Born to Make Us Sons
25 December 2016
A series of messages ending the year 2016
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
Born to Make Us Sons
Why was Jesus born? We’ve been considering three reasons for that during this holiday season. Today, we look at how Jesus’ birth has dramatically changed who we are and has elevated our status before God. We are right to glory in His birth.
Let’s journey back in time to ancient Rome. Imagine yourself growing up as a boy or girl in a Roman family. Your dad is a Roman citizen. He has the right to vote. He is a free man. He makes his own decisions as to how he spends his own money. He is respected. If you are a girl, you have no chance to have the same status as your father. If you are a boy, you could eventually become like your dad.
Here is how that would work for a boy whose father is a Roman citizen. You will eventually inherit your dad’s estate, but not for a long time. Your dad will appoint slaves to watch over you until you are grown. They would be your guardians and managers. Dad would also appoint a slave over you as a custodian (tutor). This person was responsible to see that you went to school and learned your lessons. They were strict disciplinarians who could scold or whip you as needed. That was their job.
All of those “managers” were temporary. As the boy grew to maturity, the father would observe his progress. When he felt that the boy was mature enough, the father would set a date. At that ceremony, the father would assign the boy the title of ‘son’ which meant that the boy was now considered a mature man, with all the rights and privileges of Roman citizenship just like his father. He could be entrusted with his father’s estate.
If a Roman son slipped back into depending upon his old managers, the father would certainly point out his foolishness. “Son, you are their master now. You are now in charge of them. You are a son—a Roman citizen with all of its rights and privileges.” So why does Paul use these word pictures here in Gal 3-4?
You know, if you lived in ancient Rome, to be declared a “son” by your father would be pretty cool. So Paul wants the Galatian Christians to realize that something far more wonderful has happened to them. They have been made sons in God’s house! Look at Gal 3:22-4:3 [read].
Paul is surprised that these Christians in Galatia are so quickly changing the true gospel to a grace-plus-works gospel (Gal 1:6). False teachers crept into their churches and added parts of Moses’ Law into the gospel. The Galatian Christians have forgotten who they are! They are in danger of becoming slaves to the Law again or becoming enslaved by their old idols (Gal 4:8).
Paul wrote to the Galatians to correct this departure from the true gospel. The true gospel teaches that salvation is received by faith alone and is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Law cannot save you and it cannot sanctify you. Your old idols can’t help you either. And so to return to the Law of Moses or to idols would be even more tragic than a Roman ‘son’ returning to his old managers. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are one of God’s sons.
In Gal 4:1-3, Paul reminded believers that before they were saved, they were no different from a slave. They were in bondage to the Law and to idols. Look now at Galations 4:4.
Because we all were sinners, we were in slavery under God’s Law. The Law is powerful to show us that we are guilty before a holy God. But the Law cannot help us out of that predicament. It can only keep us in bondage. So God did the most marvelous thing ever to rescue us from that bondage. He sent forth His Son. Jesus existed with the Father in heaven. Out of love for us, God the Father sent His Son into the world. And Jesus came right at the perfect time, or as Paul says, He came in the fullness of time. God had appointed the date and Jesus came when everything was ready.
All things fell together in God’s plan historically. For example, the pax Romana (Roman peace) covered most of the civilized world so that travel was possible in ways previously unheard of. Wonderful roads joined the various parts of the empire. More significantly, Greek became the common language that joined very diverse peoples. Paganism had pulled mankind down into “a moral abyss so low that even the pagans cried out against it and the spiritual hunger was everywhere evident” (Boice, p. 472). Jews had forsaken their idols and were waiting expectantly for Messiah to deliver them. God worked these things so that they would come together and create the perfect environment for the Messiah to come and for the Gospel to spread throughout the world.
Jesus the Messiah was born of a woman so that He could identify with us and to die in our place to pay our penalty for our sins. Heb 2:14-17 tells us: “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that…[He] might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives…He had to be made like His brethren in all things.”
Jesus was born under the law so He could rescue us from being held captive under the law. Look at Gal 4:5. Before we could be adopted, the great penalty of being under the law’s curse stood in the way. So Paul says that Christ was born under the law so that He could redeem us from its curse. This word for redeem means ‘to buy out of slavery’.
Now what if the father we discussed at the beginning didn’t have a male heir? He could select a child within his household that was born to his slaves and adopt that child. Or he could purchase a boy out of slavery and adopt him as his son. So, a boy who was a slave, could be adopted by a Roman citizen to become that man’s heir and would take on the coveted title of ‘son’, just as if he had been born to that Roman man. That is the picture of what happened to us when we were saved. God the Father purchased us out of slavery and adopted us in order to make us His sons!
How incredible is it, being adopted into God’s family! Jesus was God’s Son by nature. He laid that glory aside for a time so He could save those of us who were by nature slaves to sin, held in bondage under the Law. He did that so His Father could adopt us (Geoffrey Wilson, p. 80)! Christ’s Father has become OUR Father! Two weeks ago, we learned that Jesus was born to be our Savior. Last week we learned that Jesus was born to be our Sovereign. This morning we see that Jesus was born to make us into God’s sons! No wonder the angels broke out into praise when they announced His birth! What does this mean for us then?
I. Believers are given high rank within God’s household.
We once were slaves to sin, held in bondage under the law and under various idols. But when we put our faith in Jesus alone for our salvation, we were adopted into God’s family and given the title of sons! Only Jesus holds a higher rank than we do. He is God the Son. But we now possess a status higher than the angels. We are now considered responsible sons in God’s family.
Believers from any people group are sons (Gal 3:26-28). Now here is a major way that sonship in God’s family differs from Roman sonship. Sonship in God’s household is for men and women alike (Gal 3:28). So why doesn’t Paul call girls and women “daughters” here? He wants to make sure that we understand that in God’s house, men and women share this high rank. There isn’t a rank for males and a lower rank for females. While there are differences in our roles here in this life, we are equal in rank within God’s house! Look at Gal 4:6.
II. Believers are indwelled by God’s Spirit.
Legalism is cold, hard religion where you have to work in the false hope of becoming a son. But in true biblical religion, the Father sent His Son to buy us out of captivity to the law and sent His Spirit to live in us so that we would recognize our Father! The presence of God’s Spirit is proof that we have been adopted. How does this assure us?
First, God’s Spirit makes us experience the inner witness that our relationship with God the Father is personal and intimate. The Jews never dared address God as Abba because they considered it disrespectful. But Jesus referred to His Father this way and taught His disciples to do the same. The work of God’s Son on our behalf has put us into a new relationship to God so that, like Jesus, we too may address God in this intimate way. Now ‘Abba’ is not baby talk. A good way to think of it is the way that a grown woman will refer to her father as ‘Daddy’. It’s loving intimacy used only by God’s children. Second, Paul will point out in 5:22-23 that the Spirit of God will produce obvious fruit in God’s children. That too will assure us. Look now at Gal 4:7.
III. Believers are God’s heirs.
Paul concludes from his discussion that believers in Jesus Christ are no longer slaves under bondage by the Law or by idols. Now, they are sons of God and as such they are heirs. We learned in Hebrews 9:15f that the New Covenant is also a will. So, when Jesus died, He left us everything! Of course, He rose again, so He lives to enjoy that inheritance with us.
What does this new life as God’s sons look like? Paul will show us in chapters 5-6 that it means we are free. We are no longer slaves to idols or the Law. We are now mature sons who have inherited their Father’s estate and now use it freely to serve one another through love (Gal 5:13-15). We are entrusted by our Father to use the resources He’s given us to determine how best to live and to serve. The Law is no longer our guardian or manager. We make our decisions as mature sons according to the principle of godly love. We grow in godly character as God’s Spirit works in us to produce His fruit. We walk by the Spirit, meaning that we follow His principles to conduct our lives. And we care for one another’s spiritual health, bearing each other’s burdens and doing good to one another.
Never forget your high position in Christ. Jesus was born to make us God’s sons.