2017 02 05 pm Romans 8:14-17 Westminster Confession Ch. 12 Adoption

Our adoption into God’s family is an important part of salvation. It includes great blessings and responsibilities

Chapter 12 – Adoption
1. All those who are justified God graciously guarantees to make partakers of the grace of adoption in and for his only Son, Jesus Christ. By this act they are taken into the number of God’s children and enjoy the liberties and privileges of that relationship; they are given his name; they receive the Spirit of adoption; they have access to the throne of grace with boldness; and they are enabled to cry, “Abba, Father.” Like a father, God has compassion on, protects, provides for, and chastens them; yet, they will never be cast off, but are sealed to the day of redemption, and will inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
The previous chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith looked at Justification. And one way to think about justification is like a PEACE TREATY. A war between two nations ends if they sign a peace treaty. And Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.”
So, before we were justified, we were enemies of God and God viewed us as sinners. But now, because the Lord Jesus took our sins to the cross and we have received His righteousness, “we have peace with God.”
Now, the peace treaties of the world are often very fragile and easily broken. Recently, during the Syrian conflict, we would hear about a ceasefire negotiated by the Americans and the Russians, that didn’t seem to last five minutes before the Syrian government forces and the rebels and ISIS were shooting at each other again.
And you boys and girls can surely remember times when you and your siblings were fighting about something and your parents stepped in and sorted it out and you said sorry to your brother and he said sorry to you, and it was all settled, and then, two minutes later, you are at it all over again!

Well, that is not how it is with the peace treaty between us and God. Once God justifies us, it is permanent; it is set in concrete; it is for eternity. And this is because God brings those who once were His enemies into His family; He adopts as His sons and daughters.
And as we shall see, it is not a temporary adoption, and it is not a conditional adoption; it is permanent – we become and shall always remain His adopted sons and daughters.

And this is very important for the Christian life. Knowing this will hugely impact our whole approach to the way we live, and especially how we deal with the struggles that life inevitably brings. So today we consider OUR ADOPTION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING. And we do this by looking at the BLESSING of our Adoption and the RESPONSIBILITIES of our adoption.

I. So firstly then, the BLESSING OF OUR ADOPTION.

A. ROMANS 8 is about the Christian life. It BEGINS with that magnificent verse, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And those words speak of the permanent peace-treaty between God and believers that we described earlier. Our sin and our guilt has been fully dealt with on the cross by the Lord Jesus. And we know this because He said, “It is finished.” So if we believe that Jesus did this for us, we need not fear condemnation. Now, the chapter ENDS with wonderful comfort and encouragement also. But our text is a very important part of the connection between the opening words of Romans 8 and the closing words of Romans 8. So let’s look at our text and see how it connects the beginning of ch. 8 and the end of ch. 8.

B. As the chapter unfolds, we learn that because there is this peace, because there is now no condemnation, this will have a dramatic effect on how we live our lives. Paul explains that there are TWO WAYS TO LIVE – life in the flesh or life in the Spirit; unholy living or holy living; a life hostile to God or a life that pleases God. And v13 puts it very starkly, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

C. And as we come to v14, we are reminded of a truth that is absolutely critical and foundational to a right understanding of the Christian life. It is the pattern for all the instruction or commands in the Bible. And it is this: What we are to DO always comes after who we ARE. So when we are told to DO something it is because we ARE something. So, in terms of vv13&14, we are by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body not so that we can become adopted children of God but because we are adopted children of God! “For all who are led by the Spirit of God ARE sons of God.”

D. And this, Brothers and Sisters, Young people, and Boys and Girls, is THE GREAT BLESSING OF OUR ADOPTION. God is not waiting for us to cross the finish line of the Christian life having done more good than bad, before He signs the adoption papers and makes us His children forever. No. The moment we trust in Christ for our salvation, we become God’s adopted child and will remain His adopted child. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
1. And VERSE 15 continues this thought, “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!” God WILL NOT ONE DAY BE our Father if we keep putting to death the deeds of the flesh; He IS our Father in heaven.
2. And VERSE 16 keeps piling this wonderful truth on, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Do you remember how many WITNESSES you needed to prove something in OT law? Two or three. Well, the Spirit, who is the Holy Spirit, bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. So the Holy Spirit is one witness to this remarkable truth. But how does the Holy Spirit do this? How does the Holy Spirit speak to us? Always and only through the Word of God. He convinces us that what we read and hear in the Bible is true. So the Bible is the second witness. Therefore, we know and believe and trust that we are the adopted children of God because we read it in the Bible and the Spirit convinces us that this is true. If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, “we are children of God.” Now and always!

