Sermon – Children of God (Galatians 4:1 – 4:7) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Children of God

Ben Read, Galatians 4:1 - 4:7, 18 June 2023

On this Fathers' Day, Ben preaches on the Fatherhood of God from Galatians 4:1-17. In these verses we see the significance of the Lord as our Father and we as his children.

Galatians 4:1 - 4:7

4:1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Thank you, Anne. And as Anne said, it is Father's Day today. And the New Testament has so much to say about the blessings of belonging to the family of God through Jesus Christ. And Ben is going to be preaching on that wonderful doctrine in just a few moments' time.

But first, let's turn to the Bible. So if you'd like to turn to Galatians chapter 4, we finished our series in 1 Timothy last week. We're beginning a brand new series next Sunday morning. But on this father's day, we're gonna have a think about being children of God from Galatians 4. We're gonna read verses 1 to 7, and then we're going to to sing.

Again, to God, our fountain of goodness, and then after that Ben is gonna come and preach. What I am saying is that As long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Because you are His 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 God's child. And since you are his child, God has made you also and Air. Our men. Hello.

Well, good morning from me. My name is Ben. If we haven't met, on the staff team here at the church. Good to see everyone today. It's nice and cool in here, isn't it?

Airconditions. Reminds me of going going into a supermarket when it's really, really hot. Sometimes Carrie and I last summer would just go to Sainsbury's to cool down a little bit. That's what it feels a bit like in here. So it's nice.

Great. Let's pray, shall we, as we as we come to this just amazing and often taken for granted doctrine and truth. That God is father and we are his his children. So let's pray. Father, we do thank you for the amazing privilege it is to call you father.

Thank you for your son Jesus who's purchased that right for us. And father, as we come to hear your word now, we come to extracted by all sorts of things, by the week we've had, by the morning we've had, all sorts of way satan will try and stop us hearing your word. But we ask please for your spirit's help that he would give us ears to hear eyes to see hearts to love you more and we ask this in Jesus name, amen. Our men. Okay.

I wonder if you have been following in the news, the developments with AI, artificial intelligence. There's been kind of a growing background noise about it. Some of the sort of grandfathers of the The technology have actually resigned and stepped down from their major roles in these companies developing the technology because they fear it's getting out of hand. And they think that it's going to get to a point where we won't go to control it anymore. I mean, artificial intelligence just goes to show you how limited my knowledge is.

It's sort of where a computer thinks for itself. I know it's not that, sort of tech technological people out there. But it's where a computer sort of learns things and can try new things, and do do be creative in some sort of ways. And these people are worried. And I saw I saw a headline that I found quite amusing because 1 1 guy was worried that AI, artificial intelligence, might just find us a bit boring in the end.

That's 1 of the reasons why it might just turn on us or no longer do what we're telling it to do because this just finds us boring. I mean, we find each other boring sometimes, don't we? Reminds me of the film, the banshees of in issuing if you've seen that. It's about 2 guys who are sort of best friends, but 1 of them just 1 day decides the other one's too boring. And then no longer hangs out with him or talks to him.

And this guy's like, yeah, computers. You know, we can't think as fast as computers. We can't learn as fast as computers. We can't share information or access information as fast. They might just go, sorry.

That's too boring. I'm gonna do my own thing. And so people are worried about this, but I thought I would put this to the test. I thought I'll have a competition with AI to see who it really is the most boring. And since it's father's day, I had a card which Carrie bought for me to write my dad.

I have a card. And I wrote a message to my dad and I thought, I'm gonna ask AI to write a kind of funny joke for a father's day card and then write a message on side, and we'll see who is the most boring person. Me or artificial intelligence. Do you want to see the results? You trusted?

You didn't care? Here we go. Okay. So this isn't the exact card I got my dad, but it's very similar and the joke's the same, because my dad likes to cycle. So to a really great dad, Yeah?

It's not looking good for me already, is it? It's a really great dad. Okay. So I said AI, come up with a picture and a joke for the front of the father's day card for a daddy like citing. So why did the bicycle fall over on father's day?

Because it was too tired from being such an amazing dad and cycling all those miles miles is gone. How about that? A bit rubbish in there. I was like, why? So the bicycles followed over, but it's it's an amazing dad, apparently, the bicycle.

Anyway, never mind. Round 1, who's more boring, not sure. Round 2, the message inside the card. Okay. This is roughly the message I wrote my dad.

I said, dad, thanks for all the wheelieing around you've been doing for us recently picking up our new car from Taunton. My dad took a train to Taunton. To drive a new car back all the way here. So that was that was amazing. And all the journeys to Kingston.

