Tag Archives: Family

Family Matters

Peninsula Community Church 

Family Matters 

May 6, 2018 

Romans 8:12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

When we speak of family I am sure that we all have different opinions and ideas about what that looks like. For some of us, our family experience was a positive one. For many, the family experience provided the foundation we needed to be the man or woman we are today. I am also aware that the opposite is true. For some, the family experience has not been as positive as it could be. As a result, we have been negatively impacted by our families. For some, it was not the entire family, but one family member that seemed to create problems in the home and thus made it hard to celebrate family. Regardless of our background, family matters and family really matters to God. 

Throughout the New Testament, there are many Scriptures that point to the family and being the children of God. In this passage, Paul makes a wonderfully powerful statement. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

In our passage, Paul reminds us that we do not owe the flesh anything. Because we are sons, we are free from slavery. We must take care that we do not reconnect with the slavery of the past. Regardless of what you think about Kenye West, he made a powerful statement this past week.  He stated that “Slavery is a choice.” He was not talking about historical or institutional slavery but the mindset of slavery. You see what we set our minds on, will control us. If we focus on being slaves, our identity becomes one of slavery. The issue here is that the flesh will continue to attempt to extract a huge debt from us, but it is a debt that we no longer owe. It is a debt that can never be fully paid, as the flesh wants more and more. The flesh keeps raising the debt ceiling so that the debt becomes impossible to pay.

Paul also reminds us that through the Spirit we have become sons of God. We are a part of His family. This week, I read that God does not call us to do something without empowering us to do what He calls us to do. In this case, we are called to be sons of God and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just, be sons of God. We were slaves to sin, but now we are the adopted son’s of God. It is our adoption that seals the deal for us and sets in place the work of the Holy Spirit within us. For a few moments let us look at this idea of adoption. 

During the times of the Romans and at the time of Paul’s writing, adoption was a common practice. By definition adoption refers to the legal action by which a person is taken into one’s family as a member of the family with full rights and authority as a member of the family. The one that is adopted is granted all of the rights and privileges of a true child of the new father. When we understand the act of adoption, we find that it is filled with grace, mercy, and love. For the believer, adoption is one of the most beautiful and rich theological concepts of Scripture.

According to Roman law, the father had ultimate power over a son and for that matter a daughter. That power never ended regardless of the status of the son as an adult. The son was always under the authority and power of the father. He had absolute power and he controlled the family absolutely. It is interesting to note however that by Roman law, if a man saw a son that he wanted to adopt, he had to go through a formidable process to adopt the son. 

The Roman law required a two step process. The first step was “mancipatio.” From here we get our word emancipation. This act of mancipatio was a symbolic sale of sorts. One father would approach the other father with the desire to adopt his son. Once they agreed, the two fathers would meet in a public place and transact business. The son’s father would sell the son to the adopting father and then he would buy him back. This would occur twice. On the third time, the father would not buy the son back. The deal was struck. With that, the control of the father was broken. Once this occurred the adopting father would go the Roman magistrate and present a legal case for the transference of the adopted one to the new father. When completed the adoption was final. 

Notice the spiritual implications of this. The flesh, the enemy of our soul, had control over our life. We were completely controlled by the flesh. The flesh, because of sin, had been given authority and control over our life. But one day, Christ made the case that He wanted to adopt us as His children. Through the cross, Jesus publicly bought us and finalized the adoption. He gave Himself as the price of adoption so He could adopt us by the power of the Spirit. 

When it comes to Roman adoptions there were a few principles that applied. These principles are critical to our understanding of the work of adoption in our life as believers. First, the adopted person lost all of the rights he had with his previous family and the previous father had no rights to his son. While he gave up the old family, He now had all of the rights and privileges of his new family. He was now considered to be a fully legitimate son in the new family. 

