Monday, August 15, 2011

We Have Been Given a Family

In many of our Christian circles we talk a lot about people "getting saved." Usually what is meant by this statement is that spiritually dead people are brought to life by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It's a glorious thing. Dead people don't come back to life. Dead people don't get saved. But in God's amazing mercy and kindness towards cold, dead sinners, he awakens us to the truths of the gospel and leads us to everlasting life.

But as wonderful as this salvation is, is there more? Can there be?

Yes, God justifies us (makes us right before him by Christ's righteousness), thus securing our salvation from eternal condemnation. But he also does something else.

He adopts us.

Adoption is a really popular phrase right now. Many churches are creating adoption programs that encourage an adoption-friendly culture in their churches, while also proclaiming the fact that this pictures our adoption by God our Father. This is a good thing.

When God saves us, he doesn't just cleanse us. He makes us a member of his family. Christ's atoning work on the cross secured our redemption and our inheritance. We are now co-heirs with Jesus Christ. That just floors me.

I just finished reading J.I. Packer's book Knowing God and it really encouraged me. I've heard people say that it's one of the great Christian books and that it should be read every year. I totally agree. In the book, he has a chapter called "Sons of God," where he basically unpacks the doctrine of adoption. I have heard sermons on adoption and read books on adoption over the years, but nothing solidified this reality for me like this chapter.

He begins (coming off of a chapter that talked about the heart of the gospel) stating that the definition of a Christian is one who has God has his father (200). As Christians, we now belong to a family. And our father is God.

Packer says:

"Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as
father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship - he
establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity
are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great
thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater
(207)."

When we pray to God we are no longer praying to God our Judge. No, we are now praying to God our Father. We have assurance that our perfect, loving Heavenly Father hears our prayers and delights to answer them for our good. Understanding our adoption into God's family opens our eyes to understand the bounty of love and compassion our Father has for us, his children.

One more helpful thing on our adoption. Packer goes on to say that sometimes having God as our Father means he chisels us to fit us for the greater glory that is to come. This is always evidence of his great love for us. I found this particularly helpful the day I read it.

"In this world, royal children have to undergo extra training and discipline which other children escape, in order to fit them for their high destiny. It is the same with the children of the King of kings. The clue to understanding all his dealings with them is to remember that throughout our lives he is training them for what awaits them, and chiseling them into the image of Christ. Sometimes the chiseling process is painful and the discipline irksome; but then the Scripture reminds us: 'The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it' (Heb. 12:6-7;11).

May we all marvel at the fact that we have not been left as orphans, but been made alive by Christ and made sons and daughters of God.

1 comment:

debt said...

Great truths!! One of my favorite passages in Scripture! It has helped me, tremendously, during times of difficulty when I didn't understand why things were harder for me than for others. It was the loving hand of my Father comforming me to the image of His son. Not easy or "pleasant", as the passage says, but when "the peacable fruit of righteousness" begins to poke through....well, what can I say, but thank-you Lord!! He loves us so!