In the Fullness of Time – 2014 Christmas Sermon

Text: Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. [6] And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” [7] So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (ESV)

Intro. Outside of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s birth, this text should have the greatest prominence in the standard Christmas texts. It covers so much ground in a few short verses.

In the fullness of time means God’s time. God, who is eternal, acts in our time. This reminds us of how the people in the Old Testament waited for the coming of the Savior. God sent numerous prophets to speak about his coming.

Luke 2:22-40 tells about Simeon and Anna, two people waiting for the coming of the Lord and being rewarded. When Jesus was brought to the temple by Joseph and Mary to be dedicated to the Lord, Simeon and Anna both got to see their Lord and Savior.

God sent his Son, born of a woman – the great wonder and mystery of Christmas. One of those teachings of Scripture that causes us to say, “Either what the Bible says in complete bunk, or it is the absolute truth.” For there can be no middle ground here. Jesus, the eternal, almighty Son of God was born of a woman.

Born under law to redeem those under law.

This raises the question, “Why would those who are under the law need to be redeemed?” The world looks at those who follow the law as the good guys. It’s the lawless ones that need help. But this says Jesus came to redeem those under the law. This clearly means that no one can be saved by observing the law. If Christ needs to redeem those under the law, he needs to redeem everyone.

This includes Joseph and Mary and Simeon and Anna. In the passage mentioned above from Luke 2 it mentions how these individuals were very law-abiding, righteous people. Yet they still needed redemption. They did not trust in their own righteousness, they trusted in Christ.

To redeem means to pay the price for our freedom. The entire price for our redemption was paid in full when Jesus died for us on the cross and rose from the dead.

That we might receive the full rights of sons.

Paul is not being sexist here when he says that we receive the full rights of sons through Christ. No, it’s about rights. In the days of the Bible, and still today in some cultures, the rights of the household belonged to the sons, not to the daughters. But the ones who totally had no rights were the slaves.

Without Christ we are slaves to sin and death. We have no rights whether we are male or female. With Christ we receive the full rights of sons, that is, we are full members of the household of God.

Two things we get by being sons.

First, God sends the Spirit of his Son, the Holy Spirit. Just the sending of Jesus into the world to be born of a woman and to redeem us was not enough. God also needed to send us the Holy Spirit. As the text says, the Spirit of His Son, the Spirit of Jesus is sent into our hearts. And the Spirit’s job is to teach us that we can call God “Abba Father,” which means “my dear Father.” This is a phrase truly that only a son or daughter of the house would use to address the Father. A slave of the household would never consider calling the master, “Abba Father.”

The other thing we get is an inheritance. The inheritance is eternal life in heaven.

The only thing that could be added to this text is the fact that we are now waiting just as the people of the OT were waiting. They waited for Jesus to come. We are waiting for Jesus’ return so that we can begin the full enjoyment of our inheritance in heaven.

After he completed his work of redemption by dying for us and rising again he ascended into heaven with the promise someday to return. We are waiting for that to happen.

It has been almost 2000 years since the promise was made.Some have said Jesus has already returned we just can’t see him. Some say that is has been so long he probably isn’t coming back, even though time and again Jesus said his return would be delayed.

It is good regularly to read through the Old Testament to see what their time of waiting was like. It was not very pretty. Time and again they wandered from the Lord to serve other gods. But God always acted to bring them back to him. He never abandoned them. This is good for us to keep in mind.

When Jesus returns it will be another “in the fullness of time” moment. It will be the time that God has chosen. It will truly be full in the sense that all of God’s promises to us will be fulfilled and time itself will come to an end; we will enter eternity.

Now in ordinary language usage the opposite of full is empty. Some may get the idea that the time between now and the fullness of time is empty time. We just sit around doing nothing until Jesus returns. Not so!

Another misconception is that it is our job to fill this time with Christian busywork. It is true we should spend this time helping others. There are so many in need and God has blessed us with many resources.

But more important than Christian busywork is using this time to let God fill us with his blessings. The time between now and the fullness of time is most importantly a time for us to make sure we take every opportunity to let God fill us with his blessings of forgiveness, life and salvation through his grace-filled Word and sacraments. This is what God wants to do. He wants us to keep coming to him so that he can fill us with his love. Then we go out and serve others with the same love we have received from the Lord.

Conclusion. This is a great Christmas text. In the fullness of time, God sent his Son to be born of a woman to redeem us. Through the redemption of Christ we become full members of the household of God and look forward to our inheritance in heaven. In the meantime God keeps filling us with his blessings to that we can be a blessing to others.

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