I having to tell you to have faith in God again? This isn't right. A mama is supposed to do that once, and I prayed that you'd get it right.

I'm seeking you because I love you just like I sought you because I loved you before, and I'm writing to you in a pretty strong tone right now, and I hope when I come I can talk to you in a different way because you are confusing the heck out of me. Why? Because when I came, I taught you well. You believed it genuinely. You were powerfully transformed, and now you have forsaken it so quickly."

Let me just ask you a question. How are you doing, man? How are you doing in your love for Daddy? If you're here singing because you know him, then we shouldn't have to labor with you this week to not lean on your own understanding but to love your Dad who has your best interests in mind.

Are you attentively seeking the heart of your Dad this week, or are there people just knocking their heads against the wall and going, "I cannot believe the guy who stood next to me this week and sang of the goodness of God is now fighting me as to whether or not God's word is good." That's what Paul is saying. What a great passage for Father's Day! Your Dad is good. You're a son and an heir. Don't be a servant who is poor and enslaved. Be a son who is rich and full. That's your Daddy, and he is more than enough for you.

Father, this is so fun to look at this little book and see how you love us and have our best interests in mind, and so we just come, and you know, what's interesting is that you tell us that not only did you send the Son so that we could know you, but your spirit is still here, and you tell us, "Don't grieve the Spirit," the Spirit of God who is here, when we resist your loving instruction in our life and you have to labor with us all over again.

You just go, "Oh man, I thought this was my boy. I thought we'd been through this. I thought he understood that I was a good God who had his best interests in mind, that I wasn't trying to rip him off; I was trying to set him free, and yet, this week, again, here he goes, wandering away over those who seek him so that he might join them in their rebellion so they feel safe where they are." Lord, let us not be those people. The amazing thing is, Father, I know that you have great love for us. As each of us has been prodigal in our own way this week, you stand eagerly waiting for us to come back because you are a good Daddy.

So for those of us that were on the ranch at one point who have walked off, may we come to our senses, may we come back home and find you eagerly waiting for us at the gate to celebrate us, to clothe us again in grace and mercy and in Christ, that we might begin to enjoy the intimacy of a relationship with you, and for those of us who really, Father, right now are not sons by nature but that are pigs that return to the mud or dogs that return to vomit, what an even more amazing story of grace…that you in your infinite goodness and infinite power say to the pigs and the dogs that are there, "Come, and I can make you a son, and I can give you my nature, and I can make you heirs with my Son Jesus."

Lord, I pray for those out here this morning who don't know you as Daddy, that they would get out of the muck and mire and vomit of the foolishness of their life and they would walk up with sons to the gate and say, "Will you by some amazing act of grace adopt me and be my Daddy?" I think you've already said, "Yes," and all we need to do is come. Lord, I can't think of a great gift on Father's Day than to be somebody who celebrates the fact that we are your son or your daughter. Would you have them come and teach us how to serve them so they might know you in a way that'll change their life forever? For your glory and our good we pray, amen.

If you want to know how to become God's son or daughter, fill out that little perforated form (we'll follow up with you) or come and talk to us here. May you have a great week of worship as you leave, being reminded that he is more than enough for you.


About 'Galatians: The Long Arm of the Law'

What makes the Christian faith like no other? Its bold claim that we are accepted by God - not because we "follow the rules" - but only because of Christ's sacrifice. Yet how many of us, if we're honest with ourselves, are still trying to earn God's love!Having previously established the church in Galatia, Paul continues to boldly proclaim Christ and maintain that the law's sole purpose was to make us aware of our great need for God's grace. He warns against striving to merit God's acceptance by following strict religious practices. Doing so is an exercise in futility and a rejection of Christ's sacrifice.The message for believers today is clear: Relying on performance to earn God's love sets us up for bondage to legalism, pride and hardness of heart. Join Todd Wagner on this walk through the book of Galatians where you'll discover the danger of performance-based acceptance and learn to walk in the freedom offered through a relationship with Christ.