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December 31, 2017 Jesus - Born So That We Could Become Sons

 

[I. Introduction] Every Christmas, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The incarnation of Christ (for the Bible clearly reveals that Jesus pre-existed in the form of God before coming to Earth) is one of the most blessed events in history. The meaning is tremendously significant. The benefits to us are many.  However, there is one consequence of his birth that is sorely neglected. It is utterly important and, yet, one hears almost nothing about it. It is this: Jesus, the Son of God, was born so that we could also become the sons of God.

 

Let us be clear at the outset that the term “sons” is a general word and it includes, more specifically, both sons and daughters. The reason why the apostles use the term “sons” is because, in Jewish culture and history, only sons received an inheritance from their parents. Daughters were expected to share in the inheritance of their husbands so there was no provision under OT law for them to receive an inheritance from their own parents. By using the word sons the apostles communicated that every child of God, whether male or female, receives an inheritance from the Father.

 

Turn to Galatians 4:4-6.

 

            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!” [1]

 

God sent forth his Son, “born of a woman.” Jesus did not just fall down from the sky. He came in the womb of Mary, the most blessed of all women. She gave birth to a child that was both Divine and human. Verse 5 tells us the reason he was born: “so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

 

The word “adoption” is actually not in the original language of Paul’s letter. It is added by the translators of most translations of the Bible in order to make Paul’s inspired thought easier to understand. In one connotation it makes perfect sense to add this word. After all, none of us are born children of God. We are born without any rights or privileges due to a child of a king and we certainly had no spiritual life when we came into this world. Therefore, in one sense, we have been adopted into God’s family.

 

In another sense, though, the word adoption is quite inadequate. The reason it is inadequate is because it fails to communicate that our being brought into God’s family is more than just a legal transfer. It is a matter of life! Adopted children have no biological life that they share with their adopted parents. Yet, when God brings us into his family we share his very divine life!

 

Hence, some translations dispense with the word “adoption” altogether. One of my favorite translations, the Recovery Version, does this:

 

“But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, that He might redeem those under the law that we might receive the sonship. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father!”

 

I like that word, sonship! Other versions also do away with the word adoption, such as the New Life Version, McCord's, and the New Matthew Bible.

 

In this passage of Scripture we see the blessed truth that the Triune God is producing many sons for the fulfillment of his eternal purpose. God the Father sent forth God the Son to redeem us from the law that we might receive sonship. He also sent God the Spirit to impart his life into us so that we might become his children in reality, not just in position.

 

[II.] Hear this. Sonship is a matter of life. And this life is in the Spirit. Apart from the Spirit we cannot be born of God. And, unless we are born of God we cannot become His sons. This much all Christians know. Even baby Christians know this.

 

But there is more. Once we have been born of the Spirit, we need a continual supply of the Spirit in order to grow in life. Without the Spirit we cannot have the position, right, or privilege of sonship. But also, without the Spirit we can have neither the enjoyment of sonship nor the growth in life.

 

Do you know why so many believers fail to enjoy life? It is because they lack the supply of the Spirit. This cannot be emphasized too much. There are two extremes in the Christian world. One extreme is manifested by the Pentecostal movement. Many good things can be said about it and I am not here to criticize it in its entirety. However, one manifestation of waywardness in the movement is its emphasis on subjective experience. Those involved seem to place more emphasis on feelings and emotions than on the infallible word of God, which is the objective anchor of our faith.

 

The other extreme is seen in both Reformed churches (those that seek to follow the Reformers and rely upon creedal confessions) and the Church of Christ. Both of those movements, although they end up as polar opposites in regards to doctrine, emphasize the objective aspect of the faith to the near exclusion of subjective experience. It is as if they fear subjective experience. There is no need to fear experience if the experience comes from the Spirit of the Living God!

 

There is a healthy, divine balance between objective guidance and subjective experience. We need both. If there is ever a conflict between the two then the objective truth, as found in Scripture, is to be the final arbiter. We must bow our knee to God’s holy word.

 

Having identified these eccentric paths, it should be said that the working of the Spirit in our own lives is a subjective experience. Therefore, we should not try to avoid experience; we must seek it, adopt it, encompass it, and embrace it. When I use the word experience what I mean is the reality of the Spirit touching and moving within us. He causes us to grow to maturity.

 

I am not referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is for empowerment to witness. There are other benefits regarding the baptism that attend, too. I am speaking about the indwelling and subsequent supply of the Spirit that every true child of God possesses and has further access. Believers have access but, unhappily, many or most do not access their access!

 

Thus, without the Spirit sonship is vain. It becomes an empty term. I am not saying that one cannot be a child of God without the supply of the Spirit. I am saying that we can have neither the enjoyment of sonship nor the growth in life without the supply of the Spirit. The supply of the Spirit is something that is experienced.

 

When the Spirit comes sonship is made real to us. Everything must be replaced by the Spirit of sonship.

 

Notice something about our passage. In verses 4 and 5 Paul writes that “God sent forth His Son…that we might receive the sonship” The goal of Christ’s redemption is not heaven, as many Christians believe, it is sonship! Christ redeemed you so that you will become a child of God. However, if the Spirit had not come then our sonship would be empty. It would be a sonship in name only without the reality.  The reality of sonship comes only by the Spirit.

 

I have a burden that this truth does not just become an intellectual exercise for you – something that you just learn and file away. This must become your experience!

 

The great evangelist, Dwight Moody, once likened the common sins that beleaguer followers of Jesus – sins like pride, selfishness, ambition,[2] and a refusal to speak for Christ[3] - he likened these sins to air because they are everywhere. Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, "How can I get the air out of this glass?" One man shouted, "Suck it out with a pump!" Moody replied, "That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass." After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. "There," he said, "all the air is now removed." He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by "sucking out a sin here and there," but by being filled with the Holy Spirit. 

 

Notice something else about our passage. As I have already pointed out, in verse 4 we see that “God sent forth His Son.” Then in verse 6 he writes that “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.” We should not think that the Spirit of the Son is a person separate from the Son. When the Spirit of the Son comes, the Son comes. The Spirit and the Son are distinct but not separate.

 

When Jesus rose from the dead he became the life-giving Spirit! (I Corinthians 15:45)

 

[III.] How is it that we can receive the supply of the Spirit? Not too long ago we saw that we receive the supply of the Spirit by eating the words of Christ. That doesn’t mean just the red-letter words. It means all the words of the Bible because the Spirit of Christ spoke through both the prophets and the apostles. We saw that eating means more than just reading or studying. It means praying His words back to Him exercising our human spirit. Then His words become our nourishment.

 

There is something maybe even more simple than this. Turn to Romans 8:15-16. I am going to read from the Recovery Version again.

 

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery bringing you into fear again, but you have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

 

We do not have a spirit of slavery. Once we become a child of God, the law is no longer a slave master. It becomes our joy. The spirit of slavery is replaced by the spirit of sonship. Verse 16 says that the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. This is a subjective experience. It is the Spirit that creates this experience. Sonship is realized by us in the depths of our being! The realization is the beginning of the supply. The more we are assured that we are God’s child, the more the Spirit enlivens us.

 

We can cry out, “Abba Father!” Abba is a term of endearment, like Daddy in English. The spirit of sonship brings with it a love for our Father. The more we cry, “Abba Father,” in our spirit, the deeper will be the intimate sense that we have in our heart.

 

[IV. Conclusion and Application] Thus far, we have seen that:

 

  • Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again so that the Triune God would produce many sons.
  • This sonship is a matter of life and this life is in the Spirit.
  • We must receive a supply of the Spirit of life to have our sonship made real to us.
  • We can receive a supply simply by realizing that we are God’s child in the depths of who we are.
  • We can receive a supply of the Spirit by calling out, “Abba Father.” We will have an intimate sense of his love for us and our love for the Father.

 

We need to have Christ formed in us. He is formed in us when we are filled with the Spirit. Remember that when the Spirit of the Son comes to us, Christ comes to us. When we are filled with the Spirit, we are filled with Christ.

 

It is not a matter of doing. It is a matter of receiving. And, we receive by realizing who we are and by calling out, “Abba Father!”

 

This is an even shorter prayer, a shorter calling, than “O Lord Jesus!” That call is three words. “Abba Father” is just two words. Sometimes we make the Christian life more complicated than it needs to be. Whenever you have a sense of need, whenever you feel a little empty, just call out, “Abba Father!”

 

You have heard me ask before, that when you call, “O Lord Jesus,” who do you get? You get the One whom you call upon. You get the Lord Jesus! Likewise, when you call, “Abba Father,” you get the Loving Father. When you call “Abba Father” from the depths of your being, your human spirit, you sense intimacy with Him. He is your Daddy, the One Who loves you, the One has made you his child.

 

The Spirit makes it all real. This is why we must call. When the Father comes, the Spirit comes and the Son comes. When the Spirit comes, the Son comes and the Father comes.

 

Oh! This is glorious and this is freedom! Realize your sonship! Receive the supply!

 

Make this new year a year in which you live as a son of God and no longer as a son of the earth.

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 4:4–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] That is, ambition to the exclusion of others; ambition alone is not a sin.

[3] Mark 8:38