He's been back and forth a lot recently to help us. Really appreciate you, Sport. Let's love Ben. Do you wanna see the message AI wrote? Dear dad.

Happy fathers today. Today is a wonderful opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and admiration for the extraordinary father you are. Throughout the years, you've been a constant pillar of strength, love and guidance, your unwavering support and belief in me have fueled my determination, give me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Your wise words of wisdom have shaped my character, provided valuable life lessons that I carry with me every day. Your presence in my life has been more than that of a father.

You've been a teacher, a mentor, my best friend. It goes on. On this special day, I want to honor and celebrate you, not only as a father, but as an exceptional human being, your strength resilience, I'm wavering love, continue to expire me to be the best version of myself, dad. Please know that your influence in my life is immeasurable. You have shaped my perspective, encouraged my dream, shown me the beauty of unconditional love today.

I want to express my heart full appreciation and remind you that you're deeply cherished in love. Happy father's day, dad. Tell me how you really feel. So my dad might want to get an artificial intelligence done instead of the real thing. But I was thinking, the thing is We already live in a universe with a superintelligence.

The greatest intelligence is not AI. It will never be AI. The greatest intelligence is God. He's already there. We already live in a universe with the ultimate intelligence, and and God knows all things.

AI is constantly learning, but God already knows everything. In fact, God cannot learn anything new, have you ever thought about that? Because nothing God can learn that's new. He never wakes up and doesn't wake up. He never turns around and goes, oh, I didn't know that.

Yesterday. He already knows all things, he perceives all things, he understands all things. And so here's a question, if we're concerned with what AI thinks of us, If it's gonna get bored of us 1 day, then what on earth does God think of us? The ultimate intelligence. The 1 who knows all things, when he looks at this, what does he think of us?

Is he bored by us? What even are we to him? I mean, Sarmaid says, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Human beings that you care for them. It's a great question.

It's the most ancient fundamental question. What is mankind? Who are we? Well, the Bible has an extraordinary answer to that. And actually, it answers this question, what is mankind?

Who are? We not by telling us who we are, but by telling us who God is to us. That's the answer to who are we. It's not in in us. It's It's grounded.

The answer to the question, who are we grounded in who God is, and then who we are to him. And that's my first point this morning, is that God is father. Oh, that's spoilers. Go back on. God is father.

In Genesis chapter 1, the first page of the bible, We learn God's father. It says it says this. God says, let us make mankind in our image in our likeness. Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. Now those words, they're very familiar to us.

But those words, image and likeness are our biblical covenant words that denote the relationship between a father and his children. That's what those words mean. To be in someone's image, to be in their likeness, means to be in a family relationship with them. I mean, it's expressed it just 4 chapters later in Genesis chapter 5, it says this when Adam had lived a hundred and 30 years, he had a son in his own likeness. In his own image, and he named him Seth.

Image likeness. The exact same word that is used to describe Adam and his son Seth, image likeness, is the word, the expression that God uses to describe him and us. See, when God made the heavens and the earth, the relationship there is creator and creation. But then when God makes mankind, it's father and children. Psalm 8 goes on to say, What is mankind that you are mindful of them?

Human beings that you care for them, you have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them. With glory and with honor. God has crowned his children with glory Just like a king crowns his sons and daughters as princes, princesses. You're in the royal family. You have a crown.

God is glorious. The heavens declare the glory of God, but mankind alone is uniquely crowned. With glory. If you know the chronicles of Nania, you'll know that it's the son of Adam, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, who sit on the thrones at Care Paraval. Only they can sit there.

Why? Because they're made in the image of the king. So they can take the throne. Right from the first page of the Bible, God is father. His father.

And therefore, who are we, who are humanity? We're his children. That's who we are. And so the question, is God the superintelligence? Is he bored of us?

Is he What does he think of us? Well, the answer is he loves us. I have a 4 month old girl, LED, and I don't find her valuable because of how intelligent she is, or what she can do. She can reach out and grab you, she can roll from her back to her front, And then she's stuck there like a beached whale, and then she gets upset. She wasn't quite mastered getting back around again.

So there's not much she can do. There's not she's not that intelligent yet. And yet, the the value she has, I love her because she's my daughter, and I'm her father. That's how God sees us. That's how God values us.

That's how God loves us. And so I think if AI is as smart as people think it is, it will fall down on its face before God. They think you humans are stupid. There is a God. How have you not figured that out yet?

