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Christmas—The Right Reason
Galatians 4:4-6
Skip Heitzig

Galatians 4 (NKJV™)
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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A Red Christmas

God's plan for us is that we be sons, not slaves. To deliver us from bondage, He sent the Serpent Crusher—the One promised in Genesis 3. From this text in Galatians, we learn that Jesus' coming restores our lost heritage of closeness and intimacy with God. He redeemed us and adopted us as His sons and daughters, and that is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

During the holidays, many of us dream of a white Christmas—glistening trees, falling flakes, sleigh bells in the snow. In the midst of the songs, sales, and celebrations, we must not forget that the purpose of the manger was the cross. This series, anchored in Galatians 4:4-6, reminds us that the way to a spiritually white Christmas is Jesus' blood.

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Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Raised in church/Sunday school
      1. Jesus is the reason for the season
      2. He is the answer to it all
      3. Teacher teaching on Noah's ark, the answer is always Jesus
    2. Jesus is the answer to the longing of all mankind
    3. The Bible has one central theme: Jesus
      1. The Old Testament: He is promised
      2. The New Testament: He is presented, preached, pondered, and predicted
      3. For a lot people, the Bible is like going to a play and getting there late; they only read the New Testament, so they are lost; on a trek in the jungle
      4. The Bible is a seamless revelation of Christ
        1. It is a staged and coherent story when you give Jesus his rightful place (see Colossians 1:18)
        2. The Bible is not haphazard; Paul told the Ephesians that God works all things to the counsel of His own will. (see Ephesians 1:11)
        3. It is the revelation of God
    4. Considering Christmas
      1. The right season, "In the fullness of the time"
      2. The right person, "His Son, born of a woman, born under the law"
      3. Christmas, the right reason v. 5
        1. This year decided to not spend a lot of time on mangers, wise men, angels, stars, etc.
        2. Go deeper and really understand the Christmas story
        3. For many people Christmas seems out of place; baby in a manager
          1. We're in a different culture, different time
          2. What's the hoopla with the baby?
          3. To redeem those who were under the law
  2. Christmas, the right Reason; "to redeem" v. 5
    1. History of the reason—need to understand the history of this reason to understand the Bible
      1. "Were under the law" past history
      2. "That we" present reality
      3. Galatians 1-3, all of that history means something to us now
        1. What was the true beginning of Christmas?
          1. In the manger? (see Luke 2:7)
          2. When angels announced? (see Luke 2:8-12)
          3. Prophet Isaiah? (see Isaiah 9:6)
          4. Time of Moses when he predicted another prophet would be coming? (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
          5. Back to creation (see Genesis 1-3)
            1. It's good; it's very good
            2. Man and woman placed in dominion over the earth
            3. They had fellowship with God
            4. Then a rebellion and they became alienated from God
          6. Promise that Satan and his offspring will have conflict with the Seed of Eve (see Genesis 3)
            1. Seed: singular descendant
            2. Crush Satan's authority
            3. Where will the Seed come from?
            4. Through Abraham (see Genesis 12)
          7. The Promise from Adam through Noah, Shem, Abraham...
            1. Repeated to Abraham's second son, Isaac (see Genesis 26:4)
            2. Repeated to Isaac's second son, Jacob (see Genesis 28:14)
            3. Promise goes to Jacob's fourth son by his wife Leah, Judah (see Genesis 49:10)
            4. Then King David (see 2 Samuel 7)
            5. Then in Matthew 1 we see the lineage of Jesus
        2. Jesus born as a result of the promise in Genesis 3:15
          1. Sent to engage in conflict with Satan
          2. Result will be Satan's overthrow in the end of days
        3. We live now between the promise and the overthrow—where sonship that was lost is restored
      4. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law" Galatians 3:13-16
        1. Not without price, Satan would bruise his heel
        2. Christ's resurrection would strike the fatal blow to Satan's head
        3. "You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ." Galatians 3:26
          1. Paradise regained
          2. We are sons of God again
      5. The child heir
        1. As a child, he is no different than a slave
        2. Until the date set by his dad
        3. Then would go to adult son status
          1. Roman culture
          2. Jewish culture, age 13; Bar Mitzvah
          3. America, we don't have rights of passage
          4. An exact set time
            1. When the fullness of the time had come, God's timing
            2. We were slaves
            3. So, He sent the Serpent-Crusher
            4. All that was lost will be restored
            5. Bondage was long and hard
    2. Centrality of the reason
      1. To redeem: To buy back a slave and give the slave his freedom
      2. Adoption as sons: God bought us from the slave market of sin, brought us to Himself, adopted as sons and daughters, and will one day give us all He owns
      3. Those who receive Him, He gives the power to become sons (see John 1:12)
      4. The Son of God became a man to enable men who are slaves to become sons of God
      5. You never have to be in the bondage of trying to earn your way to be worthy to God
        1. You're a son
        2. You're not a slave, you shouldn't live in that slavery any more
      6. What kind of a father gives his son to be killed?
        1. One who loves the world enough to buy it back, to redeem people
        2. He knew that in His Son's death, His heel would be bruised, but He would rise again from the dead striking the fatal blow to the enemy
        3. Side of Christmas usually not told; we like the lights, the manger, baby Jesus
        4. Those soft little hands would have a Roman spike driven through them
        5. Those cute little feet would trod the road of sorrows to the place of execution
        6. That soft little baby head was destined to wear a crown of thorns
      7. Red Christmas
        1. "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" by Bing Crosby
        2. It takes red to get white
        3. Not talking about you getting in the red because of Christmas
        4. Not about red eyes because of too much partying around Christmas
        5. Not about the red suit of "the fat man"
        6. It's the red blood of His Son that cleanses us from sin
    3. The reality of the reason v. 6, to redeem and adopt
      1. Sons of God—I know that I'm His son, what does that do in my life?
        1. The Holy Spirit comes in and there is instant knowledge: "I am right with God"
          1. Daddy
          2. Abba
          3. I am close to God, He is my Father
        2. We started out as sons—intimacy with God in the garden
          1. Sons became slaves—Satan succeeded in bringing in darkness
          2. A promise brought a ray of light—one day He will come and He will crush the head of Satan—that "He" is the Son of God
          3. Angel told Mary, "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest." Luke 1:32
      2. Heir of God v. 6
        1. Peter gives us a peak: "An inheritance...undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:4
        2. Last verse of the Charles Wesley's hymn, Hark the Herald Angels Sing: "Adam's likeness Lord efface, stamp thine image in its place, second Adam from above, reinstate us in thy love, let us thee though lost regain, thee the life the inner man, O to all thyself impart, formed in each believing heart."
  3. Closing
    1. Lady wanted to buy gifts for a group of friends, she ran out of time, got a card—box of 50 "This Christmas card is just to say, a little gift is on its way."
    2. Read and understand the message of Christmas
      1. God was sending a gift on the way
      2. The greatest gift, His Son


