Christine Caine - We Are Heirs - Part 1
Hey everyone, I am so grateful that you've joined us today. I know that God's got a timely word for you, and I'm especially excited about what I'm going to be sharing on today because it is so personal to me. You know, we are going to look at the book of Galatians 4 and discover what it is to be co-heirs with Christ and heirs of God. But you know, two weeks before my 33rd birthday, I was sitting in Sydney, Australia, in the food court of castle towers, like, one of my favorite food courts near where I lived, and I was just about to have some of my chicken vindaloo. It was my favorite thing. I love Indian food and the spicier the better. And my phone rang and I saw my brother George's name, it came up on the screen. So I thought, "You know, I'll take this call".
Now, I could tell immediately that there was something seriously wrong because George was like, "Christine, I just received a letter from the department of community services and in this letter it says that I've been adopted". Now he was really distraught, and I have to admit, as his younger sister, at first I kind of started to laugh because you know when you are growing up, you always tell your siblings that they're, like, adopted, and so, you know, but the fact is when they actually call you and say, "I've been adopted," suddenly I got really defensive and I became this defensive younger sister.
And so I go, "George, there must be some kind of administrative error. I don't how this has happened, it should never have happened. But you need to contact the administrators at the department of community services and you need to tell them that they've made a mistake, that you've got somebody else's letter". And then I said, "Call me back when you've sorted it all out". And you know, we hung up the phone, I went back to eating my vindaloo, and I did think, I remember thinking, "That is so weird". And I remember actually thinking, "How bad is that, that a government department would send the wrong letter to the wrong person and cause so much upheaval in a family"? I mean, I was just thinking about how bad this mix up was. But you know, a little while later, my brother calls me again, I saw his name there on the phone, and this time when I said, "Hi, George," I mean, he was sobbing. His wife was there and he's saying, "Christine, it's true, it's true".
The person at the department of community services told me that it's true. They told me the name of my biological mother. They told me the name of my biological father. They told me where I went to school and they have an entire file and history on my life. Now I remember just thinking, whoa, I mean, how do you even process that? George was 35, I was 33, and he's telling me this news. Now, then he said to me, "Chris, I'm going to go over to mom's place and I'm going to find out what is going on".
Now you have to understand we are Greek. My mom was 61 at the time. My dad had died when I was 19, and so my mom was home alone, and I'm thinking, Greeks are volatile. We tend to act first and think later, like anything could happen and it probably will. So i, you know, just leave my vindaloo. I go to my car, I jump into my car and I drive over to my mom's place because I'm thinking this is a 35 year old family secret, and it is about to be exposed. So as I drove up to my mom's street, I saw my brother's car was already there.
So I walked down the driveway and walked into the living room right at the moment that my brother was giving my mother this piece of paper from the government. And I watched in that moment, I watched her entire face change. My mom began just crying, and she said, "George, I'm so sorry. All of the adoptions in Australia in the 1960s, they were all closed adoptions. And I never thought that you would find out. And in fact, one of the very last things I promised your dad before your dad died, was I promised him that I would never tell you, and then I just tore up all of the paperwork". And so, as you can imagine, man, this was a very, very emotional moment. I mean, my mom was crying, George was crying, the dog was crying, everyone was like crying. It was a big fat Greek moment.
And so I'm thinking, what am I going to do? And you have to understand, for Greek girls, food is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. So I thought, I'm going to go into the kitchen, I'm going to make some baklava, I'm going to make some moussaka. I'm going to do something and feed people in this moment, and so I went into the kitchen. As I began preparing some food, my mother came in to the kitchen, my back and then she said to me, of course we speak in Greek at home, she said, "Christina, since we are telling the truth today, do you want to know the whole truth"? And I remember turning around and looking at her, I'm not even quite sure why I said this initially, I went, "I've been adopted too".
And with tears streaming down my mother's face, she just nodded ahead and said, "Yes". And that was the day that I found out that I was not who I thought I was. I found out that the people that I thought were my mom and dad who had raised me, and I was two weeks out from my 33rd birthday that, of course, they were still mom and dad to my heart, but they were not my biological parents, that I had had a another biological mother, and I didn't know who the biological father was and everything changed. Now why I'm telling you this is as shocking as that revelation was for me, I'd been a follower of Jesus seriously for about 12 years at that time when I found out that news. And although the news was shocking and it was, I was profoundly aware of the fact that first and foremost, I was a daughter of the king of kings and the Lord of Lords, and that because of Jesus' life and death and resurrection, that I had been adopted into the family of God.
