God is not a boss who gives us a lengthy and impossible list of duties that we must perform to please Him. This erroneous thinking popular in every age including Paul’s forces a religion that is devoid of relationship, intimacy, love, and grace because we cannot have such a relationship with rules.
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
4:1 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.
Good morning. Good to see you all. There’s a Bible at the end of your row. You can go to the Book of Galatians. My name is Mark. I’m the pastor. Some of you, I may have confused you. This is not a black shirt but it is still – it’s still me. Someone said black was slimming, and so I really committed myself to black. This is earth-toned, right. I also got an orange one recently that I’ll show you at some other point. My daughter says it makes me look like a very unattractive woman. (Laughter) So, we’ll talk about that in a few weeks.
We are in Galatians this summer, and this fall we will do the Book of Ephesians. And then starting in January, we’re gonna do the Book of Psalms. So, if you want to start reading ahead, that’s where we’re going as a church. We’re in Galatians Chapter 3 today and finish up Galatians 3.
And what we’ve been looking at is the writings of the Apostle Paul. His book of Romans is probably the best summary in the Bible of what is the gospel and Galatians fits very nicely with that because it tells us what the gospel is not.
Galatians tells us that the gospel is about what Jesus has done; not about what we do. It’s about how good Jesus is; not about how good we are. It’s about how Jesus is pleasing in the sight of God, and so, we don’t have to be. It really gives the glory to the Father through the Son by the Spirit, and it tells us how God has done some wonderful things for us.
Some books of the Bible stress what we should do in response to God. Proverbs, we had looked at previously, was one of those books. Galatians is a book that really focuses on what God has done for us and the incentive that we have and the empowerment that we have because of what Jesus has done for us to be the children of God.
And as beginning that today, it’s very important because Galatians is really trying to clear up in this church of Galatia, a false understanding and conception of God. And if you misunderstand God, then you end up misunderstanding, basically, everything else.
The problem in Galatia was they had a view of God as being a boss or an employer. It was a very works-based religion where they had this picture of God being distant, separated and far, sending us His word which included a basic job description that included the laws of Moses, 600 laws, and that basically is your job description. And if you do your job well, then God is nice to you and He likes you. And if you don’t do your job well, then God doesn’t like you and He’s not nice to you. That was the basic misunderstanding that God is a boss and He is sort of giving us job descriptions and evaluating performance.
The message of Galatians is just the opposite. The thing we’ll look at today is that God isn’t a boss at all. That God is a father. That God isn’t absent. He’s very involved as a father is with his children. And that God is not seeking performance from his children; He’s seeking loving intimacy and relationship with them. And God knows that through loving relationship and intimacy, then good things happen in our lives. But it’s because of who our dad is, not necessarily because we are making ourselves into appropriate children.
The section we’re dealing with today deals with some controversial issues like baptism and slavery. I’ll hit those briefly. It also hits some very controversial issues in our own culture about masculinity and femininity, particularly about issues of patriarchy. A lot of people freak out in this section because it says that God is our Father, and that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we are all – men and women – adopted into God’s family as sons of God.
And lots of people, because of the influence of feminist studies on theology, they freak out. They say, “Oh, that’s patriarchal.” No, it’s biblical. God is a good Dad and being a child of a good dad is not bad. We cannot take whatever shortcomings that our fathers had and sort of define God by those shortcomings. We must begin with the revelation of the Scriptures and say, “This is the kind of father that God is,” and then we test the goodness of the earthly fathers by the description of the heavenly Father. We can’t work backwards, which is what we too often do.
I had my first experience with this when I was a newer Christian, a newer pastor, and I was teaching at a pastor’s conference for one of the largest denominations in the United States of America. And they put me up, to teach, and I don’t know why they did this. I shouldn’t have been there.
I get up and I start – I opened with a prayer; I felt like that would be safe in a pastor’s meeting. And I open with prayer and I said, “God, I thank you for being our Father,” that’s how I opened my prayer. And I heard all the rustling of books, and notes, and people getting up and leaving. It was like the rapture and all the saints are departing. (Laughter)
And I open my eyes, I peek out, and then all of a sudden I realized that a huge exodus of people is leaving the room; like half the people get up and leave. And when I got all done praying the room was empty and everybody is looking at me sort of bewildered. And I’m feeling very insecure like, “What in the world did I do?”
And I asked one of the guys in the front row, I said, “Well, where did everybody go?” You know. He says, “Well, they all left.” “Well, yeah. I know. I know. I picked that up. Why did they leave?” He says, “Well, you offended them.” I said, “I offended them?” I said, “No, I will offend them, but I haven’t even started yet.” (Laughter)
I mean, typically I do just sort of usher people out and offend them. That’s totally fine but usually it’s after the prayer, you know, that I get to the offensive part. I said, “How in the world did I offend them?” And he said, “Well, you called God ‘Father’.” And I said, “Well, Jesus called God Father. ‘Our Father,’ He taught us to pray that way. So, I pray like Jesus did. Are they offended by Jesus?” He says, “Well, I don’t know. Possibly.” I said, “Well, God is offended by them.” You know.
I mean, I’ve got kids, and they call me dad. And if they take a vote one day that it’s too patriarchal, and so they end up, you know, I’m not dad anymore. Now I’m the sky fairy, or I get some other stupid name. “We’re gonna call you ‘It’. You’re not gonna be ‘Daddy’ anymore because that’s patriarchal, and we can’t call you, you know, ‘Father’. We’re gonna call you ‘It’. So, from now on, ‘It, can we have ice cream?’” I’ll be ticked. You know. I’ll be very upset. “No, I’m dad.” You know, “Look. I’m Dad. Call me ‘Dad’. Don’t call me ‘It’. Don’t call me ‘Sky Fairy’. If I tell you I’m dad, I’m dad.”
And this is kind of what we do with God because – are there things in Scripture we don’t like? Every single one of us. There are. There’s things in Scripture we don’t like. That’s why we know it’s written by God. Right? Because if we were to write the Scriptures – okay. I’ve always told you I would have a very simple theology of salvation: the more you eat, the holier you get. That would be how I would write it, right? So, you go to the buffet, and then you get to be the pastor. Right? It’s just – that’s the way I would write the Bible. I wouldn’t have any expectations.
We know the Bible is true, in part, because of what it says. People don’t like what it says, which indicates it came from God, not from us. And the thing is, when we hit things in the Bible that we don’t like, we have one of two options. We can say, “Either I need to change or the Bible needs to change.” Those are really only our options. Either we repent and change, or we misuse what God has said and change what he has made clear.
