It’s not just a title

1 John 3:1-2

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It’s not just a title

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… we are God’s children now.

Key teaching: We are in the legal position – rights, privileges, responsibilities – of someone who has been legally adopted into an influential family.

What this means
The Bible calls the transition from knowing about God, to knowing God personally, a new birth. We were born physically on a day we celebrate as our birthday. We make a choice to become born again spiritually (John 3:5-7) – some people remember the day and time, for others it is more a period of time when this change became clear – and at that point a lot of things that were hazy before become clear, the Bible begins to speak to us in a way that is much more personal than history and we have an excitement about living our lives, not just for God but with God. The Bible calls this relationship ‘a walk’ (Micah 6:8, Galatians 5:16).

How our Father sees us
But it’s more. What this relationship means, the implications that go with it, may not mean much at first, but as we grow, we become more and more aware of them.

Romans 8:5-6
In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

In the ancient world, the rights of patronage were more prominent than in our society. We can think back to Victorian times or even the last century to see this being worked out. Sons followed fathers into the family business, and as an heir apparent, a son would be accorded respect. Whether the workers were loyal, or felt hard done by and rebellious, they knew that the son would one day inherit the ultimate authority. Therefore the delegated authority that belonged to the son was to be respected and not dismissed, because it would have the backing of the father.

Adoption to sonship

Rom. 8:15
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

An orphan or distant relative who was adopted, was accorded the legal standing of a biological son and received the same rights. Adoption is not slavery, but quite the opposite – it is a choice of the one being adopted, to give up their former identity, and take the name and identity of the adopting parent, so that the rights of sonship could be conferred. It was not like earning your way into a partnership, but something freely given, without any sense of being earned or even deserved. This is what the Bible calls grace.

How does this play out in the ups and downs of everyday life? As we engage with an unseen spiritual world, in parallel to our various experiences in the seen world around us, the question of who we are, who we know we are, and how the spiritual world recognises who we are, is highly relevant. We’ll look at this tomorrow.


Think of someone you know who was adopted – what benefits and rights of sonship did they receive?

How aware are you of the unseen spiritual world? How does it parallel what you are seeing and experiencing – the joys and the difficulties – in our normal ‘seen’ world?


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