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December 16, 2018

Born Under the Law

Christmas may not have happened if the time wasn't right. Listen or read to find out.
Duration:31:40

Pastor Mike Gerhardt, 12-16-18, Born Under the Law, Galatians 3:26-4:7. We speak of time off, time out, time on our hands, doing time. It's a commodity like a chunk of time, not enough time, time is against us, time is on our side, time flows fast on vacation and very slow on a diet. Timing is everything. I like to cook. At times I'm allowed to help cook if I don't hover over Janet & make suggestions!! The other day I was helping. I threw together something put it in the oven as instructed and a few minutes later I was asked: How long has it had been in the oven? Did you set the timer? When will it be done? I answered: When the fullness of time has come it will be done. That was not an acceptable answer. In the case of Jesus birth, what if the fullness of time hadn’t come? God’s Timing is Perfect. In the fullness of time. 400 years of silence amid the Testaments. Between Malachi & Matthew no prophets nor Scripture. Heaven seemed silent. God was preparing for the coming of His Son. When Jesus came, the Gospel quickly spread throughout the whole world in 350 years. God used the Greeks. Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, ruling the Jews in 333 BC. With the Greeks control, their language became the lingua franca of the empire. All literate people knew Greek. Legal documents were in Greek. I studied New Testament Greek at the seminary. Pilate's sign over the cross of Jesus was in Greek, Hebrew & Latin. The disciples took the message of Jesus to the whole world because there was a universal language. God used the Romans. In 63 BC, the Romans conquered the Greeks. The Pax Romano was universal peace, so the news of Jesus could move easily around the world. With the Romans in power, there was one government over everyone. No need for passports, no fear of enemy territory, no fear of wars. The disciples were free to travel the world with the gospel. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, Jesus. God had a plan. The good road system made travel easier. Most have heard All roads lead to Rome. Roman roads could get you anywhere. God used the Jews. The Jews spread their faith of only one God for 4000 years. The world was polytheistic. Greeks, Romans, Nordic tribes, Hindus had many gods & goddesses. The Romans worshipped the emperor as one of those gods. The Jews believed in only one God Jehovah. The Jews expected a Messiah to come & save the world from sin. A road system, universal language, universal peace, the concept of one God, the promise of a Messiah, the world was ready for Jesus! Timing is everything. It was the last of my four years at seminary pursuing my Master of Theology when Janet decided to give me a graduation child. Actually. I had something to do with it. As president, I was going to a Student Council Meeting to discuss grad activities, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Janet's coworker driving up on the lawn to tell me Janet was in the hospital having a baby. I open my calendar & said that's impossible, the baby is not due for three weeks. She said something like you idiot get in the car. Janet was toxemic & her doctor wanted to induce. I was upset. I wasn't ready. But when the fullness of time comes, you have a baby. It all worked out. God’s Son is Perfect. Jesus was ready to come to earth! Do you know what it’s like to move? I moved 10 times in the ten years before I was married, I’ve moved 14 more times since then & some of you are not impressed. May Purdy, 87, is living in the same house she was born in. Pack, find a new place, turn on electricity, gas, forward mail. Changes. New schools, new job, new friends. It’s quite the ordeal! Jesus was moving from heaven to earth! He left His Royal Throne for a feeding trough. He left the fellowship of the Father to live among the sinful, the diseased & the criminals. He left streets of gold for dusty roads. He left the work of holding the universe together to die on a wooden cross. He left the splendor of glory for the Hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me. He left it all to be God in the flesh. The time had come. Jesus made His move. After 400 years of silence, God spoke once again. Jesus was ready, the world was ready, God was ready. Read 4:4. Divine intervention brought hope and freedom to mankind. As a Jewish father chose the time for his child to be bar mitzvah, the heavenly Father chose the time for Christ to free people from bondage under the law to spiritual heirs. Jesus is human as the phrase born of a woman indicates. The exclusive reference to His mother & not his father matches the doctrine of the virgin birth. Mary gave birth & called his name Jesus. Born under the Law. This doesn’t mean he needed to obey the law of gravity, the law of conservation of energy, or the law of supply & demand. Jesus was born under Law as a Jew. The first five books of the Old Testament were considered the law & had to be obeyed to the letter. He kept that law perfectly, fulfilled it as Matt. 5:17 proclaimed. But no one else could obey all the law & breaking the law had its consequences. The law cursed everyone to spiritual death and in some cases physical death. Jesus, to fulfill the reason he was born, paid the price to redeem us from the curse of the Law. But there is more. God’s Adoption is Perfect. He redeemed us. He adopted us as His children. Paul stressed why the law was given in Gal. 3:19–29. Law was for restraint. The law was given because of sin, not holiness. It didn't fix anything. It let us know we all are sinners. Picture a raging tiger trapped behind bars. He's caged because the tiger’s wild impulses make him dangerous. Do you expect the bars to tame the tiger? Of course not! That is not the purpose of bars; they are there to restrain. What happens if someone tames the tiger or supernaturally changes the tiger’s wild nature? The bars could be removed! This essentially is Paul’s argument. Now that faith has come, believers have been clothed with Christ (v. 27), we have been tamed! How foolish to insist that the tamed beast continue to live behind the bars of the law! God’s intention of removing the bars was taught by the prophets. The Law was also a teacher (Gal. 4:1–7). Often a young child was under the supervision of a family slave, called a pedagogue (guardian, manager). The pedagogue made sure that the child obeyed the parent until the child would receive the full rights (v. 5). The child was no more than a slave of a slave! He obeyed a slave who obeyed his father. But the day came when the child was accepted as an adult. The father spoke directly to him. The son responded directly to his father. The pedagogue was no longer needed. The Law was a pedagogue. Jesus’ redemption is a great transformation from slave to sonship. You are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir (v.7). This is the truth of Christmas. What if Jesus was never born? No presents, No lights, no good news, no Easter. We may be celebrating the sun god like the Druids or Ishtar the heathen Teutonic goddess of Spring. There'd be no Thanksgiving (the Pilgrims were Christians). No Mother’s or Father’s Day they both began in the Church. No Halloween which began in the 9th Century AD as the day before All Saints Day. There'd be no America, Christopher Columbus was a Christian on a quest to discover new lands to bring Christianity to the heathen. It wouldn’t be 2018. It may be 2356 RE (Roman Empire). But there was the first Christmas. Jesus was born. The life that God offers in Christ is one which provides hope, meaning & joy. That life comes by faith, not by trying to keep the Law. What impact has the birth of the Jesus made on your life? If the first Christmas never happened would you be any different than you are today? Jesus was born of a woman and under the Law. God came down, showed unfailing love & faithfulness to us so we can be his children, experiencing the abundant and everlasting life. Have you have received God’s gift of adoption into his family and new life through Christ?