Today we continue our series on Gospel Convergence concerning the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith; each week I will reflect on a chapter of the Confession. I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the confession and read along with me.
A Close Connection
This week’s chapter is actually very closely connected with last week’s chapter. The Confession states this explicitly: ‘All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption’ (pg. 65). If the beauty of last week wasn’t enough for you, in addition to being justified we are now adopted! In his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul reminds the church that God had ‘predestined them for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ’ (1:5). This is something which had already expanded on in an earlier letter:
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal. 4:1-7)
Despite this chapter of the Confession being only one paragraph long, it squeezes eight benefits of adoption into that short paragraph. Here they are:
- Through adoption we enjoy all the liberties and privileges of the children of God. John tells the readers of his Gospel that all who believe in Jesus have been given the right to become children of God (1:12). As children we enjoy privileges and liberties, such as being fellow heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17)
- Through adoption we have the name of God written on us. We now belong, are owned and have a home. The great promise at the end of Scripture is that one day we will stand face to face with God (who through adoption is our Father), yet not only will we see His face, but His name will be written on us (Rev. 22:4).
- Through adoption we receive the Spirit of adoption. This phrase comes from Romans 8:15, and simply speaks of the Holy Spirit – but we have Him living in us because of our adoption.
- Through the indwelling of the Spirit of adoption we also have direct access to God (or the throne of grace as the Confession puts it). This is graphically depicted by the Paul’s use of the phrase ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). While there is debate about the formality of the phrase, all are agreed on the intimacy of it. We speak to God directly, as our Father, because we have been adopted as His children.
- Through adoption we now have the assurance of God’s pity, protection, providence and punishment. Our Father pities us, has compassion for us (Ps. 103:13); He protects us, He is our refuge (Prv. 14:26); Our Father provides all our needs, His care for us is evidenced (1 Peter 5:7); Our Father punishes us, disciplines us, ensures we stay close to Him (Heb. 12:5-11).
- Through adoption we have the assurance that we will never be cast off, our standing as children is secure. Jude assures his readers that they are ‘kept for Jesus Christ’ (v. 1) and reminds them it is God who ‘is able to keep you’ (v. 24).
- Through adoption we are sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. Paul explains that when we hear the gospel and believe in Jesus we are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), it is this that has sealed us for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30) allowing us the knowledge that we will not be cast off.
- Through adoption we will inherit the promises of everlasting salvation. We end where we began to a degree, the privileges of adoption. We will inherit salvation, and all that accompanies that (Heb. 1:14).
All of this, says the Confession, is what we partake in as justified sinners!