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Our Father Adopts (#OurFatherDevotional)

(Thank you to Dr. Robert Sloan, theologian and president of Houston Baptist University, for joining us in the development of the #OurFather devotional).

Galatians 4:4 - But when the set time had fully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption or sonship.

The story of Scripture is the long story of God the Father who, as Creator, gave the first man and woman the responsibility to do His work in the world (Genesis 1-2). But His children, made in His image, rebelled and sinned (Genesis 3). And then, things went from bad to worse (Genesis 4-11).

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The rest of the story of Scripture is the story of our Father's desire to bring His children – and indeed His entire created order (Romans 8:19-22) – back into relationship with Him so that His work and purposes could be done.

This desire of God to restore the fallen creation is reflected in the promises He made to Abraham: He would make him a great nation and through him bless all the nations of the world. This covenant commitment of God was passed on to Israel, but Israel failed to be the light to the nations that she was commissioned to be.

Therefore, Israel received the punishment that the Lord God had promised when, even though she was sometimes called His bride and other times His son, she was sent to exile and nearly wiped out. But the God of all faithfulness kept His promises to Abraham and sent forth His own son to be the faithful remnant, the one person who as a true son of Abraham also embodied Israel as the very Son of God. This new Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49), by His surprising death for the sins of humanity and His resurrection as proof of the promised new creation, has now begun the work of reconciliation, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that He would be the father of a worldwide family.

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It is good news that must be told – that God now seeks to re-incorporate the peoples of the earth into His family. The surprising development of the New Testament is that this incorporation of all the peoples of the earth – Jew or Gentile, male or female, barbarian, fool, free or slave – happens when people hear, in the power of the Spirit, the story of the crucified and risen Jesus. When they believe and trust in this King Jesus, the Spirit of God that He sent into the world on the day of Pentecost enters in a fresh way into the hearts of all who believe.

And that, according to Paul in Galatians 4:1-7, is the moment that the rebels are brought home. In Galatians, Paul often speaks in household and family terms. He speaks of people from all walks of life who are in bondage to the powers of darkness and how they (and we) are brought into the family of God. It happens when we hear and believe the message of the crucified and risen Messiah. Then we are rescued from the tribalism of national identity and the prejudices of ethnic, social, or economic status (see Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11) and given the Spirit of the living God Himself so that we receive the full status of sonship, membership in the family of God, and thus become heirs of God (Galatians 4:7) and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

All of humanity, as rebels to the good purposes of God, who in pride and idolatry have been outside the family of God, can now by faith become God’s children and begin to offer Him the worship that He is due, by crying out "Abba! Father!" They thus turn from the idolatries that have generated their sinful and corrupt lives, and become part of God's new family in the Messiah. The new creation inaugurated in Christ is now extended to peoples of every tribe and tongue and nation because the fulfillment of God’s promises to bless all the world through the offspring of Abraham has now begun. All those who belong to Christ are now liberated to do God's work in the world.

Practice: Read the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 12:11-32.

Consider these questions:

  1. Think about God in family terms. Do you know Him as your Father? Do you know that you are His child?
  2. What does it mean that you are now part of God’s family?
  3. How do you share the story of God’s adoption through salvation with others? How would you share it with orphans and vulnerable children?


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