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Sabbath School Insights
2011 Quarter 4: Oct - Dec
Insights #08, November 19, 2011
Fourth Quarter 2011 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“From Slaves to Heirs”
For the week of November 13 - 19, 2011
“From Slaves to Heirs”
For the week of November 13 - 19, 2011
The difference between the status of a son or daughter, and that of a mere servant is critically important in the life of a believer. Servants must “serve” or perform certain tasks or duties in order to have value in the eyes of the master they serve. This performance based thinking often outweighs and can even completely obscure the value of right relationship with the one who is master and lord. Also this “performance” must be maintained in order for the value to continue.
In the case of Jesus, our exemplar in all things, the Master and LORD was His loving heavenly Father. Satan’s first temptation in the wilderness began with the words: “If you are the Son of God…” This was a direct affront to the One who spoke the words Jesus heard at his baptism forty days before. It was, in fact, a comment designed to test the faith of Jesus in His Father’s words of assurance and hope.
The rest of the Devil’s suggestion was, “...turn these stones into bread.” These words demanded that Jesus prove that He was the Son of God by working instead of by resting fully in faith upon the words of His Father. Jesus responded as a true Son and exercised His faith, the same faith of Jesus that our Father longingly desires to impart to every true believer in the gift of His only begotten Son (Matthew 4:1-4).
“Armed with faith in his Heavenly Father, bearing in his mind the precious memory of the words spoken from Heaven at his baptism, Jesus stood unmoved in the lonely wilderness, before the mighty enemy of souls” (Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, volume 2, page 93).
Galatians 4:1 says, “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a servant, though he is master of all.”
“Paul explains to us how we can be released from many of life’s perplexities, and questions about God’s dealings with us. When we truly comprehend that God is our Father and that He is preparing us to enter His kingdom and that He loves us intensely, then our relationship to God starts to make sense. The rules and regulations are no longer seen as opportunities to prove to God we are His children. Instead they become doors of freedom that reveal God’s tender regard for us and His yearning desire for us to receive our full inheritance as children of God.
Paul explains it this way in Galatians 4:3-7: “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 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. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (NIV)
“These are some of the most beautiful words in Scripture. As we recognize the sacrifice of Jesus in securing our adoption as God’s children, we are released from the slavery of Satan’s kingdom. We break free from the tyranny of the performance-based-thinking and we stand strong and noble as sons and daughters of God, knowing that because Jesus will always be accepted as a Son, in Him, we will always be His beloved children” (Adrian Ebens, The Return of Elijah, page 55).
The reality of being a son or daughter of God carries with it a tremendous freedom from the enslaving concept of merely being a servant. It is true that in His condescension to become a human being, Jesus took on Him the form of a servant (doulos – slave) according to Scripture (Philippians 2:7). This however did not in the least negate the status of Son-ship that Jesus held from eternity past as the Divine Son of God.
The Father’s declaration of Jesus as His beloved Son at the baptism (Matthew 3:17), and then at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) was the most valuable weapon Jesus possessed in His battle against Satan and the forces of darkness. It was not necessary for Jesus to “prove” He was the Son of God. He was the Son of God because His Father had so ordained, and declared it to be so. Jesus did cling to His Father’s words, and rested by faith in them, confident of His true identity.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (1 John 3:2). "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12).
We are believers in Jesus. Therefore, we, too, may be described as “obedient children, not fashioning [ourselves] according to the former lusts in [our] ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14). We, too, may say, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).
“Therefore, since He becomes our Substitute, as described in the last paragraph but one, literally taking our place, not instead of us, but coming into us, and living our life in us and for us, it necessarily follows that the same law must be within our hearts when we receive the adoption of sons. ‘It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6). ‘Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,’ or, Father, Father. Oh, what joy and peace come with the entering of the Spirit into the heart as a permanent resident; not as a guest merely, but as sole proprietor! Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we "joy in God," rejoicing even in tribulations, having hope that never disappoints, because ‘the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (Romans 5:1-5). ...‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’” (E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, page 79).
In the quote above, Ellet Waggoner saw clearly the reality of the very real presence of Christ Himself, dwelling in the sincere believers by His Spirit as the mechanism of manifesting a life that is in harmony with God’s holy will. I concur that when invite Christ to abide in us, it is not only possible but inevitable that we will overcome temptation and sin just as Jesus overcame it (sin) when He assumed our corporate sinful nature at the incarnation. Christ conquered our sinful nature through faith in His Father. Then, He put that self-same fallen human nature to eternal death at the cross. Going back to chapter 2 of this marvelous Epistle to the Galatians, I remember and rejoice in the truth of verse 20 where the apostle Paul declared that it was not himself but Christ that was now living in him through by faith. Oh let us identify with our death in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14), and allow Him to now live in us!
May we all believe and receive our true status as sons and daughters of God and rejoice with great rejoicing that we have such an amazing and loving God as our Father Who so loved us that He gave us His only begotten Son, willing to die the eternal death that we might receive eternal life! (2 Corinthians 5:21).