September 23rd, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-23-56 7:30 p.m.
Now we turn to the fourth chapter of the Book of Galatians, and let’s read our text together the first seven verses, the first seven verses of the fourth chapter of Galatians. Galatians 4:1-7, and the message tonight is the conclusion, the latter half of the message this morning. The message tonight is on Adoption. Are you ready? Now, let’s read it together, Galatians 4:1-7, together:
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world;
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Could I show, point out here an illustration of the doctrine of the Trinity before we begin with the message? There is no such a thing in the Bible as the "Doctrine of the Trinity." The word is not even mentioned; it’s not even referred to. You find it only in a theological tome. The thing upon which the doctrine of the Trinity is built is something that in the Bible is taken for granted. It is never said, it is never mentioned. It’s the same thing as with God Himself.
The question of God, the reality of God, whether there is a God or not, is never referred to. It is never mentioned in the Bible. The Bible starts off with the fact of God: "In the beginning, God." Now, the same way about the Trinity; it is never discussed as such, but in the Bible, God is revealed as triune. It’ll start off, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,And the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters." [Genesis 1:1, 2]
It just says it; doesn’t argue about the personality of the Spirit. Just says it, "And the Spirit of God." Now, here is a typical instance of that in our passage for tonight: "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law." Now, look at the sixth verse: "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
There are all three of them. "God hath sent forth" – that’s the first one, God. "Sent forth His Son" – that’s the Son of God. "God hath sent forth the Spirit" – that’s the third person of the Trinity. That’s typical of the whole Bible. Never argued, never discussed, never extenuated, never expatiated upon; that’s it. The revelation of God is our Father. The revelation of God is in His Son. The revelation of God is in our heart, the Spirit of God.
We reverence the Father who raised from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ for our justification, who begat us unto a lively hope in Christ by the resurrection from the dead. We reverence the Son who’s most precious blood washes our sins away. We reverence the Holy Spirit who hath quickened us, and regenerated us, and redeemed us, and illuminated us, and has sealed us against the great day of the Lord. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen. That is one of the great fundamental precepts of the Christian faith, though it’s never mentioned as such but presented here in God’s Word, typically in the text we’ve just read.
Now, this morning we speak of justification by which a man is declared righteous before God, not that he is righteous. Not one of us is righteous, but God accepts us in His beloved Son, as holy and pure, and without spot, and without blemish. He sees us, ideally, as righteous, and our sins are covered over by the sacrifice, the atonement, of the Son of God. The man who is joined by faith to Christ is saved by that joining. He is saved through that faith. He becomes identified with Christ, and he is justified by that union. The thing that joins us to Him, our faith, becomes the medium of our justification.
Now in the same passage that Paul will speak of our justification, he will speak of our adoption. And that’s the message for tonight. That word "adoption" is a peculiar word with Paul. You won’t find it outside of the New Testament. It is a coined word by Paul, huiothesia, which actually means "the placing of a son," a son being placed.
Here’s a lad, and he’s a waif. He’s a stranger. He’s an orphan, or he’s outcast. He’s unwanted. He’s on the ash heap and the placing of the son in a family. That’s the coined word of Paul, huiothesia, the placing of a son. There are only three instances of adoption in the Bible, and not any one of them is referred to as "adoption." But there are three instances of it.
One is this; Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Now it doesn’t use the word "adopt," it just says that she took the boy for her own, and she reared him up in the king’s palace. But that actually is an adoption. Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.
Now, there was another adoption in the First Book of Kings and the eleventh chapter. Zeruah – now, I haven’t got time to talk about him – but Zeruah was adopted in the land of Egypt in the court of the king in the days of King Solomon. Now the other adoption is Esther. Mordecai, the uncle of Esther, took the little girl and reared her up, and she became as his own daughter. But the word is never used until Paul coins it and uses it here in the New Testament.
Now, he uses it in three places: In the eighth and ninth chapter of Romans, he uses it three times; here in my text in Galatians, and then in the first chapter of the Book of Ephesians. He says, "God, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will." [Ephesians 1:5] Paul says that from eternity, from the beginning, God elected us. He predestinated us unto the adoption into the great family of God.
Now a fellow comes along, and he says, "I don’t believe in predestination, and I don’t believe in election." Well, I’m not here preaching what people think or suppose. I’m just here preaching what the Book says, and the Book says God predestinates us, and had He not done it, we’d-a all gone to hell, every one of us. It’s because of the grace, and goodness, and mercy of God that you’re here. God chose you. He was good to you. He elected you. He called you. He predestinated you.
"Yeah, preacher, but you don’t know me. There’s no predestination in my life." Brother, I’m it, myself. Ah, you just stand up here! Let me ask you a question or two. You say you have nothing, you say God had nothing to do with the predestinating of your life. You do it all yourself.
Well, let me ask you – did you choose your father and mother? "Well, preacher, no, I didn’t do that." Well, somebody did it for you, then, ’cause you got a dad and mother somewhere. Who chose your father and mother for you? You say you do it yourself.
Let me ask you, who chose your sex? "Oh, preacher, I chose for myself to be a man." Well,Who chose the color of your eyes? Well,Who chose the generation into which you were born? Why weren’t you born in the seventeenth century? Well,Well, nothing. You didn’t choose anything about you. Did you know that? You know that? Brother, it’d do us good to get humble before God. Not of a man, but of God.
Now, let me get back to my subject. I’m off now. We’re talking about adoption here, and I got off reading that passage of Paul, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children. Now, I have one or two or three things to say about this thing of adoption, and they’re wonderful things. They’re gracious things.
First one is this, that it’s a thing of necessity, had to be. We were lost, wandering waifs, all of us. I tell you, when you start reading about this world, and this cosmos, and this universe, and its age, and its ages, and its terrific movement through space, going where, somewhere to a great final rendezvous with God – scares you to death.
What is our destiny, and what is our future? We are waifs in a great, vast, illuminable world, but God doesn’t leave us orphans. That’s an exact word from Jesus – "I will not leave you, I promise. I will not leave you orphans. I’ll not leave you comfortless. I’ll not leave you alone. I’ll come unto you." We were waifs and orphans in this world, and the Lord took pity upon us, and mercy upon us, and showed His grace toward us, and the Lord adopted us into the family of God.
"Yeah, but you don’t understand, preacher. There you go again. You see, I believe in the great sentimental doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, and I don’t need adopting into the family of God. I’m already in the family of God."
Well, that’s what you say, and that’ what your friends say, and that’s what cheap, sentimental religionists say, but that’s not what God says. You just read the Book. Let me just turn right here. Talking about Ephesians – you look at this second verse of the second chapter of Ephesians.
You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Of whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature
What? What does it say? By nature, born a certain way and were by nature the children of God? Is that what it says, "And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others?"
When you are born into this world, God says you are born unto condemnation. You’re born unto judgment. You are born and conceived in sin. You are born a child of Adam. You are born unregenerate. And the Bible says for us to be a child of God, we must be born a second time. We must be born again. We are born into the family of God.
You are born by blood and by the will of the flesh. And by the will of man, you are born in sin, and in judgment, and in death. We have to be born again to be quickened into the life of the Spirit and into the life of God. And that’s what God calls adoption. We are adopted into the family of God. We’re not born into the family of God; we are adopted into it. We are born again into it. God’s got a great register, and in that register book, He writes the names of those who commit their souls in faith to His Son, the Lord Jesus, our Savior.
Now, may I point out in the text some of the great privileges – and that’s what Paul is talking about – some of the great privileges of those who are adopted into the family of God, those who by faith are received into the great home of the Lord. "As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that triumphed in His name, who are born not of the will of the flesh nor of blood nor of the will of man but of God" [John 1:12], the privileges of those who receive the Lord Jesus and become members of the family of the Lord.
All right, here’s one: "Wherefore thou art no more a slave – a doulos – – but a son." [Galatians 4:7] That’s the first thing. You’re not a slave any longer. You’re not trying to work for your salvation. You’re not trying to trade God; God works for heaven. You’re not working for hire any longer. You’re a son. You’re a partner in the company. You belong to the household of faith. You’re not a slave anymore. You’re a son. That’s the first privilege. God your Father, Jesus is your brother, and you are a child of the King. "Wherefore thou art no more a slave, but a son."
All right, the second privilege; in the first part he’s talking about, you’re not under tutors, and you’re not under governors, and you’re not under pedagogy. Remember last Sunday night, preaching about that pedagogy? You’re not under pedagogy, but you’ve come of age. Here’s a little boy in a normal Greek family or a noble Roman family. And the little fellow has no choice and no will, but that paidagogos, he can’t go outside the house without that paidagogos strife, repressive measures.
The name paidagogos had the connotation of one firm and discipline. That was the child under governors and tutors. But when the boy in the Roman household was twenty five years of age, he reached his majority. There wasn’t about pedagogy over him, no more tutors and no more governors, but the boy was received as a citizen of the great empire of Rome. And the sign of it was, they put on him the toga. Twenty-five years of age, reaches majority, and now he is given the toga of the citizenship of the Roman empire.
Now, Paul uses that as a picture of our putting on the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism. Look up here in the third verse when he starts saying, now watch him. Twenty-fourth down, twenty-fourth verse of the third chapter:
Wherefore the law was our paidagogos to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith
But after that faith is come, we’re no longer under a paidagogos for we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
You’re of age, you’ve come into your majority; you wear the toga now.
