The Greatest Commission An Exposition of Galatians 4:1–7 -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 14:1 (Summer 2005)
Article: The Greatest Commission An Exposition of Galatians 4:1–7
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

The Greatest Commission
An Exposition of Galatians 4:1–71

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Lewis Johnson regularly ministered the Word at Believers Chapel in Dallas for more than thirty years. During his academic career he held professorships in New Testament and Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. At the time of his death in January 2004 he was Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Dallas Seminary. Both MP3 files and written notes of Dr. Johnson’s sermons and theological lectures may be downloaded from the web site of Believers Chapel «».


“The atonement as a completed work of Christ,” John Murray has sensibly said, “must always be viewed in the light of the inter-Trinitarian economy of salvation.”2 Or, in other words, if we are to understand the atonement, the very heart of Christianity, then we must understand the distinctive functions of the three persons of the Godhead. We are aware of the fact that only of Christ can the atoning obedient death be predicated. He alone bore the penalty of the broken Law and its curse for us. He alone is the propitiating sacrifice.

It was from the love of the Father, however, that the divine plan arose. The people of God are the products of the Father’s electing love in Christ before the foundation of the world (cf. Eph. 1:3). Thus, the whole plan of redemption cannot be divorced from the invincible love of the First Person. His love is the source of the atonement (cf. Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9–10). We must never think of the Father as the just God and of the Son as the merciful God—as if the Father is unmerciful and the Son, unjust.

Nor must we exclude from the atoning work the activity of the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. While the stress of the Bible rests upon the activity of the Son in the work of atonement, the Holy Spirit was the source of his power through constant enduement for the work (cf. John 3:34).

It is a striking fact that the passage in Galatians to which we now come is loaded with references to the atonement and to other important doctrines connected with it. We have references to the incarnation, the true humanity of our Lord, his full deity, the doctrine of redemption, adoption, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the believer’s sonship. The greatest truth is perhaps that of ...

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