Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Adoption: Co-Heirs!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an unlimited amount of money? Perhaps, you could be the child of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet? Both of these multi-billionaires have three children, so both Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffet know what it is like to be a father. And the six children know what it means to live in a wealthy family. As children, they are the heirs to their father’s wealth. But these two, along with 166 other billionaires, have pledged to give away more than 50% of their wealth to a foundation designed to provide much needed help around the world. The help comes in the form of education, refugee aid, medical research, environmental stability, etc. For Gates, this amount reflects a personal commitment of more than $40 billion. For Buffet, more than $35 billion. I don’t need to tell you that represents a lot of money. And they may be among the top five richest people in the world, but again over 160 other billionaires from around the world have made a similar pledge.

But here’s the thing – my Dad has more resources than all of those billionaires put together. And He is willing to share it with me, with you, with anyone who will simply love His Son. The truth is that Jesus came as the Son to make it possible for us to become sons and daughters of God. If you understand what that means, you realize that Jesus came that we might share in the glorious riches of the Father. These riches are not measured in gold or silver, but in the blessing of knowing God as Father, because of receiving God the Son, and thus having the God the Spirit dwelling within us.

That statement is magnificent – not necessarily for the words, but for the meaning behind them and because it is true. Today’s passage is from Galatians 4 where we will learn of the most magnificent gift we can be given – a gift that we have because of Jesus.

The Wait (Galatians 4.1-3)

In Galatians 3, Paul contrasts living by the Law or by faith. Now, in the fourth chapter, he argues that those who claim that living by the law is necessary may be positioning themselves as the ones with understanding and maturity. But in chapter 4, Paul shows his readers that such a thought process is really like that of a child. In Paul’s day, a child had no legal standing. And, if a child was due an inheritance, it would only be given at a certain time. Until then, what the father had was available to all, with a promise it would one day belong to the child.

Therefore, the child must wait to receive all that is promised. It will come, but only when the guardians and managers (or in the case of God, the Father), deem(s) the child ready. Paul then calls any other teachings elementary and worldly.

Recall the parable of the prodigal son which we looked at in depth a few weeks ago. In that story, the son deems himself ready for his portion, but upon receiving it, immediately squanders all he was given. Now, imagine all that God has for His children. If we were to get it all at once, or even a part of it, we would squander it. So, God has us wait. And we will wait until He deems us ready to receive all that He has for us. And while I cannot know for certain all that He has for us, I can certainly believe that what lies ahead will be worth any wait we must endure.

The Test (Galatians 4.4-5)

As we move to the next couple of verses, we must establish that the wait is not for everyone because not everyone is a child of God. In the previous verses, Paul initially compares a child and a slave neither of which have any rights. However, the child will eventually grow and receives rights and privileges, the slave will not. Likewise, those who live according to the Law will remain slaves and never become a child of God, but those who receive God’s gift will eventually receive all the privileges of that statement.

So, what must we do to become a child of God? Effectively, nothing. You cannot do anything to become God’s child except receive what He has offered you. That may be hard for you to believe. Perhaps you believe you deserve to be God’s child or perhaps you believe you could never deserve to be God’s child. Either way, consider the following questions.
  • What did you do to be the child of your biological parents?
  • Did you choose what day you would be born? Did you choose where you would be born? 

Of course, the answer to these questions is no. So, why should it be difficult to understand you did nothing to be adopted as a child of God? Let’s look at these verses and see what we find.

v4 – When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son – God did this.
v4 – Born of a virgin – Mary did not even do anything – God made that happen as well.
v4 – Born under the law – Jesus came to set us free from the law, so He had to live by it first.
v5 – To redeem those who were under the law – All mankind was under the law, so Jesus died to redeem all mankind. What did we do? Nothing. What did Jesus do? Everything.
v5 – So that we might receive adoption – Ok, so we have to receive something. But we can only receive what is offered. We didn’t go to God and say, “adopt me.” He came to us, and said, “You are adopted...but only if you wish to be.”

