The Spirit of His Son: October 8

The Gospel Matters
“…so that we might receive adoption as children.” (Galatians 4:5)
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts
Galatians 3:26-4:31 | October 8, 2017

Introduction: Last week we reflected on how Jesus brings us, by faith, into the lineage and vocation
of Abraham. This is because the law was given to guide Abraham’s descendants into Abraham’s promised purpose—namely, to be the vessel of God’s blessing to all the families of the earth. The ultimate expression of that abundant blessing is the man, Jesus Christ. And Jesus calls the church to share in his ministry of reconciliation.

This gives a hint at how Paul thinks about the Hebrew scripture in light of Jesus. Jesus is the second Adam, come to initiate a lineage of faithfulness; Jesus is the promise that Abraham believed; Jesus is God’s blessing through Abraham to all the families of the earth; Jesus is the Son of Promise, born in the fullness of time (and not according to typical timelines). When Paul looks in the rearview mirror of redemption history, all he sees is Jesus.

With Jesus in full view, Paul asks an agonizing question of the Galatians: “How can you turn back again
to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again?” This is like the questions asked of an addict who has relapsed. Why? Knowing all the pain and suffering that these habits bring, why would you go back to them after being set free? And this is just what Paul is saying.

“You were finally free from all that mess”, says Paul, “so why would you turn back again to be enslaved?! Don’t be jealous of the person who is still ‘using’! And don’t let them seduce you with that trash you once craved! Wake up! Don’t you see that they are only jealous of your freedom?!”

Aren’t we all addicted to earning our own way, addicted to meriting the grace and goodness of God, addicted to measuring up, addicted to earning what God so deeply wants to freely give, addicted to trying harder next time?

Pray: Lord Jesus, as it turns out, rest and freedom are no longer my natural state. I have been earning it
for so long that surrender doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. I’ve come to a place where I would rather fight for something I don’t really want than receive freely what you are eager to give. So give to me the gift of your Spirit, who longs to cry out, “Abba” from the base of my being. Help me to embrace what You would give me. Redeem my own narrow meritocracy. Help me, by grace, to receive with joy that which I do not deserve. Amen.

Read: Galatians 3:26-4:31

Discussion:

1. (3:29) What does it mean to be an heir of Abraham?
2. (4:1-7) Discuss the relationship between being redeemed and being adopted. What do these
words mean? How are they alike? How are they distinct? From what are you aware that you have
been redeemed? What does it mean to you that God has adopted you?
3. (4:8-20) Take turns talking about each person’s “formerly” state. Most people (not all) have had
a season of life in which they were alienated from God and /or the Church. What was this season
like? What did you love and desire? What did you long for? What did you serve? Was it akin
to slavery?
4. (4:8-20) Can you imagine returning to this old way of life? What would those closest to you say?
Would you ever go back? Why or why not?
5. (4:21-31) Have you read the story Paul is talking about? You can read it in Genesis 21:1-14.
Paul says that one of these children was born of “the flesh” and the other was born “of the
promise.” What’s the difference between something coming by the flesh in contrast to promise?
6. (4:25-26, 30) All Jews would see themselves as the children of Abraham and Isaac, yet Paul likens
them to the children of Ishmael—those born to slavery. How would “the circumcision group”
have heard this analogy?

Application: Psalms 139:17-18
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

In a recent Deacon's meeting we reflected on this text asking, “What are God’s thoughts toward us?” Paul tells us (3:27) when we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ. No longer are we under the law, but instead are clothed in Christ.
So when we ask the question, “What are God’s thoughts toward us?”, it is just the same as asking, “What does God the Father think of God the Son?”

Because we have “put on Christ”, the words of the Father over you and me are this: “You are my child.
I love you and am pleased with you.” And because God has sent the Spirit of the Son into our hearts (4:6), our hearts cry out to God, “Abba, Father!”

We are caught up in this Trinitarian dialogue, where the Father speaks over us, IN CHRIST, and where the SPIRIT OF CHRIST in us cries out to the Father. This week, in faith, give voice to this dialogue. Offer this brief prayer throughout the week ahead.

Pray: Almighty God, you are far beyond me. Yet, because I am in Christ your thoughts toward Him in His baptism are toward me in my baptism. I am, by faith, your adopted child. You love me. You are pleased with me. I rest in your love and pleasure. They are upon me in Christ, apart from anything I could do or fail to do. And I receive afresh from you the Holy Spirit. You have given me the Spirit of Christ to abide within me and by that Spirit I cry out, “Abba, Father.” God, you are my good and perfect Father, so I rest in your embrace. Amen.

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