Figures referenced: Charles Wesley

Publications referenced: "White Christmas," by Irving Berlin; recorded by Bing Crosby

Cross references: Genesis 3, 12, 26:4, 28:14, 49:10, Deuteronomy 18:15-19, 2 Samuel 7, Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 1, Luke 1:32, 2:7-12, John 1:12, Galatians 3:13-16, Ephesians 1:11, Colossians 1:18, 1 Peter 1:4

Transcript

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Would you turn in your Bibles to the Book of Galatians, chapter 4? A passage we began three weeks ago, and we were able in two weeks' time to cover one verse. Galatians, chapter 4, we wrap it up today. Let's pray.

Lord, for so many of us it feels good just to sit down and pause. The season has been very busy, monumental, eventful. Probably for most of us the preparation has been done externally, and that's pretty much done, but what grabs our attention this morning is the need to be prepared not externally, but internally.

Not with decoration, but how our heart is dealing with what this season means—what it means to us, to our children, to our friends, extended family. I just want to thank you that we've been able to probe a little bit deeper this year around this season to understand really what it's all about, really what the season means, really who Jesus is to us.

I pray that we would be further prepared, Lord. As we gather today we give you the time, we give you our attention, we give you our minds, our hearts; for we are told to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, our strength—all of us. This is simply a token that we have indeed done that as we place our bodies before you now, and give you this time for you to speak into our hearts. We trust that you'll do that, in Jesus' name, amen.