Why are you living like there is not a God? And then it will also, I think it will marvel at mankind because we wear the crown, the glory of God. Secondly though, children of wrath is where I'm gonna click. Children of children of wrath. You might think hang on a minute, Ben.

When I look at the world I mean, today is a nice day, but when I look at the world and all the things that we prayed for just moments earlier, I actually don't see the glory of God in humanity. Do you see the glory of God in in humanity? They're nottingham attack this week. What? That man was wearing a crown.

That man wore the crown of the glory of God. The war in Ukraine. The constant lying and manipulation of of the truth in our leaders and public figures. The crown of glory is on them. What?

Well, Romans's 3. Goes on to tell us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In other words, we fall short of image pairing and likeness bearing of God. That's what the bible tells us. We fall short of it.

We were made to be children, and we fall short, way short of it. Our sin, the things that we do, the rebellion we have in our heart, the things that spew out of us when we're knocked. They they mar our likeness to God like smudging mud over a painting, so it's unrecognizable. It's what our sin does. Our sin shatters our image bearing like a a mirror that's meant to be clear, but it's shattered and broken and fragmented, and pieces have fallen off.

And it's reflecting awfully, hundreds of things it's not meant to. Instead of being crowned with glory, the Bible tells us. We fall short of glory. And the apostle Paul picks up this theme of of children and fatherhood in in Ephesians chapter 2. Got it here.

He says this and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you want walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. You see his language? You were sons, you are sons, you were children, but of disobedience. Your father is disobedience. That's who you bear the image of.

That's what you're like. And then he goes on. He goes on verse 3. Among whom we all once lived, I lived. You lived.

In the passions of our flesh carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and we're by nature, children of wrath. Children of God's anger, children of the righteous judgment of God like the rest of mankind. You see what Paul is saying here? Our sin, our rebellion, and our refusal to be like God is why the world is the way it is. We were made to be children of God God made us in his image and his likeness, his father, we're children, but we've become children of wrath because we've ignored him.

We've walked away from him. We've chosen a different route. Wars disasters, lies, death. We've become children of disobedience and wrath. Just listen to this discourse that I'll I'll put up on the screen between Jesus and some Jews in John chapter 8.

Notice the language here about children and and fathers. Pay attention to what Jesus is is saying and what's going on. This is from John chapter 8. This is Jesus speaking. He says, I know that you are Abraham's descendants yet you are looking for a way to kill me.

Because there is no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the father's presence and you are doing what you have heard from your father. Abraham is our father, they answered. If you were Abraham's children said Jesus, then you would do what Abraham did Why? Because children are the image and likeness of their father.

So if you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did. As it is, You are looking for a way to kill me. A man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.

We are not illegitimate children, they protested. The only father we have as God himself, Jesus said to them, if God were your father, you would love me. Why? Because God loves the sun. And if we were in the image and likeness of God, we would love the sun.

I have not come on my own. God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires.

He was a murderer from the beginning. Not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies. You see the 2 fathers? Do you see how the 2 children bear the image of the different fathers?

Jesus says, and it strong medicine here, Jesus says that the world resembles the likeness and image of the devil. We lie, we steal, we cheat, we murder because he is a liar, The devil. He is a thief. He is a cheat. He is a murderer.

We bear the image and likeness of the father of lies. Maybe you know all too well that those things are true about you. I know that there are things in me. Actually. That resemble the father of lies.

So how can we ever be children of God again? I don't wanna be don't want to resemble the devil, at all. I want to resemble God. So how can we ever be the children of Godian? How can we bear his image?

How can we bear his likeness? How can we wear that crown again? Not fall short of it. How can God ever be our father again? Well, thirdly, the son of God.

Enter Jesus Christ. Who is the image of the invisible God. Colossians chapter 1. The son is the radiance of God glory and the exact representation of his being Hebrews chapter 1, where humanity has failed. We've totally messed up.

We've fallen short, where we have failed, here comes Jesus, who is the image of God. The exact representation of his being. He's the perfect image bearer. He's the 1 that has done what we were meant to do. And so when you read the story of the bible and you think, oh, this mankind is messed up.

When Jesus walks in, you go, work. Here's the image of God. Here is what humanity was meant to be. Here is the true son of God. In fact, Jesus says himself, if you have seen me, You have seen the father.

Why? Because he's the exact image, he's the exact likeness. He's the radiance of the glory of God. And what did this son, this perfect true son of god? What did he do for us?

Well, we read it at the start. Tom read it for us in Galatians chapter 4. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law. That we might receive adoption. To sonship.

This is the good news of the bible. This is the good news of the bible. We were like little children stuck in the orphanage of the devil. We were clothed in rags. We were starving.

