Monday, 26 September 2011
Galatians 4:1-7 Now that’s an inheritance
Have you ever wanted to look inside a mansion?
During our seminary days we used to take walks in the early evening. As we climbed the hill, bungalows gave way to stately houses. Sitting at the top of the long ascent was a many chimney-ed, multistory mansion. If we timed it just right, after the lights went on but before the curtains were pulled, I caught a glimpse of mahogany woodwork over enormous fireplaces, Tiffany lamps illuminating massive book cases, and a sweeping staircase covered in rich green carpet. What would it be like to live there?
That’s probably one reason why I’m fascinated by the PBS series Downton Abbey. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a story of a wealthy British family and their household staff, set in the period that includes the sinking of the Titanic and World War I. The title of the series is actually the name of the grand house, which is a symbol of the family history, wealth, and influence. And yes, you do get to see inside.
The plot has many twists and turns but the real question is, who will inherit the house and all that it symbolizes? The problem is there is no son. Daughters weren’t allowed to inherit property. The nearest male heir died on the Titanic. Now some far off male cousin was being contacted. If only they had a son.
Imagine if the father in the story had come up to the eldest daughter and said, “I’ve found a way around the law. I can legally declare you to be my son. As my son, you are now my heir.” She was still a daughter, but had the rights of a son. Her status was legally changed.
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” We left Galatians at the end of chapter 3. Paul had just reached a highpoint in his drama. But now….(drum roll please)…faith has come…Christ has come…you are all sons of God through faith in him. God isn’t confused about my gender when he calls me a son, he’s bestowing a legal status on me. He is pronouncing me his heir.
Now there’s a place to take your sanctified imagination when you’re bored. No need to dream up vacations to exotic places or watch the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Instead ponder this, “And if you are Christ’s , then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
This week’s questions. I wanted to get us back in the flow of the passage after two weeks off. Let’s back up to Galatians 3:26-29 for the first question and then press on into 4:1-7.
1. Reread Galatians 3:26-29. What 4 things are ours “in Christ”? Is our Sonship earned or given (see also 4:5)? Why do you think Paul emphasizes the word “all” (and “as many of you”)?
2. Read Galatians 4:1-3. What does Paul mean by this image of the heir as a child? How does the gospel of Christ bring us to maturity?
3. Read Galatians 4:4-5. What happened in the fullness of time? What did Christ accomplish? Look up redemption and adoption in a dictionary. How are they similar? How are they different? Why is it important to keep both in view as we live the Christian life?
4. Read Galatians 4:6-7. Who else does God send? What is the ministry of the Spirit according to these verses? How is the Spirit similar to a “sanctified imagination”?
5. Christ is the True Son, obedient, faithful, near to the Father. What do you learn about him from this portion of Scripture? By faith you are made like him.
6. Jesus promised to ask the Father to send the Spirit. Galatians 4:6 calls him, “the Spirit of his Son.” How will this Spirit help you to live out your life as a son (and daughter)?
7. Galatians 3:27 says that we have “put on Christ” like clothes. Think about your favorite clothes, those that are most comfortable or most fashionable. How do they feel? How do they affect your mood? How near are they to you? How do they stay with you during your day? That is a picture of what Christ is to you in daily experience. Put on Christ today as you dress and remember him throughout your day.
8. Prayer is one of the primary expressions of our adoption as sons and daughters. Talk with your “Papa” today as freely as a little child on a daddy date.
I pray we will all grow in our understanding and experience of our adoption through the Son!