This is the first problem that happens in Genesis 3 with the serpent where he comes and he says, “Did God really say” – meaning, “Well, we know Jesus. We know that God said that but we don’t like it. So, let’s talk about it. Let’s just edit that.” And Peter says, he says Paul writes Scripture. I’ve got this in your notes but he says, “We’ve got to be careful that just because some things are hard to understand or accept that we don’t distort them as people do the other Scriptures because that leads to our destruction.”
That is, we come to the Scriptures, we have to be humble enough to realize that we don’t really study the Scriptures and edit what we don’t like. That, in fact, the Scriptures study us. And when we fall short, they call us to repentance so that we can be an imitator of God; so that we’re transformed and changed by God’s power and grace.
So as we get into some of this today, some of this, for some of you, will be something you don’t like. That’s what I’m saying. I’m saying don’t listen to it from the perspective of Scriptures. Assume that God is a really good dad. And when you hear that God is your Father, don’t import into that all kinds of negative baggage, but just let God be the good dad that He is, and leave it at that. So, here’s where we go. Galatians 3:26, that’s my lengthy introduction.
He says, “You are all sons of God” – that includes the ladies – “through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Therefore, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to His promise.”
First thing I’ll hit real briefly is that – here’s the problem. These false teachers in Galatia were teaching that there was a lengthy process to salvation that began with being a Jew. “First you need to be a Jew. Be circumcised, obey the 600-plus laws of Moses, obey the ceremonies, celebrations, join that culture of people. Once you have done that for a while and you’ve become a good, upright Jew, then you place your faith in Jesus. Jesus completes your works and now, you can be a Christian. You can be saved. You can be redeemed. You can be in relationship with God,” whatever you language is.
The problem is, is that what that does, that puts priority on what we do; circumcision or whatever it might be. And it puts priority on being part of a culture. And it puts priority on a certain morality as prerequisites for relationship with God.
Paul works backwards and he says, “No. In fact, you are all Abraham’s sons by,” what? “By faith in Christ Jesus.” That it begins by trusting Jesus. Loving Jesus and what he’s done. And by virtue of that, you then inherit the promises that were given to Abraham. That God would love you. That God would take care of you. That God would bless you. That God would take you into his kingdom. That God would reveal himself to you. That God would take care of you as a father does for his children.
So, the issue is: do we begin relationship with God by being Jewish or by loving Jesus? That’s a big difference, because there’s lots of people who aren’t Jewish that love Jesus. Do they all need to be Jews? No, they need to love Jesus. And they need to trust him; that’s the whole essence of faith. When you hear the word “faith” in Paul’s writings, think of this: “I love Jesus and I trust him.” That’s what faith is. Faith is lovingly trusting in Jesus instead of yourself.
And the issue then is: that’s how we come in to relationship with God – by trusting in Jesus and loving him for what he’s done for us. And then the issue is: how do we know who the Christians are? He tells us, “These are the people, first, who have been baptized as demonstration that they love Jesus.” Faith and baptism go in that order. You trust, and then you are baptized that’s the continual pattern throughout Scripture. We’ll look at baptism later this summer.
But if you’ve not been baptized, we do baptisms during the summer at Gas Works Park outdoors at our Wednesday night study. If you’re a Christian who’s not been baptized, call the office and let us know. We’ll baptize you.
Baptism, according to Romans 6 is this: That Jesus is alive. That He died, and was buried, and that He rose again, and that He did that for us. And in baptism, we’re showing that we are in Christ, dead, buried and risen in newness of life. And that as the water cleanses us, so Jesus cleanses us from our sins. Baptism is a sermon. It preaches about who Jesus is and what He has done.
He says, “We know that we are Christians because we love and trust Jesus. And we see the evidence of that because we were baptized. We made a public testimony, and we declared that Jesus has died for us, and we love Him and trust Him for it. And that, in addition, we have clothed ourselves; we have put on Christ,” is what he says.
And that is the outliving of the Christian life. That we are no longer living in our old identity but in our new identity in Christ, and that now we are reading our Bible, praying loving the Lord and imitating Jesus. Doing the kinds of things that he did in honoring the Father and obeying the Father as he did.
That’s how the Christian faith is done. Lovingly trust Jesus. Get baptized to testify to that. And then live your life in Christ and with Christ and through His power so that you start to look more like Jesus and be an imitator of Him. “That’s how we know that we are Christians,” Paul says, “Because of what Jesus has done. The fact that we have trusted in that, that we have declared that, and that that is an actual present reality in our lives. We see His work in our midst. And we see His Holy Spirit doing His good ministry through us.”
So, then, now that we understand how we come into relation with God, how we evidence that in baptism, how we experience that in Christian living. The issue then is: well how does this relate to all the variables that come in a multicultural, sort of pluralistic society? He says that in 3:28, which is probably the most debated verse in the whole Book of Galatians.
He says, “There’s neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek for all are one in Christ.” What he’s saying here is that Jesus has eliminated those things that typically distinguish us. Some of us think that we’re holier than other people because we’re men or because we’re women. Or because we’re rich, or because we’re poor. Or because we’re educated or uneducated. Or because of our race or our class or our income or whatever it might be. That we invariably like to position ourselves against others and think that we have some measure of holiness or increased virtue because of something that we are or possess. And Jesus says that, “Those distinctions are eliminated at the cross.” Paul was teaching that those things don’t matter.
Now, some have taken this so far to mean with feminist theology that there is no longer – after you become a Christian – such a thing as male and female. What happens then is homosexual theologians come along and will say, therefore there is also no way that we can condemn same-sex relationships. I’ll get down this rabbit trail a little bit.
What you’ll see historically is in society the feminist issue comes first, which is hammering, hammering, hammering that there is no distinction between men and women. Once that is won, then the next thing you see surface is a homosexual agenda that says, “Well since there’s no such thing as men and women, then you can’t say that men can’t love men and women can’t love women because there is no such thing as men and women.” It’s a logical consequence.
It’s like taking out the first, you know, hammering the first domino, and then all of a sudden, the logistics rundown. I’m not saying that God can’t forgive people. I’m not saying that God can’t transform people. I’m just telling you how this works theologically.
