Look at Paul’s words to the Church in Galatia. There is a lot of language here that Paul uses around the idea of being adopted, and looking forward to receiving an inheritance.
Reading from Galatians 3: 27ff
The clearest place in the Bible, Paul talks about the doctrine of Adoption – God adopts us to be his son, his daughter.
Paul’s adoption was quite different in Paul’s day from the way that we think about it.
What does it mean in Paul’s world?
To be adopted means to be given a future.
The single most important aspect of adoption in Paul’s day, was the connection between adoption a inheritance. Adoption was not about providing a home to an orphan.
In Judaism an orphan would often be cared for by other relatives.
Adoption was done in the Graeco-Roman mostly by the wealthy and powerful. It was about passing on the family estate and line to the next generation. This was done to ensure the family’s survival.
The head of the family was called the Paterfamilias. And he wanted to ensure that this influence would go on into the future. The pater would select a male heir through the process of adoption. Very often you would not change home.
If orphan’s did get taken in, to be a slave.
He would look for someone who would carry on his family’s way and work.
This was a tremendous opportunity. It meant that the paterfamilias believed in you and wanted you to carry on his name, and extend his influence throughout the world. You have glorious future (Galatians 4:7)
Whatever has gone on in your past, you have a future.
To be adopted meant forgiveness from all debts
Often in those days families would get into financial problems. Fathers would sometimes sell their children into slavery. Also when father died, son would pay debts. When a man was adopted, he was free from the creditors who went after his own family.
It means that right now you are free from your moral debt.
You don’t have to carry the debt around if you are a child of God. If you ever feel ashamed or guilty, you just point to your father.
Adoption means a new security for insecure people
If a biological father was going to give up his son for adoption, he would emancipate his son to a mediator. This would happen three times, and after that point the new adoptive father would make this new son.
The reason is that the father would often sell and resell their child. This was a way of reassuring the adopted son that you would never be sold again. This is an irrevocable promise. No matter what you will always be my son.
Adopted sons were actually more secure than biological sons. They would never be given up.
Anyone here know any insecure people. You can have the security that other people try to engineer security through.
Adoption means you get a new identity.
The pater would give you a new name. You would have a different way of regarding yourself. This ritual of receiving your new name was quite important. Talks about a ritual for doing this in Athens. Then he would introduce his new son to other members of his household, and others would accept this, and his name would be entered into the official register of his family.
You have been adopted into Christ Jesus, all you who have been baptised in Christ.
You are somebody.
In this world, people are obsessed with showing that they are somebody.
Adoption means that you have identity.
Adoption means that you could look forward to a new freedom.
The pater would have to think, what would happen if I die before my child comes of age. A tuteller (gives us the word tutor) would look after this child, as long as the tutella had this power. Girls came of age when they were 12 years old; boys were 14-18 years of age.
If you were an adopted son and your pater died, this would be grim because tutella’s were difficult. But you looked forward to the day that you were set free by your tutella, and you would come into your inheritance.
As long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave (this is the practice he is referring). He is under guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. But when the time had fully come – this is what Paul is talking about.
If you know Jesus then you have been adopted.
You are all sons of God – in Christ there is neither male or female. Why does he say sons instead of children. In the ancient world, how many girls got adopted? Not many at all. Girls could not become a Pater. Now Paul is saying that the earthly father is saying that the pater is giving to males and females, slaves and frees; in a way that does not happen in the culture.
Who would adopt a slave? Nobody does. God does.
Who would adopt a girl? Nobody does. God does.
He talks about being under bondage – under here. He talks about lots of ways in which we are control of others, ways in which we are like children under tutella.
The mediator who would pay the price for his adoption – God sent his son because we were under the power of sin and of death and of guilt. The father sent his own son, he gave his own life. No mediator ever gave his own life. There is one God, and one mediator between God and people – Jesus Christ who gave himself a ransom for all. – 1 Timothy.
You have now been adopted, and the pater believes in you, and he wants to bless you with all that he has, so that he can spread the influence of his family throughout the whole wide world.
Now the question is – do I actually live like this is true, or do I just say it.
Very often we live under, beneath, our privilege – Dwight Moody.
Four wealthy brothers decided to give gifts to their mother who lived far away.
One built her a 4 million dollar house
One put a 100,000 theatre into that house
One had his Mercedes dealer deliver SL 600
You know how Mum loves the Bible, she can’ read it any more, I met a preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took 100 preachers 20 years to train him. I had to pledge 100,000 dollars a year to the Church to get this but it was worth it. Mum just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it. The other brothers were impressed. The Mum wrote thank you notes to all the brothers to thank them.
Dear Milton, thank you for the house. You built it so large that I live in only one room but I to clean the whole thing, thanks anyways
Dear Marven I am too old to venture out, I get groceries delivered, the car stays in the garage, but the thought was nice, thanks anyways.
Dear Richard, the expensive dolby surround sound theatre holds 50 people but all my friends are dead, and I can’t see well enough to use it, thanks anyways.
Dearest Melvin, you are the only son to have a little thought to think about your gift. The chicken was delicious, thank you.
Living beneath your privilege, this fabulous gift that you are given, and you just throw it away.
Paul says – if you are a son then you are an heir. It is a gift beyond your wildest imagination.
The promise, the inheritance is not just going to come after your die, but the time has fully come now when we are not under the tutellar. We have been set free now. We have been set free for life in the Spirit, and the Spirit is now available.
That life is available through the Spirit of life. What we really want is love and joy and peace, and this comes through the Spirit, if you have been adopted by God then the Spirit is available to you in Jesus.
Am I living that? Or am I living beneath the priviledge. Nothing to do all day, just walk in the Spirit, just keep in step with the Spirit
From the writer Francis Fenlon
“What God asks of us is a will which is no longer divided
Between him and any creature.
It is a will pliant in his hands.”
Make surrender your chief aim this week. Do not take a single step without God.
Live with a surrendered will.
So the next day I went in determined to live in a posture of surrender. My posture of surrender last less than a minute, and I talk too much, and I get argumentative. I don’t stop to pray, I get self absorbed, I get stubborn, finally at the end of my work day. I am pontificating, and finally Rick Langlow yelled at me – do you know how carnal you have to get for Rick Langlow to yell at you.
How often do I live beneath my privilege. I had a bad day but I am still God’s child. In any moment I can surrender to the Spirit, that is the promise, that is the inheritance, that is love and joy and peace, that is God at work in you.
Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into your hearts, God is at work in you right now, even if you don’t know it.
Think of the first cry of a child’s heart, and that is the Spirit, as the child reaches out to the Father. Paul doesn’t say “I cry out,” or “you cry out” but the Spirit cries out, the longing to love, is the echo of God longing to love you.
Guy in a grocery store, it’s okay Billy, it’s okay Billy with his three year old son in a grocery store as his son gets crankier and crankier
It’s okay Bill, it’s okay Billy, we’ll be done soon Billy.
A woman comes up him, you are so patient with your son Billy
Oh no, my son’s name is Justin, I’m Billy.
And he starts to sing a song, “I’m so glad that you’re my son,
I am so grateful that I get to be your Dad
I love seeing your face
It makes me happy when you smile
I love to go an look at your little body when you are sound asleep
Whatever happens I will always be your Dad
And Justin gets real quiet, and his eyes get real wide, and his heart gets real calm
And he listens all the way out to the car
And Justin says, “Sing it to me again Daddy, because you never get to old for that song, because that is the song you were born to here.
The little boy is no more a son than he was before,
It is just that now he knows.
He knows that that father is his father
That’s what God wants to do.
This is not about what we do,
“Sing it again.”