June 23, 2019 Whose Child Are You?
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ
I don’t know if you remember the event 12 years ago. There was the sudden death of a famous mother, which left a baby girl orphaned, & it was pretty big news. For weeks, news anchors seemed obsessed with this story = like nothing else in the world mattered. The primary focus of the media attention had to do with WHO the Father of this baby was. In a perfect world, that basic information would not be secret or unknown. But the world is not perfect, especially in Hollywood!
But in the sad case of Anna Nicole Smith, several men claimed to be this baby’s father = and evidently, it could’ve been any of them. Finally, after a wearisome two-month media frenzy, the moment of truth came as a result of DNA testing. On April 10th 2007, the whole world discovered who the father of little baby ‘Dannielynn’ was. Now, I don’t remember who it was, & I didn’t bother to look it up = because it doesn’t really matter to us; we pray that it does matter to that man & his child, and that he’s taking his role as father seriously.
Recalling that event is only an illustration for us to ask a question, which will help us meditate on our Epistle Lesson for the day: the question is = *Whose child are you?
Most of us, have a birth certificate we can refer to; altho some people don’t have one.
Most adoption agencies are very careful to get as much information as possible about biological parents; but sometimes information is lost, or just not known.
You may have known a person like ‘Theresa’, whose older brother would occasionally mention to her that she didn’t really belong to the family, because she was adopted. This really bothered her, so when she was older, she went to her parents and pressed them for the truth about her background. Her brother’s negative words had a negative impact on her sense of identity & family belonging. *Whose child are you? It’s an important question = the answer helps establish /our place in the world, where we come from & where we fit in.
But there are those who have had to make it thru this life without knowing much
= if anything = about their parents, and they’ve done just fine. Some of them have become a bit famous themselves.
For example, Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain. He was adopted at six weeks of age, and never knew his birth parents. Go into any Wendy’s restaurant and you may see a poster about the Foundation for Adoption that he established, which has had a much bigger & better impact on lives than his hamburgers.
His foundation seeks to find permanent, loving homes for children in foster care. You may recall that James 1:27 says that religion that looks after widows & children is pure & faultless = only thru faith in Christ, of course.
*Whose child are you? There’s a deeper level the Bible speaks of. The apostle Paul answered this question for the Christians in Galatia when he wrote, in vs.26&27 -from the NIV version- “You are all children of God thru faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
You are a child of earthly parents whether you know them or not. But the question with eternal significance is: *are you a child of God thru faith in Christ Jesus? Paul says that IF you belong to Christ, IF you’ve been baptized into Christ, THEN you are a descendent of Abraham. Paul says if you TRUST in Christ then you are in line for an inheritance.
What would happen if you told someone you were getting an inheritance? You would get their attention, and they would ask /‘how much,’ /‘who from,’ /or ‘who died’? I wonder, would they be disappointed to learn that you’re talking about a ‘heavenly one’? Paul says this inheritance is tied to ‘promise,’ in the sense of ‘covenant’. God made a pledge with Abraham involving ‘The Christ’. It’s a very specific promise; it’s THEE promise which leads to THEE inheritance.
*How long does it usually take you to keep a promise? I’m sure you would say: well, that depends on the promise. If you promise to meet someone for lunch tomorrow, you’ll have that promise taken care of within 24 hours or so. If you promise your banker that you will pay off your mortgage, that may take 20 or 30 years, depending on the terms of your loan. When -as a man & a woman- you stand at the altar, and exchange those solemn words of the marriage vow, you are promising your faithfulness to that person until death parts you. You & I make promises often; most we keep, some we break. Some take a few minutes or days to fulfill, others take a lifetime.
The promise Paul talks about in Galatians is the promise God made to Abraham.
This promise had 3 parts; you can read about it in Genesis 12. God promised to Abraham LAND and DESCENDENTS, that’s parts 1 & 2. That was music-to-the-ears of a wandering nomad, who didn’t yet have any children by the age of 100. But part #3 of God’s promise was the better & longer-lasting part; that thru Abraham, ALL the nations of earth would be BLESSED. That promise of God was almost like a riddle. *How could the whole world be blessed thru just one man?
Muslims, Jews, and Christians all claim Abraham as their faith-father. Muslims & Jews focus on him as their father according to earthly ancestry; while Christians primarily view him as their spiritual father. That idea is clearly stated by Paul in this 3rd chapter of Galatians (& is also found in the book of Hebrews, & in the OT.) He said, “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants”. If you have faith in Jesus as The Savior, then you have a kinship with Abraham. Abraham was ‘christian’ = a believer in God, & in Jesus-the-Christ-yet-to-come.
