Sermon – March 4, 2018
Galatians 4:1-11 – Adoption in Jesus Christ (mp3)
The theme of Galatians rolls on in chapter 4: God’s work in Christ means that believers no longer need the law and are justified freely by Christ’s work on the cross. Paul reminds the Galatians of the slavery that existed before Christ for all people, so that all must come to God through the foot of the cross (cf. Gal 3:28). Here, however, Paul pushes further into our redemption, now focusing on our adoption in Christ. What does our adoption mean for us?
1. Adoption takes time
Adoptions take time. Foreign adoptions, especially, can take several years to finalize. The same is true for our adoption by Christ. God’s timing was purposeful, bringing Christ at the right time, even if that meant waiting centuries to make him known. Paul, especially in the book of Galatians, places a good deal of importance on the flow of salvation history, and the uniqueness of the time post-Christ. His point is somewhat basic – why go back to before your adoption? That time was not better – it was worse in every way! Just like the orphan who is adopted by loving parents, we have been adopted by God. Anything that we do that moves us back to our time before adoption is abject foolishness. After all, the fact that we were orphans means that, at that time, God was not our Father. Cling to the Father, for he works for your good, your joy, your happiness, and your holiness.
2. Adoption takes the Trinity
The Trinity is an especially hard doctrine to understand. But it is a doctrine that is readily experienced, if we know where to look. Here in Galatians, Paul emphasizes that the Trinity plays an important role in your adoption, and thus your experience in the gospel can tell you much about how the Trinity works. The Father stands behind it all, planning and sending. The Son, taking on human flesh under the law, actualizes the plan, and achieves our redemption. The Spirit then applies that redemption to us, sealed in making us like our God and Savior Jesus Christ. You may not be able to understand the philosophy and the essence of the nature of the Godhead – but you have experienced it. In fact, you experience it every time you call upon God as your Father.
Our adoption as children of God in Jesus Christ is a precious reality. But, in order to fully appreciate the benefits that adoption gives us, we must understand that reality better. God has, in adopting you through Jesus Christ, bent his will to your good, to provide you with all you need in this life and the next. He has done this through the very nature of his being, as the Father sends the Son and the Spirit to enact this redemption. Indeed, it is both fitting and proper that we sing How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, for his love and care are unmatched. You are no longer orphans but have a heavenly Father who loves you. Let that love bind your heart to him, for your good and your holiness.