"...Because I live, you will live also."
This week, I've been learning about the important truth of spiritual "adoption."
There's an amazing, real transformation that takes place in the spiritual life of the Christian when they put their trust in Jesus. As Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." The Christian who repents and believes in the Good News has passed from death into life. They are no longer children of darkness and children of the devil, but they are adopted out of that family into the family of God.
God does not adopt people based on how good and godly they are - if God did that, He would not adopt any of us, because Paul says clearly in Romans 3:23 that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". God adopts believers because they turn to Him with humble hearts that take no pride in themselves and hope in nothing in themselves - these believers simply cling to the promise of Jesus Christ. ("By grace you have been saved" Paul declares in Ephesians 2:5 and 2:8!) God embraces these people and adopts them into His family.
Jesus taught this when he told the people, "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father...'" God is not only 'like' a Father, but He 'is' the Father of all who believe in His Son Jesus. The parable of the Lost Son shows us how much God longs to embrace us and bring us home. The Father didn't grudgingly greet the son. He didn't make his son apologize and do a lot of chores to make up for his failure. The father ran to meet his son, embraced him, and had the finest robe put on his son, and held a celebration feast. His son was home!
Also, Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. In John 20:17, "Jesus said to her, '...go to My brethren and say to them, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."'"
Because I'm adopted into God's family, I no longer need to listen to or obey the voice of the devil. Instead, I need to listen to my Father. Instead of feeling burdened by guilt, fear, and lies that God doesn't really love me, I can listen to my Father's truth when He says again and again, "Return to Me." (Isaiah 44:22, Jeremiah 3:1, Zechariah 1:3). I can have peace and confidence - not because I pray well, or because I memorized some Bible verses - but because I know that God's love is true and it is free to all who will believe. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" John 1:12.
I also am coming to see that God wants me to be at peace with Him, trusting fully in His love (not in what I deserve). But how is it that He can love me? I am ashamed of how I was and I am not always proud of how I am now. Ah, but God points me to the cross and shows me that there, there all my sin, guilt, punishment, and condemnation were all nailed to the cross and I bear them no more! "...he took it away, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:14 A Substitute has already paid the cost and I am free. My Substitute was perfect, and he was raised to life again as the firstborn from the dead. He is my Lord, my God, and my Elder Brother. "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11 How awesome is the love of God and of Christ!
Amazing grace - how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I am also coming to see that fear and worry come from the devil, and not from God. When I worry about how well I will pray - it's a LIE! When I worry about how well I will lead a Bible study - it's a LIE! Like Jesus when He was tempted, I need to cling to the word of God. "Therefore go and make disciples...teaching them...And surely I am with you always..." Matthew 28:19-20 "...your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:8 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment...We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:18-19
God, our Father, waits for His children to come and enjoy His presence. Jesus, the Son, is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. God's arms are open. What in the world am I waiting for?
Praise God, the God of love! May all of His children find peace and comfort in His arms even now while they wait for the glorious future in store:
1 John 3:1-2
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! ...Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."