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Raise Up a Child

22 October 2012 by Daniel

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

When you ask an adopted person about being adopted he isn't going to give you a definition of adoption, he is going to tell you the story of his upbringing within his (adopted) family.

Adoption begins with being brought into the adopted family, but immediately after one is adopted, the focus shifts from getting the person into the family, to raising that person as a member of that family.  Said another way, adoption starts with becoming a member of the family, but after that it is all about raising you up to be like your parents.

A "natural" child inherits both the physical image of his parents and also (typically) their values.  An adopted child will not bear the physical image of his adopted parents, but will bear their image in the values he inherits through his upbringing in their family.  When Paul describes believers as growing up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (c.f Ephesians 4:13), he is describing spiritual maturity through the metaphor of a child having become mature when he takes on the (physical) stature of his parent.  For the believer, we do not take on Christ's physical stature, but being adopted into His family, we are pressed by the Holy Spirit to take on Christ's spiritual stature; that is, we are pressed to surrender our will to God even as Christ did.

The story of our adoption into God's family is a story of growth into the likeness of Christ by our continued, intentional obedience to the clearly stated will of God in scripture.  All who are in Christ have been adopted into God's family, but not all press on to maturity, that is, not all press on to grow into the likeness of Christ through personal obedience, and therefore, not all who are Christians bear the image of their adopted Father while sojourning here upon the earth.

The question for you, believer, is whether, having been adopted into God's family, you will surrender your will to the Holy Spirit within you when He convicts you to surrender your will to Christ in some matter.  Will you justify your disobedience, and continue on in the image of your flesh, or will you surrender to His will, and put on the image of Christ who is in you?  Will your adoption show itself in this world through your obedience, or will you hide it through you disobedience?  The doctrine of adoption often ends with our becoming children of God, when it should go on to include, and even focus on, our being "brought up" spiritually by Christ.

Do you, believer, understand how the metaphor of raising up a child to be like his parents applies to the Christian walk?  Do you see God as a loving Father who has not only taken you in, but is now bringing you up to be like Him?  Or has the enemy of Christ convinced you that you won't really be in God's family until you have brought yourself up into the image of Christ?  Think on these things Christian: the doctrine of adoption is a doctrine describing the present work of God and not a past work.  It describes how we are presently being pressed (by God Himself), into His own image.  Like every good doctrine the doctrine of our adoption leaves us adoring and praising God for what He is doing.  It is a doctrine of joy - not only (or even primarily) that we have been welcomed into His family, but that He Himself is at work in us provoking us to desire and do His will. 

Amen? Amen!