FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of ev'ry nation,
Joy of ev'ry longing heart.
Joy to those who long to see thee,
Dayspring from on high, appear
Come, thou promised Rod of Jesse,
Of thy birth we long to hear!
O'er the hills the angels singing
News, glad tidings of a birth:
"Go to him, your praises bringing;
Christ the Lord has come to earth"
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning - not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last. – Frederick Buechner
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. – C.S. Lewis
The Apostles Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heave
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Confession of Sin
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.”
Father in heaven, we are guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find your mind in your word, of neglect to seek you in our daily lives. We have not loved you with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, or our neighbors as ourselves. Instead we have put our trust in other gods. We ask for your forgiveness for all our sin in the name of Jesus Christ, our sacrifice and advocate. Father, deliver us from every desire that prevents us from taking our deepest delight in you. Do not let us be mastered by them, but rule over us in liberty and power, granting us grace to love others as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
1 John 1:8-2:2; 5:21
Sermon Text: Galatians 4:1-7
1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
- We need to understand we are all spiritual slaves (v. 1-3)
- We need to get to know the heart of the Father (v. 4a; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9,10)
- We need to delight in the identity of the Son (v. 4b)
In its most basic definition "Advent" simply means "coming" or "arrival." In the New Testament we read of two comings. Jesus' birth and his return at the end of history to set the world to rights.
Therefore, we are people who live between the times as it were. We look back to Jesus' first coming, born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. We look ahead to Jesus return when he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things will have passed away.
So then how does Jesus' first coming sustain and comfort us as we wait for his triumphant return? The answer Paul gives in Galatians 4:1-7 is that Jesus has come to turn sinners into God's children. He has come to turn spiritual slaves into children of the living God.
The center of verses 1-4 is the gift of the Father. Paul begins this passage with an illustration that summarizes in story form his teaching on the Law of God and its role in God's plan of redemption in 3:19-29. Four verses in chapter 3 help to crystallize his teaching.
3:19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made,....
3:21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
3:23-24 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
Two points stand out that buttress the overall concern of Paul's letter to the Galatians. First, the Law of God cannot give life. Second, the Law of God prepares us for the one who does give life. Why does Paul spend so much time talking about the Law of God? Because a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ (2:16).
So then let's return to Paul's illustration in verses 1-2 and its application in verse 3. What's Paul's basic point? Apart from Jesus we are all under the law, enslaved to elementary principles of the world. The danger is to think and believe that some how striving to obey, to earn favor will bring freedom and maturity. But in truth Paul says it all depends on the Father's timing. Or to put it slightly different. It all depends on the gift of the Father, the sending of his Son!
One of my favorite quotes comes from the playwright, George Bernard Shaw: “The lives which have no use, no meaning, no purpose, will fade out. You will have to justify your existence or perish.” Have you ever felt like that? If so there is good news for you but it requires accepting the bad news. We are all spiritual slaves. What is a spiritual slave? A person committed to saving themselves, to justifying their existence rather than receiving the free justification of God through faith in Jesus Christ. There are two versions of this. A religious and an irreligious version. The religious version bases their value and acceptance on being really, really good: going to church, reading their bible, doing good. The irreligious version bases their value and acceptance on finding their true self unhindered by religion or tradition. However, both people are still trying to be their own lord and savior. Both people are trying to justify their existence.
However, Paul teaches us that spiritual slavery can't be undone by anything we do. It must come from outside of us. It must come from the Father...
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,
The entire Old Testament has been leaning forward, looking to this moment. The decisive moment of God's plan to send his Son. Lest we rush on past this decisive moment, how might pondering this gift deepen your knowledge of and love for God? For starters it means Jesus isn't some kind of middle man cajoling the Father, persuading the Father to be gracious and merciful. Not at all! The gift of the Son is THE costly love of the Father for sinners! For God so loved the world that he gave...(John 3:16) He who did not spare his own Son butgave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32) Or to put it a different way, behind the cross is not an angry, fed up Father, but a reconciled, loving, welcoming Father!
But how can you be sure? What makes this gift of the Father so perfect? What makes the sending of his Son so liberating and life-changing for spiritual slaves? Paul tells us with two pithy phrases: born of woman; born under law. Taken together these two phrases summarize the entire identity and mission of Jesus. He was made like us in every way. "Born of woman" isn't a reference to his virgin birth but to his full humanity.
Hebrews 2:16-18 - For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
We should never make the mistake of thinking that somehow Jesus' deity took away from his humanity. For example, it wasn't any easier for Jesus to love difficult people; it wasn't any easier for Jesus to pray; it wasn't any easier for Jesus to suffer. He was made like us in every way!
"Born under law" means Jesus began in our same situation, under the obligation to obey God perfectly from the heart. He began where Adam and Eve began but instead of disobeying God, he perfectly loved God with all his, heart, soul mind and strength and his neighbor as himself. And yet he became a curse for us!
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
God sent his Son to do for us what we could not do for ourselves so that through him we might receive the promised blessing of his grace! The promises of God are not yes and amen in our obedience or moral self-discovery. They are yes and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)! This is the gift of the Father! This is the doorway through which spiritual slaves find freedom and life! For in Jesus Christ you are all sons of God, through faith! (Galatians 3:26)
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- How does Paul apply the story in vs. 1-2 to his readers in vs. 3?
- Who is the main actor in vs. 1-4 and what do you learn about him?
- Describe the gift of the Father in vs. 4? How do you need to make better use of this gift? Discuss.
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
If you are looking for a bite-size, daily guide to help you meditate on the coming of Jesus you might give this one a look.
Songs for this week:
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Savior of the Nations
The Gospel is Good News Indeed
Be Thou My Vision
Come Light Our Hearts
Until next time,
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end;
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall;
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne.