Dear fellow disciple-maker,
In his book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer writes, "What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God for his father."
This is a powerful insight that helps all of us realize that sonship to God is a gift of grace. It is not a natural sonship, but an adoptive sonship.
Adoption in Ancient Times
In the first century Roman culture, it was a recognized practice for an adult who wanted an heir, and someone to carry on the family name, to adopt a male as his son. This was usually done when the male was of age, rather than at infancy, as is the common way today. Similarly, in the New Testament, the Scriptures teach that God has so loved us that he chose to adopt us as his sons and give us his name. Galatians 4 teaches that God sent Jesus, His Son, to redeem us so that we might receive the gift of adoption into God's family.
Highest Privilege - A Child of God
Because of the saving work of Jesus on the cross, the news that our Maker is our Father is in a sense the climax of the Bible. Adoption into God's family is the highest privilege the gospel offers. Justification – God's forgiveness of the past and acceptance for the future – is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel. But it is not the highest. Justification is a legal idea in which we view God as the Judge who pardons us because Jesus took our place on the cross. But adoption is a family idea in which we view God as a loving Father.
In adoption, God takes us into his family and establishes us as his children and heirs. Adoption is a richer idea because it includes a closer relationship of affection and generosity. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is even greater.
Adoption by its very nature is an act of free kindness to the person adopted. If you become a father by adopting a child, you do so because you choose to, not because you have to. Similarly, God adopts us because he chooses to. He had no obligation to do so. But he loved us, redeemed us, forgave us, took us as his sons and daughters and gave Himself to us as our Father.
Search Your Heart
We all need help to realize more adequately who and what, as children of God we are, and are called to be. Let these questions from Knowing God, by J. I. Packer, help you search your own heart as you draw near to God.
Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? Do I understand my adoption? Do I value it? Do I daily remind myself of my privilege as a child of God? Have I sought full assurance of my adoption? Do I daily dwell on the love of God to me? Do I treat God as my Father in Heaven, loving, honoring and obeying Him, seeking and welcoming His fellowship and trying to do everything to please Him, as a human parent would want his child to do?
Do I think of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, as my brother too, bearing to me no only a divine authority but also a divine–human sympathy? Do I think daily how close He is to me, how completely He understands me, and how much as my kinsman-redeemer, he cares for me?
It's Really True
I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true. This is the Christian's secret of a happy life, and more importantly, a God-honoring life.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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