We had untreated wounds. We were under the law which demanded we stayed there forever, the gates to leave the orphanage were locked because we could never get out. There was a price too large to redeem us. Life itself, we could never leave. There was a requirement too steep to come in.

And and take us away. It demanded a perfection, a beauty, a righteousness that no 1 could ever walk in and take, except here comes Jesus. The son of God. Jesus comes in with the requirements. Perfect to beat it.

He was born under the law. Why? So he could be perfect and obedient under the law. He's born of a woman. Why so he can come in and and and redeem us, walk into the orphanage smash the doors down and say, I'm paying for these people.

I'm taking them back with me. I love them. They're mine. They belong to me originally. Yes, they fell, but they belonged to me.

You only redeemed something. You only buy something back that once belonged to you. And that's why he's come and done this. Jesus, born of a woman, born under the law, was an obedient spotless offering, and he dies, and his blood redeems us. That's the most valuable precious thing in the universe.

The blood of the lord Jesus Christ. That's the payment that is that is exchanged for you. That you might come back and be adopted into the family of God. So look, the cross is way more than just a fresh slate. Do you see the cross as just a place to go and say, here's my sin.

I'm now clean. I can try harder. The cross is way more than just a clean slate. The son of obedience gives his lifeblood as payment for the sons of disobedience. That he might adopt us That we might come into the family of God.

That's what the cross has accomplished. Yes, your sins are taken away, but now more than just a clean slate, It's not like you've just gone back to trying hard. This time, maybe I will get good enough for the glory of God. Maybe this time I won't fall short. No.

None of that. You have been brought into the family of God. You have a new family tree, a new family name, you have a new family inheritance. You even have a new family likeness. Galatians 4 goes on because you are His 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 god's child And since you are his child, God has also made you an heir. This is the extraordinary privilege of calling God father. Have you ever heard King Charles talk about his his late mother, the late queen, as mummy? He often talks to her like mommy says and we were very proud about in mommy and we're very grateful for mommy's faith and she was mommy and You or I, if we ever met the queen, had to address her as your majesty. Man.

But if we'd been adopted into the royal family, we could come alongside King Charles and we could also talk about her as mummy. That's what has happened to us with God. Jesus adopts her redeems us, brings us into the family. He's now our brother, and we look up at God with him and say the same word that Jesus has used for eternity, our father. That's amazing.

I take that for granted so easily. Every prayer, father, and then I go on. What? So I wondered, do you know the preciousness of the blood that has redeemed you? Have you forgotten that?

Do you treat your salvation lightly? If you even forgotten the eternal change that has happened inside you, when you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know we we we say this. Sometimes we're sharing testimonies. You hear someone's test me think, wow.

Like, escaped from this country, trekked across jungles, found a scrap of a piece of paper which was a by passage on it was converted then in their life. Right? And you think, whoa, that's an amazing testimony. Oh, mine's boring. Don't ever say your testimony is boring.

What? You were an enemy of God, and Jesus came into the orphanage and paid for you with his lifeblood. He changed you from an enemy of God to a child of God. Don't ever say your testimony is boring. Your testimony is amazing.

You've become part of the family of God because of what Jesus has done. Finally, our last point transformed into his image. Just the final word on where we find ourselves now because We're adapt we're adopted into this family of God, but we're not the finished article yet, are we? Not in this life. We don't fully bear the resemblance of our of our new father.

We do still carry some of the marks and likenesses of our of our old father and we need forgiveness for that. I need you to forgive me for when you see the old man, the old son in me. I need to forgive you. When I see the old man, the old son, the old daughter renew. But scripture tells us that we are daily being transformed into the likeness of God by the spirit.

This is 2 Corinthians chapter 3. And we, all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord's glory are being transformed into his image, with ever increasing glory, which comes from the lord who is the spirit. And so here's the logic. As we contemplate the Lord's glory, and the word contemplate there means to gaze into a mirror and be reflected, So as we gaze into the mirror of the face of Jesus and we see his glory and bathe in his glory, we're transformed That's the logic. That's how we grow.

That's how God is working in Astelias. We gaze at the Lord. We're transformed with ever increasing glory. John Piper, now a retired pastor, but a a Christian author. He summarizes this passage like this.

He says, beholding leads to becoming. Beholding leads to becoming. And so how do we become more Christlike by beholding Christ? By looking at him, gazing at him, watching him, listening to him in his word. And as we do that, the spirit makes us more like him.

