Sermon notes: Galatians Number 5...

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NOTE: This is number 5 in a series on Galatians. If this is your first time reading sermon notes here, please take time to read a helpful explanation at the bottom of this post.

"That He might rescue us from this present evil age..." (Galatians 1:4)

While it is true that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will, at some date, be rescued from this evil age by death or the Second Coming of our Lord, we are not here speaking of being rescued by death or Christ’s Return, much less of a rapture of Christians snapped by God from their suffering—enticing though that may be. Rather, we are here speaking of the rescue all Christians receive, moment by moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade—the lifelong rescue that God’s Holy Spirit does in us through His sanctifying work whereby we are made holy as God is holy. This is the method of our rescue.

And this theme is prominent in Scripture; that the people of God are rescued from this evil age here and now through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We are changed, made new, set apart from the evil world as God’s holy, God’s peculiar, God’s separate people.

In other words, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are not plucked out of the war, the fight, the bloody contest, but rather we are saved for or to that bloody contest.

From the Pulpit of Church of the Good Shepherd

November 30, 2003; AM
Galatians Series No. 5
That He Might Rescue Us From This Present Evil Age
Sermon Text: Galatians 1:3-5 

This Lord’s Day, we turn to our fifth in a series of sermons on the New Testament book of Galatians. And this week, we turn to verses three through five.

* Galatians 1:3-5 This is the Word of God, eternally true.

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5, NAS95.

Last week we asked three questions concerning the gift of grace and peace that the Apostle Paul prays for, that he asks God to give, the Church in Galatia:

First Question: Who does this work?

Second Question: How is the work done?

Third Question: Why is the work done?

First, then, “Who does this work?”

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…

Not from man, but from God.

This is the theme of the book of Galatians, that there is nothing we can do to earn or learn or deserve or reach or buy the grace and peace that come from God as His free gift; grace and peace are solely the gift of God freely given to those who put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and His death for us on the Cross. God is pleased to pour out these blessings on those who place their trust in the righteousness of His Son, and His Own suffering, His paying the penalty for our sins on the Cross.

Not grace from Miss Manners and peace from the recess supervisor or the U.N. Security Council, but both grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

What a sad day it would be if we were to read here that grace and peace come from man—from education or politics or the courts or the Dalai Lama. But no, across the world and through the aeons, grace and peace come only, I said only, from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Grace and peace are the free gift of God, not given to the deserving but to the undeserving; not offered to the righteous but to sinners; not known by the wisdom of the academy, but the foolishness of God given to the pure of heart; not commandeered by the strong but freely received by the weak, the grieving, the widow, the orphan, the poor in spirit who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

First Question: Who does this work?

God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Second Question: How is the work done?

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” Galatians 1:1-5, NAS95.

The work of blessing man with grace and peace is done by Jesus Christ giving “Himself for our sins.”

When we ask how we receive grace and peace from God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, we find the same answer again and again; Jesus bore our sins on the Cross so that we might be saved from them and the hatred of sin by His Father—a hatred of sin that is intrinsic to His character.

The perfect Gospel, good news, is that Jesus lived a perfect life, as obedient to the will of His Father as we are disobedient, and then despite deserving nothing but endless rewards from His Father’s hand for that perfect obedience, He went to the Cross paying the penalty we deserved for our rebellion. And by His stripes, His wounds, we are healed.

Man—his wisdom and learning and riches and counsel—cannot heal us. We are dead in our trespasses and sins.

So then, we must turn away from, and forsake, all human effort—particularly religious effort.

But how hard it is to do this.

Instead we must become children again, and learn that the Christian religion is not a religious self-help scheme, but an act of God whereby God the Father sends His Son to earth, in human flesh, to die on a cross, and through His Own Substitutionary Atonement, to purchase for Himself a people who bear the Name and righteousness of His Son.

First Question: Who is the work done by?

It’s done by God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Second Question: How is that work done?

It’s done by God the Father sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to take on human flesh and live a life of perfect obedience, and then to pour out His life as a sin-offering to turn away the wrath of God from all those who put their faith in Him. Jesus bore our sins on the Cross that we might go free from the penalty of sin and death, and might have everlasting life.

Third Question: Why is the work done—what is its purpose?

Verse 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…

It is this statement that we turn to this week: Jesus “gave Himself for our sins SO THAT He might rescue us from this present evil age.”

What is meant by “this present evil age?”

Well first, the Apostle Paul is not here speaking of the “Age to Come.” Rather, it is “this present age.”

We’re not here talking simply about the first century AD.

It would be so easy to look back on the ancient world with the pride we moderns have perfected, and say that the evil world the Apostle Paul refers to here is that world subjugated by Rome and all her phalanxes, defended by her galley ships of slaves, paid for by the taxes she levied on her colonies; an empire permeated by the labor of slaves and the indolence and corruption of the rich; a nation where childlessness was the ideal and the rich sought to adopt, rather than to give birth to, children; a time when sexual perversion was an art form and women strove with men to increase their power and authority over men.

