Sunday, September 20, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 4, verse 6

Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, <"Abba>, Father."

“Because you are sons” At the end of the previous verse (verse 5), Paul summed up our position in Christ as being someone with “full rights as sons,” but it felt like there was something more. He now states clearly what was presumed in that verse – we ARE sons. Of course, the Judiazers would argue that without a connection to Abraham by birth, without a bloodline lineage, one would need to “convert” to Judaism, that is, have a technical, “legal” connection. But because Paul has used estate planning as his metaphor since Chapter 3, verse 15, we can infer a “legal” connection, but one that has no requirements for us – Adoption!! By faith, we are the adopted sons of God, whether by the pure-bred blood lineage of Israel, or if we are Gentile “mongrels.”

“God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” In Romans 8:4, Paul states, “the Spirit of God lives in you,” and in Romans 8:2, he calls it the “Spirit of Life,” while in Ephesians 1: 13-14, he speaks of receiving the Holy Spirit as a “deposit on our inheritance.” God sends the Holy Spirit to fill us and to draw us into an intimacy with Him – “into” or “in” our hearts, as close as God can possibly be. But by referring to the Spirit in this way it also serves to continue the legal metaphor. Under Roman law, all adoptions required a witness. (For those of you who have ever seen the movie “Ben Hur,” there is a scene in the movie where the character of Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston, is presented to a crowd of party guests by the Roman general whose life he saved. In front of his guests, the general announces his plans to adopt Ben Hur as his son. The guests serve as official witnesses in the adoption ceremony, and to complete it, the general’s ring is stamped on the adoption document as a seal). Here, the Holy Spirit is serving as that witness, sealing us to the Father in an unbreakable bond. I also think that a parallel can be drawn to the pedagogue in Galatians 3:24 – the slave that was in charge of the child in a “baby sitter” sort of fashion, as well as the “guardian” of 4:2. The Holy Spirit is our new “guardian,” but a guardian that guides us in freedom, and leads us to intimacy with the Father.

“the Spirit who calls out ABBA, Father.” Once again, we are back to the essentials of the kingdom of God; a relationship. RELATIONSHIP! Yes, the Spirit “calls out,” but because the Spirit “fills our hearts,” it is our heart also crying out. We ourselves cry out to fulfill our ultimate longing. We were in slavery before – where we had no rights, and suffered under horrible oppression. We were under the watchful eye of the pedagogue (the personification of the law), whose purpose was to take care of us—but it wasn’t a life giving relationship. Even as sons, in our immaturity, we were under the watchful eye of our guardian. But in Christ, finally, we are free, and we meet at last our true Father. Under the law, the Father was watching over us, but it was always at a distance – like a sitter, or a legal guardian. In Christ, we have direct access to the Father, we are IN the Father’s presence. We know Him! “Abba” is a word in Aramaic (as opposed to Greek, the language the letter is written in), and it is a word that is as intimate a word as can be conveyed – as if we were calling the Lord our “Daddy” or “Papa” instead of the more formal title of “Father.” We are as close to God as a child reaching out and touching his Daddy. Indeed, this verse is the essence of the Gospel message!

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