It's not your job to make yourself more like Christ. It's your job to look at him. And as you look at him, the spirit changes you, the spirit grows you. I mean, the world we live in would tell us to look at ourselves in the mirror every day. You're supposed to look at yourself in the mirror and say, you can do it.

Go smash today. You got it in you. Manifest it. Say it. Speak the truth out, and it will happen.

In fact, I was thinking tragically this week. 1 of my all time favorite movie scenes is in the film call runnings. Where you've got Yul Brenner and Junior. And they go into a mirror and Yul Brenner says to Junior, look in that mirror and tell me what you see. And your brain says, I see pride, I see power, and some other stuff, which I can't repeat, because it's Sunday morning.

But he's saying, look in that mirror and tell me what you see. Tell me what you see that's in you, but that's a disaster, says Paul. Don't look at yourself, If you just look at yourself, here's what will happen. You will see darkness. Darkness will be reflected back at you.

You'll see more darkness. More darkness will be reflected back at you, and you will just descend into ever increasing darkness, which is what hell is, by the way, looking at yourself forever and ever and ever. Jesus says, look at me, Look at me. Look at the glory of me. Look at the glory of Jesus.

And as you look at him, you're transformed into his image. That beautiful bible family word. You're transformed into the family likeness with ever increasing glory. There's that crown. Ever increasing glories, we look at the lord Jesus Christ.

That's how we restore the crown. And so this father's day, I'm gonna ask you, who is your father? Who is your father? When you look at yourself, do you bear the image and likeness of the devil? As he, your father, are you trapped in a web of lies?

Are you trapped in a web of sort of anger and hatred? Are you trapped in a web of cheating and stealing and selfishness? Do you want to bear the image of God? Do you want to be transformed into ever increasing glory? Do you want to be adopted back into the family of God?

Do you want to call God Father? Because if you do, will you receive Jesus? Will you receive Jesus? Will you believe in him? John chapter 1, says this, yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, the Lord Jesus Christ, he gave the right to become children of God.

Children born not of natural descent nor of human decision where husbands will but born of God. So entrance into the family of God is faith Receiving Jesus Christ. So will you receive him today if you haven't already? Will you receive him? He'll give you the right to become a child of God and you'll be transformed.

And Christian, When was the last time you gazed deeply into the face of Jesus? Do you do it regularly? Can you in your life trace the times of spiritual growth and encouragement and flourishing with times of regularly looking at Jesus? Hearing him preaching his word, coming together with believers and praying, having fellowship with your brothers and sisters. Can you trace times of spiritual growth with gazing at Jesus?

And can you trace times of spiritual stagnation and decline with times of self gazing? Times of looking at yourself, your own problems, your own heart, your own issues. There's a correlation scripture tells us, beholding leads to becoming. So what are you beholding? You know, we have an evening service, another chance to come and behold the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's a great service. It's fantastic. If you've never been, give it a go. I know not everyone can. There are children, and there are jobs, and there are lots of things.

But come on. If you're free on a Sunday evening, come and behold Jesus with us. We open up the word of God. We sing. We pray.

We see Jesus. We have a prayer meeting once a month. I know not everyone can come. There are kids. There are jobs.

But look, if you've never been, especially if you're a member here of the church, and you've covenanted to praying with us, and you've never been to the prayer meeting. Come to the prayer meeting. Come and behold Jesus as we pray together, and you'll become more like him. We have many mid week events. We're not trying to get you just to come to everything so we can feel good about ourselves.

The reason we put event on after event on after event on is so that you would grow in the likeness and image of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you do that, maybe you'll find, I found that beholding regularly does lead to becoming. I'm not what I want to be, but thank God. I'm not what I was or whatever that quote is that everyone knows and I don't. Let's behold the Lord Jesus Christ and let's become more like his image, his likeness, children of God.

So we pray? Our father, we praise you that we can come before you boldly, like little children approaching their daddies, smiling as we see you. We thank you father for the immense payment that brought us, that redeemed us. So we could be adopted back into your family. We thank you for the precious blood of Jesus.

Jesus, thank you that you loved us so much that you would call us your brothers and sisters, that you would swap places with us that you would take their anger and wrath you would become a child of wrath so that we could become children of God. Thank you, holy spirit that as we look at Jesus, you get to work in us. And transform us, make us more like him. We're praying, please, father that we would bear the image of your son, that we would be more and more like him daily And that, lord, we look forward to that day when 1 day we are made totally new completely free from the old family likeness. And we pray that you give us grace for 1 another, love for 1 another, encouragement for 1 another as we walk faithfully with you in this world and we pray these things in Jesus' name, amen.

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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