Adopted as Sons
As Christmas has come closer, I have been listening to the sermon series that my pastor back in Franklin, TN, George Grant is preaching (you can hear it here). George has been exploring passages of Scripture that we would not traditionally call "Christmas/Advent" passages. However, what he has been showing is that the entirety of Scripture is about Christ and his redemption. One of the passages of which I was reminded of (though George hasn't preached on it), was Galatians 4:4-7:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent his Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
There are numerous important truths in this one passage. However, what has caused me to think lately is that Christ's incarnation opens the door for our adoption. Obviously, part of the reason that that truth has been so striking to me these past few weeks is because another anniversary of Calvin coming into our home via the process of adoption has come and gone. As I reflect on his adoption into our family and the adoption that we have obtained because of Christ's work, I am dumbfounded.
Paul in Galatians says that Christ comes to redeem those who are under the law. Paul is saying that Christ came to redeem all people because all people are born under the law. All people are born with an obligation to keep the law perfectly. Failure to keep the law perfectly leads to death. Only one person has perfectly kept the law and that is Christ. Paul tells us that Christ came to redeem those who are under the law because those who are under the law have no ability to ever keep the law and thus all people need redemption. Christ comes promising life and redemption to all that are under the law and who, by grace through faith, receive him.
The fascinating part of this passage, however, is the benefit of salvation to which Paul immediately turns. Paul does not always look first to adoption as the benefit of salvation, but he does in this passage. He says that for those who have been redeemed, they are also adopted as sons. Quite literally what we see in here is that we have been pulled out of one family and put into a new family. A family where keeping the law for our redemption is no longer necessary because Christ has redeemed us with his law keeping. Those who are redeemed have been removed from a kingdom/family that would only lead to death and destruction, and they have been placed in a kingdom/family that is light and life.
This is a marvelous promise. When I reflect on many adoption stories, the similarities are remarkable. Quite often you hear of what the child's life would have been without being removed from their birth family. In some cases, the child would have never had a chance to live because abortion was the only option the mother saw as viable (until a crisis pregnancy center or adoption agency or a friend/relative stepped in and walked with them). In other cases, the child was going to be born in extreme poverty that would never have given him/her a chance. In other cases, the child was just unwanted and/or would be unloved. Whatever the case, often the common thread seems to be that there is a person in a desperate situation that makes the courageous choice to put their child up for adoption because they do not see a future for that child in their current situation.
Into this situation steps a family that is willing to take the child in as their own. The child takes their name. The child is raised as natural born member of the family. Birth certificates are changed to say that the new mother and father gave birth to this child. The child is given all of the rights and privileges of being a member of this new family. None of this is done because of anything intrinsic in the child. It is solely because of the good pleasure of the new parents choosing to place their love and affection on that child.
This, Paul says, is the benefit of our redemption. This is an implication of the incarnation. This Christmas I am going to sing praises to God for his great salvation. I am going to sing praises to God for the redemption that he has given from the law. I am going to sing praises to God because he has adopted me and called me a son, and this is not because of anything intrinsic in me, but solely because of his good pleasure. Because of this, this Christmas I have the privilege to call on him, saying, "Abba! Father!"
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