Sarah and Hagar

By Joe Boot/ October 25, 2015

Series  Galatians: Life, Law and Liberty

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Law & Gospel

Scripture  Galatians 4:21-31

Since Christ has set us free, we cannot return to humanistic slavery and pagan gods made in man's image.

Scripture:  Galatians 4:21-31

Sermon Notes:

  1. Paul has been arguing that salvation is not based on works of the law.
  2. In this passage Paul uses a traditional Jewish form of interpretation, drawing an allegory from the historical situation of Sarah and Hagar.
  3. In this allegory we are presented with two women, two sons, and two cities.
  4. Dividing the Bible into old and new, many interpreters seek to make the Old Testament obsolete.  But Paul and Jesus appeal to all of the Old Testament as the authoritative “law” (Galatians 4:21 cf. John 15:25, Psalm 35:19).
  5. Hagar, the bond woman with her natural son Ishmael, represents works religion and the old Jerusalem.
  6. Sarah, the free woman with her supernatural son Isaac represents faith religion, the new covenant, and the new Jerusalem.
  7. The new Jerusalem, the church, is our mother.
  8. The true heirs are those in Christ, the true seed of Abraham.  If Sarah is our mother, then our birth is of supernatural grace.
  9. To seek salvation by works is to be Hagar’s offspring who are in slavery.
  10. We’re to pray for the kingdom of God to come to earth, that the city of freedom be established.
  11. Paul references Isaiah 54:1, alluding to the greater blessing of God under the new covenant.
  12. We are part of the new covenant city, involving non-Jews from all the nations coming into the gospel of faith.
  13. Pharisaism is a paganization of Christian faith, attributing to God man’s qualities. Likewise liberal Christianity makes a god after man’s image.
  14. These theologies project man’s emptiness and perversity onto God. Pagan gods of antiquity explored all kinds of perverse sexual possibilities.
  15. When the state usurps God’s role of law-giving and forgiving sins, it always fails because it cannot change hearts.
  16. Caesar tried offering clemency to all like a god, but he was killed by those he had pardoned.
  17. The modern state is always seeking to overcome some glitch in its promised salvation, asserting God’s prerogatives and seeking salvation by human laws.
  18. Christ has set us free for freedom. Paul urges us not to return to humanistic slavery which makes God in man’s image.
  19. The faith-based gospel so offends, that those committed to works-based righteousness will persecute the children of faith. 
  20. Our freedom is costly: those of the flesh will persecute those born of the Spirit.
  21. Those who profess the faith, but proclaim some variety of works-based salvation, are dooming both themselves and their followers.

Application Questions:

  1. Contrast the spiritual lines represented by Hagar and Sarah.
  2. How is liberal Christianity guilty of creating a pagan god in man’s image?
  3. How are modern states delivering a form of works-based slavery? Why can’t the state deliver salvation?
  4. What response can we expect when proclaiming faith-based religion to the world?
  5. What does it mean to live “free in Christ?”