Summary: The Risen Christ empowers us to change. The change of condition demands a change of conduct.
Researching your family tree can be a fun and rewarding hobby. For one Minnesota man, it was a life-changing experience.
Marty Johnson knew he was the product of two young college students who had a brief affair. Neither parent was prepared to deal with raising a child, so Johnson was given up for adoption and grew up in a loving home in Minnesota. Years later as an adult, he started digging through past records and got in contact with his birth-mother.
Then a letter arrived one day that said, “Welcome to the Ogike dynasty! You come from a noble and prestigious family.” The letter went on to explain that Johnson was next in line to inherit the position of village chief from his biological father, John Ogike, the current chief of Aboh village in Nigeria.
Johnson flew to Nigeria to meet his new family. He went from having no knowledge about any blood relatives to a noisy celebration in the village. There he was united with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and of course, his father.
In a similar way, Jesus is God’s wonderful surprise letter declaring that we are his children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.
1. The beginning of a new year means many of us are setting goals. We call them resolutions; we resolve to do in the year ahead that which we neglected to do in the year past.
A. Some resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, spend more time with family, or save money. Others set career, education or love-interest goals. Each requires a change of condition that leads to a change of conduct.
B. The believers in Galatia need such resolve. Paul writes to remind them that God, through the process of adoption, receives them as his own children. This adoption brings a change of condition that demands a change of conduct.
2. Some Galatian believers are confused. They claim Christ’s atonement, yet continue to live as though they must earn God’s favor by their own righteousness. This is particularly true of the Jewish believers, who hold onto the OT Law as if it is their hope of salvation.
3. Paul writes to disprove the myths that trouble the Galatian believers. He reminds them they are now adopted children of God—this change of condition demands a change of conduct. OYBT Galatians 4.)
[The Risen Christ empowers us to change. The change of condition demands a change of conduct.]
II. A CHANGE OF CONDITION (4:1-6)
1. Redemption: Paul reminds his friends that until Christ came, they were slaves to the principles of the world. Gentiles (Romans & Greeks) understand these principles as laws of the universe (acceptable moral standards), and Jews understand them as the OT Law.
A. Despite our best efforts, humanity is hopelessly corrupt in God’s sight. Therefore, to free humans from the bondage of failure (sin), he sent a Redeemer—Christ.
B. In ancient Rome, a father adopted a child by paying for him. Christ paid the price for believers in full on the cross at Calvary leaving no debt unpaid. Adoptees forfeit all rights to their former life in exchange for the rights and privileges of the new family.
C. When a father adopts a child there follows a ceremony called a vindicatio, from which we get our word vindicate. The adoptive father goes to the Roman magistrate and presents a legal case for transference of the one to be adopted into his own household. After the vindicatio ceremony the adoption is complete.
D. Such is the case for the Galatian believers; they are redeemed (paid-for) and adopted (vindicated) before God. Freed from sin and its resulting slavery, they forfeit that life for the rights bestowed by their new father—God!
2. Acceptance: God accepts his adopted ones immediately on their vindication (what the church calls justification). For this reason, the second consequence of adoption is acceptance.
A. The proof of his acceptance is the gift of the Holy Spirit, what some have referred to as the “deposit on our future inheritance”. Look at verse 6: Because you are now sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out Abba, Father.
(i) Abba is Aramaic for father. The reason for this lone Aramaic word is it’s affectionate diminutive form; i.e., the most personal, intimate name for father, demonstrating a fondness and trust usually found only in a little child.
(ii) The noun Abba is exclusive to Jesus and so powerful it transfers directly into the Greek text without change, however its Greek translation (oJ path/r) always follows it.
B. Paul’s thought and use of this word is deliberate; he writes to an audience that instantly recognizes the significance of Abba in understanding their acceptance as adopted children.
[The Risen Christ empowers us to change. Our change of condition demands a change of conduct. (v. 8ff)]