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Adoption: Access, Status, Protection and More
Those in Christ become part of God's family. That's no small thing.
In Galatians 4:1-7, Paul writes:
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
The context is important. In the first century, heads of household, who were often men, did not always have biological offspring that would serve as the heir. And when a person was nearing the end of their life and saw they had an estate, a name, an inheritance, and a legacy, they would choose their heir and bring them into the household as a servant, a bondservant, or a slave with the expressed intention of making that person an adopted heir, a person appointed to take on the name, status, position, and responsibilities of head of household. They would "adopt” this person, and give them the rights of sonship.
In the book of Galatians, Paul writes to both Jews and Gentiles who were members of the early Christ-believing community. But the implications of his claims here reach furthest for Gentiles, who, not being Jews by birth nor by full religious observance under the Law of Moses, were being marginalized by Paul’s opponents and those siding with them, who argued that full acceptance in the community required circumcision at a minimum, and, perhaps further, the observance of the Old Testament commands.
Paul makes the explosive claim that through faith, and not the works of the Law, all people receive the Spirit of God and are made members of God’s household. They had been adopted, no longer slaves, but children of God, and as children, now heirs. They have the Holy Spirit. And they are in right relationship to the Father, through the Son. And this changes things.
Adoption results in a shift. There is a change in:
When Christians see that we have been adopted as God’s dear children, we no longer live as orphans. We have a different kind of access to God, the kind of access that mirrors the way a loving parent receives their offspring into their presence. We have a different status. There is a binding tie. We have a different kind of protection. We are his. We have an inheritance. We have rights. We have responsibilities. We have a permanent home. And in the kingdom of God, we are safe and secure.
I once heard Tim Keller ask, “Are you living as children, or as orphans?” He also asked, “Are you living as a member of God’s household, or as God’s employee?”
Relate to God as God sees you in Christ. It changes everything.
I also began the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers.
Sights and Sounds
I discovered the jazz pianist Dabin Ryu, and have really enjoyed her track “Taxi Driver.”
I drafter a newsletter last week, but it didn’t issue via email. You can read it here.
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P.S. - Led a retreat course at Dayspring Baptist Church recently. From the trails.