For those of us who have been raised in a church, brought up in Sunday school, perhaps, for that type of a person there's an understanding that Jesus is the focal point, the central reason for the season. In fact, He's the answer to everything. We tell people as much. We say, "Just keep your eyes on Jesus. Just follow him. Just lean hard into him. Just look to Jesus. He's the answer to it all."

There was a teacher who was teaching her Sunday school class, four year olds, and she thought she would engage the class in participation. So she was teaching on Noah's ark and she said, "Kids, I'm going to describe something to you and you tell me what it is." So she began, she said, "I'm furry. I have a fluffy tail. I like to climb trees."

No answer in the class, dead silence. Not a kid raised the hand. So she continued, "Okay, I like to eat nuts, especially acorns." Nothing. Dead silence. So she thought, "Okay, I'm gray or brown, sometimes even black or red." Not a child spoke up.

She was frustrated at this point, turned to a perky four year old named Michelle, and she said, "Come on, Michelle, you know what this is." Michelle said, "Yeah, I I think the answer is supposed to be Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me." Poor little girl thought every question had to have the answer "Jesus" to it.

Certainly, Jesus is the answer to the longing of mankind, but we're awfully squirrelly about presenting him sometimes. We don't always get it right, because sometimes we even forget that the Bible has but one central theme, and that is Jesus Christ.

Think about it. In the Old Testament, the Old Testament promises him. In the New Testament, the first four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John present Christ. In the Book of Acts, Christ is preached. In the Epistles, another word for the letters of Paul, John, Peter, etcetera; Christ is pondered. And finally, the Book of Revelation, Christ is predicted. It's all about him from cover to cover.

But for a lot of people it's like going to a play and getting there late when it comes to reading the Bible and understanding the story. If you picture the Bible as part 1 and 2, there's a two part play, you've got the Old Testament and New Testament. For a lot of people, they read the Bible; they just read the New Testament.

They open the book and it's sort of like going to a play late, not having seen the first act. So you get your seat, act 2 begins, and you begin to make a perfect nuisance of yourself as you ask people around you, "Now, who's that person? And what did that statement mean? And what is that person referring to?" You missed all the salient information that would have been given to you had you been in act 1. So now you're a bit lost and you need some catching up.

And when we talk about Christ, we have to understand that it all deals with him in some form or fashion. But to too many people, opening the Bible is like being stuck in a jungle without any roads. You know, they open the book and they're confused immediately. They see no road, no rhyme, no reason, no familiar path going anywhere; just disconnected phrases, enigmatic statements, and they really see not having any form. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Bible is a seamless revelation. It's a very staged and coherent story, and it all makes sense when you give Jesus his rightful place. Paul said to the Colossians, "That in all things [Christ] might have the preeminence."

The apostle Paul in the Book of Ephesians said that, "God works all things to the counsel of his own will." In other words, the Bible is not haphazard. It's not disconnected. It's not some amorphous mass of ideas flung together by a bunch of guys throughout history. One who said, "Here's a poem, let's put this in the Book. Here's a cool story I heard, let's put that in the Book." Far from being that, it is the revelation of a God who is orchestrating all things according to the purpose of his own will.

So we have for the last few weeks been considering Christmas, and the first week we talked about "Christmas—The Right Season"; and we worked off the phrase in verse 4, "In the fullness of the time." We discussed what that meant. It was just the right time culturally, politically, spiritually, prophetically.

The second week we looked at "Christmas—The Right Person"; that the One that God sent into the world was his own Son, having his own nature: Deity, God in a human body, born of a woman, born under the law. As the hymn writer in "Hark! The Herald Angels" wrote: "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail incarnate Deity." Paul would have said, "Amen!" to that Christmas carol, "That's who it is."

But now we consider "Christmas—The Right Reason." What's the whole purpose of it all? What's the whole reason? All of that, for what? Verse 5 tells us of Galatians, chapter 4, "to redeem." "To redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."

As we've told you the last couple weeks, I decided this Christmas to not spend a whole lot of time on mangers or shepherds or angels or stars or wise men. All that's good and we've done that in depth in the past, but to go a little bit deeper, to really understand the Christmas story from, I believe, the perspective of the whole Bible, and from the view of God.

Because for many people Christmas sort of seems out of place. Go back to people who read the Bible and find it a jungle. For a lot of people Christmas, the whole baby in a manger thing, seems out of place in the Bible. You've got creation, and you've got law, and you've got poetry, and you've got prophets, and you've got more prophets, and then suddenly a baby gets born. And everybody makes a big to do out of the baby, leaving some people to scratch their heads and go, "I don't get how it all fits."

Certainly the manger scene, the baby born, seems to most people to be disconnected from real life, from their life. After all, this is a different culture, a different time, thousands of years have passed. I'm working on paying my rent, on raising my kids, on saving up for college, and then once a year everything stops and we celebrate a baby, and then after that we go back to our year.

So twelve months go by, we drag out the box of the Christmas tree and the decorations, and dust off the manger and put it up, and plug in the lights, and pay the extra electric bill. And then when it's all over we take it down, put it in the box, put it back in the garage, and wait for twelve months. And so we're left wondering: Why? What's the purpose? What's the reason? What's the hoopla? What's the to do?

So we can consider it was the right season, it was a right person, but what was the reason? And verse 5 tells us: "To redeem those who were under the law."

Now, I'm going to break it up this morning. First of all, I want you to consider with me the history of this reason; this reason does have history. Now, if you don't understand the history of this reason, you will not understand the Bible. You will not understand Christmas unless you understand the history of the reason for this.

I just want you to notice what Paul does in verse 5, he says, "To redeem those who were under the law." That's past tense; he's reaching back to the past. "That we," in the present, "might receive adoption as sons." So he compares past history with present reality. He's been reaching back—if you were to read Galatians 1, 2, and 3, and I really trust that you're going to do that later on today to get the full picture.

Paul's been talking about Jewish law, and about the promises of Abraham, and all of that stuff, how it comes to fulfillment, and he says, "This is who we were, this is who we are—all of that history means something to us now."

And so we have a question: Where did Christmas start? What was the origin of it? Where, where was its true beginning? Was it in the manger? Is that when Christmas began? Was it in the manger when Joseph and Mary brought forth their Son Jesus and laid him there? And later on the animals came by, and the shepherds gathered around, and the star shone overhead, and somebody walked up and said, "That is the perfect decoration. I can make some money off of this"

Or did Christmas begin when the angel made the announcement over the skies of Bethlehem, and he said to those few shepherds, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who's Christ the Lord." Was that the beginning of it?

Or do we going back a bit further? Say to the prophet Isaiah, inspired by God to write what we quote every time this season approaches, Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; the government will be upon his shoulders. His name will be Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," predicting him. Is that when Christmas began?

Or do we go back yet a little bit further? Say to the time of Moses in Deuteronomy 18, when he predicted that another prophet would be coming, another sent one would be coming, and to him you must listen, follow, obey. Where did Christmas begin?

Well, actually, we have to go all the way back to the very first book of the Bible, the first few chapters of it. You don't have to turn there, because you know the story. I'm just going to recap it for you. We have to go back to the creation. "God created the heavens and the earth," and when he did, after every creation he said it is what? He said, "It's good." And when it was all done he said, "It's very good." It's like saying, "I'm really stoked on this. This is awesome. This is good, very good."

Man and woman were placed in dominion over the earth to represent God. The first man and first woman were direct creations of God in a very real sense, sons or children of the living God. They had an intimacy with him, a fellowship with him.

The Bible tells us that God was looking for Adam "in the cool of the day," walking in the cool of the day, suggesting they probably took a walk often together in fellowship, that's Genesis 1 and 2.

We come to Genesis 3, it all changes, it all caves in; there's a rebellion. They rebel against their Creator, they disobey his directives, and they become alienated from God, and they knew it because they ran in the opposite direction. And so God pushed them out of the garden putting an angel with a sword so they couldn't get back in, lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever in that condition without any hope.

But now they're alienated from God. Now fellowship is broken. So, we're reading this in Genesis 3, and, and we pause and we think, "Okay, now what's God going to do?" Now he's left with a damned creation, a doomed creation; the children have rebelled, have fallen to the dark side. What's God going to do? What is God prepared to do to fix all this, to restore all this, to redeem, if anything?

