You gotta serve somebody.
FEBRUARY 16, 2021
You gotta serve somebody. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life with our host author and seminary professor Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru. He’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible open it to the fourth chapter of Galatians and we’re looking at slavery and freedom, and it is kind of an obtuse text for those of us who live today. It’s kind of rabbinical in what it’s teaching. And it’s very powerful because Paul is using an illustration of a slave who had a baby. And a married woman, Sarah, that would be Hagar was the slave and Sarah was the wife who had a baby. And one is the son of a slave. And the other is the son of a free woman. And he’s saying, that’s what you are, your heritage, your roots, who you are, how you define yourself, has to do with the freedom that is your heritage. We’ve seen how important roots are. And then we were talking yesterday and then I ran out of time before I finished. That’s the bane of a preacher all the time, running out of time before he finishes or she finishes. So I’m not finished with that point, but you got to reflect, you’ve got to look back on that slave woman and that free woman and say, who do I belong to?, Galatians 4:24.
Now this is an allegory.
Think about it. These women are two covenants. My wife, Anna is a woman of prayer. I may have told you she healed a refrigerator one time. People say, no she didn’t, yeah, she really did. I was a young pastor. Didn’t have any money, certainly not enough money to buy a refrigerator and our refrigerator was beginning to die and it was making this horrible thump just before, it was kind of a death rattle. And it was going thump, thump. And I said to Anna, well, we can’t afford a new refrigerator. So we’re going to have to purchase ice and put an ice bag in this dumb refrigerator in order that things won’t spoil. And she said, you can do that if you want to, I’m going to pray. And she put her hands on the refrigerator and she said, Lord, you know, And I’m thinking, you know, I’m feel logically trained, I’ve been to graduate school. I know a lot about God and God does not heal refrigerators and she didn’t care. She put our hands on the refrigerator and said, Lord, this thing’s dying and we can’t afford a new one. So would you do something for us? And the, and the thumps stopped while I was listening, it went thump, thump, thump. And then it started running smoothly. I wanted to say, son of a gun. Well, we had a German shepherd too one time. And Anna was praying for a new one. We have a new German shepherd in our house now, her name is Annie and she’s all black and she’s gorgeous. And she’s just wonderful, unless you’re a stranger, and you come to our door and she sounds like she’s gonna eat you alive. And we love German shepherds and Anna bonds with our shepherds. And so we had a shepherd a number of years ago that died and we were really sad and Anna started praying for a new shepherd, and his name was Barnabas, the shepherd that died. And so she started saying, Lord, could you send us another dog? And, this really happened, 5:30 in the morning, there’s a scratch on the window of our bedroom. And we look out and a German shepherd is sitting there. Not only that, a white German shepherd, scared the spit out of me. I thought it was Barnabas coming back. And she, but, but let me tell you about, we named him Calvin, Calvin had been, we guessed, or vet guessed. He was a beautiful shepherd, but. Evidently she had had a master who had been very cruel and she was so afraid of men. She loved our daughters. In fact, she kinda became Robin’s favorite. She loved Anna, but boy, when I walked into the door, she cringed all the time. And I tried to be kind. I tried to give her treats, him treats. I tried to fix it, and I never could because that dog had a master who had been cruel. Now the law can be that too. And that’s what Paul is saying. That if you have a master that tells you all the time, you’re not good enough. And you got to be better and you got to please the master. And if you don’t please, the master, he’s gonna kick you out or kick you or punish you, the way Calvin was. You hardly ever get over it. But if you’ve got a gentle and kind master, and that’s what Paul is saying here, think about it. Think about, think about that. It’s really important. And that’s why he says in the middle of the text, when he quotes the Old Testament from the prophet Isaiah, it’s in the 27th,
Rejoice, O barren one.
It’s enough to make you kick your heels and dance. Now let me show you something else that Paul says in this text. Thirdly, the freedom you have not only has to do with your roots, it becomes real as you reflect on it. But it’s also discerned in the reaction to your freedom. Look at Galatians 4:29.
But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the spirit, so it is now.
John R. Stott has a great quote in his book, Only One Way. Let me read some of it to you. He says.
The persecution of the true church of Christian believers who trace their spiritual descent from Abraham is not always by the world who are strangers unrelated to us. But by our half-brothers religious people, the nominal church. They’re persecuted, it’s always been so, the greatest enemies of the evangelical faith today are not unbelievers, who when they hear of the gospel often embrace it. But the church, the establishment, the hierarchy, Isaac is always mocked and persecuted by Israel.
Oh man. That’s profound. And that’s true. A woman. I was in a counseling session one time with a lady. And while we were talking about her sister, just out of the blue this woman said, mentioning her sister. I hate her. I hate her. And I said, why do you hate her? And this is what she said, because she’s beautiful, and I’m not. Listen friend, ugliness is always threatenedby beauty. Ignorance is always threatened by knowledge. Depression is always threatened by joy. Legalism is always threatened by freedom. Religion, when it’s nothing but ritual is always threatened by the real thing. Watch the person who was narrow and critical. Watch the person who does nothing but condemn. Watch the person who has a critical spirit because that person is a child of slavery, threatened by the child of promise. I’m not throwing rocks. Frankly, I’ve been on both sides of that divide. I have been threatened by free people. I have been threatened by people who got grace, when I didn’t. I have been threatened by those who wanted to dance. And I said, dancing is a sin. I’ve been on both sides of that. And you don’t have to, if you’re a believer, you don’t have to live in slavery. You don’t have to be that way. You can join the joyous. You can become a part of the family of the free. You can walk, knowing that you are forgiven, that you are loved, that you’re going to live forever and that it will never, ever change. God will never say to you ever, that’s it, I’ve had it with you. If anybody tells you different, they’re lying. Hey, you think about that. Amen.
That was Steve Brown, continuing to teach us from Galatians four about freedom and slavery. This is indeed a tricky passage, but Steve will continue unpacking it all for us tomorrow. Make sure you join us for that. And of course, if you missed any episodes from this series on Galatians, remember that you can enjoy them anytime you want at the all-new keylife.org, always available and always free. Again, that’s keylife.org. Well, you just heard two great stories, actually real events recounted by Steve. Now I’ve heard the story of the healed refrigerator and the scared German shepherd before, but they never get old. But listen, what if I told you that Steve wrote a fictional story? It’s a parable, really. It’s about a boy who loved music and baked into every detail of this beautiful parable is the essence of Key Life’s teaching on grace, the heart of God’s message to us. The story fits just like in the size of a booklet. Even though it’s brief, you will never forget it. Get your copy while supplies last, by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for the booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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