FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
What Child Is This
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
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:
We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. - John Calvin
The ministry of the Spirit of adoption brings us to a deep-seated persuasion that we really are the sons of God. If it is a fact that we have new dispositions, that God has adopted us into his family, then the Spirit assures us this is true, and enables us to live in the enjoyment of such a rich spiritual blessing. – Sinclair Ferguson
[T]he vital truth to be grasped here is that the Spirit is given to Christians as 'the Spirit of adoption', and in all His ministry to Christians He acts as the Spirit of adoption. As such, His task and purpose throughout is to make Christians realize with increasing clarity the meaning of their filial relationship with God in Christ, and to lead them into an ever deeper response to God in this relationship....So it is not as we strain after feelings and experiences, of whatever sort, but as we seek God Himself, looking to Him as our Father, prizing His fellowship, and finding in ourselves an increasing concern to know and please Him, that the reality of the Spirit's ministry becomes visible in our lives. - J.I. Packer
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed thecherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
20 We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sinwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Then the angelshowed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, butthe throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, andhis servantswill worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Confession of Sin
The Law of God: Exodus 20:1-2, 8-11
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. . . .Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Prayer of Confession
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. As a result we are anxious and exhausted seeking peace, rest, and fulfillment everywhere but in you. Forgive us for working too much. Forgive us for neglecting the gift of your Sabbath rest. Forgive us for seeking our security and comfort through our effort rather than through your peace and rest in Jesus Christ. 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, in Jesus’ strong name we pray, Amen.
Words of Grace
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
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.
- The Identity of the Spirit (v. 6)
- The Work of the Spirit (v. 6)
- The Evidence of the Spirit (v. 6-7)
This past Sunday was our last week in Galatians 4 for Advent. So far in Galatians 4:1-7 we’ve seen the gift of the Father and the work of the Son. This week we looked at the cry of the Spirit in verses 6-7. The theme of this passage is the Spirit enables us to know and experience God as our Father, just like Jesus does!
In order to grasp why we need this work of the Spirit it may be helpful to draw once again from Luke 15 and the two brothers. Many if not most of us struggle with some version of the attitude we see in the younger brother and the older brother: suspicion or indignation toward God. In both cases the sons are more focused on their failure or success and so fail to grasp the love and welcome of their Father. Like a low-grade fever that never seems to leave and often spikes to dangerously high levels, lurking in our hearts is the belief, “I am not worthy to be God’s son or daughter” or “God is holding out on me despite my good moral record.”
Therefore, the cry of the Spirit is the antidote to both our suspicion and indignation toward God.
We first need to understand who the Spirit is according to Paul. In verse 6 we learn that the Spirit is the Spirit of His Son. In other words, to be a Christian means the same Spirit at work in Jesus' life is now at work in your life (re: Mark 1:9-13; Romans 8:11). This truth warrants careful and sustained reflection on our part as we read about the life and ministry of Jesus. The same Spirit that empowered, guided, comforted, and sustained Jesus is doing the same for all those united to Jesus by faith in him.
Second we need to see the work of the Spirit especially in contrast to the work of the Son. The work of the Son brings about a whole new change in our status. Because of what Jesus has done we are declared to be sons and daughters of the living God. (v. 5) In other words, the work of the Son is objective and external to us. However, the work of the Spirit is subjective and internal to us. In fact, without the work of the Spirit all that Jesus accomplished is of no value to us. It is "the Spirit of His Son" who takes the work of the Son and applies it to our hearts specifically in persuading us of our filial relationship with God in Christ.
This difference is crucial to see because Paul teaches that the Spirit is sent into our hearts. This claim is unique among world religions. The God who created all things comes to us. But he doesn't just come as the Son of God in the flesh to live "along side of us" as it were. He comes in the "Spirit of His Son" to live "in our hearts." This is an astounding truth! The infinitely holy God takes up residence in our hearts...sinners without hope apart from his grace. What kind of grace must this be then if God is willing and even desires to live in us by His Spirit? Do you see? There is no guilt or shame or sin that can keep God from coming to you because of the infinite value and power of Jesus' work.
What does this work look like? "The Spirit of His Son" will reproduce the same pattern in our lives as he did in the life of Jesus. “There is a rhythm, a pattern to our Christian experience: suffering leads to glory; trials lead to victory; hardships are the pathway to maturity….It is so for the children of God because it was so for the Son of God. Since we have his own Spirit working in our lives, we can anticipate that the same pattern will be reproduced in our lives…to conform us to the image of our Elder Brother.” (re: S. Ferguson; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-14; 5:10) In fact, this is THE pattern, THE rhythm of the Christian life!
Third we need help to see the evidence of the Spirit in our lives, especially when our lives mirror the pattern of Jesus' life. The most basic evidence that "the Spirit of His Son" is at work in your life is seen in your prayer life. God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, "Abba, Father!" We should notice three important points. First the word translated crying, speaks to the heart of prayer. It refers to deep and profound passion and feeling; a cry that engages the whole person; there is no holding back; no walls/barriers; total vulnerability and transparency. Second, notice the Spirit is the one crying out from our hearts! The Spirit together with believers, and in believers, cries out to God teaching us how to do the same. Third, the cry, "Abba, Father!" is a cry of intimacy and access; of nearness; of confidence in the Father’s love and welcome. Do you pray like this? If not where do you turn?
You need to return to the work of the Son (v. 4-6a). The cry, "Abba, Father!" occurs three times in the NT. Once here and in a parallel passage in Romans 8:15-17. The third time occurs in Mark 14:36 on the night Jesus was betrayed. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Here Jesus models and teaches us what it is to "cry, Abba, Father!" in the Spirit. It is a cry of intimacy (Abba, Father), of trust (all things are possible for you), of help (remove this cup from me), and of self-denial (not my will, but your will be done). Do you see the evidence of the Spirit teaching you, leading you to pray like this?!
Here is the good news for us. Jesus' cry of "Abba, Father!" occurs on the way to the cross. The Spirit's cry of "Abba, Father!" with us and from within us occurs in the midst of God's good news (v. 4-7). What was a prayer of anguish for Jesus becomes a prayer of joy and delight for us! The amazing thing is Jesus’ prayer doesn’t get answered according to his desire and it results in our redemption. The unanswered prayer of the Son leads to our salvation. This gives us a whole new perspective on what it means to pray like Jesus and to experience unanswered prayer…and even unanswered questions. In other words, our cries of "Abba, Father!" are how we share in the suffering and glory of Jesus as beloved children of God!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
- 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 would you describe the evidence of the Spirit in your life using vs. 6-7?
- What aspect of Jesus' cry of "Abba, Father!" do you need to grow in the most?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
I have mentioned this book before but in case you missed it, I can't think of a better - and short - book to help you meditate on the theme of adoption, which we've been looking at from Galatians the past several weeks.
Songs for this week:
Joy To The World
Once In Royal David's City
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Angels We Have Hear On High
Until next time,
What Child Is This?
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.