Now knowing that truth, and I had worked hard on knowing my identity in Christ because I was so messed up from my past. When I first got saved, I spent those first few years immersed in the word, learning who I was in Christ, and who I was as a daughter of the king, and what I had access to being in Christ. Now, knowing those truths, deep in my heart, revelation, not just knowing it in my head, but knowing it in my heart is what helped me to navigate what was then an extremely difficult season, of course. Knowing who I was in Christ, knowing the word of God, knowing how God felt towards me, knowing that I was a daughter of the king, knowing that I was adopted into the family of God, it gave me a sense of identity. It gave me a sense of belonging. It gave me a sense of security. It gave me a sense of significance and stability. When everything I thought about my background, everything that I had thought to be true, when all that was shaken, knowing who I was in Christ actually was never shaken and kept me grounded.
I say that to you because understanding that we have been adopted into the family of God and everything that comes with that, what it actually means to be adopted into the family of God, is central to our lives as Jesus followers. And so my prayer for you in this series is that as we look at today's passage of scripture from the book of Galatians, that you will discover the immense importance of knowing your true identity in Christ and what it means to be a child and an heir of God.
So many Christians tend to kind of roll their eyes, "Yeah, I've been adopted into the family of God," without any full understanding of how important it is to know what that means, how that is going to hold you in a world that is shaking, in a world full of division, in a world full of chaos, in a world where people are being canceled, left, right, and center in our cancel culture, in a world where your identity is being pummeled from the right and the left, knowing who you are in Christ, knowing who you are as a son or a daughter of the king, knowing who you are as an heir of God, actually literally transforms everything. It's not just some theological concept out there that has no bearing on our everyday life. It will actually keep you grounded in a shaken by all of the forces of culture around us. Now, obviously, as you can tell from my own story and my own passion, adoption is a subject that's so important to me, and I'm hoping that you're going to discover how powerful this concept is when it's applied to your own relationship with God.
In this book, Paul's writing to the churches in the region of Galatia in order to counteract the false teachers that had infiltrated the Galatian churches. These teachers were essentially saying that in order to be saved, you need the finished work of Jesus on the cross, and also to accept the Torah or to be circumcised or to keep the Jewish dietary laws or the Jewish sabbath laws. They were adding things to the finished work of Christ on the cross as a prerequisite for salvation. And Paul is reminding them that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Paul is literally contending for the pure gospel message in the book of Galatians. And if anyone tries to add anything to the finished work of Jesus on the cross, I suggest nowadays, run the other way.
If you hear anything or read anything on social media or someone's trying to say, "It's Jesus plus your good works," or "It's Jesus plus keeping the law," or "It's Jesus plus having a morally pure life" or "Jesus plus anything," no, no, it's the finished work of Jesus alone. There's nothing that you or I can do to add to what Jesus Christ did on the cross to purchase our salvation.
And I love Galatians 4:1-7, Galatians 4:1-7, we read, "Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Instead, he is under guardians and trustees until the time sent by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elements of the world. When the time came to completion, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts crying, 'abba, father'. So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir".
This is the word of the Lord. How powerful is this? Paul starts with a picture that might be a little bit unfamiliar to us in the 21st century, but we have to understand, this was very, very common in the ancient world. In the ancient world, before a child came of age, they had no rights and they had really very, very few privileges. So when a child was a minor, even if they were an heir to a vast estate, as long as they were a minor, they could not make any decisions concerning the estate, and they had no legal right to spend any of the money until they came of age. So essentially, they were in the same position as a servant or a slave. So according to Roman law at the time, the heir was under control of a tutor until they were about 14 years of age. And then the tutor was named by the father and actually placed in his will.
So from the age of 14 until the heir was 25, he was under a curator. Then when the heir reach the age of 25, or whatever the age was, stipulated by his father, then he entered into the full privileges of his possession. And so that's why Paul wrote, as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he's the owner of everything. Instead, he is under guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So Paul says, "This is a picture of what it was like for us before Jesus came, we were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world, the elementary principles," he calls them, "Of this world". Every single one of us, we were slaves to the power of sin. So for gentiles who were not under the law, they were under the guardianship of the elementary principles of this world. And so the Jews were under the guardianship of the law.
