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4. The Search OF the Savior: Why Jesus Came, Part 2 (Gal. 4:4-7)

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Most of us try to organize our lives around a schedule. You schedule appointments, schedule your school work, schedule time with your friends etc. Soon you find that your week is all filled up.

Some people don’t make plans at all. Or, if they do, they don’t stick to them. Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler, is reported to have once said: “I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who can’t seem to control their own schedules. Over the years, I’ve had many executives come to me and say with pride, ‘Boy, last year I worked so hard that I didn’t take any vacation.’ It’s actually nothing to be proud of. I always feel like responding, ‘You mean to tell me that you can take responsibility for an $80 million project, and you can’t plan two weeks out of the year to go off with your family and have some fun?’” At this time of year everyone’s schedule seems to be full with Christmas family gatherings to attend, Christmas concerts to enjoy or perhaps be part of.

Sometimes, unscheduled events occur. Cliff Barrows served as Billy Graham’s lifelong associate and crusade song leader. The story is told that in 1945, before he met Billy Graham, Cliff and his fiancée, Billie, had scraped together enough money for a simple wedding and two train tickets to a resort. On arrival, however, they found the hotel shut down. Stranded in an unfamiliar city with little money, they thumbed a ride. A sympathetic driver took them to a grocery store owned by a woman he knew. The newlyweds spent their first night in a room above the store. The next day, when the lady overheard Cliff playing Christian songs on his trombone, she arranged for them to spend the rest of their honeymoon at a friend’s house. Several days later the host invited them to attend a youth rally where a young evangelist was speaking. The song leader that night was sick and Cliff was asked to take charge of the music for the service. The young evangelist, of course, was Billy Graham, and the two became lifelong partners. You can’t schedule such unplanned events.

Sometimes, timing is everything. The plans we make don’t always work out. Unexpected interruptions come up and the timing of our plans has to change. When an unscheduled event occurs, you usually scramble to figure out how you can reorganize your life quickly. Perhaps it’s a health issue, or a death in the family, or a paper at school you forgot was due this week. Or, perhaps it’s the birth of a baby - sometimes babies do what they’re supposed to do and come into the world on time and sometimes they come unexpectedly. Herod hadn’t planned on the Messiah being born. This was certainly an unscheduled event for him and he began to scramble. That’s why he “summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared” (Matt. 2:7). Mary hadn’t planned on Jesus being born that day. But all of sudden, “the time came for her to give birth” (Lk. 2:6).

When things don’t go the way you plan, God’s timing is always the best. He may have plans for you that you know nothing about. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1).

We’re going to see today that God’s plan is perfect. All the details are fixed and certain. He made his plan in eternity past and he is carrying it out perfectly. His plan isn’t late, nothing is unscheduled, and it won’t change because it’s a perfect plan, God’s Perfect Christmas Plan.

God’s plan was determined before the world was made and spans throughout the entire history of the human race. His plan was so enormous that we can’t fathom its complexity. Yet, smoothly and surely his plan continues to unfold. Just as surely as his Word is eternally trustworthy so his plan for the human race is coming true. The point of the passage we are studying in this sermon is that the purpose for Jesus’ coming into the world was to fulfill God’s perfect plan.

A perfect plan has three components: (1) The perfect time; (2) The perfect person; (3) The perfect purpose. First, then…

I. God Awaited The Perfect Time

When the fullness of time had come… (4a)

1. The fullness of time was planned from eternity past. God has an eternal calendar, a schedule for human history, a plan concerning human beings and the earth. Throughout human history God has been unfolding his plan for the world. But throughout human history people have ignored God’s plan. They turn a blind eye to his plan and turn their backs on Him. Adam and Eve disregarded God’s plan for their bliss in Eden. The nation of Israel disregarded God’s plan for their blessing in Canaan. So, God has repeatedly warned, cajoled, and pleaded with people to repent, to be reconciled to Him, to trust him.

First, the fullness of time was planned in eternity past. And second…

2. The fullness of time was revealed throughout the O.T. It was revealed in Genesis 3:15, when God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and he offspring: he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” It was revealed through the time of the patriarchs, judges, kings, and O.T. prophets (cf. Heb. 1:2-3). And the years passed until the perfect time came, “the fullness of time,” when God intervened in history to execute his plan of redemption.

So, the “fullness of time” was planned from eternity past. It was revealed throughout the O.T. And third…

3. The fullness of time came when Christ was born. Christ’s birth was “the fullness of time” because it was exactly at the time of our greatest need. Human beings had shown themselves to be utterly incapable and unwilling to keep God’s law. Over thousands of years, the human race had proven that we are sinners in need of a Savior. “While we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Indeed, “At that time, you were separated from Christ … having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

It was the “fullness of time” because it was exactly according to God’s timetable. That was the time for God to effect his eternal plan of redemption. This was the culminating revelation of God’s plan. This was the apex of his unfolding drama of redemption. This was the zenith of all God’s ways with man. This was the perfect time when God himself was going to intervene in human history by coming to earth. The task was too great for any mere mortal to speak or act on behalf of God – not the prophets nor the kings or judges or patriarchs. So that was the time for God’s one and only Son to be born.

It was the “fullness of time” because it was exactly the right time for God’s plan to be put into action. The time had come to which all redemptive history had pointed. The right moment had come for God to disclose to the world how he would effect his plan of salvation, a plan that he had made known through the prophets, but a plan that the human race had ignored. That’s why, when Christ was born, no one seemed to realize what was happening. The people of Jerusalem and Bethlehem didn’t know, even though their own Scriptures had predicted it long before.

When Christ was born nearly 2000 years ago it was the perfect time for God to initiate his plan of redemption. And the perfect time for God to complete his plan will come again in the future. He acted once at Christ’s first coming and He will act again at Christ’s second coming. At Christ’s first coming, God revealed his grace; at Christ’s second coming, God will reveal his judgment and wrath. There is a limit set for God’s plan of grace. Yes, “God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). And so, God pleads with people today: “Behold, now is the favorable (acceptable) time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). And He warns everyone: “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). There is a limit set for God’s plan of grace. The question is: “Are you ready?”

God awaited the perfect time. And…

II. God Appointed The Perfect Person

…God sent forth his Son (4b)

This reminds us of the man in the parable who “planted a vineyard and put a fence around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country.” (Mk. 12:1). First, he sent a servant to receive the fruit if his vineyard, but the servant was beaten by the tenants and sent away empty-handed. Then, he sent another servant who was shamefully treated, stoned, wounded and sent away. Then, he sent another servant who was killed, and many others, some of whom were beaten and some killed. After all that, “He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’” (Mk. 12:1-6).

Jesus, the perfect person, was “born of a woman” (4c). In God’s perfect plan, he sent forth Jesus, his beloved Son, who was “born of a woman.” He did not come the first time in the way he will come the second time. At his second coming he will come in power and great glory. Then, “he will come in the clouds and every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7). And then every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). But at his first coming, Jesus came in weakness and obscurity, “born of a woman.”

Because he was born of a woman, Jesus was fully human. But Jesus was also fully divine. Though he was fully man, Jesus was no ordinary man. He was no ordinary man because his conception was different than any other - the woman to whom he was born was a virgin. He was not conceived through the natural union of a man and a woman. He was conceived through the Holy Spirit: “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” the angels said to Joseph (Matt. 1:20). His conception guarded his deity. And his conception guarded his holiness – he had no sinful nature. He was fully human and yet perfectly sinless as Scripture attests: God “made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). He was “holy, innocent, unstained, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). He was “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Thus, Jesus was the God-man. He was fully and perfectly God and fully and perfectly man. He was God “manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). This is a foundational, non-negotiable truth of Christianity (cf. Heb. 2:14). “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).

So, Jesus had two natures - human and divine (cf. Phil. 2:6-7). It was necessary for our salvation that the Savior of men should be a perfect man. As John MacArthur puts it: “He had to be God to have the power of Saviour, and He had to be man to have the position of Substitute” (Galatians, 108). The debt of our sins had to be paid and it could only be paid by a sinless, perfect person. This idea is echoed in Cecil Alexander’s old hymn (“There is a Green Hill far away”)…

There was none other good enough to pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.

To satisfy the justice of a holy God, there had to be a perfect sacrifice. And the perfect sacrifice had to be a perfect person. Jesus, the perfect person, was “born of a woman.” And Jesus, the perfect person, was “born under the law” (4d). He was born under the same conditions as those who were finding it impossible to be justified by the law. Like any other person, he had the obligation to obey and be judged by the law. But unlike any other person, he perfectly kept and satisfied the law of God, because he was perfectly sinless.

So, in putting his plan into action, first, God awaited the perfect time. Second, God appointed the perfect person. And notice third…

III. God Achieved The Perfect Purpose

Every plan has to have a purpose, a goal.

God’s purpose was to change our standing before God. And He did this by sending forth his Son “to redeem those who were under the Law” (5a). To redeem something means to buy it back, just as slaves in Bible times were sometimes bought back from slavery. Because Christ was born under the law and perfectly kept the law, he is able to “redeem” all who were born under the law and were held in bondage by it, being unable to keep it themselves. We could not meet the holy demands of God’s law. We stood before God condemned, our mouths were shut. We had no defence before God, no advocate. We were guilty and enslaved with no hope of freedom until “God sent forth his Son” into the world “to redeem those who were under the Law.”

That’s what God revealed to Mary, “You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). That’s what God revealed to the shepherds, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:10-11). That’s what God, through Paul, revealed to the people in the synagogue, Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts. 13:38-39).

God sent forth his Son with the express purpose of redeeming us, redeeming us from our sinful flesh. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). If we believe in him, the condemnation of sin in the sacrifice of Christ prevents our personal condemnation. It changes our standing before God. That’s why Jesus came into the world.