The same thing happened in the church. The feminist issue comes in, eliminates any recognition of distinction between men and women, and then the gay issue comes in, and that’s what’s ravaging the mainline churches right now. Some of the biggest issues in the country are being tested on this matter in major denominations in our own city. If you’ve been reading the paper, just a few miles from here is the biggest test case.
And yesterday, there was an enormous meeting of pastors in the city about this issue, validating all the pastors who are gay. And one of the verses they are working out of, primarily, is Galatians 3:28. The homosexual pastor is saying, “Now that I’m a Christian, I am not a man or a woman. I don’t have any gender identity. Paul says so right here.” So, it’s a pressing issue. So, I’ll walk in it with you.
What happens, though, is that’s not what Paul’s talking about. Let me ask you this question: when you become a Christian, ladies, are you still female? Yes. Okay. Men, when you become a Christian, still male. Amen. Right? Women say, “Amen,” too. Most women do not want to be men. Most men do not want to be women. Okay.
Now, when you become a Christian, you don’t wake up one day and have some sort of mysterious, androgynous, neutral plumbing. You’re still male and female. All right? In addition, is maleness or femaleness an issue of culture or creation? It’s a creation issue, Genesis 1:27, “In the beginning, God made them male and female. God looked at the man and said, ‘It’s not good for the man to be alone. So, I’ll create a helper suitable.’” What did He create for the man? A woman. That’s what he needed. It wasn’t good for the man to be alone. He needed to be in a relationship with the woman. So, God created the woman.
Jesus says this same thing in Matthew. Paul says this same thing to Timothy that it is an issue of creation. Therefore it is binding and ongoing. It is not just a cultural issue. It is supra-cultural. It is existed before culture did in Genesis, chapter 1.
As well, in the New Testament, do you see Paul writing to men and women recognizing them as distinct groups? Of course you do. Titus 2, “Tell the older women to say this to the younger women. Tell the younger men to treat the older men like this.” He’s writing to men and women seeing them as distinct.
Here’s the issue I want to press: Just because we are distinct does that mean that we are unequal? That’s the issue. Our weird culture thinks that distinction means inequality. It doesn’t. Okay. I am distinct from my children, and I have authority over them. But I am not better than they are. It is the same with a coach and a player. It is the same with a teacher and a student. It is the same with a police officer and a citizen. That just by virtue of the fact that someone has a distinct role with authority does not mean that they are better than you and that you’re unequal. Jesus typifies this.
Is Jesus better or worse than God the Father? It’s a stupid question, right? They’re equal. They’re both God. Jesus says, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” The Bible tells us that He is the icon. He is the exact image of the Father. If you’ve seen Jesus, you have seen God. They’re equal but does Jesus yield himself to the Father? Does He respect the Father? Does He submit himself to the Father? Totally. He says, “I didn’t come to do my will. I came to do the will of Him who sent me.”
He says that in the Garden of Gethsemane before he dies. He says, you know, “It’s my will that the cup of suffering be taken from me. But not my will, your will be done.” He teaches us to pray that way, “Our Father in heaven. Holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” What Jesus has eliminated is our inequality. What He has not eliminated is our distinctiveness.
What God is not trying to do is make us all the same. He’s trying to make us one. That’s the message of Galatians 3:28. “There’s neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, for all are,” what? One. How? In Christ Jesus. Jesus is not trying to make us the same. He’s trying to make us unified. And the distinctions that we have actually benefit us all. It’s good to have men and women, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. It is good to have all in Christ because that shows forth the love and the grace and the kindness of the Father.
As well, when you become a Christian, the gender difference – not only the gender differences – but do the racial distinctions cease? If you’re Asian, are you still Asian? Do you still speak a particular language? Do you still have a particular culture? I’m Irish, right? I’m still moody and short, right? Hey, I’m still Irish.
If you are whatever race or ethnicity or whatever group you might be in, once you come to Christ, you still are. And God is not removing the distinctiveness; He just wants those people in that race or culture or nation or tribe or time to love him. That’s all.
That’s what we see in Revelation 5 and at the end of Revelation as well that all nations of the earth are gathered together around the throne of Jesus, worshipping him as God. God loves all nations of the earth. God has sent us out into all nations of the earth. Not to make them the same but so that they would love Christ, that they would be equal, that they would maintain their distinctiveness, and that they would be unified because they all love Jesus. That’s what He’s about.
As well, when you were a slave in that society and you became a Christian, were you automatically freed from your slavery? No. You weren’t. And slavery in that time, at least one-third of the Roman civilization was made up of slaves, an enormous number of slaves. You became a slave in one of three ways: You were captured in war. You had gotten yourself into an enormous of debt, and you had sold yourself into servitude for a season to payoff your debt. Or you were a child that was born into a family who was in slavery. That’s how you got into slavery. It is different, in some ways, than the way slavery was practiced here, which I believe, absolutely violates the Scriptures. So, when you became a Christian, though, you didn’t automatically get to cease being a slave. Okay.
There’s a test case with a guy in the New Testament. Remember who this is? A guy named Onesimus. He was the buddy of Paul. The Book of Philemon addresses this issue. Onesimus was a slave, and Paul told him, “Go back and serve well.” I’ve got other verses in there in Colossians and Timothy and Corinthians as well. But the issue is if you come to Christ as a slave, you are still a slave and you should love and serve Jesus in your responsibilities there.
Now Paul says elsewhere, “If you can obtain freedom,” what should you do? Obtain it. But I’ll give you an example. Let’s say some of you are really bad with money, or you have a business that fails or something tragic happens, and let’s say you’re $150,000.00 in debt. And you go to your creditors, and in this country, we get to claim bankruptcy. In this culture, there’s no bankruptcy. There’s servitude.
So, you go to your creditor. You say, “Well I owe you $150,000.00. I became a Christian. You know, we’re even now, right?” You know, Chase Manhattan doesn’t say, “Oh, yeah. Well, we forgive the debt because Jesus forgives you for all your sins.” They say, “No, we read Philemon, and you’re gonna pay us back. You still owe us $150,000.00. Congratulations on having your sins forgiven. Now get your debt forgiven.” Okay? That’s where we are. We’re still obligated to those things that we’ve obligated ourselves to once we become a Christian. If we get our freedom, we get it.
So, what Paul is not talking about is that when we’re Christians, “We don’t have any culture. We don’t have any race. We don’t have any ethnicity. We don’t have any gender. We don’t have any socioeconomic status. We don’t have any financial obligations. We’re Christians now.” Well, we do. We’re still men and women. There’s still cultures that we live in. Still races and ethnicities that we’re a part of. Still socioeconomic backgrounds that we are working within. Still financial debt that we have to pay off.