We have the right to become children of God if we will simply receive what He has done (see John 1.12). And when we do, we become the brothers and sisters of Jesus – not by anything we do or don’t do, but because of what He did for us. And because we are now children of God, we become heirs as well. That is, we are co-heirs with Christ.

The Benefit (Galatians 4.6-7)

Last week, I mentioned that God’s offer seems quite unfair in my mind. You can probably relate. Think of your siblings, or if you have none, think of a friend or a coworker who received a reward that really was because of something you did. Now, think about Jesus. Jesus died and we receive the blessings of being God’s children. These are not my words, these are Paul’s (and as we saw last week in John 20, they are Jesus words as well)! No, Jesus is not really losing anything, but He did all of the work and we receive the benefit. Let’s look at the next two verses.

Notice Paul’s statement here: Because you are sons....

This is a foregone conclusion. It is true because it has happened. Because is a word that correlates two ideas – one thing is true due to something else being true (which could involve multiple possibilities). For instance, you eat because you are hungry...or because you are stressed...or because others around you are eating...or because food is available, etc. The reality is that “just because” is not a valid reason. However, if anyone had the right to use those words, it would be God, but not even God uses those words. For instance, in Job, God could have responded to all of the questions with “just because,” but instead gave Job several examples of who He is as God and let Job make the determination for himself. Here, in Galatians 4, Paul makes God’s correlation clear. First, because you have received my Son, I have adopted you (v. 5). Second, because you are my children, you are an heir with all the benefits of being my child (v. 7).

Paul turned the word order around, but his point is no less clear. Because God considers you His children, He has done something for you – He sent the Spirit to live within you. We saw that Jesus promised this very thought last week when reviewing John 14. Here Paul says it is done. And the Spirit is that of the Son which causes us to cry out to our Father. Again, the words here represent a Jew and a Gentile crying out to the same Father in their own native tongue. That is, the family is definitely blended (see last week’s message), but through God’s Spirit we can be united as one.

Think of the benefits in these few verses. I find seven explicit benefits in these seven verses.
  1. We no longer have to consider ourselves as slaves.
  2. We are no longer bound by the elementary teachings of the world.
  3. We are no longer bound to live a perfect life under the Old Testatment law.
  4. We have an option to receive a great gift – the gift of Jesus.
  5. We can receive the Holy Spirit.
  6. We can call God our Father.
  7. We have an inheritance waiting.


I realize this is not a traditional Christmas message. But those who know me well, know that I am not always traditional. However, during a season in which gift-giving is prominent and families are often together, having a deeper appreciation of our place in God’s family because of the gift He has given to us could not be a more appropriate topic.

And, having completed this series, I can firmly say that I believe the greatest gift God has given is not our salvation; rather, it is our adoption. Salvation is important, but not as significant as adoption. And as inconceivable as it may be that God might adopt us, it is truly mind-boggling that we might have any inheritance as a co-heir with Christ. Let me explain by expanding the analogy I used the first week of this series.

Each person is saved when God declares us not guilty of sin because of the blood of Jesus. Please understand, we are guilty, but God declares us not guilty because of Jesus’ work on the cross. So, like a human judge who declares the defendant not guilty leaving the person free to leave the courtroom free to live life, those God declares not guilty are free to live their lives for Him.

But God is not like a human judge because He not only announces the verdict, He then invites the person to live with Him. And, as if that is not enough, God, as Father, then makes His entire estate available to this new child – remember, this is the person who was just declared “Not Guilty” – sharing what rightfully belongs to Jesus. And what does Jesus do? I am certain He just smiles and says, “Your welcome.”

So, with that said, our JOURNEY letter for today is:


Everything we have talked about today, and really over the last seven weeks is due to Jesus. He came as a baby to die as a man so that we might live with Him forever. Our salvation is based upon the work of Son, our adoption is based upon the love of the Father, and our lives are to be filled with the Spirit. What a Christmas present we have been given by the great triune God! Merry Christmas, indeed!

NEXT STEP(S): LIVE. I encourage you to continue to focus on memorizing 1 John 3.1. But this week, take time to LIVE in light of the truth that you are a child of God.

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