“My Little Children,” Persevere in Grace! -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 14:2 (Winter 2005)
Article: “My Little Children,” Persevere in Grace!
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

“My Little Children,” Persevere in Grace!

An Exposition of Galatians 4:8–201

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 printed notes of Dr. Johnson’s sermons and theological lectures may be downloaded from the web site of Believers Chapel «www.believers-chapel.org/index.html».


The epistle to the Galatians was a favorite of Martin Luther. He called it, “my own Epistle, to which I have plighted my troth. It is my Katie von Bora.”2 Galatians is Paul’s great epistle of “justification by faith.” By it we learn, just as Luther learned, that our God is not an angry God waiting to hurl thunderbolts of judgment from heaven upon all the children of men. Through the atoning work of Jesus Christ he offers a righteous standing before himself to those who come to him by that same Lord Jesus Christ.

When a person comes to the realization of the truth that Paul preached, namely, “that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus” (cf. Gal. 2:16), then there opens to him “the gate of paradise,”3 as it did to Luther. Standing in the righteousness of God, purchased for him by the penal sacrifice of Christ, the believer may rejoice in the forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God. The forgiveness and acceptance are, then, not the products of man’s effort, but of God’s grace, of God’s effort.

This is the substance of the message that the apostle Paul has been preaching to the Galatians in his letter to them. And he has been proclaiming it with great energy and urgency. The opening two chapters, which might be labeled “Personal,” constitute a defense of his gift of apostleship, of his right to speak to them authoritatively. The second division of the epistle, chapters three and four, can be labeled “Doctrinal,” for they are a presentation of the doctrine of justification by faith. The final two chapters we shall label “Ethical,” for they carry the reader on to the necessary issues of the divine life, its ethical outworki...

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