These are the last two articles I wrote for my local paper on J. I. Packer's book Knowing God. These were written for a series of articles on Packer's book by members of my church. The other articles can be found at this link.
Knowing God, Chapter Nineteen: Sons of God, Part One by John K. Jones
Last week we looked at what J. I. Packer calls the heart of the gospel, propitiation. Propitiation is the fact that “The wrath of God against us, both present and to come, has been quenched.” In essence, this Scripture means that the wrath we deserve due to our sin was transferred to Christ. If you have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Christ, God is not mad at you anymore.
This week we will briefly look at one outcome related to propitiation: adoption. The idea here is that God has become the Father of those who place their trust in Him. As John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Packer defines the very essence of the message of the New Testament in three words: “adoption through propitiation.” He says, “…I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.” In “adoption through propitiation,” not only is God no longer angry with us, God has given us a place in the family. We are children of God if we have trusted Christ to pay the penalty for our sins.
Even though, as Packer says, “We are not fit for a place in God’s family; the idea of his loving and exalting us sinners as he loves and has exalted the Lord Jesus sound ludicrous and wild,” Yet, God brings us into his family anyway.
I am an adoptive parent. A teacher in a Sunday School class asked me one time whether God could love us as much as he loves Christ. I responded by telling them of my love for my adopted daughter. “Her birth certificate has mine and my wife’s name on it. She is my child, and nothing will ever change that.”
Our spiritual birth certificate has God the Father’s name on it. We are his children. Let us never forget, and let us live to honor our Father.
Byline: John K. Jones is a Deacon at Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Troy where he attends with his family.
Knowing God, Chapter Nineteen: Sons of God, Part Two by John K. Jones
In our last article, we looked at the reason for and the permanence of our adoption in Christ. If we have true faith in Christ, God is our Father in heaven. This week we will look briefly at some of what that means.
As J. I. Packer says in Chapter Nineteen of Knowing God, The prospect before the adopted children of God is an eternity of love.” Our adoption is permanent, and it depends on the love of God for us and the grace of God to save us. God will not let us go. We are his children.
We can also have hope. Christianity is “a faith that looks forward.” For Christians, “the best is always yet to be.” We have the hope of an everlasting inheritance in Christ. During the time Christ was alive, parents adopted children to obtain an heir to whom parents could bequeath their earthly goods. In the same way, our adoption as God’s children guarantees our inheritance from him (Romans 8:16-17).
God’s wealth is immeasurable. As his adoptive children, we have limitless hope in an ideal heavenly Father.
Certain prominent atheists have ridiculed Christianity for being ‘pie in the sky by and by.’ Their idea is that Christianity is mere “wish fulfillment.” We could ask them if they wish that there were no God who would judge them. We could point out that their approach could be wish fulfillment just as they accuse ours of being. The idea cuts both ways. But Christianity is ‘pie in the sky by and by,’ and the ‘pie’ tastes great.
The Holy Spirit is given to us as “the Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:15). The Spirit comes into our lives at the moment we trust Jesus, and there is nothing more of his presence that we can expect to get in a later second blessing or acceptance of Christ as Lord.
The Holy Spirit also helps us understand and learn about our relationship with God in Christ. This realization leads to true holiness of life. We have “an abiding obligation to keep the law, as the means of pleasing [our] newfound Father.” As his children, we feel joy when we please our Father.
Packer tells us to think often of the facts: “I am a child of God. God is my Father; Heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too.” Packer tells us to repeat these things to ourselves “over and over.”
What joy the Father has given to us! We can be sons and daughters of God.