How a Slave Becomes a Son (Galatians 3:19–4:7)

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“What, then, is the purpose of the law?” In Galatians 3:19–4:7, Paul teaches that the purpose of the law was to reveal sin in us. It was also a prison that enslaved us as a temporary guardian until Christ came. And when the set time had come, God sent Jesus to redeem us, he sent his Holy Spirit to live in us, and he adopted us as his sons and daughters. Now, we who were formerly slaves can call God, “Abba, Father.”

GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTEDThese questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Have you ever had dinner where a friend or someone else picked up your tab? Did you feel like you had to pay for at least part of the bill? Did you feel an urge to invite this person to dessert? Was it hard to simply receive this gift?
2. Have you ever had an experience in which you felt like you did all the right things, yet the final result was not at all what you expected? Have you ever worked hard towards a goal just to realize the goal was pointless? Briefly share your experience.
3. In your own words, define “sin.”
4. In your own words, define “grace.”
5. When you hear the expression that, in Christ, we are sons and daughters of God, how do you feel? Do you feel like you are able to relate to God as his son or daughter? Why or why not? Briefly explain.
6. In your opinion, what would a perfect father look like? Would you have to prove yourself to him? Or would he accept and love you as you are? What would your interaction with him look like?

1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read Luke 15:11-31:

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

• In verses 11-12 we read about a young man asking his father for his share of the family inheritance. What reasons would lead you to do something like this? What does this tell you of his relationship with his father? How do you think this made his father feel?
• It did not take long for the son to squander everything and find himself in need (v. 14). Have you ever found yourself in a situation where, because of your own pride, you made a wrong turn in your life? Briefly share your experience.
• How do you respond when you receive a gift from the Lord? If you asked and received something, do you feel like the Lord gave it to you because you deserved it? Do you feel responsibility towards the Lord regarding the way you use this gift?
• Have you ever had an “I know better than God” attitude towards making decisions? Briefly share your experience.
• In verse 20, we read that as soon as the father saw his son returning, he was filled with compassion and ran to him and embraced him. What does this tell you of God’s heart for the sinner? As a small group, are we following God’s example of loving sinners despite of their sin and welcoming them into community? Do we run out to them, or do we expect them to come to us?
• What is your understanding of grace? Expand on both sons’ view of their father’s grace towards them, (one embittered by working for but never feeling he received his father’s generosity, while the other one felt he had used it all up). What was each son focusing on? Did either of their approaches show a good knowledge of their Father? How do we receive approval from God?
• The father in the story was generous to his son at the beginning of the story as well at the end of the story. What does this tell you of the father’s character? What does this say about God’s reasons for giving? What does this tell you of God’s faithfulness?
• Are you more like the older or the younger son in the story? How would you describe your current relationship with God? Compared to a year ago, are you closer or further away from God today? Why might that be?

3. In your small group this week, please consider setting aside time to share with one another and pray for each other.

• In what areas of your life are you still living like a “slave” rather than a “son” or a “daughter”?
• If you are not able to relate to God as Father, why might that be?