Old Testament Reading: Psalm 103:1-14 (NIV) December 06, 2015
New Testament Reading: Galatians 4.4-7 and Ephesians 1.2-10 (NASV)
Advent and the Fullness of Time
Sermon by Bill Jennings
Introduction: During Advent season we concentrate on the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. But Advent is not tied just to the first coming of Jesus to our world. In the reading from Galatians the timing of the coming of Jesus to our world happened at what Paul called “the fullness of time”, and in Ephesians 1.10 Paul uses that same term to describe the second coming of Christ. And, both letters plus the letter to the Romans say that what happened, beginning with the first coming at the fullness of time continues to be in effect to the Second Advent, which Paul describes as the “summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.”
Galatians 4.4,5 & 6 intends to make sure that we understand that our adoption as sons and daughters of our Father began at the fullness of time, when Jesus was born. What is surprising is the revolutionary nature of that idea, that God is our Father, and we can call upon him as a little boy speaks to his daddy.
I.In the Old Testament we find very few references to God as our father. In today’s first reading, we read that God has mercy on us “like a father”, and in II Sam. 7.5-17 we hear Nathan telling David that God will become a father to Solomon, David’s son. In Psalm 89.26 we read that God says of David, “He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior.’” And, then again, in Jeremiah 31, the great passage predicting the New Covenant, the Prophet says, “[Israel] will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water, on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.”
The closest anyone in the Old Testament comes to addressing God as “my” or “our” “Father is Isaiah in 63.16 where he says, “…but you (he is addressing God), are our Father… our Redeemer from of old is your name.” And, in 64.8, “Yet, o LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter. We are the work of your hand.” There are no more than 15 references in the O.T. to God as a Father.
- Now, in contrast with this, let me share with you what the Koran says about Allah being a father:
- This is what the Koran says in Sura #4 (Chapter 4) titled “Women”: “The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was no more than Allah’s apostle, and his Word which he cast to Mary; a spirit from him. So believe in Allah and his apostles and do not say, ‘three’. Forebear and it shall be better for you. Allah is but one. Allah forbid that he should have a son.”
- This is what the Koran says in Sura #10 (Chapter 10) titled “Jonah”: “They [the Christians] say, ‘Allah has begotten a son.’ Allah forbid! Self-sufficient is he. He is all that the heavens and earth contain. Surely for this you have no sanction. Would you say of Allah what you do not know?”
- This is what the Koran says in Sura #19 (Chapter 19) titled “Mary”: “Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become him to beget one!”
- Finally, a fourth quote from the Koran, Sura, #25 (Chapter 25) titled “Al-furqan” [Koran]: “Blessed is he who has revealed to His servant that he may warn mankind; the lord of the heavens and the earth , who has begotten no children and has no partner in His kingdom, and who has created all things and ordained all destinies.”
- That is just a sampling of what the Islamic Holy Book says about Allah and His nature as a Father. We need to do what one of our former members whom some of you will remember, Dorothy VanZant did about doing her homework on Islam. Dorothy was engaged to be married to a Muslim gentleman from Turkey. Before tying the knot, she bought a copy of the Koran to see what it said about marriage, and discovered that Allah allowed four wives for Muslim men. So, just to make sure, she went to Turkey, and discovered for herself that that was true, and that her fiancé already had one of his quota of four! Before Dorothy went to be with the Lord, she gave me her copy of the Koran, and I still have it with me, full of notes that she made about the issues that interested her. We too need to do our homework!
III. Now, what do we find in the New Testament about how Jesus described God:
- First of all, early on in his ministry Jesus taught us how to pray with the Lord’s Prayer, beginning with these words: “Our Father.” While the practice of coming into the presence of God and speaking to him personally, Jesus did what nobody in the O.T. ever did!! He prayed to Him as a little boy would ask his daddy for a favor!
- And, every prayer of Jesus registered in the Gospels with the exception of one (in Mk. 15.34 where Jesus is quoting from Psalm 22.1), he calls on God as “Father”.
- In addition to that in over 30 places in the Gospels Jesus describes God as our Father in Heaven.
- Finally, one of the first words that Jesus gave his disciples by way of Mary Magdalene was this: “Stop clinging to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my Brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father to my God and your God.”
- There is no question in the New Testament who our Father is: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!!
- While the number of times in the O.T. God is referred to as Father is about 15, in the N.T. and just in the 4 Gospels from the mouth of Jesus, there are 170 times we read that God is our Father! That is the revolution that Jesus brings to the relationship between the believer and God!
- IV. Now, how do we become sons and daughters, children of this Loving Father?
- It is by adoption that we become children of God our Father as we read in today’s N.T. reading of Eph. 1.2-10. But let me read also from the New American Standard Version of the N.T. from Romans 8.15, a parallel passage in which Paul writes,
“…for you have received not a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father!’”
And here it is in Galatians 4.4-7: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And, because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father’”
- That is God’s side of the adoption process, the sending of His Spirit into our lives to cry out in harmony with our spirits that God is indeed our adoptive Father.
- Now, on the human side, this is how John the Evangelist describes this adoption, in John 1.11-13:
“He [Jesus] came to that which was his own [the Jewish people], but his own did not receive Him. Yet, to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but of God.”
Conclusion: That, in a nutshell is the process of God, the Father’s adoption of his children. We are not children of God, sons of God, or daughters of God just by virtue of being human beings, but by being believers in his Son Jesus.
Now, let me share with you a great adoption story which shows how some great things can happen in adoptive families:
A grandson of slaves, a boy was born in a poor neighborhood of New Orleans known as the “Battleground”. His father abandoned the family the day he was born and his mother, Mayann struggled as a single mom, and finally the boy and his sister had to leave home to live with their grandmother.
Early in his life he proved to be gifted in music and with three other boys they formed a quartet and sang on the streets of New Orleans. His first income was the small change that people threw at them on the streets.
Later, a Jewish family of immigrants from Lithuania, the Kornovskys, had pity on the 7-year old boy and brought him into their home. At first they gave him “work” to do to feed the hungry child. There he remained in their home where he had a warm bed, three good meals a day, kindness and tenderness for the first time in his life.
At night when he went to bed, Mrs. Kornovsky sang him a Russian Lullaby that he would sing along with her. Later he would sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs. Over time the Kornovsky family adopted the boy and provided him with money to buy his first musical instrument, a cornet, as was the Jewish custom with musical children.
Later, when he became a professional musician, he incorporated some of these Jewish melodies in some of his own compositions, like in “Go Down. Moses”.
This little black boy grew up and wrote a book about the Jewish family that adopted him in 1907, and in memory of the Kornovsky family and until the end of his life he wore around his neck a Star of David. He said that in the Kornovsky home he learned how to live a “Real Life”. He continued speaking fluent Yiddish, the family language until the end of his life.
Perhaps you recognized or have guessed who this man was. His name: Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. Louis Armstrong may not have had a very good birth father, but he found a redeeming “adoptive father” in the Kornovsky home.
Some of us may not have good memories of our birth fathers. But we have a great Heavenly Father, the adoptive Father of all believers, who stepped into the great “Maternity Ward of the Universe” and looked at you, Brother and Sister, and said, “I choose you, to be my adoptive child – and to enjoy your joint inheritance with Him forever!”
Christmas and Advent come but once a year, but you can celebrate your adoption into the family of God every day of your life, until that Second Advent when He comes again. And we will do that right now when we partake of the bread and wine “…’til he comes [again]”.