Tag Archives: Adoption

“He will never leave us” by Garry J. Williams

“As God, the Son is omnipresent in his divine essence. As man, the same Son is present in just one place at a time, now at the right hand of God the Father (Heb. 1:3). In his speech in Acts 7 Stephen defends himself from the charge that he denounced the temple.

He does not deny that the temple was the dwelling place of God, but he does recount various ways in which God had met his people in other places before and beyond the temple, even on Gentile ground in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the wilderness.

Toward the end of his speech Stephen sees heaven itself opened and Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. He is the new temple (John 2:18–22), the dwelling place of God, now in the heavenly home of God’s glory. There is a new place where God dwells, and it is in the heavenly Jesus.

Given this, how could Jesus himself promise his disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20)? If he is in heaven, and heaven is the place of glory, how can he be with us here below in the goodness and grace of his human nature?

John Calvin puts the answer beautifully: “The coming of the Spirit and the ascent of Christ are antithetical.” When Christ ascends, he sends the Holy Spirit down to be with us.

Because the Spirit is his Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), he mediates Christ’s presence to us. The Son is with us to the end of the age by the Spirit.

Does this then mean that we always have our Brother with us, but not our Father? Do we have only the goodness and grace of the Son with us but not the goodness and grace of the Father?

Is God the Father ever-present with us only in his essence (as he is present even to the lost), but not as our loving Father? This does not follow, because as the Son is present in his goodness and grace by the Spirit, so the Father is present in his goodness and grace by the Son.

The Spirit makes the Son present to us, and in doing that makes the Father present to us as well, because the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 14:10).

The persons of the Godhead indwell one another, so that by having the Son in us by the Spirit, we have the Father in us by the Son.

Our Brother and Father together come to dwell in us: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

Because the Son has promised us that he will never leave, we have the same assurance from the Father, who is in him.”

–Garry J. Williams, His Love Endures Forever: Reflections on the Immeasurable Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 90–91.

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“We needed a Father, but He did not need sons” by Thomas Watson

“See the amazing love of God in making us His sons.

It is love in God to feed us, but even more to adopt us: ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1) It is full of wonder.

The wonder of God’s love in adopting us will appear the more if we consider this: that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own.

Men adopt because they want children, and desire to have some to bear their name.

But that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own, the Lord Jesus, here is the wonder of love.

Christ is called ‘God’s dear Son,’ (Col. 1:13); a Son more worthy than the angels, (Heb. 1:4), ‘being made so much better than the angels.’

Now, when God had a Son of His own, such a Son, here is the wonder of God’s love in adopting us:

We needed a Father, but He did not need sons.”

–Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1970), 234-235.

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“Our boredom is simple blindness” by Michael Reeves

“Even for Christians, overlooking Jesus is easier than falling off a log, it seems. We instinctively think of God, life, grace, reality with rarely a pause to have Jesus shape what we mean by those things.

We can even have a “Christian worldview” and find Jesus is but an interesting feature in its landscape.

We can even have a “gospel” and find Jesus is just the delivery boy who brings home the real goods, whether that be salvation, heaven or whatever.

But that must change if we are to take seriously the fact that He is the beloved Son.

First, if there is nothing more precious to the Father than Him, there cannot be any blessing higher than Him or anything better than Him. In every way, He Himself must be the “very great reward” of the gospel (Gen. 15:1).

He is the treasure of the Father, shared with us. Sometimes we find ourselves tiring of Jesus, stupidly imagining that we have seen all there is to see and used up all the pleasure there is to be had in Him.

We get spiritually bored. But Jesus has satisfied the mind and heart of the infinite God for eternity. Our boredom is simple blindness.

If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in Him, then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us. In every situation, for eternity.

Second, His sonship—His relationship with His Father—is the gospel and salvation He has to share with us. That is His joy. As the Father shares His Son with us, so the Son shares His relationship with the Father.

That is why in Matthew 11:27-30 Jesus first says, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).

And then says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).”

–Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 21.

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“Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ” by John Newton

“Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look unto Him as He hung naked, wounded, bleeding, dead, and forsaken upon the cross.

Look unto Him again as He now reigns in glory, possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, with thousands of thousands of saints and angels worshipping before Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand ministering unto Him.

And then compare your sins with His blood.

Compare your wants with His fulness.

Compare your unbelief with His faithfulness.

Compare your weakness with His strength.

Compare your inconstancy with His everlasting love.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 574-575.

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“Serious thankfulness” by John Newton

“If we are really Christians, and do indeed believe the tenour of the Scriptures, with what serious thankfulness, and joyful composure, ought we to commemorate the coming of a Saviour into the world?

If the little good offices we perform to each other demand a grateful return, what do we owe to Him, who, of His own free motion and goodness, humbled Himself so far, and suffered so much, to redeem us from extreme and endless misery?”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 5 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 5: 403.

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“My hope is built, not upon what I feel in myself, but upon what He felt for me” by John Newton

“The gospel gives me relief.

When I think of the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ in my nature, as a public person, and in behalf of sinners, then I see the law, which I could not obey, completely fulfilled by Him, and the penalty which I had incurred sustained by Him.

I see Him in proportion to the degree of faith in Him, bearing my sins in His own body upon the tree.

I see God well pleased in Him, and for His sake freely justifying the ungodly. This sight saves me from guilt and fear, removes the obstacles which stood in my way, emboldens my access to the throne of grace, for the influences of His Holy Spirit to subdue my sins, and to make me conformable to my Saviour.

But my hope is built, not upon what I feel in myself, but upon what He felt for me; not upon what I can ever do for Him, but upon what has been done by Him upon my account.

It appears to me becoming the wisdom of God to take such a method of showing His mercy to sinners, as should convince the world, the universe, angels, and men, that His inflexible displeasure against sin, and His regard to the demands of His truth and holiness, must at the same time be equally displayed.

This was effected by bruising His own Son, filling Him with agonies, and delivering Him up to death and the curse of the law, when He appeared as a surety for sinners.

It appears to me, therefore, that, though the blessings of justification and sanctification are coincident, and cannot be separated in the same subject, a believing sinner, yet they are in themselves as distinct and different as any two things can well be.

The one, like life itself, is instantaneous and perfect at once, and takes place the moment the soul is born of God; the other, like the effects of life, growth, and strength, is imperfect and gradual.

The child born today, though weak, and very different from what it will be when its faculties open, and its stature increases, is as truly, and as much, alive as it will ever be. And, if an heir to an estate or a kingdom, has the same right now as it will have when it becomes of age, because this right is derived not from its abilities or stature, but from its birth and parents.

The weakest believer is born of God, and an heir of glory.”

–John Newton, “Letter XIV,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 247-249.

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“Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption” by J.I. Packer

“The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again. ‘As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which 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)

Sonship to God, then, is a gift of grace. It is not a natural but an adoptive sonship, and so the New Testament explicitly pictures it. In Roman law, it was a recognized practice for an adult who wanted an heir, and someone to carry on the family name, to adopt a male as his son—usually at age, rather than in infancy, as is the common way today.

The apostles proclaim that God has so loved those whom he redeemed on the cross that he has adopted them all as his heirs, to see and share the glory into which his only begotten Son has already come.

‘God sent forth His Son… to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5): we, that is, who were ‘foreordained unto adoption as sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Ephesians 1:5 RV).

‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God… when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’ (1 Jn 3:1-2).

You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father.

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.

If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.

For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God.

‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”

–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 181-182.

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