Sermon #16†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† Genesis Sermons
††††††††† Title: ††††††††† Sarah and Hagar - A Picture of Grace
††††††††† Text:†††††††††† Genesis 21:9-10; Galatians 4:21-31
††††††††† Subject:†††† The believerís freedom from the law
††††††††† Date:††††††††† Tuesday Evening - October 1, 1991
††††††††† Tape #††††††
††††††††† The Bible is not a Book about history. It is a Book about Christ and the redemption of sinners by Christ. But whenever the Bible deals with historical facts, it is always accurate in every detail. And the historical facts revealed in Holy Scripture are given, not just to fill in the gaps, but to convey and illustrate the message of redemption by Christ. In that sense, all of the events recorded in the Old Testament are to be interpreted allegorically. An allegory, or an allegorical interpretation of Scripture, is the use of historical facts and events to portray and teach spiritual, gospel truths.
††††††††† NOTE: We do not have the liberty to take any historical event revealed in Scripture and make it teach what we want it to teach, or think it might teach. But we do have a responsibility to honestly every historical event revealed in Scripture in the light of revealed gospel truth, making every event typical, or an allegory, of redemption by Christ.
††††††††† This is what I have been trying to do in this series of messages. Creation is a historical fact. But it is also a picture of grace. The flood and Noahís ark are historical facts. But they are also a picture of grace, a picture of our redemption and salvation in Christ. Do you understand what I am saying? Bible stories are much more than examples of Godís miraculous power. They are examples of Godís merciful acts toward the sons of men. Tonight, I want us to look at one story in the Scriptures that is plainly declared to be an allegory. It is the story of Sarah and Hagar - A Picture of Grace.
††††††††† The historical facts of this story are recorded in Genesis 21:1-14, which we read earlier. The allegorical interpretation of those facts in found in Galatians 4:21-31.
††††††††† Now the purpose of this allegory, as Paul uses it, is to show us the believerís complete and total freedom from the law. The allegory is about two women, Sarah and Hagar, and two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Sarah represents the covenant of grace. Her son, Isaac, represents the children of promise, all who are born again by the promise and power of Godís grace. Hagar represents the covenant of works. Her son, Ishmael, represents all who go about to establish their own righteousness by the works of the law and will not submit to the righteousness of God which is in Christ Jesus. These are children of bondage who know not God.
††††††††† No two things in all the world are more diametrically opposed to one another than law and grace, which is nothing more or less than the heretical assertion that salvation is by our works and the gospel declaration that we are saved by Godís free grace through the obedience and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must understand the difference between these two things. Any mixture of law and grace, any intermingling of the covenant of works with the covenant of grace is deadly. Those who mix law and grace teach a doctrine that is damning to the souls of men. We must distinguish between our doing for salvation and another doing in our place for salvation. Salvation is not by our doing at all, but by the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ for us! ďThis doctrine lies at the very heart of the gospel, and is so important that he who grasps and understands it, is a masters in divinity, while he who does not properly distinguish here remains in doubt and perplexity and walks in darkness, knowing not at what he stumbles.Ē (G. S. Bishop).
††††††††† Believers are totally free from the law.
††††††††† NOTE: Paulís purpose in Galatians is to show us that all who trust Christ are free from the law.
††††††††† As we look at this allegory, I want to call your attention to three things as Paul deals with them in Galatians 4.
1. Two covenants.
2. Two systems of religion.
3. Two sons.
I. First, Paul tells us that SARAH AND HAGAR REPRESENTS TWO COVENANTS WHICH ARE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO ONE ANOTHER, THE COVENANT OF GRACE AND THE COVENANT OF WORKS (v. 24).
††††††††† God almighty only deals with men upon the basis of a covenant. A covenant is a contract made between two or more parties in which certain promises are made in the anticipation of specified conditions being fulfilled.
Illustration: Davidís covenant with Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:11-17).
††††††††† Understanding the nature of a covenant, we recognize that there could only be two possible covenants between God and man. (1.) A covenant of works, founded upon what man shall do for his salvation, or (2.) A covenant of grace, founded upon what God shall do for man to save him - A covenant of law and a covenant of grace.
††††††††† A. Hagar, Sarahís handmaid and servant, represents the covenant of law, works, and ceremonies, revealed at Mt. Sinai.
††††††††† In the law God says to man, ďDo this and live!Ē John Gill wrote, the Jews in the Mosaic age were ďin bondage to the moral law, which required perfect obedience of them, but gave them no strength to perform; showed them their sin and misery, but not their remedy; demanded a complete righteousness, but did not point out where it was to be had; it spoke not one word of peace and comfort, but all the reverse; it admitted of no repentance; it accused of sin, pronounced guilty on account of it, cursed, condemned, and threatened death for it, all which kept them in continual bondage.Ē
††††††††† This bondage of legalism is what Hagar represents.
††††††††† B. Sarah, Abrahamís true wife, represents Godís eternal covenant of grace with Christ for the salvation of his elect.
††††††††† ďThe covenant of works stood between God and Adam. Adam fell and it now lies hopelessly broken. The covenant of grace stood between God and Christ. Christ has fulfilled it, and it stands established forever!Ē (G. S. Bishop).
††††††††† NOTE: The covenant of works was written in stone at Sinai. But it was the same covenant which Adam broke in the garden. And it is the covenant which is written upon the hearts of all men by nature, a covenant which all men constantly break (Rom. 2:14-15). But, blessed be God, the covenant of grace cannot be broken!
††††††††† 1. The covenant of grace was made long before the covenant of works.
††††††††† It was made from eternity and cannot be nullified by anything done in time (Gal. 3:16-17).
††††††††† 2. The covenant of grace was made between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and cannot be broken by man (Heb. 7:22; 13:20; John 17:2-3).