But the big issue here is this: we are one. That we are one, and that is what God is working towards. And what Paul is referring to here, “We are one in,” what? Christ.
Now, he talks elsewhere about in the home, wives should respect their husbands. In the church, congregants should respect their elders. In the government, citizens should respect their state. And in Christ, it doesn’t really matter if you’re male/female, young/old, black/white, rich/poor, successful or a failure, uneducated or educated. The issue is do you love Jesus? And if so, you can be unified with God’s people and your distinctiveness are overcome by the fact of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
So, you can be a young white guy who is poor, and you can be an old black woman who is rich, and they can be friends because they’re one in Christ. And usually what breaks down our society is we break into affinity, which is I get together with people like me, my race, my gender, my interests, whatever it is. I get together with likeminded people, and we have affinity.
What Jesus has enabled is actual community, which is loving relationship with people who are totally different than me that I don’t share things in common with because Jesus has loved them and they loved him back. And I’ve loved Jesus, and he’s loved me first. And together we’re unified because we’re both loved by God, and we love him back. That’s what he’s talking about.
He’s talking about actual loving intimacy. And it’s amazing to me because this is just like the heart cry, the culture’s cry, “We need to be unified. All races need to get together. We need – we’re sick of gender wars. We’re sick of class distinction. We’re sick of racial division. We’re sick of people dividing.” But the only way that happens is those people love Jesus. It’s the only way that happens. Because they’re not one.
Sinners are not unified. Sin separates us from God and like it did with Adam and Eve, it separates us from each other. We’re not one. Now, Jesus forgives us and our sin is taken away. We’re one. We’re reconciled. If you sin against me or I sin against you, or I don’t trust you, or you don’t trust me, the power of God is bigger than we are. And God reconciles us not just to Christ, which he does but also to each other through the work of the cross.
So, when he says, “There’s neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek,” it is not an elimination of distinctives; it is an elimination of inequality and bias and affinity, so that we can be one. And where he is going to move with us next is that, “We are one so that we can be God’s family.” We can be God’s kids because it’s not about us and our distinctives. It’s really about the Father and his love, and that’s where he transitions in Chapter 4.
Chapter 4, Verse 1, “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So, also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the come had fully come, God sent his Son, born of woman, born under law to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
Here’s how this society worked. It worked much differently than ours. Roman society, actually, I think in this way, worked much better. This is one of the deep and pernicious flaws in our culture is that what happens is that young men grow up, and we never tell them that they’re men.
No man in this room could tell me when you become a man because there is no agreed upon assumption in our day of when a boy becomes a man. What is a man supposed to do? How do you become one? And when do you know that you’re there? There’s just no agreement on that at all. Part of the issue is that the only way that a young man knows he’s a man is when his father tells him. That’s how it worked in Roman society.
In Jewish society and in some Greek societies, the way it would work is when a boy hit a certain age, they declared him a man. Jewish society – what is it – 13 or whatever, you have a bar mitzvah. “You’re a man now.”
Let me ask you this: does age make you a man? Not at all. You can be a 70-year-old boy. .Some people say, “Well, I just wish I was older and wiser.” Don’t always put those together. Older does not equal wiser. Some people do the same stupid thing for a long time. Okay. That doesn’t make you wiser. It actually makes you more foolish. Now, wisdom is better with age. It’s like wine. But folly with age is just like milk; it doesn’t smell good. It doesn’t go well.
Our problem is no one knows when you become a man. Now what we try and do is we try in society to make certain little distinguishing markers. At 16, you’re an adult. You get your driver’s license. But, no. Just because you can drive doesn’t mean you’re a man. You say, “Okay. 18. You can vote or die in war. You’re a man.” No. There’s a lot of 18-year-old guys that are 8. Right. You say, “Well 21, then you can drink.” Well that’s no evidence of manhood, right? Okay, you can drink. That’s great. You’re a man now.
The way it worked in the Roman society was the father would love his son, train his son, discipline his son, and raise his son. And when he knew the heart of his boy had become a man, he would tell the boy, “Today, you’re a man. You’re a man today.” Okay.
And what he would do then, he would take off the boy’s clothes and he would reclothe the boy as a man. That’s what he’s saying here, “We’ve put off Christ” – excuse me – “We’ve put off our old self and we have put on Christ. We’ve clothed ourselves in Christ.” That’s what he’s talking about. And then the boy would be declared a man. He’d be like, “Son, you need to be a man now. You need to act like a man. You need to think like a man.”
Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, “You need to put childish ways behind you. You’re not a kid anymore. You’re a man today. Today, you don’t hang out with the boys. You hang out with the men. You don’t talk like the boys; you talk like the men. You don’t act like the boys; you act like the men. You don’t interest yourself in the things the boys are interested in; you hang out with the men. You learn real estate, business, finance, commerce. You learn how to love a woman. You learn how to raise kids. You learn how to pay your bills. You’re a man today. And now you’re gonna come with me, son. You’re no longer my little boy. Now, we are peers, and you’re gonna go hang out with me and the other men.”
And that’s how Roman society worked. And so everything for the significance, and the maturity of the son ultimately hinged on the father. A dad had to do his job, had to love his son. And what it says here is that other people – guardians and trustees – would be involved in this process. It’s no different in our world.
A little boy goes out, he plays sports; he’s got coaches. He goes to school; he’s got teachers. Other people are surrounding the boy helping him grow up. What he says is, “We need those people to help us grow up when we’re little kids because we’re learning. But there’s gonna be a day when we have to just grow up, and guard our own life and be self-governing.”
When you’re a little kid, you live in a controlled environment. So, your mom and dad, or your babysitter or your teacher or your coach or whatever it might be, come along and make a series of rules. “Okay. Do this. Don’t do this. Don’t do this. Don’t put your head in the toilet. Don’t eat anything you find in the yard. Don’t put anything in your nose.” There’s certain basic rules that you’ve got to keep, and you’ve got to tell little boys, because if you don’t, they will do all of those things at once. Okay? They’ll eat things as they’re in the toilet putting things in their ear. And you’ve got to tell them that otherwise they don’t know.
