(By Pastor Tim Redfield)
Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
When we think about God as our Father, we think about him as our Creator. He is our Father because he created all of us. He formed us and he gave us life. He made us who we are. He gave us our talents and abilities. He carefully crafted us into the people that we are. Scripture tells us that he knows us so well that he even knows the number of hairs on our head. These things are true not just for us who believe, they are also true for unbelievers. God created all people. Even though the unbelievers don’t want to acknowledge it, God made them and he is their Father.
Even though God is the Father of all people because he creates us, there is one thing about all of us that does not come from God. We all have a sinful nature. We inherited this sinful nature from our parents and our parents inherited it from their parents going all the way back to Adam and Eve. This sinful nature and all the sins that go with it were not part of God’s original creation. But now, because of this sin, we are all born under the curse of the law. That curse says that we are condemned because of our sin. By nature we are owned by the devil. That is why we need God to become our Father in a different way than simply creating our bodies.
God the Father had to buy us back from our slavery to sin, death and the devil. At just the right time, God the Father sent his Son Jesus to rescue us. Galatians 4:4, 5 says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Jesus had to become one of us in order to buy us back. He was born of a woman and therefore became our brother. He took on human flesh for our sake. He was born under the law. Because he is the Son of God, he was born perfect. He was able to obey the laws that we have been unable to obey.
We were cursed by the law because it showed us just how sinful we are. Jesus overcame the curse of the law because he was able to perfectly obey those laws. Because of that, we have received the full rights of sons. That could be said in a slightly different way. It could be said that we have been adopted as sons. This means that we have been given the same status as God’s one and only Son Jesus. We are considered holy just as he was holy for us. We have been forgiven because he suffered, died, and rose. God loves us as his own and therefore we are eternally grateful. We love him as OUR Father. Only Believers love God in this way.
Think about how we show love to our earthly Fathers. We love them because of all the ways that they have provided for us throughout our lives. We love them because they love us. We want to spend time with them. We get them presents for their birthday, on Christmas, and for Father’s Day. We appreciate the wisdom that they give us. Especially as we get older, we see that they actually did know what they were talking about on those occasions when we didn’t want to listen to what they were telling us. We do show love to our fathers. Unfortunately there are times that this father child relationship is damaged by the sins of the father or the sins of the child but hopefully we can forgive each other.
I hope that each of us has a relationship with our fathers that leads us to want to spend time with them. We ought to have a relationship with our heavenly Father that leads us to want to spend time with God. We can spend time with our heavenly Father as we spend time with the Means of Grace – the gospel in Word and Sacraments. I want you to honestly evaluate how much time you spend with God’s Word compared to other activities in your life. Are we too busy to spend time with our Heavenly Father? Do we get too wrapped up in work, sports, or hobbies to make time for our God? We wouldn’t do that to our earthly fathers but do we do that to our heavenly Father?
There are ways to spend time with our God. There are an incredible amount of spiritual books that you can get from places like our Synod’s publishing house, Northwestern Publishing House. How many of those books have you read in the last year? Those books take us into Scripture and explore the teachings of Scripture so that we can grow in our understanding of God’s Word. For comparisons sake, how many fictional books have you read in the last year? Or maybe this comparison, how many hours of TV shows or movies have you watched in the last year? How much more time do we spend with those kinds of entertainment compared to the amount of time that we spend in worship, Bible Study, or personal Scripture reading?
Do we push our heavenly Father away by having the following attitude, “God, what can you do for me right now?” Do we only want to follow God if it is going to equal blessings immediately? Do we think that living as a Christian means that God will be so pleased with us that he will shower us with wealth and health? Do we act like an ungrateful child when we don’t receive these blessings? Do we pout and claim that God must not love us since he isn’t making us as prosperous as we want to be? Do we then seek after some other spiritual father – something else that will give us the success that we desire? Perhaps we simply dig into our work even more so that we will get a larger paycheck. Do we think something like this, “Why should we devote our precious time to God and his Word if that isn’t going to make us richer in this life?”
Don’t give in to those temptations to push God out of your life. Don’t get so busy that your activities actually become your God. Remember what God has done for you. God chose you to be his own.
It truly is special that God adopted us as his children. He paid the price that was necessary to get us back from our slavery to sin. He paid for us with the blood of his Son shed for us on the cross. In addition to paying for the sins of the world through the death of Jesus, he also sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts to complete our salvation. Galatians 4:6 says, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” Through the power of his Word, God sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts and now we are truly God’s children. We trust in him for forgiveness and he gives us eternal life.
It is difficult to make an exact comparison between God adopting us as his children and earthly adoptions but I will make a few. Earthly adoptions are a long and expensive process. They don’t all have the same monetary value but there is certainly the expense of the adoptive parents’ emotions and time. The entire process can take years and there are many ups and downs along the way. God’s adoption took time and it had a high price. There was a long time before he sent his Son and his Son paid the ultimate price for us. Then there was more time until the adoption was finalized. In an earthly adoption the parents wait from the time the child is placed with them until they go to court to finalize before a judge. God the Father finalized our adoption when he sent the Holy Spirit into our heart.
In Jesus, we see how he was our perfect brother. He always put his heavenly Father first. Because of this, we are forgiven for all the times that we have not put God and his Word first in our life. Even as a 12 year old boy, we see Jesus spending so much time at the Temple that he forgot to go back home with his parents. When they came looking for them, he wondered why they didn’t realize that he would be studying and discussing the Word of God.
When Jesus was tempted, he used Scripture to fight temptations. He knew the Bible backwards and forwards. Look through the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You will notice many times when Jesus takes time out of his busy schedule to be alone with God in prayer and meditation upon the Word. For all the times that we fail to make time for God’s Word, Jesus put the Word as a top priority. Jesus did this all not for his own glory but so that we could be adopted by God the Father.
Now, because of the faith put in our hearts and because of our adoption as children of God, we give him thanks and we do make time for him. That is why we are here today. We recognize the importance of being in the Word. We are growing in our faith. We make use of the resources that God has put at our disposal. I mentioned earlier that we can make use of Northwestern Publishing House to get all kinds of spiritual books. We naturally start with the Bible but we also can make use of these other books which help us to understand more about the Bible. These books start with Scripture and explain Scripture.
We make use of all the resources we have available. We can make use of the books our church has. We have Meditations and Forward in Christ. We have daily devotions from the WELS or ELS websites. We have Bible Studies and Worship. The point is that we glorify God as we grow closer to him. He has given us so many resources to help us.