Christmas Is For Transforming Family (Galatians 4:4-7)

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My son, just over four months, is really starting to find his voice. It’s great, he’s talking all the time, even at 1 and 2am. Seriously, did you know that there is research on babies in the womb and infants saying they learn how to pick up the nuances of their parents’ accents and match the sounds presented to them.[1] Babies have their own “cry melody” that mimic their mother and father. Most parents don’t need research to inform of this reality and know that their early days of parenting. In fact, many parents can identify their child’s voice, and especially screams, even in the midst of a large and noisy crowd, because their ears are tuned to their voice.

The miracle of Christmas reminds us that God’s ears are tuned to the cries of our hearts. In Christ, God has adopted us as His children that we have the privilege and position to call God “Abba! Father!” Our hearts cry identifies to whom we belong and who cares for our burdens.

Today’s message shows us the meaning of Christmas for 3 reason why Jesus came into the world and we don’t have to doubt God’s familial care for us – Christmas is for transforming family (Galatians 4:4-7). Christmas Messages 2017 - 1

EXAMINE

Galatians 4:1-7 (ESV)
1  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,
2  but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.
3  In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.
4  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 Son came so that sinners can become family (Galatians 4:1-5)

Paul uses an analogy of childhood to relate to the Christian faith. A servant’s position and privileges were minimal. Likewise, a child’s roles and responsibilities were subservient to the father of the home. However, in Judaism, after the twelfth birthday of child, the son transitioned from into adulthood. In Greek and Roman culture, children entered a coming of age ceremony where boys would take their toys and girls take their dolls, and offer them in sacrifice to the temple gods, symbolically putting childhood behind them. This custom was referred to by Paul, “When I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1Cor 13:11).[2] So, a child was a presumptive heir that potentially could be displaced at the father’s discretion. However, upon the “date set by his father”, the child became an adult and the heir apparent of not just potential but actuality.

 

And, us too, are like children or slaves who are without a future family inheritance. We may have earthly pleasures or promises, but those are only temporary. We remain stuck in childhood until Christ enters our life to give us assurance. Through faith in Christ, God adopts us into His family

–        When the fullness of time had come

o   As a child I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. I think the 1980’s were the golden age of cartoon television. There were super-heroes like:

  • Batman who fought crime with his savvy detective skills
  • Superman who could fly and had amazing abilities
  • Spiderman could climb walls and swing across structures
  • The Incredible Hulk had superhuman power
  • Wolverine could rapidly heal from injury
  • Iceman created ice to freeze his pathways or his enemies
  • The Flash had super fast speed

One of the features of these shows was that an emergency or crisis would arise that required super-human solution. And at just the right moment in time – a super-hero would show up.

Likewise, Jesus entered our world at just the right moment

  • Social hope with Pax Romana and Koine language.
  • National despair and darkness, but bringing light.
  • Religious idolatry, but His body would be the new temple.

And today, Christmas should be celebrated because it’s a breaking through the world’s noise and drama, to give us relationships

–        God sent forth his Son

If it were not for Jesus, our relationship with God would be distant. But God acted and entered. He made the first move and initiated relationship with us through Christ. Jesus existed eternally but was sent into this world to accomplish a mission: displaying the light and life of God, declaring God’s grace and truth, and deploying servants into the world to spread God’s love.

–        The incarnation shows that God’s love is more than just words.

–        God sent Jesus because long distant relationships often lack depth and duration.

John 1:14

à       The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. (HCSB)

à       The Word became human and made his home among us. (NLT)

à       The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. (MSG)

 

–        born of woman

Jesus was uniquely born of the Holy Spirit with Mary. Jesus did not have a sin nature.

o   Christianity’s promotion of women contrasts most every other religion and ancient culture.

  • Women prominent in Christ’s genealogy
  • Mary to mother Christ
  • Women as disciples of Jesus
  • Women discover empty tomb
  • Women in early church as deacons and helpers

–        born under the law

Jesus confined Deity with humanity, being born under law. He had to enter our prison to free us as slaves.

–        to redeem those who are under the law

Jesus redeemed (ἐξαγοράσῃ / exagorazō), which literally means to purchase. The phrase is most often used in the marketplace for purchase, or sometimes used when a person ransomed a captive servant to release and free one from slavery. Jesus gave His life as a ransom for all those who are slaves under the law (Mk 10:45; Gal 3:13; Heb 9:15). The law is a curse and sentence of death because we fall short.

o   Dermatologically we are never clean… always some germs.

o   Mentally we are never pure… always some lustful or wrongful thought.

o   Emotionally we are never whole… always something askew.

o   Physically we are never sinless… always some mistake or fault. – – – If we all were to swim from MD to UK, some may make it farther but wed all fall short.

