What Does it Mean that Christians Are Adopted and Co-Heirs With Christ? #276 + Why Ministry Can Sometimes Be Both Painful and Wonderful.
Hello friends and a happy and blessed Monday to you. Today we are going to talk about a subject close to me personally: adoption. As I may have mentioned before, I myself am adopted – at 3 weeks old, roughly, so I have zero memory of my birth parents. From my earliest years, my mom and dad let me know that I was adopted – in the best possible way. I knew I was adopted – so there was never some big, shocking reveal later in life, but they never treated me as anything other than their son. As such, I grew up never feeling like a second-class citizen, so to speak, because of being adopted. It wasn’t a stigma at all to me. As far as I know, my friends knew – at least the close ones – and I never made a big deal of it, and they didn’t either. I can’t think of a single time in my life that anybody made any sort of negative comment towards me because I was adopted. If you are adopted, I hope your experience has been the same, and I grieve with you if not. I would say that it was about 1000 times harder to grow up with glasses than to grow up adopted, but I realize not everybody has had that experience, and I kind of gather glasses aren’t much of a big deal anymore. They kind of were in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up.
I always thought it was kind of interesting and fascinating to be adopted – it added an air of mystery to my life. Were my parents aliens from another world? Were they superheroes? Supervillains? Master criminals? I searched for them over the years, and always rooted for them to be interesting people. I could handle anything except utterly boring. I’ve still to this day not found my dad, but I did find out who my birth mom was, and she is anything but boring, so that was comforting.
But we aren’t talking about biological adoption today…but something much deeper and longer lasting than that. Yes, of course – adoption on earth lasts a lifetime…but adoption into the family of God lasts an eternity. #Biblejuke Speaking of the Bible, today’s passages include 2nd Samuel 24, is interesting, considering that we read David’s last words yesterday, and it is as violent as you might suspect it to be – probably more. Spoiler alert: We actually have a few more days with King David! We are also going to read Psalms 79, Ezekiel 31 and Galatians 4, which is our focus chapter. Let’s go ahead and read it now – listen out for discussions of adoption and being co-heirs with Christ – today we are talking about LITERALLY being in the family of God!
All who have believed in Jesus through faith are sons of God. We are to be clothed in Christ – that is our first and primary identity – that we are clothed in Christ. That identity is so strong that we aren’t first American- not first male or female, not first rich or poor, or slave or free, or handsome or ugly, or cool or unpopular, or abused/not abused, but we are FIRST in Christ. What is your primary identity?
Because we are in Christ, we are sons of God AND heirs of God’s glorious riches promised to Abraham and to Jesus. Before salvation, Christians are the same as slaves – owning nothing and having no freedom. We didn’t rectify this situation by calling for help; God saw our need and sent His son to save us and then sent the Spirit of His son to live in us and to prove that we are indeed sons and heirs.
Verse 5 says that Jesus secured our adoption as sons. In the Greek, it says that through Jesus, we receive “sonship,” a concept that is a Greek legal term. Under the practice of sonship, a wealthy person could take one of his servants and actually adopt him. When that adoption became official in a legal sense, the person adopted immediately ceased to be a slave, and immediately became a son. He immediately became an heir of the person who adopted him, and part of that family. His old life was gone. When Christians are saved by Jesus – they immediately move from death to life and are adopted as sons and daughters in a similar way. Paul speaks of this in Romans 8:
Romans 8: 15…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Imagine a great hero of a man who went throughout the slave markets in the 17th and 18th centuries and purchased slaves at great personal expense, and then granted them sonship – so that they became full legal sons/heirs of his, and no longer slaves. That is what Jesus has done for us eternally.
Tim Keller expresses it this way – “it is as if Jesus came and rescued us from death row, and then hung a Congressional Medal of honor around our necks.”
The death of the son of God on the cross bought the legal status of sonship for those who have faith in Jesus. The sending of the Spirit is just as good, or almost as good, as it secures our actual experience of sonship. The Spirit comes and makes us cry out Abba – Father (and cries out Abba Father through us) Thus, not only are we legally sons, but our heart and feelings are transformed so that we love and act like sons. Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
One other aspect of this passage to discuss:
Often, ministry to others will cause anguish and pain – just like the anguish and pain of parenting. Thus we must love those we are ministering to with that kind of love. Paul calls the Galatians “my little children” He has a parental heart kind of love for them. Fruitful ministry will always be born out of that kind of heart melting love.
Consider vs. 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
This is a wonderful and mystical definition of discipleship. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means that we are clothed in Christ – that we are sons and heirs of Christ. That the Spirit of Jesus lives in us, and that somehow/someway, Jesus Himself is being formed in us. We are to become more Christlike. Not just in our outer actions, but in our entire inner being.
“The New Testament talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’. Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally… turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ (Christian), a being which, in its own way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.” – C.S. Lewis.
I believe that is, in large part, what happens when we abide in Jesus. This is where and when He brings to us life, and life abundantly. He does this by the work of His Spirit and not by the effort of our strength. So – adopted legally and spiritually as sons of God and co-heirs with Christ, and transformed by His Spirit from the inside out to conform to the person and character of Christ – this is the Christian life and the Christian message.