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 justification: being made right with God. Now, we’ll begin learning about another aspect: adoption into God’s family.
If we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, then we are also adopted into God’s family. The apostle John says: ‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:12-13). The Apostle Paul also says: ‘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.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”’ (2 Corinthians 6:16-18).
Now, when you are adopted by an earthly family, you usually take on their name as you are recognised as belonging to it. So it is with adoption into God’s family. If you are part of God’s family he legally writes his name upon you to demonstrate that you now belong to him. You take on his name and are a part of his family. ‘Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name’ (Revelation 3:10-12).
But how does such an adoption into God’s family take place? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace.
If you’re adopted into another family, you usually have very little say in the matter, particularly if you’re an infant.
When God adopted sinners into his family, it was not because of anything they had done, but purely by his grace. Paul says: ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love e predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ (Ephesians 1:4-6). If you were predestined for adoption, then you had no say in the matter. Thus, the only reason any sinner is a part of God’s family is because God has lovingly and graciously adopted him.
So how can you be adopted into God’s family? Turn from your sin and trust in Christ – beg God for mercy. If you truly repent and believe then know that you have been adopted into his family.
Have you been adopted into God’s family? Is God’s name written upon you?