By faith in Him, we are redeemed from the curse of the law, bought back from the power of Satan to the power of God, ransomed from death to life. Our standing before God changed. That was God’s purpose, to change our standing before Him. And also…

God’s purpose was to change our status before Him. God sent forth his Son so that we might receive adoption as sons” (5b). That’s a change of status. Adoption in this context doesn’t mean what it does today in our society. In the Greco-Roman culture, a certain time was set when the male child in the family was formally and legally “adopted.” The word used here for adoption literally means “to place as a son.” So, at this pre-appointed time, the male child was placed in the position of a legal son and given all the rights and privileges of that position. This legal ceremony did not make him a member of the family, for he always was a member of the family. Rather, it gave him legal recognition as a son under Roman law.

There are two Greek words that are both rendered simply as “son” in our English translations, but they are, in fact, different. One word refers to a child by natural birth (teknon) and the other refers to the same child who has been legally declared a son in the eyes of the law (huios). Here in Galatians 4:5, Paul uses the term “huios” to describe this legal “adoption as sons” with full rights and privileges.

Paul’s point here is that, as adopted sons (and daughters), we have a new status before God. We who were slaves to the law have been redeemed from its grip and now, as free men and women, we have been adopted into God’s family with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of sons and daughters.

This new status brings with it a family intimacy, the like of which we could never have had with God before. Our status has been changed from slavery under the law to redeemed children adopted into God’s family. And now, because we are God’s children, “God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’” (6). Notice this beautiful sequence. Not only did God send forth his perfect Son into the world to change our standing before God by redeeming us (marvellous as that is), and to change our status before God by adopting us (marvellous as that is), but also He has sealed our new standing and signified our new status by sending “the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (6a). Thus, we are brought into an entirely new relationship with God, a relationship of intimacy and security that a slave could never have with his master, but which we enjoy with God as his children. Now we know God in an entirely different way. Now we can call God “Abba! Father!” - “Daddy, Father.” Now we are “no longer slaves but sons” [and daughters] (7a). Now we enjoy a paternal intimacy with God of security, warmth, comfort, confidence, affection, joy, peace. We have a brand new relationship with God through Christ. That’s why the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world.

This new status not only brings with it a family intimacy but also…

This new status brings with it a family inheritance. Because of Christ’s redemption and our adoption into God’s family, we have become heirs of all that his children are entitled to inherit. If we are sons and daughters of God, “then (we are) heirs of God through Christ” (7b). We are brought into the family inheritance. As it says in Rom. 8:17, “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.” When we become part of God’s family through “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24) we receive the family inheritance. God has appointed his Son the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2) and now through faith in Him, all that is Christ’s by right is ours by inheritance because we are God’s adopted children (cf. Col. 1:16).

What, then, is the nature of our inheritance? Our inheritance is that we have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Or, as Eph. 1:11-14 puts it, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Final Remarks

What we see in this passage is that God’s Perfect Christmas Plan is at its core the plan of redemption. And if you trust him, you can be a part of his redeemed family. This is why Jesus came into the world, to be our Saviour and to bring us into this new relationship with God, our Father. To implement his plan (1) God awaited the perfect time; (2) God appointed the perfect person; and (3) God achieved the perfect purpose.

I can’t think of any better Christmas plan than that. The timing was perfect, the person was perfect, and the purpose was perfect. As a result the unsolved riddle of the previous 400 years before Christ is solved. The unsolved riddle was: “How can a man be just with God?” Now the solution is clear: “God sent forth his Son... to redeem (us).”

Remember our theme statement: The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world was to fulfill God’s perfect plan. The question today is: Have you received the redemption that has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you ready to meet Him? Don’t let other plans hold you back so that you miss him when he comes again. Many things in our lives can distract us from what’s important.

During World War II, General Douglas MacArthur called one of his Army engineers and asked, “How long would it take to throw a bridge across this river?” The man immediately responded: “Three days, sir.” Gen. MacArthur snapped back, “Good. Have your draftsmen make drawings right away.” Three days later Gen. MacArthur sent for the engineer and asked how the bridge was coming along. The engineer reported, “It’s all ready. You can send your troops across right now if you don’t have to wait for the plans. They aren’t done yet.” What was important was getting across the river, not drawing the plans. Don’t wait until some other time to make your own plan to meet God. What’s important is to follow God’s plan. What’s important is being ready now, to get across the river, if you will. If Jesus were to return today, would you be ready to meet him? Don’t think that you have to stop doing this or start doing that first. Don’t say you plan to attend to it when you’re older. Don’t say you’ll think about it after you’ve sown your wild oats, after you get married, or when the kids are grown up.

Are you ready for the second coming of Christ in accordance with God’s perfect plan? Have you made peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ? The One for whom there was no room in the inn will one day declare: Come, for everything is now ready” (Lk. 14:17). Are you ready? There is still room in God’s house but it is filling fast. Soon the last soul will be saved and the door will be shut (Lk. 13:25). For those of us who have made peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, this reminder of why Jesus came - God’s perfect plan through Christ - should warm our hearts, fill us with hope, renew our commitment, cause us to watch and be ready, for the coming of the Lord draws near.

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