True followers of Christ need to understand their identity, their calling, how to be equipped for their calling, and the power to fulfill their calling. The following is about all of these truths.
I. Identity as Sons, Not Christians
• Galatians 3:26; 4:4-7.
• The Bible teaches us that when we are born again we receive the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
• We are adopted as His children; we are not His foster children. We are legally able to carry His name (Galatians 4:4-7).
• The name “Christian” can connate a nominal affiliation with Christianity through religious tradition, but sonship shows a direct relationship with God as Father. (Those just nominally or religiously connected to Christ will not be able to understand or experience sonship.)
• The term “sons” is used because males were the ones that received the full inheritance in the ancient biblical cultures.
• Greek law combined adoption with heirship. The same seems to have been true in the case of childless persons in ancient Near Eastern law (Genesis 15:2). Paul uses common Old Testament imagery to make his point. However, God had made Israel his children (e.g. Exodus 4:22), and the Old Testament repeatedly speaks of the land as Israel’s inheritance, bestowed on them by God (without any thought of God’s dying, of course).
• Galatians 4:6: Roman adoptions required a witness of the transaction. The Holy Spirit performs this function here. That the Spirit should testify is natural, because Judaism understood the Spirit especially as the one who inspired the prophets. The Spirit here inspires believers, speaking to them as he did to the prophets, to remind them of their calling as God’s children. “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “papa,” a term of special intimacy rarely if ever used in Judaism to address God directly.
• Galatians 4:7: The Galatians are now freed from the slave guardian of 3:24-25, for the time has come (Galatians 4:4).
II. Power and ability to obey the Father
• In the past the Holy Spirit was only centrally abiding in the temple of God.
• In the New Covenant, power is not centrally located in a temple but in each son (John 14:15-18, 26; Acts 1:8).
III. The Father equips all of His children (Ephesians 4:11-12)
• In the New Covenant the Father’s children are all to be equipped for the work of the ministry, not just the priests and prophets. There is no separation between clergy and laity; we are all priests and saints.
• The church assemblies are primarily to be a place of discipleship and equipping, not entertaining or aimed toward making people feel good.
IV. The Father gives each of His children an assignment (Ephesians 4:10; Matthew 28:19-20)
• Christ wants to fill all things with His ministers sent with His identity and power.
• Each believer is to be sent by God to the world to display the love and power of the Father to this dying world.
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