The Promise of Adoption
“God sent his Son . . . to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Christmas tells us how Christ came.
This passage tells us why he came.
Christ came to redeem us and to adopt us into God’s family. To redeem means to set free from slavery by the payment of a price. The word comes from the slave markets of the first century. You redeemed a slave by paying the purchase price and then setting him free.
Suppose that in addition to freeing that slave, you also said to him, “Come with me to my home and live with me. I want you to legally join my family, take my name, and have an equal share in my inheritance.”
As amazing as it sounds, that’s what God did for us the moment we trusted Christ. He set us free (redeemed us) from the slavery of sin with the purchase price of the blood of Christ. Then he brought us into his family and gave us “full rights” as his own children.
In Jewish culture, young boys are considered men by going through a ritual called a Bar Mitzvah. You might say when we come to Christ, we are “Bar Mitzvahed” into God’s family. We come in as full members of the family with rights and privileges equal to those who have been there for 40 or 50 years. We can pray and claim God’s promises on the same basis as everyone else.
Let’s suppose one of my three sons does something wrong and later feels bad about it. So he comes to me and says, “Dad, I’m very sorry for what I did and I’m going to try to do better in the future. I’m going to try to be more of a son to you from now on.” When I hear those words, I’ll say something like this, “Son, I love you and I’m glad you feel bad about what you did, and I know you want to do better in the future. I want you to know that no matter what you do, you could never be ‘more of a son’ to me than you are right now. Being my son has nothing to do with what you do or don’t do. You are my son by being a part of my family. Nothing you do can ever change that fact.”
The same is true in our relationship with God. Our standing isn’t based on our performance. That’s good news because we all fail sooner or later. Our standing is based on God’s grace. It doesn’t depend on us. Once a child of God, always a child of God. Our standing is secure because it is based on what Christ has done for us.
Poet Robert Frost defined home as "the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in." God is our true Heavenly Father because he chose to add us to his family. Because of adoption, when we go to him, he always opens the door and says, "Welcome home, my child."
Our great God, when we are tempted to doubt, remind us that our standing with you does not depend on our performance but on your grace. Amen.
Musical bonus: Francesca Battistelli helps us understand why the birth of Christ is good news with a song called You’re Here.
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