Sons and Heirs (part 1)

Galatians 4:1–7

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, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (ESV)


What a wonderful privilege it is to be God’s children (1 John 3:1)! But even though in eternity past we were already destined to be God’s heirs (Ephesians 4:1:4,5), before Christ came into our lives we were no different from the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3). Just like the rest, we were under the condemnation of the law (Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:10), as well as under the power of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:4). But all this changed because of (1) The Work of the Son, and (2) The Work of the Spirit.

THE WORK OF THE SON (verses 4 to 5).

  • “But when the fulness of time had come.” God has a proper time to work salvation in the lives of his people. He makes all things beautiful in his time. Let’s be hopeful of our loved ones who have not yet come to know the Lord. Let us do our part to share the gospel with them and trust God that he will enlighten them in his time.
  • “God sent forth his Son.” This means Jesus Christ existed prior to being born on earth and was in his pre-existent state sharing in the Father’s glory (John 17:5). The only way Jesus could have shared in the Father’s glory was for him to be one God with the Father (John 1:1); otherwise, the Father would not have shared his glory with him (Isaiah 42:8). This is an important truth when it comes to our salvation. If Jesus were not God he would have had no power to save us since only God has the power to save (Isaiah 45:21-25). Interestingly, Paul applies Isaiah 45:23-24 to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
  • “Born of a woman.” Jesus Christ was truly man. He was born of the virgin Mary and he called himself the Son of Man. Only as man could he have borne the penalty of sin, which is death (Hebrews 2:14). In order to save us he had to be truly God and truly man!
  • “Born under the law.” Jesus Christ had an obligation to keep the whole law, not for himself (he was already perfectly righteous) but for our sake, as our representative. Jesus Christ did not only pay for our sins, he also fulfilled all righteousness for our sake (Matthew 3:13-15; Romans 5:19). If Christ had merely washed away our sins, we would have become merely morally neutral, like Adam in his original state of innocence. But we would not have been positively righteous; in which case, we would still not be deserving of eternal life. Thus, Christ saved us not merely by his passive obedience on the cross, but by his active obedience all throughout his life!
  • “Born under the law.” Christ not only fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law for us, he also bore the penalty for our violations of God’s law. The claims of the law against us have been completely satisfied in terms of both fulfillment and payment! Thus, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, which is death (1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:1).
  • “So that we might receive adoption as sons.” God did more than just free us from the condemnation of the law. He also clothed us with Christ’s positive righteousness and adopted us as his own children. A poor slave who is merely freed from prison still won’t be safe from harm if he is in the streets all alone, naked and hungry. But God not only freed us from slavery to sin and Satan, he adopted us. And that means we are now heirs of all his glorious riches together with our elder brother, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:3-4). (Under Philippine law, the adopted child enjoys all the same rights as that of a natural born legitimate child. I understand that was more or less also the case under Roman law during Paul’s time.) Truly, how wonderful is God’s love towards us in Christ (1 John 3:1).

Thank you Lord!


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