We have been adopted by God, and we are His children thus the enemy has no right to rule over us or to control us. We lost all of the rights once associated with our previous family. Now, we have all of the rights and privileges of our new family. We are not illegitimate children, we are fully and completely His children. It is for that reason that we are not in debt to the flesh any more. Listen to Paul’s words in Galatians 3:25-26, But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

This leads us to the second thought. The adopted child is a full heir to his new father’s estate, even if there were other sons who were born into the family. The adopted child was an inalienable identified heir of the father’s fortune. Because of our adoption, we are now full heirs to our Father’s estate. Notice, the passage states we are not just heirs, we are joint heirs with Christ. We have a great inheritance. So often we think of an inheritance as property and other assets. With our spiritual inheritance, we inherit eternal life, but more than that we inherit God Himself. The greatest gift is that we get to live in the presence of God for an eternity. In the Old Testament, there are no less than five occurrences where Scripture tells us that God is our inheritance (Numbers 18:20, Deuteronomy 10:9, Deuteronomy 18:2, Psalm 16:5, and Lamentations 3:23-25).  

Thirdly, the old life of the adopted person was completed wiped away. If the son had debts, those debts were cancelled. All records were wiped away as if that person never existed before. The adopted person was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with no past. When we are adopted by God, every sin and debt is wiped away. That is why we do not live as the condemned. Our past record has been wiped away, just as if we never existed before. That is why Paul says that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). That is why we do not lived as condemned men nor do we owe a debt to flesh.

Fourth, in the eyes of Roman law, the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense. So it is with Christ. We are not partial children. We are full blown, complete sons of God. Galatians 4:4-7 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.

In the movie Ben Hur there is a scene that illustrates this idea of adoption. It is a beautiful scene that shows Arrius adopting Judah as his son, which made him a freedman, a Roman citizen, and Arrius’s heir. All of the rights of the family were given to Judah Ben-Hur. To view this go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbHDk6Uzri4. 

Finally, while other children were born into the family, adopted children were chosen to be a part of the family. As an adopted child, we were deliberately chosen. I am reminded of one adoptee who thought for years that his family had rejected him, but one day he was reminded that he may have been rejected by one family but he was chosen by another. Christ chose to adopt us. He chose to accept us into His family. We are the preferred choice of God. On the basis of free and voluntary election, God chose us to be His sons. That should excite our hearts. The living, powerful, awesome God has chosen us to be His children. We were not just born into the family, we were chosen by God to be His family. 

Because of our adoption we cry Abba Father. In the Aramaic and Greek languages these were the most passionate words for Father their were. They were intimate beautiful words of love and adoration. As His children today we look into His eyes and cry Abba Father, Daddy God. As the adopted one’s we can now call Him our Father. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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God’s Gift of Family

Peninsula Community Church

November 25, 2012

God’s Gift of Family – An Introduction

One of the things I have found about families is that almost every family has that one person who is different. Sometimes there is one member that is the trouble maker or they march to a different beat. For other families there are those who are the “black sheep” who put a black mark on an otherwise normal family. We all have these family members. But over the next couple of weeks we will observe that Christ also had family members that fit the above description.

Text: Matthew 1:1-6 – The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah …

My goal over the next several weeks is to focus on the five women Matthew references in his genealogy. But before do that, I would like to make some preliminary observations about the text. My desire is that through this series you we will see and recognize and bring to light the awesomeness of God’s grace and mercy.

If we do a quick read on this text we can miss much that is hidden within these words. So, today, we will mine some of the truths that exist within these words. To understand them we must dig beyond just the words that are written to understand the historical and Judaic meaning of the passage.

As we dig into the meaning of this passage, we must first recognize a specific reference that Matthew makes. First, it is important to note that including women in a Jewish genealogy was not a common practice in those days. In most of the genealogies of the day the emphasis was upon the man as evidenced in Luke’s record of the genealogy of Christ. The reason given for this most often was that the Jew was looking for Messiah to come and they knew that Messiah was to be a man. It was for this reason that the emphasis was most often on the male role. In this study it is also interesting to note who Matthew did not include. He did not include Sarah, Leah, Rachel and many others who may have presented Christ’s family in a better light.

