“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 (ESV)
Over the last several years I’ve probably read dozens of books on Christianity and theology. Some were good, some just ok. From each though I could take something and add to my knowledge of and love for God. Last year I read J.I. Packer’s “Knowing God” for the first time and our church went through a book discussion group on it as well. I’d have to say that Packer’s book probably has had the most profound impact on me of any I’ve read and what it means to be a Christian. One statement of Packer’s in particular has stuck with me and changed the way I view the Christian life. Packer stated that, “Adoption is the highest privilege that the Gospel offers” – even higher than justification, says Packer.
I have to say that at first I was a little puzzled by this statement. What could be greater than being justified by God and being made right in His sight? In our book group, our pastor explained that God could have justified us and then just left us in a corner somewhere…out of His wrath of course, but maybe no more than that. The concept of being adopted by God takes justification to another level. We can know God in a real sense and have a real relationship with Him. We can know God as a member of His family, not just someone he cleared of guilt in some court case. I had read Ephesians 1 many times and Paul’s statement in verse 5 that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” never really hit me the right way until I read Packer’s explanation of this. God’s plan to make us His children was created “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) …that’s difficult to get a handle on, you know?
Packer’s statements on adoption reached another level for me this past year after my Dad passed away. I don’t think I really and truly thought of God as my Father in a real sense until that happened. My prayers changed from “I have to talk to God about this” to “I need to talk with my Father about this”. Ravi Zacharias once mentioned that we can think of the term “Holy Father” for God as a way to sum up everything. God is holy and sin cannot live in His presence. But after being justified by Him – and then of course adopted – He is our Father as well.
This is what I’m reflecting on today, as June 27 marks my fourth re-birthday in Christ. I thank God for His daily provision, for His plan for me and all His children from before the foundation of the world, and for His great love. Thank you Father.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” – 1 John 3:1 (ESV)