"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Adoption and the Spirit of the Son

We have occasionally noticed the Christian's spiritual adoption on this blog - its strength and its gracious nature.  As the subject of spiritual adoption is a glad one for any follower of Christ, I will beg your indulgence in turning now to one of its chief effects, which is seen in its relation to the Holy Spirit. 

Galatians 4:4-7 is the focus of our attention here.  It says, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.   Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'  Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."

It was the Father's good pleasure for His divine Son to be established in an earthly family, that we in turn might be transplanted into His heavenly family.  We see the chain clearly:  the mission of the Son brought redemption, and then adoption into God's own family.  May our knees bend and touch this hallowed ground!  This work of grace will prostrate us if we let it.  And yet, for all this lustrous wonder, God has fashioned yet another link for this glittering chain - our adoption prompts Him to send us the Spirit of His Son.  Did you notice that in the text?  Look once more:  we have the Holy Spirit because we have been adopted into God's family.

This is marvelously unthinkable to our stunted human sensibilities, but it joins so simply with the rest of Scripture.  God adopts us and sends the Spirit of His perfect Son into our imperfect hearts, that we might learn to act and think more like His Son.  Indeed, we see something like this in earthly adoption, in which a child must learn how to operate in his or her new family.  What behavior is expected?  How does the household operate?  The more this new child can integrate into this new situation, the easier things become.

God's family is holy.  It is righteous behavior that becomes His household, and the perfect paradigm, the exemplary member of this family is our oldest brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our loving Father wants us to look like Him, because Jesus' flawless and divine example is the pattern by which the Father is honored, and by which we are satisfied.  Thus He disciplines His children (Heb. 12:6), of course, but His gifts do not stop here.  Mere discipline would simply assure constant discipline, thanks to our sin-filled hearts.  We would never learn or change. 

Thankfully, God's "divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness," according to 2 Peter 1:3b.  These powerful blessings are channeled into our souls by means of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  We would have nothing worth having as Christians, were it not for the continual work of the Holy Spirit in us.  The Spirit of He who sympathizes with us, who immersed Himself in those difficulties that we ourselves must endure (Heb. 4:15), knows how to care for us and to give us exactly what is needed out of this immeasurable treasury of "life and godliness."  And we begin to look like Him, because His Spirit, having breathed life into us, now resides in us and changes us - because the Father desires us to look like His unique and divine Son.

I want to show you some familiar words; read them afresh in the light of this discussion:  "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son." (Rom. 8:28-29a; emphasis added)  The Spirit of Jesus within us, then, is certainly not going to spend His time and energies frivolously within us.  He will work with purpose, the Father's good purpose - He will keep us in the faith, and He will begin to conform us to Christ's image.

Adoption gives us the Spirit of Christ, and it delivers certainty about our purpose.  Rest, dear worker of the Kingdom; take heart, dear solder in Christ, in the glad knowledge that the Spirit whose very presence gilds your soul is an abundantly sufficient guide and helper in your every step toward righteousness, because of what He has come into your soul to accomplish!


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