Saturday, December 21, 2013

131222 At the Right Time the Son Was Born!

Galatians 4:1-7 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Timing is much more important than we usually think. We don’t always know what time things should be done but God always does. He had the sovereign right to end the human race when Adam sinned but He didn’t do that because He already had a plan. You see, God was not taken by surprise — He never is! In this letter to the Galatians Paul has been countering the legalists who wanted to bring the believers there under bondage. Paul wants them to see that God wants to free us from slavery rather than bring us into a new kind of slavery. So, in this passage he tells us that God’s plan included sending His Son to redeem us so we could be adopted into the family of God.
We do not know what time of year Jesus was born. It may have been in December but likely was not. You see Angels came to sing to the shepherds in the fields that night. Unless it was an unusually warm December (and it may have been) the shepherds would not have been in the fields after dark. The first century church does not appear to have celebrated Christmas at all. Or, maybe it would be more correct to say that they, like the improved version of Scrooge, kept Christmas every day.
We do know the approximate year of his birth but really that’s all. What Paul tells us here is that it was…
In the fullness of time. Before God created the earth he put into place a plan to send His Son into the world to redeem that which had been lost in the Garden of Eden. Now we see that there were reasons for the time God chose. First of all there was…
A large empire to spread through. At the time of Jesus’ birth the Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the west all the way across Europe and North Africa into what is modern-day Syria and Jordan. This allowed the missionaries to travel without hindrance across the Empire on good Roman roads (some of which are still in use).
There were other large empires in the world but none that would serve as a sending base for missionaries. The outward reaching attitude of the Romans and their close allies provided a base from which the world could be evangelized. This large empire provided…
A common legal system to live under. It was important that the missionaries should be legally protected. Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship to prevent being turned over to the Temple police. He also used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar. This allowed him to travel to Rome with a military escort paid for by the government.
Wherever the missionaries went, inside the Roman Empire, they had a set of laws that they could understand and use to their advantage. There’s nothing wrong with using the world’s legal system to enhance spreading the gospel. Modern-day missionaries have to learn the legal system of the countries where they go in order to be free to share the good news about Jesus.
In the sharing of the gospel it was very important to have…
A common language to communicate with. Since Rome was in power it would be thought that the common language of the Empire would be Latin. Latin was the language of the legal system but koine Greek was the language of the common people throughout the Empire. Over three hundred years before Christ's birth Alexander came out of Greece with his armies and conquered Persia, Egypt and spread his empire deep into India. As result of his conquests the Greek language became the common language. It held sway across the business world of the Roman Empire. That provided a basis for communicating by letter. It was very important that Paul, and the other missionaries, be able to write letters and send them from place to place in the Empire. Those letters, along with the four Gospels, became our New Testament. When these were added to the Jewish Old Testament our Bible came into being.
Yes, it was the right time, or the fullness of time, when…
God sent His Son. God did not entrust an angel to share the message because it wasn’t just a message that needed to be shared. What had to happen was for the Son of God to take on flesh and blood so that through death he could deliver all those who through fear of death were held in bondage. God sent his son under certain conditions. One of those conditions was that he should be…
Born of a woman. It was very important that Jesus be born human. However, it was even more important that He not have a human father and therefore not inherit the sin nature that we all have. The woman, Mary, who became his mother was a virgin. Listen while I read these two passages of Scripture. Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. And, Luke 1:26-38   In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
This shows us that salvation must come from God not from man. And, the virgin birth allows for the uniting of the fullness of God with the fullness of man. So that Jesus could be God and at the same time the Son of Man. Since he was born without a human father Jesus had no inherited human sin. The line of descent from Adam was partially disrupted by the process God used in bringing Jesus in the world.
Jesus was born of a woman and He was…
Born under the law. At the time of his birth, Jesus and his parents were subject to the Law of Moses. This required certain steps for them to take. On the eighth day Jesus would be circumcised and there would be a period of purification. Listen while I read Luke 2:22-24.  And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”
The picture that Luke presents for us shows us that Joseph was not a wealthy man. The law first called for a Lamb to be sacrificed along with a pigeon. However, if the family could not afford a Lamb then two turtledoves or two pigeons could be offered. All of this was completed for Jesus so that he would be able…
To redeem his people. Paul has already told us something about this in Galatians 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Jesus came into the world to be born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. He did this so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles. Abraham’s blessings came long before the law and depended on faith not good works. So that those who come to faith in Christ become descendants of Abraham breaking the connection to Adam. This was God’s plan from the beginning…
In order that we may be adopted into the family.
No one comes into the kingdom of God as a second-class citizen or anything less than a family member. While we should consider ourselves to be servants of God we must remember at the same time that he has made us his children and this is…
An act of God. Listen while I remind you of the words in John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… Children, not slaves or subjects but members of the family of God.
Christmas should remind us of this act of God. We cannot be saved by our own actions. We require instead that God intervene on our behalf giving us salvation. This is an act of God…
By the work of the Spirit. Listen while I read the words of Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
I remind you that Paul told the Corinthians that it is by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. That body is the body of Christ, the Church of the living God. Jesus came into the world the Son of God and the Son of Man. He completely shared in both natures. While he was on earth he fulfilled the law completing all of it for us. He became for us righteousness, wisdom, sanctification and redemption. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could be the righteousness of God in Him. All of this is true because of Christmas. The greatest gift of all was the sinless Son of God who could take our sins into his own body, nail them to the cross, bury them in the grave and leave them there so that we could be included in the family. Christmas was the opening shot in a battle to defeat the enemy finally fought out on the cross and in the grave. He does not save us to become angels in heaven someday. Today we are a little lower than the angels. After death we will be higher than the angels. We will never be angels. He saved us for a greater purpose. He did these things…
Making us one of the family. Listen to Romans 9:7-8 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

We are each a part of the family of God. The most common references in the New Testament to believers is to call them brothers and sisters. This shows the family relationship and in past generations continued to be used by the church. In modern times we less often refer to one another as brother or sister. It would be good to restore that use because it reminds us of the relationship that we have to each other, and to God.
While we are on earth we are servants of God. Most Christians recognize that truth but fail to see that we have become a part of God’s family. We are children of God and if we are his children then we are heirs — joint heirs with Jesus! This does not give us the right to look down on any other person. We are not better than others just different from others. No matter the condition of another person we should recognize that except for the grace of God that could be us. There is no sin we could not be guilty of under the right circumstances. Never forget that!
About a hundred and forty years ago Harriet Eugenia Buell wrote a beautiful song that describes our situation. It goes like this:
My Father is rich in houses and lands, He holds the wealth of the world in his hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, his coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I’m a child of the King, a child of the King: With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King.
My Father’s own Son, the Savior of men, once wondered on earth as the poorest of them; but now he is reigning forever on high, and will give me a home in heaven by and by.
I’m a child of the King, a child of the King: With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King.
I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice, and an alien by birth; but I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down, an heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.
I’m a child of the King, a child of the King: With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the King.
Looking at all human history in advance allowed God to choose the perfect time for His Son to come into the world. The Roman Empire provided a large field of ministry without borders. The Roman legal system gave the missionaries a consistent set of rules to go by. And, the Greek language had become the language of business and day-to-day activities in the Empire. All of these things worked together to allow a rapid spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the right time. Since then every day is the right time for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Receive the gift of salvation this Christmas if you have not done so before. If you have already received Christ share the gift of salvation this Christmas with someone you know who needs Him.
All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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