Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians and said, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son.” What is specifically meant by this? There are at least three things that need to be taken into consideration concerning the fullness of time. First, there was a large empire with open borders that allowed the gospel to spread. Second, there was a single legal system. This allowed the missionaries to function without having to constantly check out the local rules. And third, there was a common language. From the British Isles to the far side of India and from the North Sea to central Africa the gospel could spread without hindrance.
All of human history is a record of a seeking God. From the Garden of Eden to the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the constant theme is the God who seeks those who are his. When Adam and Eve walked in the Garden it was God who said, “Adam where are you?” When the people of Israel rebelled in the wilderness God sought them out and gave Moses a plan to redeem them. Isaiah tells us that we all are like sheep that have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). And then he promises that the Messiah would come into the world and allow our iniquity to be laid on himself! Jesus stated emphatically that, “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
God did not look down on the world and wonder what to do he had a plan from the beginning of the ages. He did not send Jesus to find out what our problem was. Instead…
The Son came into the world with a purpose. Let’s look at Ezekiel 34:11-12 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
One of the reasons God’s people are called sheep is that sheep are so defenseless and prone to wander. God does not sit on a hill and wait for his sheep to come to him. Instead, God’s call echoes down through the ages, “Adam where are you?” God sent his Son into the world to continue to call out those who would be his sheep.
When humans want to learn something they experiment. We try one thing and then another until we find what we are seeking. This happens because we do not know the future and only remember the past imperfectly.
Before the beginning of the ages the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had a plan already thought through to provide salvation for those who would believe. In the first generation of mankind, God made a promise. In fact…
Jesus fulfilled prophecy going all the way back. Let’s look at Genesis 3:15. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Speaking to Satan, God promised that the offspring of the woman would crush Satan under his heel.
Not just a human but one who was the offspring of a woman. Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb without the assistance of a man. In order that the prophecies would be fulfilled. God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. For our sakes…
Jesus met the demands of the law. When John was baptizing in the Judean wilderness Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized. John would not have it! We pick up the story in Matthew 3:15. But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. Jesus needed to be obedient because that was part of his purpose. It could be said that Jesus told John that it was the right thing to do. Jesus did not need to be baptized for the usual reason of repentance but instead — to obey the Father. Paul tells us in Romans 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
Jesus was our representative and obeyed for us where Adam had failed and disobeyed. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and did not fall into sin. Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden and failed. When they did they brought death to us all! Ever since that time…
All mankind are born in bondage to sin. Let’s turn to Ephesians 2:1. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins.
We do not begin our lives innocent! The Bible teaches that we inherit sin from Adam. First of all, we are counted guilty because of Adam’s sin. Not sins that we commit day by day but sin as a principle resident within every descendant of Adam. Our spiritual DNA is judged. We have inherited a spiritual disease passed down from parents to children. In that inherited disease is a factory called SIN. That factory has a product, it produces sins, all of our lives. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and in that condition, we enter the world. However, God always had a plan to overcome this condition of bondage to sin and death!
Breaking bondage requires redemption. Let’s look at Colossians 1:13-14. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Because we are sinners we are in bondage to sin and to Satan! The ransom was paid by the death of Christ. When Christ came he came into the world that was in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). He died our death in order to deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage (Hebrews 2:15). Jesus came in order for the bondage to be broken. We are instructed to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Sin will have no dominion over us because we are now under the grace of God (Romans 6:14).
We now enter into a whole new relationship that is part of God’s gift. A gift that we celebrate especially during the Christmas season. We can now see clearly that we have been transferred from the realm of death and darkness into the kingdom of light and love (Colossians 1:13). We should rejoice in all of our Christmas celebrations because the birth of that baby in Bethlehem changed who we are, and whose we are. We are now able to enter into a more intimate relationship with God. We are no longer in bondage and as a result…
Being set free allows us to call the Father, “Abba”. Let’s look at Romans 8:14-15. 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!”
This phrase, “Abba Father”, is an intimate term. It speaks of our new relationship to God as a result of the work of Christ on the cross and the power of God in the resurrection. This term is used three times in the New Testament and not at all in the Old Testament. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he used the term, “Abba Father” (Mark 14:36). It could very well be that Mark was the only person who actually heard Jesus pray the prayer in Gethsemane. We do know that Mark was there — it is strongly inferred from his description of a young man who ran away at the arrest of Jesus (Mark 14:51).
This is certainly a term that would never be used by servant, or slave when referring to his master. Here, in the letter to the Romans and also the letter to the Galatians, Paul points out that we have been adopted into the family of God. And as such we have a family relationship with God. This family relationship is the basis for many other blessings in the Christian life. God is our Creator and our judge. He is our Lord and Master. He has given the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide. Our Father came into the world through the body of Mary. When he chose to adopt us into his family he demonstrated his love for us (Romans 5:8). In adopting us he demonstrates that he understands us and deeply cares for us (Psalm 103:13-14).
We are born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and as such in bondage to sin. When the angel spoke to the shepherds that long-ago night outside Bethlehem he assured them that they did not have to be afraid! He brought them the good news that should fill all of us with great joy. A child had been born that was to be a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11). As a result of that child’s birth, his life and his death we are…
No longer bound by sin we become heirs. Let’s look at Romans 8:16-17. 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.
Our adoption into the family of God elevates us from the role of servant to the role of a child. As such — children of God — we have been made heirs of God. We were redeemed by God so that we could be adopted into his family. And, by the way, we are not a footnote, or a codicil, in God’s will — the instrument of inheritance! The primary heir — the before of God himself — includes us at the highest level of inheritance. We are not just heirs we are joint heirs with Jesus!
This wonderful news does not exempt us from difficulties. While we are in the world we will from time to time suffer. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Our older brother has defeated our enemies on our behalf. They may be able to harass us along the way but they cannot defeat us. Nothing can separate us from Christ our Lord! “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Absolutely nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”! (Romans 8:39b).
The babe in a manger — the gentle Jesus — became the man on a cross. He took our sins and to his own body in order to give us the greatest gift of Christmas — eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!
The greatest blessing of Christmas is not the beauty of the decorations, the carols that we sing, or the presents we receive. The greatest blessing of Christmas is the fact that we have been set free! Jesus himself said that he came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). You and I, along with the rest of humankind, represent “that which is lost”. I hope that you have settled the question of whether or not you are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and set free to serve him. If you have not, this is the right time! Today is the day of salvation when you can receive the greatest gift!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.