But the problem is, when you become a man and you leave home, and you put childish ways behind you, you have no idea what your future might hold. You don’t know where you’re gonna be working, where you’re gonna be living, what’s gonna be happening. No set of rules can ultimately give you a connect-the-dots formula for how to live your life. What you need is maturity and the Holy Spirit.
And the problem that the Galatian church is having is these guys are coming in like old guardians and teachers and tutors and nannies saying, “Well, here’s the rules; here’s the rules; there’s the rules.” And Paul’s like, “Those are to prepare us for maturity, so that we can live by the power of the Holy Spirit, and He will lead us and guide us according to the principles of Scripture, not your stupid list of lengthy rules.” That’s morality not worship and it’s centered on us being good rather than us honoring our Father. The focus is wrong and it leads to a very bad sort of spirituality.
The issue is then, how do we become mature? He tells us that, “Jesus came, and He died for our sins, and He rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and He has declared us children of God. Thereby, we have the maturity given to us through Jesus. And He gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us and to guide us. And now God is our Dad.” God is our Dad.
And you think about how amazing this is. You look at God. God who created everything out of nothing by the sheer will of his desiring and decreeing it into existence. The God who flooded the earth because He was sick of sin. The God who rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah and killed people for perversion, according to Jude. The God who has killed His enemies. The God who sits on a throne and rules over everything.
And Hebrews 10:31 tells us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Proverbs 9:10 tells us that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” You understand this kind of God, and then you come to Him after Jesus has saved you, and you look at Him, and you ask Him, “Well, what should I call you?” The Jews were so scared of this; they wouldn’t even pronounce God’s name.
God looks at you and He says, “Call me Dad.” “Oh. Call you dad.” “Yeah, I’m your dad.” “That’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting me to call you boss and for you to give me a job description and for me to do it cowering in fear. And if I fail, to expect something terrible to happen. But Dad, that’s totally different. I can call you Dad?” “Yes. I’m your Father. I’ve adopted you. You’re my son. I’ve sent Jesus to die for your sins. So, today, I declare you an adult. You’re mature now. And I put my Holy Spirit in you so you can live by the power of the Holy Spirit, and He’ll lead and guide you. And any sins that you commit, Jesus has already forgiven.”
How many of you really struggle with a boss-employer, duty-bound, job-description view of God? Lots of people do. Just go to the Bible and say, “Okay. Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it because I don’t want God to be angry.” Here’s the problem with that: that is karma and not grace. Karma says, “If I do this, then I move God’s hand and he has to bless me,” right? I pick up my toys, I get an ice cream bar. Right? I don’t cheat on my wife, I get a raise at work. Right? It’s cause and effect.
No. What happens in this world is by grace so we deserve nothing. It is not karma. It is not that God is an employer who gives us a job description and if we do it well, then we get a bonus or we get a raise. God doesn’t work that way. God does not work that way. God is a dad.
Have you ever seen a dad who was good, that had 600 rules hanging on the fridge? And told the kids, “If you do this, I’ll feed you dinner. If you don’t, you will be in big trouble.” That’s the kind of God that these false teachers are presenting, “Go to laws of Moses, take the list of 600 things, put it on the fridge, and do it. Otherwise, God will not be happy.”
Here’s your assignment this week, watch kids. If you’re driving by a park and there’s a bunch of kids, watch. Pullover, watch them. Kids are insane. I have three kids. Have you ever seen a really stressed out two-year-old? (Laugher) We’re the children of God. I have – just watch them. It’s like they got Kool-Aid stain around their mouth. They’re whole goal is to take their pants off and run for their life. (Laughter) They got a cookie behind their ear because they slept on it. You know. Their hair’s all matted. They wet themselves. They pick their nose and they put that finger in their mouth for no explainable reason but they all do. (Laughter)
We’re the children of God. You’ve got to understand this. We take ourselves so seriously sometimes. Right? Look at kids. My son, Calvin, he’s almost 6-months-old. He weighs well over 20 pounds. Okay? He’s in the 98th percentile for weight. He’s in the 70-something-percentile for head. And he’s under-50th for height, right. He looks exactly like his daddy; he looks nothing like his mommy. Right? I think he’s beautiful. (Laughter) And last night we were talking to the kids, and he just lays there like a piece of furniture, man. He doesn’t do anything. And I looked at him. I said, “Calvin, you got to quit stressing out, man. You’re just too stressed.” He’s too lazy to even smile, right.
We’re the children of God. Just sitting there messing ourselves. Totally stupid. Stressed out. I’m sure he’s not sitting there wondering about gravity or whether or not a hypostatic union is a Greek concept or a biblical concept. He’s sitting there messing himself wondering what makes the fan go around, okay. (Laughter)
We’re the kids that God has adopted and He loves us. And sometimes, I think that’s the heart of what’s going on in Galatians. These people are way too serious. They actually think that God is going to somehow be a boss that shows up unannounced and does inspections, and does performance reviews, and that they’re never going to measure up. So, they have to try harder.
Have you ever seen a dad that was more concerned – a good dad – who was more concerned with performance than relationship? A good dad wants his kids to love him and obey him, but what he’s concerned about is relationship with them. You know, no father who has a two-year-old son is happy if he never sees the son, never plays with his son, never cuddles with his son, never hugs the son, never eats fudgesicles with his son.
If the son sends him a resume every six months telling him all of the things that he’s done, “I’ve done good, father. Here’s all that I’ve accomplished.” The dad’s like, “Well that’s nice, but I thought we were gonna hang out and play together. I thought we were gonna build loving intimacy, and friendship, and relationship here. It’s not just about the job performance. It’s about you and me being connected in loving relationship. I’m your dad. I’m your dad.”
And so often, even ministry turns into duty, “What have we done? We have not done enough. We must do more.” These people are so serious. Serious people drive me crazy. You know, you think about it. God sits on a throne. He has sent out his Holy Spirit. His word will not return void. His gospel is more powerful than anything. God has it all under control. Seriously. And to freak out and to stress out and to worry or try to perform. It’s just absurd. It’s absurd.
And I had somebody leave the church recently; a lot of people leave all the time. If this is your last Sunday, thanks for coming. (Laughter) They said, “You know, here’s my problem with the church. You’re always telling jokes. And, you know, I just don’t feel like you’re very serious.” I said, “Well, I tell jokes. Do I tell jokes about us or God?” He said, “It’s usually about us.” “Okay. So, I take God seriously, but I don’t take us very seriously.” And I’m not gonna repent of that. I believe that things really get done by God. Now sometimes through his kids; sometimes in spite of them. Right?