Well, we keep reading in chapter 3 of Genesis, and God makes the announcement to Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed." In other words, "Satan, you and your offspring are going to have conflict with the Offspring of a woman," that's the prediction. At that point we don't exactly know what he means, because seed can be either singular or plural; it can refer to one or many.

So we go, "Okay, there's a prediction." Basically says, "You're going to get into a war, Satan, and you're going to be the ultimate loser because—" He gets now very specific, listen to it: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, you shall bruise his heel." Well, now we have more information.

Now, we know that the meaning of Seed doesn't mean descendants, plural, but a singular descendant; a man will be born of a woman who will crush Satan's head. By the way, that's how the NI, the NLT says it, the New Living Translation says, "He," the Seed of the woman, "will crush your head." Sounds very Mafia: "Look, he's gonna come and crush your skull." I like God's style here.

So he predicts that a man will be born to crush Satan's dominion, his head, his authority, and he himself will receive a temporary wound, the bruising of the heel. Okay, so we read that and then history continues. We keep reading and we find that we come to a great flood that destroys the world—except for how many people? Eight people, Noah and his family.

So now the possibilities of that Seed being fulfilled is greatly reduced to only eight survivors. And we discover that Noah has three sons. One of them is named Shem, and one of the descendants of Shem is a guy by the name of Abraham, we discover that in Genesis, chapter 12. And God makes the promise to Abraham: "Through you, Abraham, through your seed all of the nations of the world will be blessed."

So the promise goes from Adam, through Noah, through Shem, to Abraham. Keep reading. The promise is then repeated to Abraham's second son—not first son, Ishmael—second son, Isaac, in Genesis 26 verse 4. Keep reading. The promise is then repeated to Isaac's second son, Jacob, Genesis 28 verse 14.

Keep reading all the way through Genesis to the very end of the book, chapter 49, verse 10, the promise goes to Jacob's fourth son, by his wife Leah, named Jacob, I'm sorry not Jacob, Judah, the tribe of Judah. So we're following the lineage down of the promise all the way to the tribe of Judah.

Well, we keep reading as history goes by, all the way to 2 Samuel, chapter 7, and there's a guy by the name of King David. And God says, "You're descendant will sit upon the throne of David and rule forever and ever." So that's the lineage, that's the history, that's the promise, but we're still waiting for the fulfillment until we get to chapter 1 of Matthew.

Now we open the New Testament, and this is how it begins, listen: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, Jacob begot Judah." He's following the same track of the promise. Down in verse 16, Matthew 1, "And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who was called the Christ."

So the promise is made in Genesis 3:15. Jesus Christ gets born as a fulfillment of that promise, sent to engage in conflict with Satan. The final result will be his, Satan's, final overthrow in the end of days. But between then and then is now, and Paul would say, "All of that is good, but we can see the results of that right here, right now, where sonship that was lost is restored."

Now, we come to Galatians. Now, we come to Galatians. And I want you to look at Galatians, chapter 3. I'm backing into our text, because I want to tie a bow on it all. Galatians 3, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

"Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it's only a man's covenant, yet if it's confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ."

In other words, "The coming Seed," he says, "is Jesus Christ," the fulfillment of the promise. Now, that's not without price, for Satan would "bruise his heel." That means a temporary wound would be sustained by Jesus Christ, no doubt speaking of his death on the cross. Jesus died on the cross, but he rose from the dead, and his resurrection from the dead would strike the fatal blow to the head, the authority, the dominion of Satan.

Now go down a few verses, chapter 3 of Galatians, look at verse 26, because it sums it up: "For you—," get this, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ." There it is. There it is; paradise regained. We are sons of God again. What was lost in Adam is regained in Christ who died the sinners' death and rose to conquer death.

When God originally created man, he created us to be sons. We became slaves; he sent the promised Seed so that we could gain sonship again. That's point of the passage. Okay, now we go back to Galatians, chapter 4, where we started last week and the week before. And I know we read it all in context, but we didn't tie it all together; now, we tie it all together.

Galatians 4, "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is the master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father." It's a very simple illustration they would be familiar with.