††††††††† The covenant of grace† says, ďDo this, O Christ, and thy people shall live forever!Ē (Psa. 2:8; 110:3; Isa. 53:10-12).
††††††††† 3. The covenant of grace took into consideration the failures of Godís elect and made promises of grace concerning us, even in the teeth of our sins (Psa. 89:19-37; Jer. 31:31-34; 32:37-41).
††††††††† This is a covenant of pure, free, immutable grace, ordered in all things and sure (2 Sam. 23:5; Rom. 8:28-2; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Sarah represents the covenant of grace. Hagar represents the works of the law!
††††††††† C. Though Hagar bore the first son, Sarah had a prior claim to all the inheritance because she was Abrahamís original wife.
††††††††† Sarah told Abraham to cast Hagar and Ishmael out upon the basis of her prior claim upon him. And though the covenant of works was revealed first, the covenant of grace has a prior claim upon Godís elect and upon the inheritance of life.
††††††††† Long before we sinned, the covenant of grace was made. Before we became sinners, Christ stood as our Surety. Before ever we needed atonement, Christ was the Lamb of sacrifice slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 1 Pet. 1:18-21). Long before we were cursed by the law, we were blessed with Godís salvation in the covenant of grace (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9).
††††††††† D. It was never intended that Hagar should be Abrahamís wife, or that Ishmael should be the promised seed of grace.
††††††††† Hagar was Sarahís handmaid. Nothing more! The law, which Hagar represents, was never given, or intended to be, a means of righteousness and salvation for anyone. No one was ever saved by keeping the law. The law was only a handmaid to grace.
1. The only purpose of the law is to point me to Christ (Gal. 3:21-29). ďChrist is the end of the law for righteousness.Ē - The fulfillment - The conclusion.
†††† The law identifies sin and condemns men for sin. But it can never remove sin, or justify the sinner.
2. The law is good, if a man uses it lawfully; but when it is put in the place of grace, it must be cast out!
II. Secondly, PAUL USES SARAH AND HAGAR TO REPRESENT TWO SYSTEMS OF RELIGION, GRACE AND WORKS (vv. 25-27)..
††††††††† There are but two religions upon the earth, works and grace. These two systems of religion mutually annihilate one another. If a person is saved in anyway, either in whole or in part, by his own works, then he is not saved by Godís grace. If we are saved by Godís grace, then we are not saved, in whole or in part, by any works of our own (Rom. 11:6). There is no in between ground, where grace and works live together!
A. †All churches, religions, and systems of doctrine which teach salvation by the works of the law are represented by Hagar.
††††††††† I mean to be understood. Any teaching that says we are justified, sanctified, preserved, given favor with God, or inherit heavenly glory upon† the basis of our own works of obedience to God is legalism, antichrist, and damning to the souls of men (Gal. 5:1-4).
††††††††† Now, look at what Paul tells us about Hagar, the religion of the world, the religion of works (v. 25).
1. She is in Arabia - Outside the land of promise!
2. She is in bondage - The law can give nothing but bondage!
3. Her children are all yet in bondage.
∑ To sin!
∑ To satan!
∑ To the law!
∑ To death!
B. Sarah represents that church, that religion, that system of doctrine that declares salvation by grace without the deeds of the law (vv. 26-27).
††††††††† The kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace. The gospel of God is the gospel of grace. And the church of God is the true Jerusalem, the city of grace and peace.
1. The gospel of grace is from above!
2. The people of God are free!
3. The church of God is the mother of all who believe.
4. The church of God, the kingdom of grace, shall be triumphant and glorious in the end (v. 27; Isa. 54:1).
C. Hagar never was free; and Sarah never was a slave.
††††††††† Ishmael, being the son of a slave, never could be a free man. Isaac, being the son of a free woman, never could be a slave. All who seek salvation by their own works are forever in bondage, and must be cast out. All who trust Christ alone, being saved by pure, free grace, abide in the house of grace forever, forever free, forever heirs of grace!
††††††††† When Isaac was born, Ishmael had to go. Hagar and her on were driven out of Abrahamís house; but not Sarah! So too, as soon as the gospel of grace is revealed, the covenant of works is driven away (Heb. 10:1-10).
III. Thirdly, PAUL USES THE TWO SONS, ISHMAEL AND ISAAC, TO REPRESENT LOST RELIGIOUS LEGALISTS AND SINNERS SAVED BY THE GRACE OF GOD (vv. 28-31).
A. †Ishmael was born after the flesh. Isaac was born after the Spirit..
∑ Legalism is of the flesh, fleshly.
∑ Grace is of the Spirit, spiritual.
B. Ishmael was the child of works, the child of unbelief. Isaac was the child of promise - Supernaturally!
C. Ishmael mocked and persecuted Isaac.
D. Ishmael was cursed. Isaac was blessed!
††††††††† There is no room for legalism in the house of grace. ďWe are not under the law, but under grace!Ē
1. We are not justified by the law, but by grace (Rom. 3:19-24).
2. We are not sanctified by the law, but by grace (Gal. 3:1-3).
3. We are not ruled by the law, but by grace (Tit. 2:11-14).
4. We are not motivated by the law, but by grace (2 Cor. 5:14).
NOTE: The difference between the believer and the legalist is not his conduct, but his motive.
5. We shall not be glorified by the law, but by grace (Jude 24:25).
††††††††† Why are we so dogmatic in this matter of the believerís freedom from the law? 3 reasons: The legalist would...
1. Rob Christ of the glory of his grace!
2. Rob the believer of the joy of faith! The joy of assurance - The joy of service.
3. Rob the world of the hope of salvation!
NOTE: The only way any sinful man can honor the law is by faith in Christ.
∑ Christ fulfilled the law.
∑ We fulfill the law by faith.