The Marvel of Adoption

When God adopts men and women into His family, He insures that not only may they have the rights and privileges of his sons and daughters, but also the nature and disposition consistent with such a status. This He does by regeneration–he renews them after His image in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. God never has in His family those who are alien to its atmosphere and spirit. Regeneration is the prerequisite of adoption. It is the same Holy Spirit who regenerates who is also sent into the hearts of the adopted, crying ‘Abba, Father’. But adoption itself is not simply regeneration nor is it the Spirit of adoption–the one is prerequisite and the other is consequent.

Adoption, as the term clearly implies, is an act of transfer from an alien family into the family of God Himself. This is surely the apex of grace and privilege. We would not dare to conceive of such grace, far less to claim it apart from God’s own revelation and assurance. It staggers imagination because of its amazing condescension and love. The Spirit alone could be the seal of it in our hearts.

It is only as there is the conjunction of the witness of revelation and the inward witness of the Spirit in our hearts that we are able to scale this pinnacle of faith and say with confidence and love, ‘Abba, Father’. The great truth of God’s fatherhood and of the sonship which God bestows upon men is one that belongs to the application of redemption. God becomes the Father of His own people by the act of adoption. It is the marvel of such grace that constrained the Apostle John to exclaim, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God’ (1 John 3:1).

And to assure his readers of this privilege as a present possession and not simply a hope for the future, he adds immediately, ‘and we are’. To indicate the cleavage which its status institutes among men, he continues: ‘On this account, the world does not know us because it did not know Him’. Lest there should be any doubt regarding the reality of the sonship bestowed, he insists, ‘Beloved, now are we the children of God’ (3:2). John had pondered and learned well the words of the Lord Himself when he said, ‘He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father . . . . if a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him’ (John 14:21,23).

And now in writing his first epistle, his heart overflows with wonderment at this donation of the Father’s love, ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.’ It is specifically the Father’s act of grace. John could not get over it and he never will. Eternity will not exhaust the marvel of adoption.

– John Murray

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