Why God Sent His Son: Part 3, Our Sonship
As Christmas draws near, I offer one final meditation on the question: Why did God send His Son? In my previous two meditations from Galatians 4:1-7, we have already seen that God sent His Son because we are all enslaved to sin, so Christ added His human nature to His divine nature in the miracle of the incarnation. His life of righteousness fulfilled God’s law that we spurned and disobeyed in our sin. His death paid for our disobedience to God’s law by receiving the wrath of God that we deserve in our place. In Christ, we are redeemed from our slavery to sin, and we are received as sons of God because He adopts us as His own children.
What does it mean to receive the adoption as sons? The Apostle Paul answers this question in verses 6-7. What he says will cause us to joyously celebrate Christ’s coming in this world!
Because we have been adopted as God’s children, God the Father richly blesses us in Christ. This blessing comes when God sends forth the Holy Spirit into our hearts. While God’s Law remained outside of us as an external authority that could not change our hearts, the Holy Spirit is sent inside of us to renew our hearts and transform us into the image of Christ.
God sent His Son so that we would be adopted as sons, but then He also sends His Holy Spirit so that we would know we are adopted as sons. God the Father chooses to adopt us, God the Son secures our adoption, and God the Spirit assures us of our adoption. It is through the Holy Spirit that we know God as our Father and experience our relationship with Him as our Father.
Through the Holy Spirit, we have the freedom to cry out to our Creator and Lord: “Abba! Father!” What intimacy we have in our relationship with God our Father. Paul uses two words for father here: the Aramaic “Abba” and the Greek “Father.” He is emphasizing how the gospel unifies the nations and peoples in the world into one. Together, whatever our language, we can cry out to God as our Father in Christ through the Holy Spirit!
The Apostle Paul expands on receiving the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:14-16: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Today there is a lot of confusion about the Holy Spirit. But what Scripture says here is that if you are in Christ, then you arefilled with the Holy Spirit! So, we don’t look to some time after we are converted when God sends His Spirit inside of us. We are filled with the Holy Spirit when we are adopted as God’s children. All of those who believe in Christ have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
When we trust in Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit is sent into our hearts and we are given His strength, His security, His seal! He is God’s pledge of our adoption, showing us that God is for us and not against us. We now know God as our loving and caring Father to whom we cry out for support and help.
With this in mind, how much should our lives be devoted to prayer? As a father, I love when my children come to me and ask for help with something they cannot do on their own. Our Father is infinitely greater than any father in this world, and He loves for His children to come to Him and ask for help in our time of need too! Do you remember how Jesus taught us to pray? “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2).
Before Christ, we were slaves to sin. Our rebellious hearts were hostile to God, so we refused to submit to God by living in disobedience. But under the grace of Christ, we have been redeemed from our slavery. We have been adopted as sons of God our Father!
Since we have been adopted as His sons, we are also heirs through God. Our adoption does not exclude women, but Paul refers to us as sons because in the Roman culture it was the son who was the heir of a promised inheritance. So if you are a son, male or female, then you are an heir through God.
This means that we inherit the promise given to Abraham and His children by faith—justification before God and an eternal life of fellowship with Him through our Savior Jesus Christ. As Christ is righteous, so we are righteous in Him. As Christ has conquered death with resurrection life, so we receive this eternal life as our inheritance!
In Christ, we receive our inheritance of all of the promised blessings that God made to Abraham. Paul had been writing against the Judaizers who thought that they would inherit these blessings because they were God’s sons as natural children of Abraham. But God in His love gives His inheritance to His adopted children as spiritual children of Abraham. We are the heirs of His blessings through Christ. His Holy Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance, which we will fully receive when Christ returns.
Why did God send His Son? God sent His Son to adopt us as His children! Galatians 4 reveals to us that God sent His Son because of our sinfulness, to be our Savior, so that we will receive His inheritance through our sonship. What a glorious Christmas gift! In Christ we are redeemed, and in Christ we are adopted.
This is why J.I. Packer wrote in his classic work Knowing God: “You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God…. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”
The Christian faith is a relationship with God as Father. Some have no experience with a father, so they don’t know what having a father means. Others have bad experiences with fathers, and they don’t know what having a loving and caring father means. God is the best Father possible! He loves you, cares for you, and wants what is best for you. He is also at work in your life in Christ through the Holy Spirit so that you will become who He created you to be!
May this be the reason that we celebrate the birth of Christ, because He was sent for us to know God as our Father and experience our Father’s love forever in His presence. Let our Christmas celebrations be full of joy because of Christ’s redeeming work for us, reconciling us with God and giving us eternal life to enjoy with Him!