FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile
here until the Son of God appear.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse,
free thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.
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:
What is Adoption? Adoption is the act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. – Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 34
[J]ustification—by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with His acceptance for the future—is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need…. But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves…. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship, and establishes us as His children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is a greater thing. – J.I. Packer
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Q. 2. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A. First, how great my sins and misery are; second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.
Confession of Sin
Exodus 20:1-2, 4-6
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 not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
O Lord our God, no day of our lives passes that does not prove us guilty in your sight. Please forgive us for suppressing your truth in our unrighteousness and thereby exchanging the truth about you for a lie. Please forgive us for worshipping and serving created things, to give us what only you can give. All things in us call for our rejection; but all things in Christ plead our acceptance. By his stripes we are healed. By his bruises we are made whole. Please subdue our hearts with your grace and lead us in the way everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
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 recipients of adoption (v. 5)
- The cost of adoption (v. 4,5)
- The goal of adoption (v. 5)
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.
So then what do we need to live joyful, grace filled lives here an now? The answer Paul gives in Galatians 4:1-7 is found in the work of the Son to redeem those under the so that we might receive the gift of God's adoption.
There are two key words in verse 5 that we need to clearly understand. The word to redeem means "to release a slave from his or her owner by paying the slave’s full price. Here the slave master is the law. Jesus pays our full price to the law. He completely fulfills all the law’s demands on us. And so He is able to free us from it.” (Keller, Galatians, p. 97-98)
There are two elements to the redeeming work of Jesus. He delivers and he pays the price required to secure our freedom. In other words, he pays our debt by becoming a curse for us. (Gal. 3:13)
Therefore, "when we say that our adoption means that all our debts and obligations are cancelled, we do not mean that they have simply been nullified by divine fiat. Rather, they were put to the account of God’s Son. He took the bill of debt to the cross and nailed it there (Col. 2:14). His death wrote the word ‘cancelled’ over all our debts. So when we are adopted into God’s family, it is only through Christ, and at infinite cost to him.” (Ferguson, Children of the Living God, p. 31)
The second key word in verse 5 is the word adoption. This word literal means "to be placed as a son." It speaks to a change in STATUS not a change in NATURE. “In the Greco Roman world, a childless, wealthy man could take one of his servants and adopt him. At the moment of adoption, he ceased to be a slave and received all the financial and legal privileges within the estate and outside in the world as the son and heir. Though by birth he was a slave without a relationship with the father, he now receives the legal status of son. It is a new life of privilege.” (Keller, Galatians, p. 98)
Why do we need to understand and enjoy both the redemption and the adoption Jesus brings? Because many people believe or fall back into believing that the gospel is the transfer of our sins to Jesus but not the transfer of his sonship to us. As a result, we may say we believe we are sinners saved by grace but day to day fall back on our own efforts to make something of ourselves. Or as G.B. Shaw put it, “The lives which have no use, no meaning, no purpose, will fade out. You will have to justify your existence or perish.”
The gospel says you can't justify your existence. Only Jesus can do that. Not only that, he has secured your welcome and belonging in the family of God. The true source of joy and new obedience comes from knowing "what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God." (1 John 3:1) It is this new status that leads to assurance and joyful obedience without fear. It is what enables us to admit sin and failure and to receive mercy and forgiveness because we are sons and daughters of THE Father. Our adoption is not a prize to be won, it is a gift from Christ!
So do you understand the gift of God's adoption through the work of the Son? Test yourself. Reflect with me on the two sons from Luke 15:11-32. After realizing he has squandered his inheritance and the servants in his father's house live better than he does, the younger brother resolves to return home. He realizes he is unworthy to be called a son and he is correct. However, surely to his great shock, His father welcomes him home with open arms and lavish displays of love and joy. But are you like the younger brother...suspicious of the father's love because you are so focused on your sense of shame and guilt you can't see, let alone enjoy, the lavish love of the father?
Or take the elder brother. Upon the return of the younger brother, the elder brother is indignant and outraged. He says, to his father, "Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command." His obedience kept him from seeing and enjoying the love of his father when his father says, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
So here are two questions.
Are you so focused on your sin and failure that you can’t see the love that the Father lavishes on his unworthy children?
Are you so focused on your obedience and getting the Father’s things that you can’t hear the Father saying, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours”?
According to Paul the gift of adoption is the remedy to both "prodigal suspicion" and "elder brother indignation."
Or to put it differently, the reason you lack joy; the reason you get anxious and despair over sin and failure is because the adopting love of the Father has yet to take deep root in your heart. How do you get this? By getting to know THE son through whom we become the children of God!
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)
- 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 explain the meaning of "redeem" and "adoption" in your own words?
- How well do you understand the gift of adoption? Do you see "prodigal suspicion" or "elder brother indignation" in your life?
- How do you think your life would change if you really understood and experienced the adopting grace of God? (at work, at home, with friends, in your own heart and mind)
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
If meditating on Galatians 4:1-7 has peeked your interest in learning more about God's great gift of adoption by grace through faith in Christ, this book should be on your short list to read!
Songs for this week:
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Until next time,
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
O come, Thou Day-spring,
come and cheer our spirits
by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O come, Desire of nations,
bind in one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
and be Thyself our King of Peace.