But as I speak of the ancient world, it’s clear we have not progressed, but regressed.

No, the “evil age” to which the Apostle Paul refers, here in verse four, is that time in the history of man in between the Fall and the New Heavens and the New Earth; that time when the whole world is in bondage to the tragic consequences of Adam’s sin; that time in which we, and all our ancestors going back to Adam, have suffered under sin and sorrow, sickness and pain and death...

All men, all women, from the moment when Adam sinned and, with Eve, tried to cover his nakedness, was cursed by God, and was expelled from the Garden of Eden—from that moment down to this very moment when you and I live and breathe—all men have lived in this age.

And what is it this age is characterized by?

It is an “evil age” and it is under God’s sentence of death.

This present world hates God and is doomed for destruction:

Ephesians 2:12 “12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

2 Peter 3:7-11 “7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,”

2 Thessalonians 1:9 “9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,”

1 John 2:16, 17 “16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

And while it is true that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will, at some date, be rescued from this evil age either by death, or by the Second Coming of our Lord, we are not here speaking of being rescued by death or Christ’s Return, and much less by a rapture of Christians snapped by God from their suffering, enticing though that may be.

Rather, we are here speaking of the rescue all Christians receive, moment by moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade—the life-long rescue that God’s Holy Spirit does in us through His sanctifying work whereby we are made holy as God is holy. This is the method by which we are rescued.

And this theme is prominent in Scripture; that the people of God are rescued from this evil age here and now through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We are changed, made new, set apart from the evil world as God’s holy, God’s peculiar, God’s separate people.

John 15:18-20 “18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

In other words, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are not plucked out of the war, the fight, the bloody contest, but rather we are saved for or to that bloody contest.

Titus 2:14 (Christ Jesus) gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Let us not think, though, that we are saved from sin and rescued from this evil age because God the Son took up our case and turned His Father’s will. No, rather the work of redemption, both now and eternally, was done by our Lord because it was the will of His Father, and ours. Again, it was the love of the Father that sent His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary, to live in perfect obedience, and to die the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world.

As John Brown writes:

“…the mediatorial economy is nothing more than the means adopted by infinite wisdom to execute the purpose of infinite mercy, in consistency with the claims of infinite justice” (p. 33).

Now who could help but give himself or herself to praise, at this point?

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are perfectly united in the work of saving us from our sins and rescuing us from this evil world, praise God!

And to be save and rescued we must only believe, and that very moment we are transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light and Eternal Life, Praise God!

And so we see that the Apostle Paul, thinking personally as well as corporately (thinking about himself as well as about the Galatians) cannot help but cry out in joy:

Galatians 1:4, 5 “4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.”

And the people who are redeemed all give their agreement verbally using that word that down through the ages has been the congregations’ privilege: AMEN!!!

Think of it:

Romans 9:16 “16 [Speaking of our salvation] So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

1 John 4:10 “10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The Apostle Paul has described, and offered to sinners, the path of salvation and freedom through the work of Jesus Christ applied by the Holy Spirit carrrying out the will of God the Father. And seeing this work, he writes: “…to Whom be the glory forevermore.”

And our response?

All God’s people said, “AMEN!!”

* * *

EXPLANATION: Sermons are pastoral, and therefore of only limited value to those who are not present when a pastor feeds the flock God called him to serve. Yet, knowing even notes may be of some value to others, I'm posting past sermon notes here on Baylyblog. Because the notes weren't written for publication, no editor has cleaned them up for reproduction on the web. So, for instance, although the notes I take into the pulpit have formatting that highlights quotes, I haven't taken the time to reproduce that formatting here.

Please keep in mind these are only notes and not a transcription of the sermon that was preached. It is my commitment to depart from them, seeking freedom from the Holy Spirit to proclaim and apply God's Word to the souls under my care in a way that is helpful to them and gives all glory to God.

Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (Updated '95 Edition). This is the best Bible available in the English language, having by far the closest correspondence of any English Bible in common use today between the original Hebrew and Greek and the English translation. We should all own a print Bible and it should be a two or three decade investment, so here are the NASB Bibles that will read easily and hold together best for twenty years. Their paper is opaque, their type is clean, their binding is superb, and I have no hesitation saying you would do well to spend one or two hundred dollars on one for yourself, your wife, and each of your children.

If the reader has good eyes, buy the Pitt Minion. It's very small and light and will last for decades. If the reader has fading or poor eyesight, buy the Clarion Reference. It has the larger typeface and, again, will last for decades. If the reader likes writing notes in the margin, buy the Wide-Margin Reference. It's big and heavy and you will be able to write to your heart's content.

Finally, near the beginning of each week's notes you will often notice repetition from the previous week. Each week I pick up where I left off the previous week.

May God bless you, dear brother and sister, as you study the Word of God and, only by faith, find it sweeter than honey.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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