God, the Father of His Redeemed People
William Nicholson, 1862
"Therefore come out from them and be separate. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters — says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Adoption is a term derived from the civil law. In the time of the Apostle, it was customary for the Romans who had no children, to select and adopt the children of other people, whom they made their heirs, in order to prevent their estates from descending to strangers. The child was allowed to assume the name of the adopter, and to yield them the same respect and obedience as in the case of natural relationship.
Civil adoption was allowed and provided for the relief and comfort of those who had no children; but in spiritual adoption this reason does not appear. The Almighty was under no obligation to do this. Adoption is an act of free sovereign grace.
I. The Nature of Adoption. "And will be a Father."
This implies —
1. Separation from the world by regeneration. This is insisted on in the context, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
As a sinner naturally loves evil practices, and evil associations — it is necessary that his soul should be turned against them, and that he is induced by the Spirit, to "come out from among them, and be separate," as there can be no agreement between God and them. The children of God are born of the Spirit, etc. See John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:23. They have now a distaste for sinful practices. They resemble God, bear his image, and are partakers of the Divine nature.
2. Adoption into the family of God by faith in Christ. "I will receive you, and be a father unto you," verse 17-18. John 1:12; Galatians 4:4-7. "You are all the children of God by faith." It is through Christ, that the sinner enters the Divine family. By faith in his blood — he is pardoned, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified.
3. A saving interest in all that blessedness which the term Father imports. "And will be a Father to you." This denotes —
(1.) Great honor. They have God's name put upon them, and are described as his people, and called by his name. Ephesians 3:15. "Sons and daughters."
A relationship greater than that of which nobility or royalty may boast. They are no longer slaves to sin and the world; but emancipated from its dreadful bondage, are raised to dignity and honor! Romans 8:15; 1 John 3:1, 2.
(2.) Infinite love and compassion. Great, sometimes, is the love of an earthly father — but what must be the love of the Almighty God? He calls them . . .
his chosen ones,
his special people, etc. Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 54:5-10; Zechariah 2:8; Jeremiah 31:3; John 16:27.
(3.) Parental provisions, or the supply of their needs — even temporal needs. Matthew 6:31-33; Psalm 23:1, 2; Psalm 31:19. The supply of all their spiritual needs. Psalm 84:11; Ephesians 1:3.
(4.) Parental government over his children, befitting the character of an Almighty Father.
He protects them. As the master of a family is engaged to defend and secure all under his roof — so the Almighty parent will protect his people. Isaiah 32:18; Zech. 2:5; Psalm 125:2; 61:4.
He assigns them their work. Matthew 25:15; Luke 19:13; Psalm 119:32.
He gives them necessary correction. Hebrews 12:5-11. To his correction, it is a privilege to submit. Hebrews 12:9; Micah 7:9.
(5.) A saving interest in all the precious promises which are recorded for their encouragement and support under all circumstances.
(6.) Free access to him at all times. Hebrews 10:19-22; 4:16; Ephesians 2:18.
(7.) A title to an eternal inheritance. "Do not be afraid, little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you a kingdom!" They have "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — reserved in Heaven for you!" 1 Peter 1:4. "Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17. As children, they are savingly interested in the parental estate; in their present state of minority, they desire and expect it, and are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.
II. The Evidences of Adoption
1. The manifestation of the spirit and temper of his children.
His "sons and daughters" resemble him in some degree. They must have not only the name, but the nature of his children. And though, like children in one family, there may be much difference in their natural tempers — yet through grace, they have habitually all the graces of the Christian temper, though not perfectly, as shall be the case in Heaven.
2. Submission to all the Divine arrangements. Conviction that God's providential arrangements are wise, though sometimes inscrutable; and that they are intended to promote their present and everlasting good.
3. Confidence in God alone. The committing of the soul to him, and all its affairs. The committing of all our temporal concerns to his management. Application to the Divine Parent in every trial, for direction, support.
When a child is adopted, he relinquishes the object of his past confidence, and submits himself to the will and pleasure of the adopter. Hosea 14:8; Isaiah 26:13.
4. Love to God, and adoring gratitude for all the blessings of adoption. They love God as their Almighty Father, for what he has done for them — is doing — and will do. They love him above every other object. "Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26
Also, love to all the members of his family.
5. Cheerful obedience. Love prompts to obedience. In civil adoption, the child was expected to obey the laws of the family. Just so, believers prove their adoption by their obedience to their heavenly Father. John 15:14; 1 John 2:4, 5.
6. Patient, yet joyful expectation of the inheritance.
In civil adoption, an inheritance is not always certain; but in spiritual
adoption it is. Romans 2:7; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 11:26, 27. "For our light
and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far
outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is
unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2
1. Admire the love of God as displayed in this privilege. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1
2. See the folly of attempting to separate what God has joined together. Privilege and duty are inseparably connected together in the Divine administration.
3. To what family do we belong?