MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #13
FULLNESS OF TIME
February 24, 2010
: Galatians - 4:7 Reading
"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son … that we might receive the adoption as sons" Galatians 4:4-5.
The words "In the fullness of the time" (NKJV) have been on my mind a lot recently and have strengthened my belief that nothing takes place in a believer's life until it is the time appointed by God. It is not a time when certain things fell into place and God saw the circumstances were optimum and acted in response. For instance, the Greek language was dominant and was the most favorable to carry the gospel message, and the road technology developed by the Romans made it easier to travel than ever before. Judaism had reached a point where the introduction of the prophesied Messiah was most advantageous. God does not act in response to human circumstances but is rather the Sovereign God who appoints and accomplishes the events in time. Time does not control God, God, controls time-He is the Creator of time; time is not merely a clock but an element created by and controlled by God.
The sense to which it is applied by Paul in our reading today sheds great light on the adoption of God's elect to the status of sons. The chapter break, in my opinion, is unfortunate, for the thought continues uninterrupted from to 4:7. Remember the chapter and verse divisions in the bible are not claimed to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament saints were also children of God, chosen and loved by Him, yet did not enjoy the same status as that of you and I-New Testament saints. A Father of wealth would designate, in most cases, his eldest son as the inheritor of his estate. However, that son would be unable to take possession of the estate until he reached a certain age. Under Jewish law that age was 13 years plus one day for males and 12 years plus one day for females. If the expected signs of maturity were not evident in the child the guardian could extend the years according to his choosing. Roman law stated that the age of accountability was 25 years. It is a procedure practiced today when a father places his estate into a trust naming his child as the beneficiary. The trust states that the child cannot have access to the contents of the trust until he has reached a certain age often referred to as the age of accountability. Until that time arrives, provision for the child is met by a trustee or guardian named by the father who has access to the contents of the trust. The age of access is determined by the father and his will cannot be broken unless certain emergency circumstances occur.
Paul draws on this practice to illustrate the analogy of spiritual adoption.
"Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father" Galatians 4:1-2.
Under the law there is no difference between an undergaded son and a slave as far as the inheritance is concerned-neither one has access to it. The point Paul is making is that Old Testament saints were like children who had not achieved the age of accountability. They were children of God but had no access to their inheritance because they had not yet reached spiritual maturity. They were still under the guardianship of a "school teacher."
"Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor" Galatians -25.
The tutor or guardian was the law. When Christ came He fulfilled the law-the tutor was released of his responsibility, his function has ended. He is no longer needed. In other words God's appointed time had arrived and God's children now have access to their inheritance.
One important thing to understand is that the very moment Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, and all that took place in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was appointed by the Father. Circumstances did not control the coming of Christ but God appointed and controlled the circumstances.
This was the time appointed by God whereby His adopted children became qualified to have access to "all things" made available in their inheritance. This availability was first granted to God's Only Begotten Son, then to all who by faith believe in Him and are born again by His Spirit.
"Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" Galatians 4:7.
The age of accountability has been reached because we are In Christ. Whatever is available to God's children in their inheritance is available now. Some things promised are withheld only because God's appointed time for them is still in the future, such as our domain in heaven and final glorification. These things are guaranteed as part of our inheritance, things that our Elder Brother is already enjoying.
"In the fullness of the time"-what marvelous truths are contained in these words-words that should comfort, encourage and strengthen every child of God.
"What is God's remedy for dejection at apparent failure in our labours? This-the assurance that God's purpose cannot fail, that God's plans cannot miscarry, that God's will must be done. Our labours are not intended to bring about that which God has not decreed" Arthur W. Pink - 1856 - 1952. (Puritan in heart if not in history)
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing"