More than Friends

More than Friends

At the last supper Jesus said the following to his disciples:

No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends.
John 15:15 NRSV

Sounds pretty good, Jesus is their friend, can you think of anything better than Jesus calling you his friend?
Well, yes I can. You see,

We are not just servants,
we are not just friends. We are so much more
we are children of God himself.

God has set us free, free to be his children — before accepting Christ we are slaves:

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.
Galatians 4:3–7 ESV

These are wonderful words, showing that the arrival of the Christian message is at the very same time the great turning point of history.  Apart from this young boy named Jesus, life offers no future hope for anyone. We are lost, without hope and without God:

remember that you were at that time separated from Christ… strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:12 ESV

But God has intervened in a way that brings immediate, effective, and complete salvation. At the right time, God sent forth his Son, Jesus, with a message of salvation. Jesus is the apostle being sent, ἐξαπέστειλεν (exapesteilen) that’s what sent forth means in the Greek, God’s unique messenger with a message of salvation. This little baby is truly unique, he is God’s son (fully divine) but he is also born of woman (fully human). Here at last is the promised seed of the woman who will crush the serpent’s head.

And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Genesis 3:15 NIV11

But not only was Christ born as human; he was born under the law and all its obligations.

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus
Luke 2:21 NRSV

Jesus came to redeem us from the law’s bondage and to provide the basis by which God is able to adopt us as sons and daughters.
When it says redeem it means to buy out of slavery by paying a price. Christ paid this price by dying nailed to a cross:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed… but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18–19 ESV

Jesus became a curse for us, as Paul says in Gal 3:13:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
Galatians 3:13 ESV

By the way he was executed Jesus technically violated the law (and that was the only way, he ever broke it). By this technicality—through no fault of his own—he became technically guilty of all of it and bore the punishment of God’s wrath for every violation of the law by every person.  Dying alone on the cross Jesus experiences what we should experience; he is lost, without hope and without God:

Jesus cried with a loud voice… “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Mark 15:34 ESV

That should be me on the cross, that should be you but it is Jesus paying my debt!
In this short but amazing summary of the gospel Paul is telling us that salvation consists in its fullness by God the Father sending both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Neither one can do it alone, it is a joint effort.
By Jesus’ death on the cross are we saved, all we need to do is believe:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
John 1:12 ESV
Beloved, we are God’s children now
1 John 3:2 ESV

We are God’s children now, by rebirth, a brand new person:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

This is not some vague pie in the sky promise. The instant you accept Jesus as Lord and saviour, you are reborn! You are a new person, remade in Christ Jesus for his purposes, as a son or daughter of God. Being born again means that you are literally a child of God, not figuratively or metaphorically but an actual child of God.
Sound good to you? Sounds fantastic!

Welcome to the family!

On the other hand we are also God’s children by adoption into the family — with all the rights of an heir.
And it is because of our adoption, says Paul, that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And it is by the presence of the Spirit that we are assured of our adoption by God:

it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Romans 8:16 ESV
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Romans 8:9 ESV

It is the Holy Spirit that allows us to pray with confidence and address God as father.
We are children of God — and if children — then heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Think about it, that is really exciting!
We share in His kingdom, not just a part of his kingdom, we share in all of his kingdom.
We have access through Jesus to all the promises of the Father, to all the blessings of the Father, to all the inheritance of the Father.

All that Christ has — is available to us.

We are children of God, born again, adopted and made heirs with Christ Jesus. Heirs with all the rights, all the privileges, and all the promises.
That inheritance is offered to us, to you, to me, to all the people of Leopold, to everyone.
At the start of the sermon I said God has set believers free, but he has done so much more than that.
He has offered us salvation, he has offered us adoption and a new life lived through Jesus and the life giving spirit that he sends us.

What do we do with this?  We need to welcome others into this wonderful family we are in!

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
2 Corinthians 5:18–20 ESV


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