October 14, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for your partnership in prayer for our prodigals and for revival. Most often it is our insufficiency that drives us to prayer, our sorrow and hurt that bend our knees in His presence, and our inability on our own that keeps us returning to our great God for needed help. And this is good! But as we pray, let’s keep our focus in the right place — living with thankfulness!
I am relatively new to Instagram, but over the last few days, I have seen many beautiful pictures on my feed, reminding me of all we have to be thankful for. Living north of the border, we just celebrated Thanksgiving weekend. This celebration encourages us to focus on the good things God has given - our families, our friends, and our full tummies!
Even though we (Rachel, our two girls, and I) are in a two-week quarantine, I couldn’t help thanking God for my good friend Ross who cooked, or should I say, smoked a turkey for us on Thanksgiving Monday! Wow, who does this kind of thing? Later in the day, the four of us had a pumpkin carving contest. With two pumpkins, we divided up and began our skillful artwork. We did a little bantering back and forth, just par-for-the-course, but it was such a wonderful time. Thank you, Lord, for such a great family!
In our study of Galatians, we have been noting beautiful aspects of our freedom in Christ. In chapter one, we are free to live differently from the world. In chapter two, we are free to live in unity with Christ. In chapter three, we are free to live faithfully before our God. Here in chapter four, I want us to consider some of our blessings and note that we are free to live thankfully.
Firstly, we can be thankful that we are no longer slaves to sin. This is what Paul emphasizes in the first few verses. Once we were enslaved to “the elementary principles of the world” (Gal. 4:3). From the context, it would appear that these elementary principles refer to the natural tendencies to live by rules rather than by grace. We were enslaved to laws and rituals as a means of salvation. This would have particular significance to a Jewish audience, but to some degree, this relates to all of us who tried our best to be presentable to God.
What a great blessing that we don’t need to struggle and strive to do our best. We don’t need to measure up to a high unattainable standard. We don’t need to do, do, do in order to enjoy salvation! We can just rest in the sufficient work of our Savior the Lord Jesus. It is a burden lifted. We have left the old basic principles to embrace a Savior who has completed everything for us. No more bondage! It’s time to shout, “Hallelujah!”
Secondly, we can be thankful that we have been redeemed. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,” (Gal. 4:4-5). The Greek word used here is ἐξαγοράζω exagorazō. The main part of the word means to purchase or buy. In ancient times, it referred to a merchant going into the slave market to buy a slave. The Biblical use of this word means that the Lord Jesus Christ, through His sacrificial death, purchased believers from the slavery of sin. The prefix ex means out of, or from. We have been redeemed from sin and slavery, but that’s just the one side of the equation. Our redemption is out of bondage in order that we might live in freedom. It's a new life in Christ! This outcome is beautiful. We have been purchased to live in freedom and we don’t want to be entangled in that again.
Thirdly, we can be thankful that we have been adopted as sons into God’s family. This is the ultimate purpose of our freedom. Notice what it says, “To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:5-6).
The wonderful reality of our freedom in Christ is that we are now in a relationship of intimacy. The wonder of God’s grace is that we have the Spirit of His Son within us, that is the Holy Spirit, and we have a Father who tenderly cares for us. Such is the nearness and closeness of that relationship, our hearts cry out, “Abba! Father!” The term “Abba” is an affectionate Aramaic term used in the intimacy of the family circle. It was employed by Jesus in His distress in the garden of Gethsemane. We too have this privilege calling our Almighty, Eternal, God, “Abba! Father!” How very precious!
The last thought is that we can be thankful that we are now heirs of all God’s blessings. David Guzik says, “Paul probably has in mind the Roman custom of adoption, where adopted sons were given absolutely equal privileges in the family and equal status as heirs.” This means all that the Father has is ours. There is definitely a future aspect to this, when we will enter into the fullness of this inheritance, but we must never forget that our benefactor has already died and is alive now to enable us to live in the good of our inheritance.
Paul told Timothy to “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1Tim. 6:12). It’s time to live in freedom now and may God fill our hearts with a true thankful spirit as we pray today.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel