What does it mean to be an Heir to Christ through the Promise of Abraham? This will be the focus of this week’s blog post as we continue our in-depth study of the Book of Galatians. Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus and later the Apostles speak to us as newborn Christians that we are not only children of God but also joint-heirs with Christ, but how did we become joint-heirs with Christ?
As I discussed in last week’s blog post, it’s through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we have been reconciled back to God and have thus become heirs to Christ but through the promise of Abraham. The Apostle Paul even wrote about us as Christians being children of God and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ in Romans 8:15-17; where he speaks to the Christians in Rome about how they no longer have a “spirit of bondage”, but received the “Spirit of adoption”.
Romans 8:15-17 (NKJV)
“15. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” 16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17. and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
What I liked about these three verses is that while the Apostle Paul was talking to the Christians in Rome, Paul was also talking to us modern-day Christians as well in that; we did not receive a spirit of bondage because God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear; however, what we as Christians gained when we not only accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior but have a relationship with Him is a spirit of adoption into God’s Kingdom.
We are no longer bound by our past sins but are now adopted into the family of the Most High God; which is the foundation for chapter 4 of Galatians. In verses 1-2, Paul is speaking to the people of Galatia about how even as an “heir” with Christ; they are still children; meaning that they still need to be instructed until the time where they can be released into the world.
“We are no longer bound by our past sins but are now adopted into the family of the Most High God…”
Likewise, what I feel Paul was trying to tell the Galatian Christians and us today is that as sons and daughters of God (see Galatians 3:26 – NKJV), we are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and of our Father and that we can’t go out into the world until we first establish a firm and deeply-rooted foundation in the Word of God.
“… we are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and of our Father… we can’t go out into the world until we first establish a firm and deeply-rooted foundation in the Word of God.”
It’s this firm foundation in God’s Word and God’s grace towards us that we are heirs with Christ. In the Book of Titus, Paul writes to Titus about the graces of being heirs with Christ and in it; Paul is also speaking to us as Christians today and how we have been justified by God’s grace and how we have become heirs to the hope of an eternal life with the Father.
Titus 3:7 says, “7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” And what I like about this verse is that just like Paul said to Titus, we are heirs with Christ, but while on Earth we are also hoping for the eternal life with the Father.
In verse 3, Paul is still speaking to the people of Galatia, saying how even when we were children; we were in bondage to the “elements of the world.”
I feel that Paul is also speaking to us is that Paul was referencing how as children on into a world of sin; we were in “bondage” to the “elements of the world” or more accurately; to the elementary or rudimentary principles we were taught (sin).
“Mind games, heart wounds, perversion, neglect, abuses,
Chasing the idols of this age,
The devil keeps us in bondage,
Focusing on ourselves, all tricks Satan uses.”
What I really loved about this poem by Mia is that it hits to the “core” of who we are as human beings; even as Christians and that, we are all chasing after something in this life and even if it’s something good, it can become an idol if we prioritize it over God and His Word.
This leads me into verse 4 where Paul writes that it was from the fulfillment of the time to come that God sends Jesus to the Earth; which references back to Galatians 4:2 about a child being under guardians and stewards.
For me, what I found interesting is that at the end of verse 4 and through verse 5; Paul describes the birth of Christ (see Luke 1:35; 2:7) and how through it; we as Christians today have been redeemed and can receive the adoption into the family of God.
Galatians 4:4-5 says, “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.”
We as Christians should remember that when Christ came to the Earth, He was born into the Jewish laws and traditions and this; had to follow them, but Christ also came to Earth to bring us all back to the Father.
“Christ came to redeem us back to God by taking on all of our bondage so that we could be adopted into His family.”
Related Post: God’s Grace, Our Redemption
We later see in verses 6 and 7 that Paul then focuses on us as newborn Christians being sons and daughters and that because of this; the Holy Spirit went forth into our hearts. As verses 6 and 7 says, “6. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out “Abba, Father!” 7. Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
What I like about these verses is that in my opinion, Paul is speaking to the Galatians but also to us as Christians today telling us that because we have been adopted into the family of Jesus Christ, we are sons and daughters of God; and through that same adoption, we can receive the Holy Spirit through our adoption.
As Christians, our hearts cry out to the Lord for help, but why don’t we listen? We are called to be the light to the world, but if we refuse to listen to the heeding of the Holy Spirit how can we bring light to those who are trapped in darkness and sin?
Verse 7 raised a question for me that I feel we all as Christians should ask ourselves: If our heart cries out to the Lord, why then do we continue to harden our hearts towards God?
The phrase “Abba, Father!” actually comes from the Greek words “abba ho pater” and the Aramaic word “abba” meaning Father; so, for me, I feel that we as Christians and as people have to come to the realization that the promise of Abraham, in my opinion, speaks of an eternal life with the Father.
“As human beings and as Christians, we yearn for a relationship with the Father and through our adoption; we can now cultivate our relationship with our Heavenly Father on Earth in order to have an eternal and everlasting relationship with the Him.”
As Christians, I feel that we can apply these two verses into our everyday walk with Christ by praying, reading our Bible daily and even learning how to serve others where our gifts can be used. I feel that we as Christians should do more when it comes to being joint heirs with Christ.
This leads me into verse 8 where we see Paul speak to the Galatians and reminding them about how, before they believed in Jesus they used to worship gods and idols, but it’s Paul’s question in verse 9 that I feel we as Christians haven’t asked ourselves when we start prioritizing other things before God.
In verse 9, Paul says, “9. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage.”
What I feel really spoke to me is how quick the Galatians turned back to the false idolatry that they previously gave up in order to follow Christ but what I liked about this verse by Paul is that it speaks directly to us as Christians today who have struggled or are struggling with sexual addiction, drugs, etc.. and how even when we are free, we still want the very thing that was keeping us in bondage.
This for me raised a very interesting question for us as Christians, if we are known by the Father and we know God through our relationship with Jesus Christ; why then do we as human beings and as Christians continue to turn back to the situation or circumstances that kept us in bondage?
This reminds me of a blog post written by Pastor Tom of Pastor Unlikely called, “Abandon Your Old Life Christian and Follow Him, You Will Not Regret it” where he asks a very interesting question, “Are we living a life with Jesus so afraid of what might happen that we are stuck fishing for fish when we should be fishers of men?”
What I liked about this question that Tom asked was that it should get us as Christians to start to recognize that areas in our lives; whether past or present that is keeping us from becoming joint heirs with Christ.
Also, in his blog post; Tom has several quotes that I feel we all as Christians should remember because we are heirs with Christ through the promise of Abraham.
- “The challenge is whether we are going to hold onto or drop our nets. Are we going to follow Him wherever He leads or only where I am comfortable?”
- “Before Christ we were dead in our sins and trespasses – dead. Only through Christ are we now alive.”
- “It may not even be a “net” per se, a job or way to make money that He asks us to put down.”
- “It is worth it, it is so worth it in ways that you can never, ever understand…until you drop your nets, leave those things that Jesus is asking you to let go of on the beach and RUN, not walk after the one you know is the Messiah.”
Pastor Tom said, “The challenge is whether we are going to hold onto or drop our nets. Are we going to follow Him wherever He leads or only where I am comfortable?”
We see in verses 10-12 that Paul continues to speak to the people of Galatia and how he is urging them to become more Christlike because he became like them; meaning that he abandoned the Jewish traditions that he grew up with and adhered to in order to become an apostle of Christ.
What I found very interesting about verses 13-14 is that Paul mentions his illness to them and how; even though he was ill they still treated him and took care of him; and for me, this shows how we as Christians today should be. As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of the world, but how are we to do that?
Well, I feel that like the Galatians, we should learn to show a measure of kindness towards others and be willing to step out of the box we’ve created for ourselves in order to spread God’s Word to all people.
In her blog post entitled, “In the World, But Not of the World” Victoria Read of Heart of The Journey said, “I cannot walk in this world effectively as a Christian if I am not constantly tethered to God. I need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I need to be in God’s Word, ingesting it, so that I can aptly discern what things of this world I need to avoid or shed. I need to be examining my motives and my actions to understand whether I am rightly reflecting God’s love.”