You might have a child and a family, and that child is the heir of everything that is in that family, the heir of the estate. You might have a few million dollars in the bank, but he's a child. One day he's going to get it all, but right now while he's a child, he's no different from a slave—in that, he's under authority, he's controlled by others, he's commanded, he's reprimanded, he's instructed to obey.

He's made to conform like a slave until the date set by his dad, where his dad would confer upon him adulthood, and he would go from that child status as a slave to an adult son. Now, the Romans in their culture, the father could set the date arbitrarily, whenever he felt like it. Between a certain age and a certain age he could say, "That's the day I set."

Jewish dads were more restricted. There was a specific day that they would follow, and it was the thirteenth birthday of the boy. The first Sabbath after the boy's thirteenth birthday was the boy's bar mitzvah. Bar mitzvah means "son of the commandment," son of the commandment. It's where he becomes an adult member of the community. You go, "My goodness, age thirteen, and we would consider him an adult?"

You know one of the problems we have in America is we don't have rites of passage for young people. That's a tragedy. We just sort of let them figure it out on their own, and whenever you think you're ready, and whenever you feel like you're an adult, I guess you are. Then it was thirteen, and if you're thinking, "Oh, thirteen, that's crazy."

It just goes to show you the kind of spiritual preparation the parents offered so that the child would be ready at age thirteen. So, he was bar mitzvahed, and when he was bar mitzvahed that day, he was no longer the son of his father, he was no longer is son of his mother, he was in effect a son of God, because he was the son of the commandment under the authority of God's command.

That's Paul's point; there's an exact, set time by a father in a child's life where he goes from slave to son. And so he continues with the illustration, verse 3, "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come," when our Father in heaven set the time, "God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." He says, "We too were slaves, but that was never God's plan."

God's plan is that we are sons, not slaves. So he sent the serpent crusher, the promised One in Genesis 3. And Jesus coming would restore lost sonship, lost inheritance, lost intimacy, lost closeness—would all be restored by the promised One. Now, our bondage was long and hard. Remember Genesis 3—keep reading, keep reading, keep reading—that represents thousands and thousands and thousands of years.

Our bondage was long and hard as the Christmas carol we sing, "O Holy Night," as those words that are so accurate: "Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth." Our bondage was long and hard, but then he came in the fullness of the time, at just the right time, the Genesis 3 promise was fulfilled.

So that's the history of the reason, and as I said, you will not understand the Bible until you understand the history of the reason. But now you know it. But there's something else, and that is not just the history, but the centrality of the reason summed up in a single word. Look at verse 5, "To redeem." That's the, that's the core of the sentence, "To redeem." The word redeem means "to buy back." It's a, it's a beautiful picture of somebody going to a slave market two thousand years ago and laying down money, hard cold cash to buy a slave out of the market and give the slave its freedom.

But notice another word: "To redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons." Now picture somebody going to the slave market laying down the money, setting the slave free, but taking the slave home and saying, "I'm adopting you as my own son, and I'll give you everything one day that is mine."

So the analogy is that God went to the slave market of sin, saw us in our condition, purchased us, brought us to himself, and adopted us as his son, as his daughter. Beautiful, beautiful concept. John, chapter 1, declares, "As many as received him, to them he gave the power to become sons of God."

So now let me give it to you in one nutshell. The Son of God became a man to enable men who were slaves to become sons of God. That's all of what I'm saying in a single nutshell. What does that mean to me? What does that mean to us? Well, this is all fine and good. I'll tell you what it means. It means you never have to again be in the bondage of trying to earn your way there by your own good works, by your own good deeds; you never have to try to get God to like you.

Ever try to do that? "I have to really prove to God that I'm worthy," you're not worthy, get over it. He knew it a long time ago. I don't know why you keep bringing it up, but you're not worthy. You'll never earn it, and here's the deal: you don't have to grit your teeth and try and get God to like you, and work hard, because you're a son. There's a relationship; you're not a slave. You shouldn't live in that slavery anymore, but you're his child.

Now, what kind of Father—what kind of Father would give his Son to be killed? Only the kind of a Father who loved the world enough to buy it back, to redeem people. Only a God who knew that in his Son's death his heel would be bruised, but he would rise again from the dead striking the fatal blow to the enemy.

