Let us pray: Dear Savior, although we live with earthly fears each and every day, how wonderful it is that we don’t have to fear You! We may fear terrorism, road rage, bullies and the like, but as Your children we know all that is transitory. We know that You have won peace between Your Father and each of us, so that we possess confidence in our hearts about both this life and especially the one to come. Lord, today we thank You for giving us such happy, peace-filled hearts thereby making us rich beyond all measure. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF REAL PEACE AND JOY
TEXT: Galatians 4: 4-7
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Many decry what they perceive as sexist language in the Bible. Certainly the Bible reflects the culture of its time. Thus Scripture often uses “man” or “mankind” in reference to a group composed of both genders, because that’s how people talked in those days. Likewise, the term “son” is often used as in our text today. But, again, women are included in those references. For example, when the term “sons of God” is used in reference to receiving blessings, it really means “children of God.” For Christ died for all people—male and female—recall the passage “God so loved the world.” Thus, my usage of “children of God” in the absolution to allay any ambiguity.
In order to mine the depths of our text, we need to talk a little more about that word “son.” Scripture does not speak of God as a female—even though the feminists do. Likewise, God the Father did not beget a daughter in eternity, He begot a Son—Jesus Christ. Christ is the legal heir of heaven. As He says in His high priestly prayer to His Father in John 17: “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.” So, what better compliment is there for a Christian who bears Christ’s name than to be called a “son?” It simply means we stand in direct relation to Him. With those thoughts in mind I want to turn to our lesson which says to men and women alike:
LET’S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT!
St. Paul begins chapter 4 of Galatians with these words: “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.”
In the culture of this time a child who was the living heir of an entire estate had the same standing as a slave! That is, until age 14 they could not buy and sell or conduct business—even though legally everything was theirs. Instead, legal guardians or trustees were appointed to guide them so as not to make silly decisions. Then from age 14 to 25 they could engage in the estate’s affairs, however again they could make no legally binding decisions until after their 25th birthday. Today we set the age at 21, then it was 25. But the principle still holds true—young people don’t usually have enough life experience to always make wise choices when it comes to business.
In spiritual terms God’s people were children before Christ came. They were under the tutelage, or even slavery, of the basic principles of this world. Basically the world runs on the ten commandments in the form of natural law. Thus, God used basic morality, writing in our hearts that it is wrong to steal, murder, lie, cheat, etc. in order to keep our sinful nature in check. He used such things to show His children right from wrong and to prepare them for a greater blessing to come. Now, in Christ, that blessing has come! “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive full rights of sons.”
It is said that youth is wasted on the young. That means young people don’t embrace time because they think it will last forever, they don’t always appreciate just how rare kindness and love are but often take it for granted, and they often don’t recognize the rarity of true sacrifice because they haven’t yet had to live through it. Yes, before Christ came we were children—inexperienced and apathetic towards those wonderful spiritual gifts from God. But now our Savior has come! God’s eternal Son was born of the virgin Mary, He has born to carry the weight of the 10 commandments (the Law), and He was born for the purpose of living a perfect life in our place and dying an innocent death in our place. All this to redeem us, to buy us back from sin, death, and Satan’s power.
We all know that Christmas is a stressful time. So, how did you show your stress this past week? Were you cranky? Did you say hurtful things to those you love? Did you get moody? Obviously such behavior mirrors our sinful heart. I dare say, if God were to judge you strictly on the basis of your thoughts, actions, and words of this past week all of us would come up short. If we said: “Here Lord, here are my gifts to you they have earned me heaven.” If we were to say such a thing, no doubt God would respond: “If you think that is good enough to earn my favor, you’re dead wrong!”
But that is exactly where and why the Savior comes into the picture! He took all our sins upon Himself. In pure love He came to give you His holiness and His righteousness. Yes, He came to give you the legally binding certainty of heaven. According to our lesson we have “full rights of sons” in Jesus Christ. That is, all that He has is ours. Period.
And now “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
St. Paul uses a wonderful term of endearment here. “Abba” is Aramaic for father. So, in the Aramaic language and the Greek language (that’s the second “father”) Paul states that we can now call God “Dearest Father.” We can approach Him in joy and total confidence because He has sent the Holy Spirit with His gifts of peace and joy into our hearts. No longer do we need to act like underage kids, or slaves, but as the legal representatives of a glorious inheritance—the glories of eternal life! It doesn’t matter whether you’re an infant, a preadolescent girl, a young man, a business women, or a retired man—neither gender or age play a role here. No, each of us stands before God and His angels, before Satan and his demons, before the entire world as an heir to Christ’s glory. We are all the direct recipients of Christ’s love and blessing.
Let’s start the new year out right. Let’s all start living in the freedom of knowing who we are—Christians—what we’re doing here—showing forth His glory—and where we’re headed—heaven. If you know for a certainty that you have 10 million dollars in the bank which you can draw on next month, I dare say you won’t act like a beggar or a thief. Well, we all have the priceless gifts of God to draw on right now and the peace of heaven to draw on in the future. Christ has made it so. So, act like it! Trust your Brother. And thank Him for His gifts to you every single day. Amen