There are many names for Christians in NT – disciples, believers, followers of Christ. For Paul the most important is this: We are God’s children
Galatians 3: 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
26 You are all sons of God
Christianity is RELATIONSHIP with living God – we are God’s children
how do we receive these blessings?
26b through faith in Christ Jesus, – all received by faith – this is the whole point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Gal 2: 16 We know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no-one will be justified.
when do we become God’s children?
27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
clothed with Christ – we are God’s children because our lives are intimately wrapped in in life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, THE Son of God
2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.baptism – is the outward sign of the inward reality of new birth which comes as we trust in God and turn from our sins
We are God’s children. This reminds us that the heart of the Christian life is the personal relationship we each have with God as our loving heavenly Father. The heart of our Christian life are our personal prayers, and our reading of the Bible, and our worship of God, not only corporately on Sundays but more importantly our service as living sacrifices in every part of our everyday lives. We have a solemn responsibility to live out that relationship with God our Father from day to day. But more important, if we don’t pray, if we don’t read our Bibles, if we don’t involve God in our day-to-day lives , then we will miss out! We will be the losers. What’s the point of the immense privilege of a relationship with Almighty God if we live as though we don’t know Him?!!
But here in Galatians Paul gives us two more implications of being God’s child:
1. United in God’s Family
There was a daily Jewish prayer which Paul as a good Pharisee would have prayed every day. “God, I thank you that I was not born a Gentile, but a Jew: not a slave, but a free man: not a woman, but a man.”
Here in Galatians 3:28 Paul was deliberately contradicting each phrase of the prayer which he had been taught to pray in his childhood.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
28b for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is the slogan of the KESWICK convention – no place for Divisions between denominations –
We are first and foremost not evangelicals, or fundamentalists, or charismatics, or ecumenists, or Baptists, or Catholics, or Protestants; we are children of God.
Jesus prayed for us, for those who would believe as a result of the apostles’ testimony, in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17. He gave us
v. 21 “That all of them may be One , just as You are in Me and I am in You” v. 22 “that they may be one as We are one”Here is the MEANING of Church Unity: THE ONENESS OF THE CHURCH IS TO BE A MIRROR OF THE ONENESS OF THE HOLY TRINITY – Father Son and Holy Spirit. God in Himself is Unity in Community, and the church is called to be one as God is one. Unity in relationships one with another. Unity in community, unity in diversity, not mere uniformity. Then Jesus prayed:
v. 21 “May they be one even as we are one. May they also be in Us, … I in them and You in Me”Here is the MEANS to Church Unity: THE ONENESS FOR WHICH CHRIST PRAYS WILL ONLY GROW AS WE EACH ABIDE IN CHRIST AND GROW UP INTO CHRIST
Our unity comes from Christ and our participation in Him! It is the gift of the Holy Spirit living inside us who makes us the church. Oneness of the body of Christ is supernatural, spiritual. NOT of human origin.. The of Christ body grows and builds itself up in love only and inasmuch as each one of us grow up into Christ.
Finally Jesus prayed
v. 21 “So that the world may believe that You have sent Me” : 23. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.Here is our MOTIVE for Church Unity: THE ONENESS OF THE CHURCH IS TO BE OUR WITNESS TO THE WORLD.
God’s purpose is that the church should be His visual aid to the world of the difference that His love and forgiveness makes. But we give a very poor example of reconciliation if the world sees the church divided and arguing. God commands us to show His kind of sacrificial love to this sin-spoilt world, but He gives us other Christians to practice on. If we can’t even love each other, how can we begin to seek and save the lost?!
God has made His church to all be one in Christ Jesus. Sometimes folk give up working for the visible unity of church just because it seems like too much hassle with not enough benefits. What WE get out of church unity doesn’t matter. It isn’t even that division within body of Christ grieves Holy Spirit of God, that division grieves Christ the Head of the Body, that division grieves the Father heart of God. We don’t need Unity for its own sake. We may not feel we need unity for our own sake. We may not care about unity for God’s sake. But unity in the church is VITAL for the sake of the world, that the world might believe.
Unity within the Body of Christ, the oneness of the church, is right at the centre of our witness to the world .
v. 23 “may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me
EVERYTHING Jesus prayed for His Church in Gethesmane applies to the relationships between different denominations and different congregations. And it also applies just as much to that congregation which is called North Springfield Baptist church as a fellowship.
1. THE ONENESS OF OUR CHURCH IS TO BE A MIRROR OF THE ONENESS OF THE TRINITY
2. THE ONENESS FOR WHICH CHRIST PRAYS WILL ONLY GROW AS WE EACH ABIDE IN CHRIST AND GROW UP INTO CHRIST
3. THE ONENESS OF OUR CHURCH IS TO BE OUR WITNESS TO THE WORLD.
And the apostle Paul similarly worked and prayed for unity and was totally opposed to divisions within any church or congregation:-
NO RACIAL divisions – 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek,
I often smile at those churches which describe themselves as an “international church”. I wonder whether we should change our name to North Springfield International Baptist Church. Because we ARE an international church! There were folk worshipping this morning from Africa and from India and from the West Indies – not just from Essex. We must make sure that there is no hint of division due to racial prejudice!