It’s because we have a good dad that we breathe. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above.” It’s based upon the dad we’ve got. If a kid in the Roman society had a good dad, he had a good life because that dad would instruct him, discipline him, feed him, love him, protect him, adore him, bring him up and say, “You’re my son. Carry on the family name. You’re a man today. I love you. You can do this.” That’s a good dad. That’s a great dad.
A bad dad hands a kid a job description and says, “When you do that, you come find me in 18 years and I’ll tell you if you did enough to be my son.” Sick. Sick view of God. Karma and works-based, earn it, merit it, live up to your own standards that you’ve created to please God. It’s awful, and if any of you are living there, repent and get out. It’s terrible.
And here’s the thing too. What causes a son to obey their father? It’s the love of the father and the health of the relationship. Absolutely – Jesus says, “You’ll obey if you,” what? Love me. Obedience comes out of love. Love does not come out of obedience. Every good parent knows this. If you love your kids, then they will be inclined to obey you. And if you don’t love them, they will be inclined to rebel.
That’s what Paul says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not embitter your children.” When dad gets harsh, and legalistic, and rule rather than relationship with his kids, the kids rebel. It stirs up the seed of Adam in them. The seed of rebellion just gets absolutely launched into a full scale assault against the father. And what Paul tells us in Romans 2:4 is that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. That’s the kind of Dad we’ve got.
We’ve got the kind of Dad who loves us so dearly that we want to obey him because he loves us so dearly. Love leads to obedience. Relationship leads to obedience. Obedience does not build relationship. Obedience does not build love. Okay?
I obey the tax laws in this country. I don’t love them and I’m not in relationship with them. But I am in a relationship with my dad and I do love him. And God is trying to build a relationship with us that is like father and son, not like IRS and taxpayer. And the Galatians have this absolutely backwards. And they read the Bible trying to figure out what they should do, rather than reading the Bible trying to figure out what Jesus has done,and it’s backwards.
He tells us how all of this comes into being in Verse 6, “Because you are sons of God” – and that does include you ladies. Okay. Don’t be offended. He’s using an analogy – “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba,’” – daddy, papa – “‘Father.’” Okay? The whole Trinity is involved in this is what he tells us.
The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and he bring us to Jesus, and he enables us to cry out to God as Father. We’re saved by the power of the Holy Spirit through the work of His Son to a loving relationship with God our Father. It’s beautiful. And the Jews thought, “Well we are definitely godly people.” The Judeaizers thought, “We’re godly people because we’re circumcised. Because we obey the laws. Because we obey the feasts and the ceremonial washings and the cleansings.”
Paul is saying, “No. You know that you’re mature children of God because you talked to God like your Dad. And you love God because He’s you’re Dad. That’s how you know that you’re mature in your faith. God is your Father.” Not by anything that you’ve done. Not because you’ve been baptized, or speak in tongues or tithe or have a quiet time every day – none of those things. God is your Father and because your Father loves you, you want to obey him because you love Him back.
So you read your Bible, and you tithe, and you pray, and you serve but that’s not the point. The point is: that’s your Dad, and He loves you, and His love has transformed you. And now, Ephesians 5:1, “You want to,” what? Imitate Him. How many sons want to imitate their dad? If a dad loves his son, does the little boy copy his dad? That’s just what they do for better or for worse. Right?
That’s why your kids drive you crazy. They’re mirrors. Right? They just show you what you are. “Why do you keep doing that?” “Well, you were doing it.” “Oh, yeah. That’s true. That’s annoying.” “I know. We all knew that.” Kids – sons want to, if their dad loves them, sons want to imitate their dad.
And that’s how God gets us to be holy, it’s by grace. He says, “I’m your dad and I love you. Look what I’ve done. I sent Jesus. I put the Holy Spirit in you to lead, and guard, and guide you. You can call me Father. You can come to me with anything.” You say, “What? I want to be like my Dad. That’s all. I want to imitate my Father; that’s all.”
“Why? So he’ll love you?” “No, because He does love me. Because I’m already loved. The relationship is secure. The intimacy is guaranteed. So, I just want to love my Dad and I want to be like him. I wish everybody was like him.” Is that a good perspective for a little boy with his Dad? Is that a good perspective for a Christian with their God? That’s it.
He tells us that, “This happens by the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught us to pray, Our Father.” Call out to God as Dad. But you say, “But I’m not very holy.” “Well, you need a dad.” “Well, I’m not very smart.” “You need a dad.” “I sinned a lot.” You need your Dad; you need your Dad; you need your Dad; you need your Dad. You have a dad. He loves you. He’s a great dad. So, take it to him. Sit in His lap.
I’ll tell you what. I’m going to close with a story. We’re going on vacation this week. I’m in a very good mood. It’s like the news: every night you watch the news – I just noticed this – you watch the news; they always end with a story about a bunny or a puppy or a pony or a little leaguer. You know, because otherwise after the news that they show for 22 minutes, you’re gonna sit there and just try to hit the eject button on your life. They’re trying to cheer you up so you can sleep without nightmares. I’ll tell you a little story, and then we’ll go watch some of the Mariners’ game.
I have two sons: Calvin and Zach. I always tell you stories about my daughter. I’ll tell you a story about my son. My son Zach, he’s a little over two-and-a-half years old. He’ll be three years old this summer. He’s the skinny son.
What happens is Zach is a guy; full-on guy. He will only eat food that comes in a pub. He will eat chips. He will eat popcorn. He will eat hotdogs. He will eat hamburgers. He will eat peanuts. If the food does not originate from a pub, he basically won’t eat it. So, he’s very much a guy, and the thing about Zach is he loves the Old Testament. The New Testament, everybody gets forgiven. In the Old Testament, everybody gets killed. He really likes the Old Testament, and always makes me read the Old Testament. His favorite story is David and Goliath. He loves it where the little guy just opens a can on the big guy. That’s the best story to him in the whole world.
So, we went out and bought him some gear. We got him a big sword, plastic sword, a shield, a breastplate and a helmet. Okay. And we played David and Goliath. And he whacks me with the sword so much that he actually broke the plastic sword. Okay. We play this all the – it’s just I’ll be sleeping in the BarcaLounger, “Whack!” You know. “Goliath is dead.” “No, Goliath is really upset. You better – ” (Laughter) So, he keeps hitting me because I’m big enough to be Goliath, and I fall over and play dead. And he’ll do this all day to the point where he literally broke his sword. Okay.