Abraham trusted God. The Bible says of Abraham that he believed God, and his faith was “credited to him as righteousness.” = the righteousness of faith. (Gen15) Abraham was declared righteous, or holy before God, not because he was perfect & never sinned; but because he trusted God’s promises in the Savior/Christ/Redeemer, who was coming. This is how Abraham was able to pass God’s test and was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Have you ever said, “I won’t live long enough to see that happen.”? Abraham DID live long enough to see with his own eyes the fulfillment of some of God’s promises of land & descendants. He did enter & live in the land God promised to him & his offspring; he lived to see his children born = not just Ishmael & Isaac, but after Sarah died, Abraham married again & had 6 more children. He lived to the ripe old age of 175 years. But he would have had to wait 2,000 years to see the fulfillment of God ultimate promise of world-wide blessing.
Even our father Abraham was not allowed to wait that long on the earth. So instead, he looked ahead, and saw the promise of Christ from a distance, thru the eyes of faith.
When you think about waiting, & what comes to mind? Most children would say that waiting for Christmas is hardest. There’s so much build-up after Thanksgiving, thru Advent,
…thru special church services, school concerts & decorating & parties. Even our father-in-the-faith Abraham was waiting for Christmas; he didn’t call it ‘Christmas’, but he was waiting for the Advent & Nativity of the promised Christ, man’s Redeemer & Lord.
Abraham would’ve had to wait 2,000 years; but God didn’t have him wait that long on earth. The promise was not about Abraham, & how long he could wait. The promise was about the coming of the world’s Savior, and the blessing of all nations =all generations= of the earth. And besides that, Abraham did not have to SEE the promise fulfilled, because he knew & trusted the ONE who made the promise. So, by faith Abraham believed the promise, and = as we know = God’s blessing finally came.
Paul describes Jesus’ coming like this: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” By sending His Son, God kept His promise to Abraham, that thru his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed. While Jesus was God’s Son, He was also Abraham’s descendent. So, in Matthew’s gospel we read this, 1:1: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus was the Son of God, the son of David, the son of Abraham, and the child of Mary. And thru Jesus = thru His cross of forgiveness, and thru His tomb of resurrection = ALL nations of peoples are blessed, and need to hear of Him, that they may believe in Christ, and become a child of God, with the inheritance.
*Whose child are you? Even tho we may all have different earthly fathers, who may (or may not) have been a great blessing to us; yet, we come here to worship together as a greatly-blessed family because we all have the same heavenly Father. By the confession of faith = that gift of faith given to you by the Holy Spirit, thru the Water and the Word = I know whose child you are. By the confession of our mouths, and by the Biblical actions of our lives, you & I show who is our Father. By our trust in His Son Jesus, and by our lives lived in obedience to His Word, you & I show that we are family with the same Father; and our eyes of faith are looking forward to our promised inheritance.
Abraham looked forward in faith; you & I look back in faith at the facts. The Son of God, the very Word of promise to Abraham, became flesh and made his dwelling among us, as one of us, to save us. He brought to us the glory of the father — which is mercy — Jesus came to us full of grace & truth. *Why did he come? Paul said why: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might be adopted as God’s children.”
Most stories of adoption are fun to hear & enjoyable to tell. Couples wait for the call to come and pick up their long-awaited child; and there is a joyous coming together with pictures and parties. The story of our spiritual adoption is also marvelous, even miraculous; but it was only accomplished thru redemption, says Paul == and our redemption was messy; not enjoyable, involving the cross.
The events of our redemption were sorrowful, violent & bloody. To preserve your life, blood had to be spilled to atone for your messy & deadly sins. Lives had to be exchanged; the price of death had to be paid under the law of God. During July 4th celebrations, we often hear that phrase “freedom isn’t free.” Neither was freedom from sin; our forgiveness was not free either. It cost Jesus everything. But the promise to Abraham was made & kept. Jesus was that promise fulfilled, and all nations are blessed = if they believe in Christ.
Paul said that we were imprisoned by our sin under the Law. But with Jesus’ substitution for us, with his death & resurrection, He has redeemed our adoption into God’s family again. Your adoption papers have been signed & sealed in blood; it’s called ‘the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ Now, nothing can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*Whose child are you? At times, you may have felt like an orphan, alone in the world, with no place to call home. Turn away from your feelings, and turn back to God’s promise. By the work of Jesus & thru your baptism, you are an actual child of God; with the same faith as our father, Abraham. The same word of promise comes from God to you. You are a member of God’s family, among all those to be blessed in Christ; and you have thee inheritance kept in heaven for you.