26 Sep Quarter Four Lesson Four
Growing into Fatherhood
In this lesson we want to continue our study of growing into a mature and intimate relationship with God and becoming spiritual fathers and mothers. We’ve been seeing the importance of the gospel in ministry, and we studied the parable of the Good Samaritan in the last lesson. We saw how the Good Samaritan restored the injured man to health by pouring on oil and wine and by purchasing rest for him at the inn. We also saw how the parable illustrated Jesus’ own ministry and the gospel message.
In this lesson, we want to continue this subject of gospel restoration by looking at the following passage of Scripture. Please read and then answer the questions below:
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:1-3 (NIV)
Question 1. In Galatians 6:1-3 what instructions are we given? What are some ways that you might implement these instructions in your life today?
If we were to summarize this passage, we might use the words “restoration in humility.” Restoring the fallen in gentleness and humility is part of being spiritual fathers and mothers.
In Galatians 6: 1-3, Paul addresses the church and discusses the subject of restoring someone who has fallen. The idea here is that someone has been surprised by temptation, has been overtaken by it, has succumbed to it, and is now caught in sin. This scenario is much like a sheep who wanders from the flock and ends up caught in a briar patch or a thorn bush (also see 1 Timothy 3:7). We need to rescue and restore the one caught in the sin trap.
The one to do the restoring is the one who is “spiritual.” This does not mean that he only reads the Bible, prays all day long and would never miss a church service. The word simply means “mature” and is in contrast to the word “carnal.” It is not referring only to church leaders (as if they were the only ones who were spiritual) but rather to all Christians who themselves are not ensnared and who are growing in their faith and learning to apply the gospel to their lives as well as the lives of others.
These spiritual ones are to “restore” him. This word “restore” means to “reset a broken bone” which implies that we are restoring something to usefulness again. A broken leg is disabling, but once reset and restored it becomes useful. In gospel ministry the broken can be restored and made useful again.
This restoration must be done “gently”, or tenderly. This means that we are to help those trapped in sin with a spirit of meekness and gentleness, not in heated anger or pride. Many a rebuke has fallen on deaf ears because it was given in anger or pride, as if the one giving it was not subject to temptation himself. When a loving rebuke comes in tenderness and calmness, and from sincere affection and genuine concern, it is more likely to be heard.
The reason for our dealing gently and in tenderness with people trapped in sin is because we are made of the same stuff, susceptible to the same temptations as anyone else. We are to “watch ourselves, or we also may be tempted” (verse 1). This is like another warning Paul gives: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).
Being humble and understanding that we are also susceptible to temptation is an essential in ministering the gospel to others especially those who are trapped in sin. It keeps us from lording it over others, treating people as inferior to ourselves. It restrains us when thoughts of pride well up; it prevents us from talking down to people. We must remember to always treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated if the roles were reversed.
Question 2. What does verse 2 tell us to do, and what are the results?
We are to carry each other’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the Law of Christ. Believers are not under the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant Law, we are under the Law of Christ. Notice what people under the Law of Moses do:
“Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Luke 11:46 (NIV)
Here we see the difference between the Mosaic Law and Jesus’ law. The Old Covenant Law, given by God to the nation of Israel and embellished by the Pharisee “experts”, weighed people down with burdens too heavy to carry—commandments, regulations, stipulations, requirements. Jesus’ “law” is the opposite. By way of the gospel, Jesus carries our burdens for us, and thereby frees and enables us to carry other people’s burdens for them.
The point is this: when ministering to people trapped in sin we are not to lay the burdens of the Law on them, but instead to help remove their burdens by giving them the good news and applying it to their situation. When the Good Samaritan came to the injured man on the side of the road, he did not lecture him and give him laws and rules. He simply carried him to the inn and purchased his healing and rest. Likewise, we are to carry each other’s burdens, as we have already had our burden removed from us at Calvary’s cross.
Question 3. What is the instruction in verse 3, and how can we apply it to our ministry?
If we want to be fruitful in ministry, we must be humble. We are not the experts, and struggling people the poor, uneducated sinners. No, we are just humble servants who have had our burdens lifted and who now want to help others.
An excellent example of this is Frank at Calvary Community Church in Brentwood, CA. He has been in ministry for over 60 years. He is a seminary professor as well as a pastor; and while he could justifiably use a lot of titles, he simply goes by his first name. He “smells like a sheep”, meaning he is “one of us” and is simply pointing us to Jesus over and over.
If you would like to study this subject in more depth, John Piper wrote an excellent book called Brothers, We are Not Professionals; we recommend it to you.
A loving shepherd smells like a sheep, because he walks alongside and among them. A loving restorer of broken people walks right with those to whom he is ministering. It’s not that he does not give instructions and rebuke, it is just that they come from humility and gentleness, with love covering it all.
In summary, when someone is overtaken by temptation and ends up caught in a sin trap, we who are growing in our faith are to restore them. They have broken fellowship with God because of their sin, and we are to reset their “broken bone”, meaning restore them to usefulness in the body of Christ.
Question 4. Have you thought about how Jesus, through His death and resurrection, fulfilled Galatians 6:1-3? If so, explain your thinking on this:
In ministering to people according to Galatians 6:1-3, we are simply doing as Jesus did. Jesus looked down from heaven and saw that the mass of humanity was broken in sin. We were all overtaken in unbelief and rebellion, we all succumbed to Satan’s temptations to be our own little god and live life on our own terms. We were broken and useless.
So Jesus, the ultimately spiritual One left His home in Heaven to come to this earth. He came to restore us. As the Great Physician, He “reset our bones” which had been shattered by sin (Isaiah 38:13). As the Great Burden-Bearer, He removed the burden of our sins from us and carried them Himself all the way up the hill called Golgotha, where He died to pay for them. And what great humility He displayed, where He became nothing and nobody for us, being treated as a common criminal, where He hung on a cursed tree and died under the wrath of God. Then, “after two days, He revived us; on the third day He restored us, that we may live in His presence” (Hosea 6:2). He reset all our broken bones, He restored us to God, and He made us useful.
Question 5. What does the contemplation of the gospel do for your heart just now?
This, dear friend, is how we are to minister to others—in light of what Christ has done for us. Like the Good Samaritan, we look for the beaten up and broken along life’s way. We go to them in gentleness. We carry their burdens and take them to the cross—the place of rest. We do not heap them down with the burden of the Law. We do not deal with them like we are professionals. Whether they hear us or not, we just lovingly rebuke and tenderly encourage, all by pointing them to Jesus and the glorious gospel.
There is a wonderful illustration of this type of restoration, and it comes from the book of Philemon. This short book is a letter written from Paul (in prison) to Philemon on behalf of a young man by the name of Onesimus. Onesimus was a servant in the house of Philemon who apparently stole from his master and ran away. At some point, Onesimus was caught and placed in the same prison as the Apostle Paul who then gave Onesimus the gospel and led him to Jesus.
Paul knew that he must restore Onesimus to Philemon, so he wrote this letter to Philemon to encourage him to receive Onesimus back. Notice Paul’s words:
“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him–who is my very heart–back to you.” Philemon 1:10-12 (NIV)
Question 6. How does the Apostle Paul evidence much gentleness and tenderness in his attempt to restore Onesimus back to Philemon?
“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good– 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” Philemon 1:15-17 (NIV)
Question 7. What can you learn from Philemon 1:15-17 about how to restore someone? Please share your thoughts:
“If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back–not to mention that you owe me your very self.” Philemon 1:18-19 (NIV)
Question 8. One of the instructions given about restoration in Galatians 6:1-3 is that we are to carry each other’s burdens. How is Paul doing that very thing in Philemon 1:18-19?
Paul is willing to pay whatever Onesimus owes, thereby taking the burden of the debt off of Onesimus and assuming it himself. In doing this, Paul is carrying Onesimus’ burden.
What an excellent illustration of restoring someone according to Galatians 6:1-3. Paul was spiritual, meaning he was growing in faith and learning to apply the gospel to all situations in his life and the life of others. He saw someone caught in a sin trap: Onesimus had stolen from his master and run away. So Paul sought to restore him, and did so by sharing the gospel with Onesimus. When Onesimus believed the gospel he became Paul’s true son in the faith.
Paul loved Onesimus so much he called him “my very heart.” Because of Paul’s love for Onesimus, he accepted Onesimus’ debt as if it were his very own, thereby relieving Onesimus of a great burden. In humility, Paul wrote to Philemon encouraging him to receive Onesimus back, and stated that Onesimus was formerly useless but now was useful. His broken bone had been reset, he was useful again.
Question 9. By now you are fully aware that every passage of Scripture shows us the gospel of Jesus Christ. Please show how the Apostle Paul is revealing the gospel in the Book of Philemon.
We, like Onesimus, had wronged our Master, God. We had sinned against Him and tried to run from Him. In our sinning and running, by the providence of God, we heard the good news about Jesus. We saw that Jesus assumed our debt of sin, as if it were His very own. He said, “Charge it to my account, I will pay the debt.” He took our burden of sin off of us, made it His very own, then died to pay off the debt and free us from the requirements of the Law.
Then Jesus returned us to the Father, having interceded for us on the cross. It is as if He writes His Father and says, “I am sending him (or her) who is my very heart back to You.” And then adds, “He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.” Finally, as if that weren’t enough, He says, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”
Dear friend, do you see that you have become the very heart of Jesus Christ? That you are very dear to Him, and to His Father? And finally, do you see that God welcomes you into His presence as if you were Jesus Christ, Himself?
These are very dear and precious truths to us who believe. They capture our hearts and affect the way we live. Through the gospel we have been restored, our brokenness has been reset and we are made useful to God. Now we are to look for others of our brothers and sisters who are broken, and we are to restore them. In our restoring of them we are to be gentle and humble, we are to bear their burdens, and we are to not think of ourselves higher than we should.
In ministering to and restoring others, not only are we privileged to see people come to Jesus and believe the good news we share with them, but we also become more intimate with Jesus, Himself, as we are on the same mission He is: to find the broken and restore them through the gospel.
Question 10. Please summarize the teaching of this lesson. Did it encourage your own heart? How will you use these principles in ministering to others? Finally, do you have any questions?