Or, if I could use Paul’s word, you’ve been baptized now, and you belong to the household of the King. Baptism is a picture of our putting on Christ. As the water buries us, as the water covers us, so Christ is put on. He covers us like a garment or like the waters in the pool.
That’s the second privilege of the son. Their day comes when he comes of age, and he’s a great, happy, free member in the household of faith. Not under tutors, not under governors, not under shadows and types, not under insubstantial substances that portray other things, but he’s got the things himself, they’re his. He’s arrived. He’s come.
All right, a third thing of our adoption into the family of God: Not only that, but listen – "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts." That’s another of the great privileges of belonging to the household of faith. God sends into our hearts the Spirit of His Son. That’s the way of naming the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God, sometimes the Holy Spirit, sometimes the Spirit of Jesus, and here He is called the Spirit of His Son.
Why does it refer to the Holy Spirit sometimes as the Spirit of Jesus? Well, because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit. The dove came upon Him and His water baptism; the Holy Spirit. He did His mighty works by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He quickened the church at Pentecost by the baptism, the sending of the promised Holy Spirit, and He convicts the world by the Holy Spirit. That’s the reason He is called the Spirit of Jesus. God sends forth the Spirit of His Son into your heart.
Where does the Spirit have His dwelling place? Oh, in your head, in your intellect. Well, that’s right, I guess. I don’t know how some of us would fair as dumb as some of us are; little bitty brains, little bitty heads. And if God dwells in our head, if that’s the center, I don’t know how some of us come out, including me. Well, I guess that’s right. God dwells in our heads, He dwells in our intellects. He dwells in our minds; that’s right.
But the center of being is in our hearts. Listen to the Word of the Lord:
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved
For with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. With the heart one believeth unto righteousness.
Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.
The dwelling of God is in the affections of a man. It’s in the love of a man. It’s in the ambitions, and wants, and desires of a man. Where a man’s heart is, there the man is. And God says He sends forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, into our affections. That’s the very center of our being.
Why, when a boy goes with a girl and he’d say to the girl, "I give you my, well, I give you my head." Well, his head. Who wants a boy’s thick, knotty head? Who’d be interested? I give you my head. Well, I give you my mind, my activities, my life, my so-and-so, yeah. But, ah, you don’t do that! She might want his pocketbook, but that’s gold-digging, isn’t it? That’s crass.
But this is what you say: "I give you my heart." He’ll love you forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. And brother, that’s sure something, isn’t it? That’s the real thing. That’s the real thing. I give you my heart, the love of my life, and when you’ve got a boy’s heart, you’ve got him; everything about him; his hands, his feet, his head, his mind, all of his days, his thoughts, his remembrance, everything. You have his heart, you have him.
That’s what God says about our lives. The center of our lives is in the affections. It’s in the heart. That’s where God dwells in us, and that’s where we respond to the love of God. He sends forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. That’s the fourth great privilege of being a son, adopted into the family of God.
Now, a fifth one and a last one: He sends forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. The last great privilege of being adopted into the family of God, of being a child of God, the last one is the privilege of prayer. You have access to the throne of grace. Come boldly, says the Lord. The scepter is outstretched towards you. You’ve been justified. You’re accepted. God accepts the worker, and He accepts his works.
Remember this morning? God justifies the suppliant, and He listens to what the Intercessor has to say. Ah, you say, that’s not much. Oh, but the day comes when that’d be everything; somebody to hear you pray. Great sorrows come, and calamities overwhelm. Age comes, disease, sickness, death knocks at the door.
My soul, I could not think of a greater gift or privilege of a child of God than this one, the privilege of prayer. God sends forth His Spirit into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. The only three places in the Bible where that is used, "Abba, Father," and it’s the same in all three places. Abba – that’s Hebrew, Aramaic – Father, Abba. That’s the way a child would say it, Abba, Abba, Father. Abbapater – and it’s always that way – Abba, Abbapater. Abba, the Father.
Three times it is said. One time is in Jesus’ life. Do you remember it? The Roman officers didn’t know about it, and the chief priests were unaware of it, and the disciples were sleeping. But you go with me in the darkness of the night, beyond the throng and the crowd, and beyond the eight sleeping disciples, and beyond the three watchers who themselves were asleep, and you will find prostrate on the ground the Son of God. And His face is pressed against the breast of mother earth, and His tears creep into the crevices of the very creation that He’d made.
And you listen. It isn’t what you see that wrings your heart, it’s what you hear as He cries, "Abba, Father. If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not what I want but what thou will." [Matthew 26:39] Abba, Abbapater. Abba, Father.
The second place that it’s mentioned is in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans. And I want to compare the two. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, fifteenth verse, Paul says, "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Abbapater." We cry, Abba, Father.
In Galatians, he says God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, and the Spirit cries, saying, "Abba, Father." Here Paul says we cry "Abba, Father." Now, just what does Paul mean? Well, this is what He means: In the eighth chapter, the same chapter, in the eighth of Romans, he explains it. He says:
The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And He that searcheth hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
[Romans 8:26, 27]
That’s what Paul means when he writes here in my text, God sends the Spirit into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father, the Spirit cries. Because when those times come, and when those hours are upon us, somehow you can’t frame the word to pronounce it, and the sentence won’t bear the agony and intercession of your heart.
This sure does cut through those fine prayers that some people so greatly admire. Those formal things, when a guy gets up, and you know, I guess I’m a heathen as well as a heel, but when a fellow stands up there, and he’s reading a prayer, looking around to see how people think of his prayer as he reads it, I don’t bow my head. I just look at him, just look at him. You think that guy’s praying? Do you?
You know what’s he’s doing? He’s talking to the audience. He’s not talking to Him. He’s talking to the audience. He’s standing up there, and with his eyes open, reading a prayer, and while he reads it, look around, all over the congregation. Reason I know he’s looking around, ’cause I’m watching him. I’m looking at him. Yes, sir. Well, I’ve never said to you that I was going to get to heaven but by the grace of God. Isn’t that what I’ve told you? I’m just a heathen like all the rest of us.
Those high-flown prayers, beautiful, beautiful, they work on their language, and work on the oratory, and work on their balanced sentences, and work on their "prayerations," and they address the prayer to God. And I want you to know, whenever you really pray, it’ll be like this: It’ll be with groanings that cannot be uttered, and the Spirit will cry on the inside of you, saying, "O God, O God, O My Father, Abba, Abba, Father, Father."
You know, I was reading today, just reading today, reading about Hannah. There she was, down on her knees at Shiloh. And the Bible says Hannah talked to God, but she didn’t say any words; didn’t say any words. But her lips would move, but no sound was made. And old Eli, the pastor of the church, came by, and he looked at her, and he watched her a little while. And he said to her, "Woman, put your wine away! Drunk here in God’s house; put your wine away."
You remember what Hannah said? She said, "Thy handmaid is not drunken. But I’m a woman of a sorrowful spirit, and I can’t put it in words." [1 Samuel 1:15] I can’t say it in language. It’s something in my soul. It’s something too deep for language and sentence; it’s in my soul. I’m not drunk. And old Eli looked back at her and said, "The Lord of Israel grant thee thy prayer." And she went home, and God answered her prayer. And when that little boy was born, she named him Samuel, which means "asked of God."
That’s praying! Not these high-flown "prayerations," but the agony of the Spirit that "maketh intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered." And that’s what Paul says here in the text. God sends forth His Spirit into our hearts, crying – the Spirit cries, Abba, Father. I must quit, ’tis enough.
Surely, surely no heart could listen to the words of the Book and not say in the deep, deep of his soul, I’d love to be a child of the King. I’d love to belong to God. Oh, that He might bow His ear to hear when I pray! That He might be my refuge and my strength in the hour of my weakness and want, that God would be Father to me, in death, in the world that is to come.
Listen, friend, listen to me. That’s yours as a fellow heir with Jesus, as a child of the King, by putting your trust in His hand. Would you? Would you? "Dear Lord, heart, and soul, and life, this and that to come, all committed to Thee." Would you? And come and stand by me. "Pastor, tonight I yield the issue of my life and the destiny of my soul to Jesus. I take Him tonight." Will you? Or, into the fellowship of the church, as God should lead the way and open the door and say the word, while we make this appeal, into the aisle and down here by me, would you come? Would you be the first to come? "Here I am, pastor, and here I am." Would you? While we stand, and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Doctrine of Trinity never discussed in Bible
1. But in the Bible God is revealed as triune (Genesis 1:1-2)
B. Trinity seen in our passage (Galatians 4:4, 6)
C. We reverence the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
II. "Adoption" a word coined by Paul
A. Huiothesia – "the placing of a son"
B. Three instances of adoption in the Bible
1. Moses (Exodus 2:10)
2. Zeruah(1 Kings 11)
3. Esther (Esther 2:7, 15)
C. Paul uses the word three times (Romans 8:15, 23, 9:4, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5)
III. It is a necessity
A. We were lost, wandering waifs
1. God does not leave us orphans (John 14:18)
B. We are born unto judgment (Ephesians 2:2-4)
1. We must be born again into family
IV. The privileges (John 1:12)
A. A slave no longer (Galatians 4:7)
B. No longer under a tutor, a paidagogos(Galatians 4:1-5)
1. Picture of putting on our Lord in baptism (Galatians 3:24-27)
C. God sends to our hearts the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6)
1. Center of our being is the heart (Romans 10:9-10, Proverbs 4:23)
D. Prayer – access to the throne of grace
1. The filial cry, "Abba, Father" (Matthew 26:39, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6, 1 Samuel 1:15)