Secondly, it is critical to note that Matthew’s gospel focused on the kingdom of God. This is important because it has been said that if you want to understand the kingdom you must read Matthew’s gospel. Matthew, in God’s wisdom, presented the kingdom of God as a future event that would be consummated in Christ’s second coming and the establishment of His kingdom for eternity. Matthew also emphasized that God’s kingdom was present now and could be experienced now by those who would follow God’s commands through obedience. This is seen in the Lord’s Prayer Christ prayed “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is also interesting to note that Matthew on a number of occasions presented an illustration of what the kingdom of God would look like when he would state “The kingdom of Heaven or of God is like….” And then he would resent a scenario.

There is a critical need for believers to realize that the kingdom of God is evident now and the full power of the kingdom is available to them. We can call on God to reveal his kingdom power into every situation that we face. When His kingdom is revealed we experience His grace and His power. Things happen when God’s Kingdom comes.

In reference to this passage, however, we have another truth that is evident. By including these women in the text Matthew is reminding us that the Kingdom of God is open to all who will come to Him. It does not matter about one’s past or what one may have done in the past. The door of the Kingdom is open to them. Secondly this is a reminder that the Kingdom is not open to just the Jew but to the Gentile as well. The Kingdom is available to the Jew and the Gentile; the slave and the free; and both man and woman.

Thirdly, in Matthew’s gospel he focuses on the women in these stories but by implication it also focuses on the families of these women and their male counterpoint. The fact is God’s family is filled with dysfunctional people who are not much different than us today. In fact, many of the stories of the Old Testament could be torn right from the pages of our newspapers, movie scripts, TV programs and the latest steamy novel. It should be an encouragement to us today that God allowed us a glimpse into His family. It should encourage us that He allows the curtain to be pulled back so we can see His family up close and personal.

That brings us to a fourth observation. The Holy Spirit is not afraid to deal with some uncomfortable issues in the Scripture. He could have chosen to ignore these stories or he could have pressed the delete button and removed these stories from the Bible. But rather, He addresses those things that relate to real life.

For educators and psychologists there is a term they use called “disequilibrium.” What they say is that we often learn more when we face things that unsettle us or that shake us out of our comfort zone. It is at this moment that we must either adjust our paradigm of understanding or we adjust our emotions to accept the issue.

It is interesting to me how the stories related to these women cause us to ask questions and deal with issues that we would not normally deal with in Scripture. Let’s briefly look at these ladies:

Tamar – Tamar’s first husband, Er died. He was taken by God because of his evil ways. Her second husband, Onan, died, as well as, a result of disobedience and the evilness of his ways. Judah, Er and Onan’s father, had promised her his third son who was too young to be married. He unfortunately did not keep his word and Tamar took things into her own hands and dressed up like a prostitute because she knew that Judah would succumb to the temptation of prostitution. He did and she trapped him by his actions. This sounds like a story from modern TV or the movies doesn’t it.

Rahab – Rahab was a prostitute. While Rahab was a prostitute God used her to guide Israel to victory. Rahab was such a critical part of the history of Israel that she is listed in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11.

Ruth – Ruth was a foreigner who lost her husband and was left in essence without a home or a future but there was a kinsman redeemer. And she became the mother of Boaz who became the father of David.

Bathsheba – Bathsheba lost both her husband and her son because of David’s dishonesty and lies. While Bathsheba was not completely innocent she submitted to the wishes of the king which if she had disobeyed him her own life would have been at stake.

Mary – And finally, we have Mary who was different from most of these other ladies. She was an innocent young girl who should have never have been chosen. She was in essence a nobody but she was a somebody chosen by God to be the mother of His only Son.

Finally, all of these stories remind us of the grace and mercy of God. It is so awesome that these stories are a part of Christ’s family. Each of these dysfunctional families and situations are welcomed and invited to be a part of the kingdom and is a part of Christ’s heritage and family. Each of these women was a great grandmother of Christ. They were a part of His family. Each of us has similar those stories in our families. These stories remind us that the dysfunctional and broken are welcomed into the kingdom. They are invited into the family of God. That includes us. We are all invited but not all will accept the invitation.

 

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