Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Redeemer

And that is the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles (powers) of this world. But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the Law. God sent Him to buy freedom (redemption/atonement) for us who were slaves to the Law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir. Galatians 4:3-7 (NLT)

At the end of the Old Testament, God’s Word had been silent for approximately 400 years. The last prophet that spoke was the Prophet Malachi around 430 B.C. and he announced the coming of the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2). “But for you who fear (honor) My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2, NLT). Also, Malachi concluded his prophecy with a promise of the coming of “the prophet Elijah,” who will offer God's forgiveness to all people through their genuine repentance (apology for sinning) and faith in God (Malachi 4:5-6). After the Prophet Elijah, God’s people did not receive a Word from heaven until the arrival of John the Baptist (Elijah) and Jesus Christ (Son of God/Sun of Righteousness) (see Luke 1:17, 32-37).

At the birth of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, the Jews (also called “Israelites” or “Hebrews”) was under Roman rule. Yet the world was providentially ready for the birth of the Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Chris (Galatians 4:4). Historians tell us that the Roman world was in great expectation, waiting for a Savior and Deliverer. The old religions were dying and the basic spiritual teachings and philosophies of the world were empty and powerless to change people hearts. Religious bankruptcy and spiritual hunger were everywhere – Jew and Gentile world alike. From a historical perspective, the Roman world helped prepare the way for the birth of Jesus Christ. Roman roads connected city with city, and all cities ultimately lead to Rome. Even more, Roman laws protected the rights of citizens, and Roman soldiers provided for peace. Thanks to both the Greek and Roman expansion, Latin and Greek were known across the world. The world’s conditions favored Jesus Christ appearing. Thus, the Redeemer’s birth in Bethlehem was not an accident but God’s providential appointment (Galatians 4:4-5). God's timing was perfect. And, it is worth noting that God will send Jesus Christ again when the time is ready! Just as Jesus Christ’s first coming occurred at the precise time God wanted (Galatians 4:4), so also His second coming (advent) will be at God’s appointed time (1 Timothy 6:15). “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NIV).

In Galatians, the Apostle Paul emphasized to the twofold nature of Jesus Christ – both God and Man (Galatians 4:4). As God, Jesus Christ came forth from God the Father (see John 16:28); but as a human, He was born of a Jewish teenage girl named Mary (Galatians 4:4; see also Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). Thus, Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human. The Old Testament promised said that the Redeemer would be of “the woman's Seed” (Genesis 3:15); and Jesus Christ fulfilled that Old Testament promise (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25). As God, Jesus Christ is Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-16), Head of the church (Colossians 1:18), the highest authority (Matthew 28:18-20), Sustainer of all things (Hebrews 1:3), and Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelations 17:14; Revelation 19:16). As Man, Jesus Christ is the Son of a Jewish woman (Galatians 4:4), Mediator between God and humanity (1 Timothy 2:5), Bondservant of God (Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:7), and High Priest (Hebrews 7:11–22). Jesus Christ is both truly God and truly Man (see John 1:14; Acts 17:3; Hebrews 2:14). Even more, Jesus Christ is Prophet predicted by Moses in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; John 6:14; John 7:40), the Great High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 4:14-16), and King (Psalm 2:6; Micah 5:2).

Why did God the Father send His Son Jesus Christ to earth?  God sent Jesus Christ to redeem (save) humanity from our slavery to sin and eternal death (Galatians 4:5; see also Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11), so we can be adopted into God’s everlasting Kingdom (sonship) (Matthew 19:29; Matthew 25:34). There is no other way to save humanity except faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12). Thus, the purpose of Jesus Christ’s incarnation (arrival or advent) is redemption and adoption (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 8:31; 1 Timothy 2:4-6).

The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19 (HCSB)

Jesus Christ is our living Redeemer (Galatians 4:5; see also Job 19:25; Romans 3:24). Many Jews were looking for a political leader to deliver them from Roman rule, while others were hoping for a Savior to deliver them from sickness and physical hardship. But God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem not only the Jewish people but the whole world from sin and eternal death (John 1:14; John 3:16; John 4:42; Romans 1:1-6; 1 John 4:14). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have all we need. All the fullness of God are found in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9). In Jesus Christ, God the Father has made available to all people through faith the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:3, 7-8; Ephesians 2:7-9), the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19), the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4), and the riches of His wisdom (Romans 11:33).