Mahatma Ghandi said in his autobiography that during his student days he was interested in the Bible. Deeply touched by reading the gospels, he seriously considered becoming a convert. Christianity seemed to offer the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. One Sunday he went to a church to see the minister and ask for instruction on the way of salvation and other Christian doctrines. But when he entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go and worship with his own people. He left and never went back. “If Christians have caste differences also,” he said to himself, “I might as well remain a Hindu.”
NO CLASS divisions – There is neither … slave nor free,
We don’t have slaves in England any more – but we do still have some sense of class identity and class divisions. North Springfield Baptist Church is a socially diverse church. We still have our professionals, our business people, our wealthy members, our academically qualified. And we have members who are unemployed and looking for work. We have members with disabilities. The fringe of the church has single parents, and folk in complicated families which are not just mum and dad married to each other with 2.4 children. We must make sure that EVERYBODY is made to feel equally welcome to North Springfield Baptist Church. No social divisions!
NO GENDER divisions – There is neither … male nor female,
Paul wrote in a male dominated society. In many places women, like slaves, were treated simply as property. We must make sure that we welcome and respect women equally with men!
In fact in this day and age we must make sure that the opposite is also true. We must make sure that we welcome men equally with women! What I mean is this. The last 30 years or so have seen the feminist movement sweep through Western Society, and the church as everywhere else now works very hard to affirm women, and to elevate women to positions of leadership. Some sociologists are now writing of the “feminisation” of the church. Using traditional stereotypes, church life was once very rational and objective. Now it has become much more emotional. So much so that some men are actually scared away by the touchy-feely language and expression of feelings in some worship and some expressions of fellowship. Women and indeed also children have an assured place in the lives of churches – and it is now some men who can feel embarrassed and excluded. We must retain balance – to make sure there is neither male nor female in our church life together. No gender divisions.
All one in Christ Jesus. There are just two other situations in the church where we must watch out for divisions. If Paul were writing to churches today I believe he would also say
“There is neither old people nor young people – for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We must be sure to welcome and affirm our young people as much as we welcome and affirm adults in the life of the church. Children and young people are not tomorrow’s church. They are a valued part of today’s church and we must never forget that. As far as I can see North Springfield Baptist Church are brilliant in helping our children and young people to belong and to play their part in the church’s life. But we must always be vigilant in that area. No age gap!
But then if Paul were writing to churches today I believe he would say one more thing.
There are neither long-standing Christians nor brand new Christians – for all are one in Christ Jesus.
The majority of our membership have been Christians for 20 years or more. The majority of our members were brought up in Christian homes immersed in church life. But I believe God is going to bring New Christians among us again soon – new believers. These will be folk who have never gone to church before, never believed before! They won’t have the background in Bible knowledge and church customs we all have. And yet they will be just as much a part of God’s forever family, just as much a part of the body of Christ as any of us who have been saved for years and years. If there is a real risk of division in the church it will be between established Christians who are familiar with everything that goes on and new Christians who are completely lost, learning things and facing situations for the first time. We must bend over backwards to welcome these new Christians into the church, to take care of them and support them in their new faith – because we are ALL ONE in Christ Jesus!
All one in Christ Jesus – but then more briefly Paul gives us a second wonderful implication of being God’s children:-
2. Sons and heirs
3: 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit
ALL the blessing OT promised – and more – belong to us!how did we become God’s children
4: 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. all through JESUS Son of God
full rights – at least 2 things
6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
We begin to inherit now – the Holy Spirit is the first instalment, the firstfruits of heaven, the deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance. He is 6b the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
The Holy Spirit mediates our relationship with God – the Spirit IN us means whenever we pray God hears – priesthood of all believers.
But having the Holy Spirit in us also means that God can speak to each one of us directly – prophethood of all believers.
2nd right we have as God’s children: 7b and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. In Romans 8:17, Paul writes: “Now if we are [God’s] children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” (NIV) By our faith in Christ we become his adopted brothers and sisters–adopted sons and daughters of God. As fully adopted and accepted children, we share the same inheritance as God’s Son, Jesus.
Most people inherit things when somebody else dies – only a Christian inherits when he or she dies!
The best is yet to come! When we are struggling in this life with discouragement or illness or opposition, we need to remember, the best is yet to come. When we are mourning the loss of a loved one, remember the best is yet to come.
I wonder many times how a child of God could have a sad heart, considering what the Lord is preparing for him. Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661)
We are all Children of God, We are United in God’s Family, We share a wonderful inheritance which begins now and will continue throughout eternity – if you are a Christian, if you’ve put your trust in Christ this is YOU – PRAISE GOD!!!!