What I like about this quote by Victoria is that as joint heirs with Christ; we ought to be led by the Holy Spirit and not by the things of this world; and Paul even tells the Galatians this theme of being sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Christ in verse 16 when he said, “16. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
“… as joint heirs with Christ; we ought to be led by the Holy Spirit and not by the things of this world…“
We skip down to verses 21-22 where Paul starts comparing the two covenants of Abraham and Paul was reminding about Abraham and his two sons: Isaac and Ishmael.
Throughout verse 22, Paul was speaking about how Ishmael was born from Hagar; a bondswoman while Isaac who was the promised son was born from Sarah who was a free woman.
Galatians 22-23 says, “22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through premise,”
As I was reading this, I was finding how much these two sons were actually a reflection of us as Christians and our walk with Christ. Like Ishmael, we were born from our sin but through Christ’s death and resurrection; we became like Isaac who was born from the free woman.
Paul was not only comparing the two sons of Abraham but was also comparing the two covenants: The Law of Moses that Moses received at Mount Sinai that became the laws for the Jewish life and the Abrahamic promise that God made with Abraham.
One covenant promised restoration through works and following the Law of Moses while the Abrahamic promise was based on faith. Likewise, we as Christians, are heirs to the kingdom of Heaven through Jesus Christ and as such; we have to remember that we are children of the promise of Abraham and as such, we are no longer children of God bound by our past circumstances and are now free in Christ.
In the end, though, being heirs with Christ through the promise of Abraham doesn’t mean that our lives are going to be suddenly better than anyone else’s. However, despite being joint heirs with Christ, as Christians, we still should be the light to the world around us; especially in this time where we may feel pressured to conform to the world’s newer and sometimes anti-Biblical ideals.
In Matthew 5:13-14, Jesus even calls us to be the salt and light of the world and we should always remember to be that or else, we will begin to stumble and cause others to stumble in their walks with Christ.
So, What does it mean to be an heir with Christ through the promise of Abraham?
If our heart cries out to the Lord, why then do we continue to harden our hearts towards God?
Why do you and I continue to cling to things that keep us in spiritual bondage?
Stay tuned because next week: We will be discussing what it means to live for Christ while walking in the Holy Spirit.
Mia. “Prisoners”, 12 Apr 2018, https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com/ , https://calledtobeawriter.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/prisoners/ . Accessed 13 Jun 2018.
Read, Victoria. “In the World, But Not of the World”, 1 Dec 2017, https://heartofthejourney.com/ , https://heartofthejourney.com/2017/12/01/in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world/ . Accessed 13 Jun 2018.
Tom. “Abandon Your Old Life Christian and Follow Him, You Will Not Regret it”, https://pastorunlikely.com/ , https://pastorunlikely.com/2016/11/18/abandon-your-old-life-christian-and-follow-him-you-will-not-regret-it/ . Accessed 14 Jun 2018.
Author Unknown. “Galatians 4:9”, http://bibleencyclopedia.com/kjvslides/galatians/4-9.htm , Accessed 15 Jun 2018.
Author Unknown. “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/4826286/ , modified over 3 years ago, Accessed 14 Jun 2018.
Morris, Claribel. “How Can I Glorify God?”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/4520939/ , modified over 3 years ago, Accessed 12 Jun 2018.
Parkins, Leticia. “Galatians 4:1-7”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/3562058/ , modified over 3 years ago, Accessed 13 Jun 2018.
Richards, Silas. “Call to Worship”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/8247226/ , modified over 2 years ago, Accessed 14 Jun 2018.
Underwood, Rudolph Melvyn. “TWO COVENANTS Galatians 4:21-31”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/6861234/ , modified over 2 years ago, Accessed 15 Jun 2018.
Watson, Gwenda. “Adult Bible Study Guide.”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/4783992/ , modified over 3 years ago, Accessed 15 Jun 2018.