Now this is the side of Christmas that is usually not told. We like the lights. We even like the manger as long as we put it in its proper place in the house: "Looks good. I like that size. Put Jesus right there, shepherds, wise men, it's all together." We like that and we look at the little baby Jesus, and we marvel at his soft little hands and cute little feet, forgetting that those little hands were destined to have a Roman spike driven through them, that's why they were there.

And those cute little feet would trod the road of sorrows to the place of execution, that's why they were there. And that soft little baby's head—I don't know, there's something about a baby's head. I have my little granddaughter Kaydence, and when I just snuggle her close, and [sniffing] I smell that soft, pretty, little head, it's ahh—I'm in heaven. But that little head was destined to wear a crown, not of a king yet, but a crown of thorns.

That's why we've called this Red Christmas. Bing Crosby sang, "I'm dreaming, dreaming of a White Christmas." God says, "I am too, but it takes red to get white." The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses a man from all sin. So when we're talking about Red Christmas, we're not talking about you getting in the red because of Christmas. We don't mean red eyes because of somebody who's partied too much around Christmas. Or even the red suit that the fat man wears that we call Santa Claus. It's the red blood of his Son that cleanses us from sin, makes white.

So, that's the history of the reason; that's the centrality, to redeem. And finally, there is the reality of the reason, and that finishes off the verses that we've been considering the last few weeks, verses 6 and 7, because here's what we need to ask, and Paul answers it anticipating this.

We would read all this and we would go, "Okay, that's good, but now what? I mean it's one thing for God to say that I'm his son, it's yet another thing for me to know that I'm his son." God might say, "You're my child; I confer that status." What does that do in my life, if anything? Is there any reality, any vitality, any confirmation of that?

Verse 6 tells us: "And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit," that's the Holy Spirit, "of his Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

Holy Spirit comes in. When I invite Christ in, the Holy Spirit is also sent in, and he produces in me this instant knowledge. I've seen it in every new believer, this knowledge, this confirmation: I'm right with God. I'm close to God. This overwhelming, subjective feeling that proves the objective declaration: God has declared you're his son. Now I feel it because I cry out, "Father, Abba!"

The word Abba means "daddy" in Hebrew and in Aramaic, daddy, papa. If you go to Israel today you hear the little kids: "Abba, Abba." And you go, "I've read that in the Bible." Yeah, because you it just means daddy; it's a term of intimacy, nearness, closeness.

How do you know that you're his child? Because you have this subjective feeling, this awareness put there by the Holy Spirit that I am close to God; he is my Father. And that's part of, not the totality, but part of the proof that you are a son or a daughter of God.

So look at it this way, verse 5, God sent his Son that we might have a status or declaration of sonship. Verse 6, God sent the Holy Spirit that we might know the experience of sonship. Why is this important? Because the Jew, under the law, didn't have this. The Jew only had external principles and no internal power, just a bunch of laws, rules that couldn't change his heart. In fact, simply made him more of a slave, right?

That's what the law did. It just pointed out, you know what, you're, you're hurting, because you read the list of the commandments and you go, "I broke that one, broke that one, broke that one, broke that one." It just reminds you that you're in bondage, that you're in slavery, didn't help. We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts that gives that confirmation, and we cry out, "Abba, Father!"

So now, now today we get the entire picture here, and here is the picture in a nutshell: We started out as sons. There was intimacy with God in the original creation in the garden. The sons became slaves. Satan succeeded in bringing in darkness, but even in the midst of that spiritual darkness a promise brought a ray of light that one day he will come, and he will crush the head of Satan. And that "He," says Paul, "is the Son of God, born of woman, born under the law."

As the angel said to Mary, "That holy thing that is in you shall be called the Son of the Highest." He who was by nature a son became a servant, so that we, who are by nature servants of sin, would become sons and daughters. That's what Christmas is about. Christmas could be boiled down to two words: paradise regained. Paradise regained. What is lost in Genesis 3 is restored, regained, because of the redemption in Jesus Christ.

But wait, there's more! Verse 7, "Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son," watch this, "and if a son, then an heir of God." God says, "I'm buying you from the slave market. I'm adopting you into my family. You're not a slave, you're my son, you're my daughter, and—and I'll give you an inheritance. I'll give it all to you." Here's a peek of it, Peter writes: "We have an inheritance undefiled that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for us."