Now, he’s got this little imp, nub of a sword. It broke off, right? He got the handle and he’s got this little tiny sword. Not nearly as intimidating. Not nearly as frightening, and he’s really sort of bummed out about the whole deal.
So, what he gets, he gets this stick from the yard, because little boys love sticks and rocks. I don’t know why we even buy him toys. All he ever plays with are sticks and rocks. He gets a big stick, and he shoves it in his sword scabbard, and he’s trying to use it as a sword because he wants some sort of the length on the thing but it keeps falling out. He’s really upset about that.
So he comes – and I’ll say this too. I’ll preface this. Lawyers say, “Oh, kids shouldn’t play with violent toys. The kids will be violent.” No they won’t. If you would give a two-year-son a hotdog, what does it become? It’s a sword or it’s a gun-dog, right? That’s what it is. (Laughter) It doesn’t matter what you give them. “It’s a corndog.” “No, no. That’s a grenade.” You know, it’s just. They pull the pin and throw it, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.
So my son. So, he’s really – he’s all Old Testament kind of kid. So, we’re always wrestling, having a good time. We wrestle about a half hour a day. We’re always fighting, wrestling, duking it up. He sort of needs to get it out of his system. And I’ll tell you the truth; this is a clue with boys. If you don’t wrestle with boys, they get mean. If you wrestle with boys, they’re nice. Okay. They need to get it out. They need to just let it go in a healthy, controlled environment, then they’ll be okay.
So, we wrestle about a half hour a day. We have a great time. He broke his sword. He’s all upset. So, we’re going on vacation this week. He’s all excited because we’re gonna go jet skiing.
So, I took him and his sister Ashley, who’s four-and-a-half; I took her to the toy store. I said, “Okay. You kids can each pick out one toy for the trip. You can’t open it until we leave in a couple of days. You can play with it in the car. This will be your special vacation treat.” “Ohhh,” they’re all excited.
So, we go there. My creative, arty, Martha Stewart, home décor, Food Network, Emerald-loving daughter, she buys this huge art project: 222 art projects. Make beads, necklaces, jewelry, painting, coloring. This whole deal.
My son, he’s running up and down. He’s looking for war weapons. He’s looking for weapons, right. And he finds this package all boxed up. It has a sword, it has a dagger, and it also has a bow with arrows. He’s never had a bow and arrow. And so, he is so excited. He’s standing there, and I thought he had to go to the bathroom (Laughter) because he kind of had that posture. He’s shaking. He’s so excited.
I said, “Zach, do you want that?” “Yes, daddy. Yes, daddy. Yes, daddy.” He’s all excited. And I said – I got down. I was little, I said, “I will get that for you, Zachie. I love you. I’ll buy that for you. That will be your present.” And literally, he starts tearing up. (Laughter) He’s just like “Oh.” He looks like, you know, the young girl in the Miss America Pageant where they go to put the crown on her head. She’s like, “Ohh.” (Laughter) He looks like that. He’s so happy. He’s so excited. I hand it to him, and he takes it like it’s a newborn baby. Like, “Ohh,” gentle. He’s so excited. So, I hand it to him, and he’s carrying it around. He’s just, “Oh, daddy. I love you so much. You’re the best, daddy. Daddy, you’re the best.” And I just, “Yeah. Okay. Good boy.”
So, we get in the car and he’s like, “Can I open it?” I said, “You can’t open it until we go on vacation.” So, for the next couple of days he is carrying around the box. (Laughter) He’s carrying it everywhere. I go to tuck him in, and he’s sleeping with the box. He’s got a racecar bed with a sword box next to him. And he keeps asking, like every five minutes, “Can we go on vacation today? Can we go on vacation today?” And I didn’t connect the dots. I thought he wanted to go jet-skiing. My wife, Grace, she says, “You know why he keeps asking?” I said, “Why is that?” She says, “He wants to open the swords.” “Really?”
So, I go in there. He’s standing on the table, which he’s not supposed to be doing and he’s looking at me eyelevel. And he’s holding his sword. He’s just standing there in the kitchen just – he’s just killing himself just coveting, coveting, coveting, coveting. Look at the sword. I said, “Zach, do you want to open the sword?” He said, “Please?” I said, “Zachie, daddy will open the sword for you. I told you to wait, but I know you really want to play with it. I’m gonna do you a special favor and open it right now.”
Oh, he was just so excited. It was like a guy on his honeymoon night just, “Yeah! Finally. Yeah!” So, I – Zach had it opened for him, and I hand it to him. He’s so excited. First thing he does, he takes the arrows and the sword, and he puts them down the back of his tank top into his underwear. (Laughter) And he’s – because he always does this. He’ll just runaround like naked with Batman underwear and weapons like he’s some sort of Roman gladiator. And so, he’s carrying the bow, and he’s carrying the dagger, and he’s got it all setup. And I said, “Dude, why you got it like that?” He says, “If the bad guys come, they can’t see it, and I can just get it and stab him.” (Laughter) “Oh, yeah. Okay. Good.” You know, he’s thinking it through. He’s got a plan.
So, we play with this thing. We wrestle all day. We have a great day. He slaughters me all day. We teach him how to shoot the bow and arrow. So, I go tuck him into bed for a nap that day, yesterday. I tuck him into bed. He said, “Daddy, can I sleep with my stuff?” “Yes son, you can sleep with your sword, your dagger and your bow and arrow.” We’re an Old Testament family. That’s not a problem here.
So, I tuck him in. I put all this stuff next to him and he’s so excited. Then later on, I hear him playing up there, which he’s not supposed to do. And so I go up later to check on him to see if he’s still asleep – if he’d gone to asleep. And I walk in and on the floor are all of his arrows. He busted them all. Broke them all in half. Actually, into more than half. They’re little like shrapnel all over. He’s just got it into shreds all over the floor.
So, I knew this, and I said, “Okay. I’ll wait for him to get up and then we’ll have a talk.” So, I go downstairs and wait for him to get up. He’s wakes up. I know he’s up. I hear him upstairs, and I call up. I said, “Zach. It’s Daddy. You’ve got to come down. We’ve got to have a talk about something.” I think he kind of knew. His guilty conscience was kicking in like Adam in the Garden. He’s behind a tree hiding for dear life.