E. And just in case we are in any doubt about the PERMANENCE of our adoption, just look back into the first verse of ch. 8 again. Who are those for whom there is therefore now no condemnation? It is “those who are in Christ Jesus.” And we will look at all of v17 in a moment, but for now, what do you notice about us and the Lord Jesus in that verse? We are linked to or connected with Him: “Fellow heirs with Christ … suffer with Him … glorified with Him.” Our adoption is permanent and secure and significant because God has joined us with the Lord Jesus. EPHESIANS 1:5 spells this out explicitly. We read there, “[God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” The anchor our adoption is Jesus Christ. Our adoption is a blessing and a comfort and an encouragement because of our Father’s great and abiding love for His Son, Jesus. And because His love for His Son is unbreakable and unchangeable, His love for us as His adopted children is permanent and secure.
F. But also, while there are no spiritual blessings outside of Jesus Christ, once we are in Him, once we become the adopted children of God, every spiritual blessing is ours! And this is what we see in VERSE 17, “and if children, then HEIRS–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
1. EPHESIANS 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.” And then that chapter starts listings all of the spiritual blessings that belong to God’s adopted children in Christ. And at the end of the chapter Paul wants believers to see the riches of God’s glorious inheritance. And he tells us that one day Jesus Christ will rule over the new heavens and the new earth with His body – the church – the adopted children of God.
1. Believer, on Judgment Day, you will stand before Jesus, and He will say to you, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” You can read this in Matthew 25:34.

So the blessing of our adoption is how it reveals the PERMANENCE of our salvation. We have been brought into the family of God. And this is because we are adopted IN CHRIST and are heirs with Christ of EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING.

II. And so, as we return to the flow of the argument in ch. 8, the command to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit is given not so that we can become adopted children of God but because we are adopted children of God. So having explained and explored the BLESSING of our adoption in vv14-17a, Paul says a few words now about the RESPONSIBILITY of our adoption in v17b: “For we are fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer for Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” The NIV has it as “if indeed we share in His sufferings.”

A. Now, we have already seen that God does not wait at the finish line of life to give us a certificate of adoption if we have done enough to be worthy of it. That is not what these words mean. What Paul is doing here is repeating the unbreakable law of the kingdom which is that glory only comes at the end of the pathway of suffering. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Anyone who has the idea that they can be a child of God without the need for striving and sacrifice and self-denial in terms of holiness, and without persecution, and without the need for God’s discipline is deluded. Anyone who is glad that Jesus suffered so that he or she can be a child of God but who is unwilling to suffer for Christ just doesn’t get it!
1. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” To His disciples, He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” In 1 Peter 4:12, we read these words, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
2. And earlier we read from Hebrews 12 about the DISCIPLINE of our Father in heaven. The natural inclination of people when trouble or suffering comes along is THE THREE A’S – ANGER, AVOIDANCE, OR APATHY:
A. How can a good God allow suffering? This is not fair. Argghh! Anger.
B. Or, people do anything to avoid whatever is hard or uncomfortable. They make it their life’s goal to only do what feels good and easy and fun. And because they can’t squeeze trouble out of life completely, they take drugs or get drunk so they can escape it for a few moments. Avoidance.
C. Or, they just ignore trouble or suffering and do not seek to learn anything from it. Just take pills to deal with the symptoms but don’t pause to ask the hard Why? questions or to wrestle with sin and guilt. Apathy.
D. But if we understand that “the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives,” and that “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness,” then we will accept suffering as a part of how God prepares His adopted sons and daughters for glory. We will strive to walk the narrow and hard path.

B. So NOW we are ready for the comfort and encouragement of the end of chapter 8. Look ahead to v35. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” In other words, Yes, we will suffer, but can that suffering separate us from Christ? Do we lack the power to endure any suffering? And v37 gives us the answer, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that … [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1. In the 1980s, a 14 year old girl was a part of a mission team that went from one part of China to another. The whole team was arrested and forced to remain kneeling in one place day and night. On the third day, the 14 year old girl fainted and was released. 6 days later, the rest of the team was released. When they were reunited with the girl, she cried. They asked her why she was crying. And she said it was becauee they had been called on to suffer for nine days while she only suffered for three. She knew that she was an adopted child of God and she welcomed the responsibilities of living as a child of God. She was glad to suffer for Jesus.
2. It is wonderful to be an adopted child of God, isn’t it! It is wonderful to know that our adoption is permanent because of Christ. But are you serious about your responsibilities?
A. Will you continue to praise God when you are in a hospital bed?
B. Do you tell others about Jesus even though some will laugh at you?
C. Are you happy to miss out on a promotion because you refuse to work on Sundays?
D. Are we ready to face the wrath of the LGBT community because we will not say that behaviour that God calls sin is OK?

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul actually lists all of the many ways He had suffered for Christ – imprisonment, beating, shipwreck, etc. He said, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
That is the attitude of someone who truly knows himself to be an adopted child of God and who desires to live for the Christ who has made his adoption permanent. May this be the attitude of us all. Amen.