For many of us, the idea of fathers brings up a wide array of emotions. Many are blessed with gracious, loving, godly Dads, while many have quite the opposite. In Galatians 4:1-7, Paul describes the wonderful truth of our loving God reached out to us through Christ to adopt us as his children. No matter what disappointments we might have experienced in this life, God extends his love for you in Jesus and invites you to be apart of His family in adoption.
“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. ” (Galatians 4:1–7, ESV)
Right before this passage, in Galatians 3, Paul discusses 2,000 years of Old Testament history explaining the relationship between the promise of Abraham, the Law of Moses, and Jesus Christ and how they relate to one another. Paul ultimately reasons that through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, the promise made to Abraham and his offspring now apply to those who are in Christ Jesus. We then become heirs to the promise that God made to Abraham. In Galatians 4:1-7, Paul discusses our adoption as sons and daughters through Christ.
In verses 1-3 Paul discusses our enslavement as children. To do this, he gives an interesting metaphor. Imagine the son of a man who owns a huge estate. The child has been promised that he owns the estate, and he is the rightful heir to the estate. However as a child, he is treated as a slave because he does not have a say in how the estate is managed. The guardians and lawyers all dictate how the estate ought to be managed until the child is of age to be come the acting Lord of the estate. In this way, the child is treated no differently than a slave who has to constantly succumb the the guardians placed above him. Although the child is the heir to the estate, he is treated like a slave. Paul says that this situation is exactly the way it is for the children of God. Those who live under the Law live as slaves to the Law.
Is the Law then an evil thing? Was the Law created by Satan himself to ensnare and entrap God’s people? This is certainly not the case! God gave the Law and it is good. God intends that the Law reveals our sinfulness and drive us to Christ. Satan intends that the Law reveals our sinfulness and drives us to despair. John Stott says it this way, “God meant the law as an interim step to man’s justification; Satan uses it as the final step to his condemnation. God meant the law to be an interim stepping-stone to liberty; Satan uses it as a cul-de-sac, deceiving his dupes into supposing that from its fearful bondage there is no escape.”
In verses 4-7 Paul explains how Jesus brings us into adoption as sons. God’s brilliant plan to save humanity was to send himself to be born of a woman and to be placed under the requirements of the Law. This is crucial because that means Jesus is one of us. He is fully man and fully place under the righteous standard God set in place. Jesus did this so that he might “redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Because Jesus was fully man and perfectly obeyed the Law, through his death we receive his righteousness and come into God’s family. You and I then become adopted as sons and daughters of God. The great news is that we are brought into God’s family by the death of Jesu! Not only did God make us his sons and daughters, but he seals that adoption with the Holy Spirit. Now our hearts are able to cry out to God and call him “Abba! Father!” just as Jesus did, because of Christ’s death and the assurance of our adoption in the Holy Spirit.
There is a reason God describes himself as Father. Despite all the varied emotions that rise up in our hearts when we think of the word, God shows that he is the loving father who extends to us the hand of adoption. We are no longer slaves, but our adoption is purchased through the blood of Jesus Christ. Do not believe the lie that you are alone in this world. You are not alone; You have a loving Dad, our great God, who invites you to join and to become apart of His family, the church.