Now, I began this sermon quoting from Charles Wesley's hymn "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," listen to this part: "Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King." But you know what? I was thumbing through that Christmas carol, I discovered there's a last verse that I had never heard sung before.

It's kind of complicated to sing it, it's old English, but it perfectly captures everything we've been talking about for three weeks. So here's the last verse of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing": "Adam's likeness, Lord, efface, stamp thine image in its place. Second Adam from above, reinstate us in thy love. Let us thee, though lost, regain, thee, the life, the inner man: O, to all thyself impart, formed in each believing heart." I read that and I thought, "Goodness, Charles Wesley has studied Galatians, chapter 4. He got it all."

And so that's Christmas: the right season, fullness of time; right person, Jesus, Son of God, born of a woman; the right reason, to redeem and to adopt. Now you know the rest of the story, the story behind the manger. Now you know the plan.

There was a lady who had it in her heart to buy gifts for her circle of friends. She belonged to a little group, like a Bible study group. And she had a circle of friends, these other gals that she hung out with, and she thought, "I, I have to buy them a present, a little gift for Christmas." But you know how it is this time of the year, how time just gets away from you, and you run out of time.

So she ran out of time, didn't have time to get the gift. So she thinks, "I'll just get them a card. I'll get them a card." So she goes into a store, looks over the already picked Christmas cards, finds a box of fifty Christmas cards on sale. She says, "I'll get that." She never opened the card to see what was written on the inside, but she liked the looks of it on the outside. It was shiny and colorful, and so she bought them. And she opened each card and quickly said, "Warmest greetings," signed her name, sent the card.

It wasn't until New Year's Day when she looked at that little stack of cards left over from that box, that she decided to open the card and see what was written inside. It's a good thing she did because this was what was written: "This Christmas card is just to say, a little gift is on the way." Oops! Got the card, left out the gift, right? Most people do not take the time to read and understand the message of Christmas. You're different, you have, we have.

For a lot of people they simply like the beautiful trappings, the trees, the lights, even the scene of the manger, but not realizing that all the while God was sending a gift on the way. Greatest Christmas gift isn't anything you'd ever give to God; only thing he wants is you. The greatest gift is what God gave to us. Here's God stepping out of heaven with a baby in his arms, the Savior, says, "Here, here's my Son. Merry Christmas! This One will grow up and die for you, live the perfect life you could never live, die the atoning death in your place. So all you have to do is trust him and his work, and I'll buy you, and you'll become my child, and you'll have my inheritance."

Father, we thank you. It just sounds so hollow to say that after hearing what we just heard, but that's what we're left with, a humble, heartfelt gratitude, thankful for what you have done. And not only what you have done, and not only what you have done in us, but what you have promised us is ours in the future. No wonder we have hope. No wonder we can face this life with certainty, and even face death with certainty.

Thank you that you made good on your promises. One day Satan will be vanquished for good, and we can't wait for that day. But until then his head, his authority, his ability to rule over a life without restraint, those days are over because of the death and resurrection of your Son. I pray for anyone who doesn't know that Christ, who doesn't have a relationship with that Son of God. I pray that this season would be a season of abandonment to your purpose and your will and your person, in Jesus' name.

Additional Messages in this Series

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12/9/2012
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Christmas—The Right Season
Galatians 4:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Jesus came at just the right time—the fullness of time. What made that the perfect time spiritually, culturally, and politically for the Messiah's arrival? In our text, we discover that God always keeps His appointments and His time is always the right time.
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12/16/2012
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Christmas—The Right Person
Galatians 4:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Unlike any other Man, Jesus obeyed the law perfectly. He lived the perfect life we could never live. In our text we learn that at just the right time, God sent forth Jesus who pre-existed in His presence, who was both God and man, to redeem those who were under the law.
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12/24/2012
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Snow White
Isaiah 1:18-20
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Christmas is all about a new start—regaining what was lost in the garden. God says "Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Although we did not demand a Savior, we need one so desperately. God sees our need and initiates the invitation—He sent His Son to save us.
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There are 3 additional messages in this series.
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