Home > Systematic Theology > Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Adoption- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 3

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Adoption- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 3

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION III.–ADOPTION.

GOD ADOPTS, AS SONS, ALL WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST.[98]

In adoption, as practised among men, an individual receives the son of another into his family, and confers on him the same privileges and advantages, as if he were his own son. In this sense, God adopts all who believe in Jesus Christ: “We are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.”[99] “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.”[100] This blessing of grace rises higher than justification. Though a judge may fully acquit one who is arraigned before him on a charge of crime, he does not confer, on the man so acquitted, any of the privileges or advantages which belong to a son. But the believer in Jesus is permitted to regard God, not only as a justifying Judge, but as a reconciled and affectionate Father. The problem, how he can be put among the children,[101] has been solved. Though once afar off, he has been brought nigh by the blood of Christ, and made of the household of God.[102]

Among the privileges and advantages which adoption secures, we may enumerate the following:

1. The love of God, as a kind Father, is secured to believers. The Scriptures frequently exhibit the love of God to his people, under the figure of a Father’s love to his children: “As a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.”[103] “If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him.”[104] “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”[105] Corresponding with this encouraging and delightful exhibition of God’s love, is the confidence with which the believer in Christ is inspired to approach his heavenly Father: “Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into yours hearts, crying Abba, Father.”[106] Hence Christ habitually spoke to his disciples of God as their Father, and, before he left them, said, in language full of endearment and encouragement: “I ascend to my Father and your Father:”[107] and hence he taught them to say, in their daily prayers: “Our Father, who art in heaven.”[108]

2. The discipline of God, as a kind and wise Father, is secured to all who believe in Jesus: “Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”[109] “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of Spirits and live?”[110] “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”[111] Inestimably rich is this blessing of divine discipline. Let the wealthy and noble of the earth rejoice in the advantages which give them distinction among men, and supply them with the means of carnal enjoyment; but let the afflicted believer in Jesus, rejoice in the lot which God has assigned him, because it has been chosen for him by a Father who knows what is best for him, and who loves him so tenderly as to withhold from him no good thing. Having all good in heaven and earth at his disposal, he has selected that portion for each of his children on earth, which will best promote their highest interest.

3. Believers in Christ are made heirs of God: “If children, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”[112] God, the creator of all things, is the proprietor of all things, and his adopted children are made heirs to this vast estate. “He that overcometh, shall inherit all things.”[113] “All things are yours, and Christ is appointed heir of all things; and believers are co-heirs with him.”[114]

The inheritance of God’s children, is frequently represented as a kingdom: “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”[115] “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom.”[116] The adoption of believers does not take full effect in the present life: “We are waiting for the adoption, the redemption of the body;’ “waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.”[117] Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom; and, therefore, this vile body must be changed, and fashioned like the glorious body of Christ, before we can receive the glory and joy which God has prepared for us. Yet the title to the inheritance is made sure, since we are co-heirs with Christ; and the promise and oath of God, two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,[118] give to the heirs of promise, the strongest possible assurance, that they shall receive the inheritance: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”[119] Though now in exile, and pilgrims and strangers in the earth, perhaps despised and forsaken, we are the children of God, and heirs of an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. Even now, whatever may be our poverty, affliction, or reproach, we are the objects of our Father’s care, and he gives us, as an earnest of the future inheritance, so much of it in present enjoyment, as he sees to be best for us. All things within the boundless dominion of Jehovah, work together for good, to them that love God.[120]

[98] John i. 12; Rom. viii. 17; Gal. iii. 26; 1 John iii. 1, 2.

[99] Gal. iii. 26.

[100] 1 John iii. 1.

[101] Jer. iii. 19.

[102] Eph. ii. 13, 19.

[103] Ps. ciii. 13.

[104] Matt. vii. 11.

[105] Matt. vi. 32.

[106] Rom. viii. 15.

[107] John xx. 17.

[108] Matt. vi. 9.

[109] Heb. xii. 6.

[110] Heb. xii. 9.

[111] Heb. xii. 10.

[112] Rom. viii. 17.

[113] Rev. xxi. 7.

[114] 1 Cor. iii. 22.

[115] Luke xii. 32.

[116] Matt. xxv. 34.

[117] Rom. viii. 19.

[118] Heb. vi. 18.

[119] 1 John iii. 2.

[120] Rom. viii. 28.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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