And so, he doesn’t come down for a long time. And I finally put bratwurst on the grill and we had the Mariners game on. And usually that does it. That’s like bait on a hook. He comes – it gets him downstairs. I call up, “Zach, I got Johnsonville brats on the grill and the Mariners are on.” And he finally comes down a little bit later. I’m sitting in my BarcaLounger eating meat, watching the game.
And he comes down, and I said, “Zachie, go back up and get your stuff for me. Go get your dagger, your sword, get your bow, get your arrows so we can play together.” I set him up. So, he looks at me. He’s like, “I don’t want to play.” I said, “You wanted to play all day. Let’s play, buddy.” “Okay.” He starts crying. He goes upstairs crying. He’s all walking slow. And comes back down and he shows me his arrows, and they’re all broken.
I look at them and said, “Zach, what did you do?” He said, “They broke.” I said, “How did they break?” He said, “I drop them on the bed and they broke.” (Laughter) I said, “Really? That’s amazing. Your bed is so resilient that you drop things on it, it breaks them.” “Ah.” I said, “Are you lying to me?” He can’t look at me. He looks down at the carpet and says, “Yes. I’m lying.” I said, “Zachie, you know the Ten Commandments?” “Yes. No lying. You’ve got to obey your Daddy first time.” “Yeah, those are two of them. You’ve been blowing through the list quickly this afternoon, son.” I said, “Come here. We need to talk about this.” He crawls up on my lap. He’s got all his stuff there. I’m talking to him.
And I said, “Why did you do this?” He said, “Well, I went to shoot it, but I couldn’t make it shoot, so I got angry and I broke them.” I said, “Zach, were you supposed to be playing with them or were you supposed to be napping?” He said, “Napping.” I said, “So you sinned because you didn’t take your nap. You sinned because you got angry. You sinned because you broke your toys. And then you sinned because you lied to your Daddy.” I said, “Is that all true?” “That’s true, Daddy.” He just starts bawling. He’s sitting on my lap, and he’s just crying. Just tears. He’s just totally devastated.
And I looked at him. I said, “Zachie, how does daddy feel about you?” That’s when he said, “You love me, Daddy.” I said, “I do. I love you with all my heart.” And I said, “Do you know why it’s so bad when you sin like that?” He said, “Why?” I said, “Because we can’t have fun.” I said, “When you broke the arrows, now we can’t play and when you lied to me…” I said, “When you sin like that Zachie, how come you didn’t want to be with your Daddy? He said, “I don’t know.”
I said, “Zachie, when you sin that drives you away from Daddy. So, you need to obey Daddy so that we can have fun and we can stay close. And when you sin, you need to come tell me right away instead of running away, so that we can be close, and we can love each other, and we can continue to have fun together.” I said, “Do you understand that?” He said, “Yes, I understand.” I said, “Okay.” I said, “Well, you can’t play with your toys for the rest of the day.” And I said, “But I still love you, and I want you to learn that this is very important. That you need to obey your Daddy. That Daddy loves you, and you need to obey me so that we can enjoy ourselves and sin doesn’t ruin our fun.” He says, “Okay.”
So, he lays on my chest for about a half hour. I just, you know, rub his back and visit with him. He’s just very, very broken over this. This is his way of repenting is just by being affectionate with me. So, I give it time, and he gets up after a little while, and he goes outside, and he’s all by himself. I see him sitting out in the yard and I wonder what he’s doing. But I thought, “No, I’ll just leave him alone. See what he’s doing.”
He comes back in about 10 minutes later, and he’s very happy. He looks right at me. I get down at his level. I said, “What’s up, Zach?” He says, “I’m very happy now.” I said, “You’re very happy now?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “I prayed to God, and he changed my heart.” I said, “Well, that’s good Zachie because the anger comes out of your heart, and God needs to change your heart.” And I said, “I love you. I’m your Daddy.” And I said, “God’s your Daddy too, and we both love you.” He said, “I know it.” He said, “That’s why I’m happy, and that’s why my heart changed.” So, I hugged him and kissed him.
I’ll read this to you. Verse 6, “Because you are 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,” – you no longer work off a job description. You no longer work off of employee-employer –“but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” God has given you life and His Son and His Spirit and His Word and his people and His gifts and His grace and His kingdom so that you can be His kids and you can enjoy yourselves.
That’s the whole point of freedom in Christ. Because if your Father loves you, you should love and obey your Daddy, and His love will transform you so that you’re able to. Then you can enjoy your Dad, and all that your Dad has because you’re not His slave; you’re His son. You’re not an employee; you’re a kid. And the whole thing that Dad is seeking is relationship and intimacy and joy. He wants to see His kids enjoy the life that He’s given them and He knows that they cannot have that apart from Him. That’s why He calls us to repentance so they can come back into intimacy.
It’s good news, isn’t it? It’s great news. At this point, we always respond to the Father, through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit by praying and repenting of sin. By thanking God in adoration and by taking an offering. If you’re a visitor and not a Christian, don’t give. For the rest, it’s part of your worship. You don’t do this to make yourself holy in God’s sight. You do this because the Father loves you and you want to imitate Him. And He’s shared everything He has with you, and now you want to share with Him.
As well, we always respond with communion, which is recognizing the way we come to maturity is through grace, not works, through Jesus dying for our sins, declaring us to be mature, and enabling us to be adopted as children of God. Sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts so we can cry out to God as Father and have loving intimacy with the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit because of Jesus and what He’s done. And we celebrate that at communion: His body and blood given for us and for our sins, so that we can be back with our Father.
Lord God, we do love you and thank you; that you are our Dad. We thank you that out of all the names and titles that we could use to speak to you, that Jesus taught us to pray “our Father.” And God, we thank you that you’re our Dad. We thank you that you are a great Dad. You’re a perfect Dad, and that you know your kids, and you know how to teach us, and lead us, and guide us, and instruct us, convict us. And you know how to declare us mature and how to clothe us with the righteousness of Christ, and how to empower us to be imitators of you. Just because we love our Dad and want so much to be like you.
Jesus, we thank you for your death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf. That even though you were absolutely equal to the Father, you submitted yourself to his plan, and you died for my sins and that you rose to conquer them.
And Holy Spirit, I thank you for your ministry of coming into me and all of the other sons and daughters of the Father. Convicting us of sin and illuminating Scriptures, leading, guiding, gifting, empowering and enabling us to cry out to our Father and to come and sit on His lap, and to enjoy His presence and His kingdom. We’re grateful for it all, Lord God. Amen.