Mike Gerhardt Redeemed & Adopted, Galatians 4:4-7. 12-22-19. Last week we mentioned how a baby changed everything. Things change also when you grow older: You're now excited about practical gifts (except I like to surprise people by giving them impractical gifts), You want to sleep in on Christmas morning, You need coffee before opening presents, You eat the cookies meant for Santa so you have to keep replenishing them, You're expected to give more than you receive, Toys for kids and adults are all electronic gadgets, Snow is no longer fun unless you're Pastor Mike, Opening presents is still FUN!!
Christmas can get complicated since most say Christmas is about family and families are complicated. How many Hallmark movies emphasized being with family? How many of you have family members that you would prefer not to be with at Christmas? We spoke last week about being part of the family of God. But even our church relationships can also be complicated. What is the saying? To dwell above with saints we love, Oh, that will be glory. But to dwell below with saints we know, Well, that's another story. That’s also another message. How is your relationship with God as your Father? The default setting is OK. When Jesus began His preaching, He called people to repent (change your mind! Change your life!) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Paul taught us that we needed a fundamental change in our relationship with God and with others. Paul used two words to explain the change. The first word is Redemption. Born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law. Redemption has two ideas: to purchase & to liberate. When we redeem a coupon for a free dinner, we use that coupon to buy something. Paul’s redemption comes from the slave market. People became slaves for a variety of reasons, but there were basically two ways a slave found freedom: either his master freed him, or somebody else redeemed him paid the price for him to be set free. We may not feel like slaves, but Jesus has a different opinion. John 8:34 Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. Have you ever done something wrong? Have you ever broken a rule knowing what you were doing? Jesus says we are slaves to sin. We are slaves to sin’s penalty. We are slaves to sin’s power, we do wrong even when we mean to do right. We are slaves to sin’s destiny, a place called hell. Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die… Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death (eternally). The truth is we can’t free ourselves from sin. We can’t free ourselves from guilt. We can deny it, try to forget it, but it won’t go away. We can’t free ourselves from sin’s power: no matter how hard we try. There’s no way we can escape sin’s destiny. More bad news: sin ruins our relationships with God and others. God is Holy. He hates sin. As long as we are slaves to sin, our relationship with God is tarnished. But the good news is the baby born in Bethlehem’s manger can redeem us from sin. He is fully human, born of a woman, like us. He was born under the Law, subjected to God’s requirement for holiness. Jesus kept the Father’s Law perfectly for He was not a slave to sin. Jesus is fully God. Because He was free, He could pay the price for our freedom, His own death on a cruel Cross. He was born to die to redeem us from sin, to offer us a not guilty verdict before a holy God, to set you free from guilt, from eternal death. John 8:36 Jesus said: If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Yet Jesus was not born just to free us from slavery. Jesus was also born to change our relationship with God through Adoption: that we might receive the adoption as sons. Buy a slave, set him free, and he goes his way. But God freed us from slavery to make us His sons and daughters. He sent Jesus not just to take off our chains, but to adopt us into His family. Bruce Barton writes: In Roman culture, a wealthy…man could take a slave…and make that slave his child and heir. The adopted person was no longer a slave. He became a full heir…guaranteed all legal rights to his father’s property. He was not a second-class son; he was equal to all other sons…in his father’s family. That person’s origin or past was no longer a factor in his legal standing. God wants to bring us into His family. Jesus wasn’t born just to set us free, but to set our place at God’s table, to welcome us home to a new family, to make us a beloved child of God. C S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote: The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God. How would you describe your relationship with God? I am sure you try to live right, stay out of trouble, do the best you can. You think you need to be you’re more nice than naughty. Jesus Christ was born to change your relationship with God. He came to earth to set you free from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, & someday from the presence of sin. His redemption makes you a beloved child of God, so give up trying to earn your way into heaven, enjoy life as a child of God. Gerald Penix wrote: My wife & I waited 15 years for a child before we adopted a baby boy. As we stood before the judge, he told us “From today on, he is your son. He may disappoint you, even grieve you but he is your son. Everything you own one day will be his and he will bear your name. Read verses 6&7. Love restores relationships. Our relationship is changed forever. No longer a slave but a son and an heir!! Jesus was born to die to redeem and to make way to adopt us into His family. Bret Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp is about the meanest mining camp that struggled to survive during the gold rush, inhabited by just men and a woman servant named Cherokee Sal. The gold was scarce, and then one day Sal died as she gave birth to a boy. The men named the child Thomas Luck and put him in a box with some old rags but then sent a guy 80 miles to buy a rosewood cradle. They sent another to Sacramento for some silk and blankets. Some noticed that the child’s room was filthy. These hardened men got on their knees scrubbed the floors, walls, ceiling, and windows and put up curtains. Their behavior started to change. They gave up fighting, because babies can’t sleep during a brawl. They watch their words, because they didn’t want to teach him bad language. Roaring Camp changed. They took the baby to the entrance of the mine in the rosewood cradle. They planted a nice garden around the baby's cradle. Soon they're washing their hands & shaving in order to hold the baby close. In the story, the general store sells out of soap and shaving gear. What changed Roaring Camp? A baby, a baby changed everything. Let Jesus change everything in your life too. Be the blessing, be the solution, be the light in your family and neighborhood this Christmas and throughout the new year.