This world has taught us to earn.
We’ve been conditioned to earn for as long as we can remember — earning praise and affirmation from parents, earning grades from teachers, earning playing time from coaches, earning attention from boys or girls, eventually earning paychecks from employers. We learned how to earn before we learned how to speak or even walk.
But our penchant for earning paralyzes us before God’s offer of true grace. We don’t know how to receive favor without working for it. And so we subtly (or not so subtly) trade away the one true gospel because we prefer to work for and serve God as slaves (or at least as employees), and not as sons. We don’t feel safe letting him do all the work, and earning gives us some semblance of control. We simply can’t believe eternal security and everlasting life could be offered as a gift.
Three Promises for Children of Grace
Galatians as a whole suggests that we will be tempted to compromise and deny the gospel by treating God as an impersonal Master, and not a father. We’ll try to prove ourselves to him and earn his love when he has already loved us, and sent his Son for us.
“We subtly begin to feel and act like employees, when God has made us sons and daughters.”
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. (Galatians 4:4–7)
Three unusually sweet promises lie in these four verses for precious sons and daughters of God. First, when God redeems, he secures us forever. He never forgets or forsakes his own children. With Christ, we have eternal security. Second, we have intimacy — a deep, personal, satisfying relationship with a heavenly Father, who knows us thoroughly, who loves us continually, and who promises to protect and provide for us. Third, with Christ, we become heirs of all things — all things. Security. Intimacy. And the truest, fullest prosperity.
1. You are safe.
The greatest threat in any of our lives is our own sin, because every sin deserves God’s wrath. The God we offended — the God we rebelled against — shielded us from his fully righteous punishment when he crushed his Son on the cross (Isaiah 53:6, 10). You don’t have to wonder whether you’re good enough. You’re not. But Christ is. And being found in him by faith, you are counted as righteous in him. God may discipline you as your loving Father (Hebrews 12:6–7), but he will not punish you a second time because he already punished you on his Son (Romans 8:1). You are safe and secure in the care of your Father.
Every moment of every day before surrendering to Christ, we were in awful, eternal danger. Every second we resisted him we put ourselves at greater and greater risk, having no idea where we were headed and what we would pay for our sin.
But God rescued us in Christ. He paid our debt, bought our forgiveness and freedom, and staked our security on the worth of his Son. He redeemed “those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). As a child of God, you are safe and secure from horrors you can’t even imagine. You are safe. You have a Father who watches over you, who knows your needs, who’s defeated death for you, who promises to deliver you to himself — safely.
2. You are known and loved.
We’re not only saved by God (at the cross) and from God (his wrath), but we’re saved to God. Being a part of God’s family means enjoying a Father-child relationship with him. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6). We can come into God’s very presence and speak with him, worship him, and ask for help. If you are in Christ, you have an infinite, almighty, and caring Protector and Provider.
“One day, we will own it all, but the greatest thing we’ll have is God himself.”
The word Paul used when he said, “God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4), is the same word he uses two verses later: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6). In the same way that God sent Jesus into our broken world to save us, he sent the Spirit into our sinful hearts to make us his sons and daughters.
By the Spirit, God himself is in us, binding us to himself, making us his own, and giving us access to him now through prayer, and then forever in eternity face to face. We have intimacy with the only one who can truly know us and satisfy us (Psalm 16:11). By our faith, he lives in us, listens to us, loves us; he is with us by his Spirit.
The Spirit gives us the confidence and freedom to cry out to God. He assures us that God really does love us. The cry he inspires is a cry to a dad: “Abba! Father!” The Spirit inside of us pleads as a child, and not as a slave. As children, our intimacy with the Father means his love is deep, persistent, and not decisively based on our performance. We are thoroughly known and profoundly loved. We are his.
3. You are wealthy beyond imagination.
Lastly, we have true, lasting, other-worldly prosperity — a divine inheritance kept in heaven for you. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7).
It’s no mistake that, when Paul compares sons with slaves, he calls the son “the owner of everything” (Galatians 4:1). He’s speaking about sons in general, but he means for us to see something about what it means to be God’s son. All that he has — and he has it all — he wants to share with his redeemed and adopted children.
Paul writes, “So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21–23). That promise is so spectacular that it’s almost impossible to quantify or estimate what it could even mean. One day, we will own it all. And yet the greatest treasure we will inherit is not anything God can give us, but God himself. He’s the most valuable, most satisfying, most fulfilling reality that there is, and in Christ, we are his and he is ours (Revelation 21:3).
Nothing More Important
“Nothing in our lives here compares to what God promises to give each and every one of his children.”
If we have all of this in the gospel already, then we dare not stray from it, and we need not try to earn God’s salvation or chase final satisfaction in this world. Nothing in our lives here is worth losing what God alone can give his children. When we compromise the gospel or leave it behind, we risk losing everything. It’s impossible to describe how much is at stake. There is nothing more important for us to get right than how we get right with God.
We double our offense against him when we think we have any ability to make it all right again on our own. We don’t have to — in fact, we must not try, because God has done the work for us and made us a part of his beloved family. And because we’re his sons and daughters, we have eternal security, deep intimacy, and infinite wealth. Best of all, we have him.