“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.” – Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV)
This is a verse that demonstrates a need to close a gap in our means of interpretation. Adoption, in the time that Rome ruled the world and Paul wrote his letters to the churches in the first century was not like the adoptions we are familiar with today. It was not babies or young children but adult men that were adopted by families seeking to have an heir to carry on the family name and business. It was different in many ways to adoption familiar to us. “Adoption” is the act of bringing someone who is the offspring of another into one’s own family. Since unbelieving people are by nature not children of God, the only way they can become God’s children is by spiritual adoption. Indeed, we are made members of our Father God’s family”. With respect to this adoption, it surpasses anything that takes place on earth. It confers upon its recipients not only a new name, a new legal standing, and a new family-relationship, but also a new image, the image of Christ. We are adopted by God because He has chosen us to become one of His family. It is a permanent action and standing.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” – 1 John 5:1-2 (ESV)
We have been promised a victorious life. Tomorrow we will consider the substance of this promise in the following verses but today we have the promise of what it takes to have that triumphant life. All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Anointed One, the Messiah who was promised from the beginning to make a way for our reconciliation with God the Father. Everyone who believes this is born spiritually by the power of God. We who have been born into God’s Spirit will manifest love for God the Father. We also will have and show love for all others who have been born of God. Our love of others is made possible by our love and obedience to God. Our promise is this, we can know that we love each other when we obey His commandments. These are the precepts in the teaching which Christ gave to all when He was on this earth. Recorded and written by the Holy Spirit into the inspired writings of our Scriptures, we know what the commandments are from the Bible.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” – 1 John 5:1 (ESV)
We have been finding promises of God in the first letter written by the apostle John. Our verse today is essential in understanding the characteristics of who is a Christian. Using the label and claiming to be a Christian is not enough in itself. It’s sincere belief in Jesus of Nazareth and that He is the promised Savior that results in spiritual rebirth by God. Christians become overcomers, but not by their own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Saving faith is the first characteristic of an overcomer. The term “believes” in our verse expresses the idea of continuing faith, which marks authentic believers. They continue in faith throughout their life. Saving belief is not simply intellectual acknowledgment, but is unreserved dedication to Jesus Christ that is eternal. Jesus is the Christ. If one asks who his Christian brother or sister is, the answer is that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. It is not by being born to Christian parents. It is a believer’s faith in Jesus, that He is the promised Messiah or “Anointed One” whom God sent to be our Savior from sin, to die for sins of all people, and to rise again.