Among the blessings of believers in Jesus Christ is our adoption into God’s family (Galatians 4:5; see also Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:5). Through faith in Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are adopted as adult children into God’s family with an intimate relationship as God’s full heir (Galatians 4:5-6; see also John 1:12) and we also become spiritual children of Abraham (Romans 4:11-12; Galatians 3:7). In other words, through faith in Jesus Christ we have full membership into God’s family. To ensure our inheritance, God sends into His earthly children’s hearts the Spirit of His Son, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father (Galatians 4:6). This is often called regeneration, being “born again” or “born from above” (John 1:13; John 3:3, 5-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6;15; Titus 3:5). The believer is “born of the Spirit” of God (John 3:1-7) as promised by Jesus Christ through faith in Him (see Luke 24:49; John 14:16-18; John 20:22; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer slaves but God’s children. And since we are God’s adult children, everything God has belongs to us with all the rights and privileges (Galatians 3:25-26; Galatians 4:7; see also see Romans 8:14-17). We can come boldly and respectfully to God knowing that God will welcome us and hear us in our time of need and hurting (Hebrews 4:16).

So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith. . . . For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:9, 26-29 (NLT)

Salvation is the beginning of our faith in Jesus Christ, not the ending. Although we are automatically placed into God’s family as an adult child by faith, we are still “spiritual babe” who needs to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). After we are born, we must grow up in our salvation in the knowledge of God (1 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18). But as far as our position is concerned, we are an adult child of God through faith in Jesus Christ and we can draw on God the Father's abundant privileges.

Once again, the entire Trinity – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit – is involved in our spiritual experience (rebirth). God the Father sends His Son (Jesus Christ) to redeem and save us, and then God the Father sends the Spirit of His Son to live inside our hearts (Galatians 4:6). The Holy Spirit is the essential ingredient to living a godly and righteous life. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift. Every child of God is divinely given the Holy Spirit the moment he or she is adopted by God. The Holy Spirit “seals” believers to assure that we remain in God’s family and do not lose our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30). Jesus Christ’s Spirit living within our hearts gives us God’s character and nature. The Holy Spirit also works in believers’ hearts to increase our love and obedience towards God (John 14:15). Even more, believers of Jesus Christ bear “fruits of the Spirit,” which is the very nature of God (see Exodus 34:4-6; Galatians 5:22-23). Still more, the Holy Spirit tells us that we are adult children of God the Father (Romans 8:15-16) and He says, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6); and, in response, we the believer cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15). The word “Abba” is an intimate Aramaic word that is the equivalent of our English word “Papa” or “Daddy” and reveal our closeness to God as heir of God our Father (Galatians 4:7). “Abba, Father” was also used by Jesus Christ Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane in addressing God the Father (see Mark 14:36).

And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4:13-16 (NLT)

In Galatians, the Apostle Paul called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of His Son that comes into believers’ hearts (Galatians 4:6; see also Philippians 1:19; John 15:26). The Apostle Paul makes it unmistakably clear that the “Spirit of God” lives in every believer (Romans 8:9). Every child of God is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16; I Corinthians 6:19–20). The Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of God the Father (see Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, 14) but also the Spirit of Jesus Christ (see Acts 16:7; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). In essence, the Holy Spirit is sent by God the Father (see John 14:16-17, 26; Galatians 4:6) and by the Son (Jesus Christ) (see John 15:26; John 16:7). The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of believers’ inheritance – whether they are Jews or Gentiles (Ephesians 1:13–14). All guardians and stewards have been discharged; their supervision is no longer needed because believers are full-grown sons indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:1-3; 6). A believer in Jesus Christ realizes who and what His Father is, and so cries out Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).

Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But — When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. Titus 3:1-8 (NLT)

KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994.
Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008.
Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1991.
Woman’s Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1995.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

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