We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in the 17th Century. In particular, we’ve been looking at the communion the church has with Christ and the mediation Christ brings. We saw that part of Christ’s mediation involves adoption, which is an act of God’s free grace whereby God’s name is put upon you. But what else does adoption involve?
Adoption into God’s family means we are under God’s fatherly care.
Firstly we see that the Old Testament is full of passages that speak of God’s fatherly care. In the Psalms we read: ‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.’ (Psalm 103:13-14).
The prophet Malachi also writes: ‘On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him’ (Malachi 3:17).
Then in the New Testament, Jesus says: ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11).
Jesus contrasts our heavenly Father with our earthly fathers. If we know that our earthly fathers give good things in response to our requests, of course our heavenly father will give us good things when we ask him. What does Jesus tell us to prove his case? Jesus says, our earthly fathers are evil yet they know how to treat us well. So if the heavenly father is not evil but good in every way, we can always expect his good fatherly care.
The author of Hebrews also reminds us that along with God’s care for us as children, comes his hand of discipline: ‘Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined– and everyone undergoes discipline– then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:7-11).
What a privilege it is to have God as your caring father! But how do you achieve adoption and so receive God’s care? You must repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. If you do that, then you can rest assured you are under God’s fatherly care.