What wondrous grace that the Father has lavished on believers that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are! (1 Jo. 3:1). The Apostle John makes clear that it is an “out of this world” truth that sinners are not only righteous by God through a legal declaration of righteousness before God’s throne, but we are also legally adopted into the family as God’s children. Our adoption changes our relationship to God so that He is no longer merely our Creator, and because of the fall, He is no longer our Judge, but He is now our Heavenly Father, and we cry out: “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).
The Father has wondrously elected believers to be in union with Christ and to receive His adoption as sons, as heirs of His many and unfathomable blessings in the Heavenly Places (Eph. 1:3-4; cf. Gal. 4:6). In the fullness of the times, Christ came to redeem us under the condemnation of the law so that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15). Christ, our elder brother was sanctified, and sanctifies us so that we can be sons of God who take upon ourselves a family resemblance (Heb. 2:9-11). God is now our Father, and now we are no longer citizens merely of this world, but we await the full realization of the Heavenly world to come (Rom. 8:17-25; cf. Phil 3:20-21).
In light of our adoption, though we formerly walked as those who loved the world, with the desires of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jo. 2:15-17), we no longer love the world in this way because the world is passing away and we desire to do the will of our Heavenly Father (1 Jo. 2:17). In fact, because we are heirs with Christ and take upon ourselves a family resemblance, knowing that one day we shall like Him, we also purify ourselves as He is pure from worldly and sinful influences in our lives (1 Jo. 3:2-3; cf. Titus 2:11-14). We know as adopted children that the Spirit has sealed us unto the Day of Redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22), and we also have the Holy Spirit who testifies and witnesses with our spirits that we are sons of God (Rom. 8:15, 25-26). This is the glorious Spirit who even intercedes for us to help us in our prayers and our relationship with God! Though we have these glorious blessings now, we suffer in Christ, and we await the full realization and revelation of our adoption as sons that is the resurrection and glorification of our bodies (Rom. 8:17-25). This is the hope we do not see, but we wait for it patiently, and so our future is glorious and brings great joy and peace to us now.
As adopted sons in Christ we know that we possess the encouraging word of our Heavenly Father through our labors: “Well down my good and faithful servant” (cf. Heb. 6:10-12). We know that we have in our union with Christ the Father’s blessed affirmation saying: “This is my Beloved…with whom I am well pleased.” This should change how we view ourselves, and make us as believers—and children of God—to want to live faithfully pleasing God as our kind king and father (2 Cor. 5:9). We are part of a new family in Christ and as the Lord Jesus taught, we are to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 15:9-16). In fact, as the Father has loved Christ, so Christ has loved His own in this same way and this is the motivation for doing His commandments with eager joy (John 15:12ff). The Apostle John writes in 1 John 3-4 that one cannot hate his brother and be a true Christian. In fact, we cannot say we love God whom we haven’t seen if we don’t love our brother who we do see (1 Jo. 3:11-18). And so, in our new family, adopted as children of God, we are to “not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 Jo. 3:18). Love will characterize the children of God as we love one another (1 Jo. 4:7-21). We love because He first loved us (1 Jo. 4:19). Let us rejoice, and live as God’s beloved children!
In Christ’s love,