But instead of sinking in sin, we have been redeemed to have life.

–        so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Not only have we been rescued from death unto eternal life, but we have been placed into a new family – the family of God. In the Roman world adoption was an honored custom that gave special dignity and family membership to those not having the benefits of a natural family.

– – – > When a President pardons a criminal or person charged with wrongdoing, they don’t invite them into their home to live. Yet, God invites sinners to become His children.

è #Christmas is the reminder that like Jesus, we are placed into a family.

We have a family…

o   à Family is always family. Don’t give up on loved ones.

o   à Family steps in to protect. What action do you need to take to show love and protection to someone? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bSE-rh7jFg 11 seconds

 

o   à Church Family value… if you spectate or sit out membership, then you leave yourself open prey to the enemy. Sheep need to flock not (Mat 10:16).  Flocking sheep is helpful because sheep lack natural defenses that other animals have, such as speed or the personal protection, such as a porcupine has. Flocking provides safety in numbers. It is harder for a predator to pick a single sheep out of a group than go after strays. The protection of the flock comes from staying close together. Flocking implies togetherness as family and as soldiers in battle against enemies. Christians need to gather frequently for the support and care for one another.[3] Many Scriptures speak of this togetherness.

  • “Live in harmony with one another… [together] do not be overcome by evil but [together] overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:16, 21
  • “bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all an in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-5)
  • “that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love” (Col 2:2)
  • “not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
  • “all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart” (1Peter 3:8)

 

The Son came so that sinners can have the Spirit (Galatians 4:6)

–        because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Paul says that all His children are filled with His Spirit. In Roman adoptions, a witness was required to witness the transaction to confirm legal transfer and future inheritance.[4] Paul communicates that the Holy Spirit is our witness, standing guard to sustain us in cries to our Father and to secure our eternal hope.

o   “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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.” Romans 8:14-17

Each person of the Trinity is at work in your salvation. God the Father administrates the work by sending of the Son. The Son accomplishes the work through His life, death and resurrection. And the Holy Spirit applies the work of sanctifying grace to present us into the presence of God. The entire work is beautiful symmetry for our salvation from God.

– – – > Objects that enter water become pressurized. The deeper an object enters water, the more pressure. If a diver goes deep down into water, their body is not able to survive the pressure and they become disoriented or can even die. If a boat sinks far enough, the pressure of the water can tear apart the boat hull. However, submarines can go low and deep into water because they have a balance of pressure on the inside to combat the pressure from the outside.[5]
The Holy Spirit is like a submarine. Many people are collapsing and being crushed from the pressures on the outside world because they don’t have the Spirit of God guiding them through the deep pressures and turbulent waters of life.

è The Spirit is a Person, equal to God the Father and Son. The Spirit is quenched in our life (Eph 4:30; 1Thess 5:19) when we don’t get along with family. #Christmas is a reminder that family life is to be transformed because we have God’s Spirit. Therefore, we build up instead of tear down. We use words to speak truth and we use our deeds to show love.

 

The Son came so that sinners can cease being slaves (Galatians 4:7)

–        you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul gives a summary statement to Israelites who have had a hard and hostile history. Previous and current generations have been slaves to dominant and ruthless army nations. But Paul was speaking hope and freedom to them, that they are no longer slaves but sons and daughters of God.

– – – Adoption often spares or saves a child from harsh and hopeless circumstances. It doesn’t mean the child still may not have nightmares, or scars. However, the scars prove that fears can be healed and find hope in fresh beginnings and new starts in the grace of God.

è Guilt and shame must go. Stop beating ourselves up. Christ was beat and bloodied for us. His death provides us freedom. Walk in it… (Gal 5).

o   #Christmas reminds us that Jesus is willing to take on flesh so that we can freedom from it.

 

APPLY/THINK

Every newborn baby has its own distinct and desperate cry. So too, do the children of God. And we know we are God’s children when we cry with devotion and dependence upon Abba, Father God. We know we are God’s children when we cry with confident trust in His protection and provision for our life. We know we are God’s children when our hearts yearn for the things that please His heart.

 

è In hardship, cry to God with faith and trust.

è In sin, cry to God for forgiveness.

[1] “Babies Cry In Mother’s Tongue”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8346058.stm

[2] John MacArthur, NT Commentary Galatians 4:2.

[3] Thoughts from http://www.sheep101.info/201/behavior.html

[4] Craig Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary, Galatians 4:6.

[5] Adapted from Tony Evans, Book of Illustrations: salvation, benefits of.

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