One of the greatest loves that we will experience on earth is the love between a father and his child. Since I do not yet have children of my own I cannot truly capture this emotion. However, I look to my own Father and to the other Father figures in my life, and can get just a taste of what fatherhood must be like. It’s a love that comes from deep within. It is a love for someone who is truly a part of you. As George Strait said, it’s a love without end, amen. When we begin to ponder this love and all its implications we have to also turn our attention to our Heavenly Father.
We must first understand that calling God our Heavenly father is the highest privilege we will ever experience on this earth. We must also understand that despite contrary belief, God is not everyones Father in the sense that he is Father to the believer in Christ. The secular worldview has attempted to hijack this relationship and sometimes likes to lump everyone into the category of children of God when that is simply not the testimony of scripture. We must also understand our prior position as being dead in trespasses and sins, and recognize the miracle of conversion that has taken place in the life of the true believer when we are saved in Christ, and become a true child of God.
This idea of God as our Father is not a subject that should be taken lightly. Actually, it is quite an astonishing thing. In Jewish tradition it was highly improper to refer to God as Father. This insinuated a relationship that was not necessarily accurate. You can imagine the attention Jesus got when he used this term so often. The Jewish leaders were perturbed at the idea of Jesus praying in this manner and encouraging others to do the same. The radical idea that somehow we are now children of God is demonstrated in 1 John chapter 3.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
in this portion of scripture, John realizes the magnitude of the idea that God is now our Father. He understands that this position of sonship is not something that is intrinsic, but rather it is a new state of being. John understands sonship as a gift from God that could never be merited. No, this sonship is something sacred given to him by God. Understanding that being a child of God comes with great benefits, Paul also describes the sonship of the believer in Romans chapter 8.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Through the work of Christ we have been so reconciled to God that we have now received the gift of sonship. As believers in Christ we have now been adopted into the very family of God! Not only that, but we have now become co-heirs of the glorious inheritance that belongs to Christ. As we looked to this same chapter of scripture last week we saw in Romans 8:29 that we were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ so that he may be the firstborn among many brothers.
You see, Christ is the firstborn and the rightful heir of the inheritance that God has given him. It is only by the merit of Christ Jesus that we can receive any share in the Kingdom of God. Being a child of God is not a right, but it is a gift given in the form of adoption to those who are in Christ. That is the very reason why we cannot boast, because it is not based on anything that we have done, but all merit comes from the finished work of Christ, who was obedient to the point of death.
What manner of love is this that God the Father would send his own Son, his only true Son, to the cross of Calvary so that filthy sinners might also share the gift of sonship. Our position aside from Christ is that of children of wrath, but in him we have received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” When we ponder this wonderful truth of scripture we begin to understand more deeply why it is the gospel (good news) of Christ. Christ died so that he might save and save perfectly. If anyone is to see the Kingdom of God, we will not see it because of our own merit, but we will be clinging to the coattail of Jesus, trusting that he has brought us into the family of God.