So Paul's essentially telling the Galatians that if they go back to the law now, that they have salvation in Jesus Christ, they're actually going back to being a slave. Why would you do that? He's actually asking them, "Listen, why would you surrender the benefits of freedom and grace for the regulations and the restrictions of bondage under the law"? Why would an heir, once the heir has gained full possession of his father's goods, why would you ever want to go back to your previous guardianship? Why would someone who's come to full sonship through faith in Christ ever wish to return to the confinement of the law? Paul was saying that "Listen, in Jesus, the Galatians were fully a part of God's family". They didn't have to adopt Jewish customs or laws in order to be a part of God's family, both Jews and gentiles are all one family in Christ by faith, not by becoming Jews.
I wonder if you've received the gospel of grace and then over time started to add things to it trying to become, I remember when I, you know, first became a Christian and had this thing in my heart that God wanted to use me to make a difference. Well, I didn't have that many female role models, especially way back. I'm as old as the dinosaurs. So there were, you you think sometimes maybe there's not a lot of chicks out there, there were even less doing stuff up front, visually, anyway on any kind of platform, and so I remember there was this one teacher, and she was so sweet and just so floral and so wonderful and I thought that if God was going to use me in any way to communicate, I'm going to have to become like that person because I didn't know. And so I started to add things to how God made me, and add things and become like somebody.
Well, what Paul is saying here is "What are you trying to add or become? You don't have to become like a Jewish person in order to receive salvation in Christ. You could be who you are". You could be a gentile. You could have had your past, you can have your personality, your ethnicity, your race, your gender and come into the family of God. And that's the beautiful thing about God's family that we're all so different. You don't have to become like anybody else. We're saved through grace by faith in Jesus, but you can still keep your personality. You don't need to have a personality bypass in order to become a Christian and become like the most holy religious person that you think and then God will love you. God loves you as you are. He made you that way. And so you could bring who you are to the table.
Paul goes on to the book of Galatians and he goes on to say, "When the time came to completion, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons". Now, I love that phrase, "When the time came to completion," basically, man, when the right time came. I want to remind you today, and someone needs to hear this today, that God is the God of perfect timing. He's a God of timing and a God of time. I know so often, we think that God's taking a long time to come through with that breakthrough. Some of you, you're right in the middle, right at this moment, you're waiting, you're waiting for that breakthrough, and you are about to give up on God, and you are about to give up on just believing and trusting in the timing of God.
But you have to remember that God knows what we don't. And if it hasn't happened yet, there's a reason. We know that our God is good and our God does good and he's going to work all things together for our good and for his glory. I want to encourage you today, don't give up believing God when you're still in the middle. I want you to keep hoping, to keep believing, to keep expecting, to know that God is always faithful to us, and when we can't trace God, we can still trust him. Don't just bail out on that marriage because God hasn't yet brought that breakthrough. Don't just jump out and start dating that person that is outside of the purpose of God because you think you're going to be alone for the rest of your life.
Don't just run ahead of God on an opportunity when you haven't prayed it through and it really isn't God because you're sick of waiting for God to come through so you want to take things into your own hand. I know the middle is hard. I know it's rough in the middle. I know it's lonely in the middle. I know it's isolated in the middle. I know you can feel that God is forsaken you in the middle. I know that you can feel that it's never going to change in the middle, but I'm here to remind you that your God is with you in the middle. Your God is with you in the midst of the storm. Your God sees you. Your God knows you. Your God loves you. Your God cares for you, and your God is preparing for you the thing that he has already prepared for you. Don't bail in the middle. When the fullness of time came, God sent his son Jesus.
God is the God of perfect timing. I understand, it is so often not our idea of a perfect time. And you know, I have a friend and she always says, "I know that God always comes on time, but man, he misses a few good opportunities to come early". I know we would all love him to come early. I cannot tell you how many things in my life I'm like, "God, you could fix this today. God, you could give me this breakthrough today. God, you could part that red sea today, God that Jericho wall could come down today. I know you're God. I know you've got the power to do it. I know you can heal today. I know you can deliver today. I know you can save today. I know you can redeem today". When you're in the middle, you want to quit because you feel that God's forsaken you. But I'm here to remind you, your God loves you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is good. He does good. He is working on your behalf, and your breakthrough is coming in Jesus name.