IN Romans viii. 15-17, this subject will be found, and as our mind has been occupied with it more or less for the last few days, we shall offer a few suggestions for the consideration of our readers. The gospel is never preached but what this important doctrine is presented in an indirect way, but seldom is it dwelt upon directly. No subject can be of more importance, nor is any point of doctrine more comforting and assuring than that of adoption.
The apostle presents two spirits in the text before us, and calls special attention to the work of each one. He first assured the brethren that they had “not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.” Fear hath torment, therefore produces bondage. Before the coming of Christ all men possessed that spirit and feared death in consequence. Even now all who have not received the Spirit of adoption fear death because of the spirit of bondage.
God made promise in the beginning of the world that the seed of the woman (Christ) should bruise the serpent’s head, and, having fulfilled His promise, the apostle said, “The Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil;” and, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” This first quotation shows the perfect work of Christ in the destruction of the works of the devil. The second quotation shows that Christ was made one with “the children “in his incarnation, and that through his death he destroyed him that had the power of death (the devil), and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Death is now abolished, and life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel. This glorious and wonderful truth is given the redeemed in the revelation of Jesus saying as he did to those in bondage when he was in the flesh, “I am the resurrection, and the life: * * * whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” I am the life, he, therefore, who has His life shall never die. If any poor soul sees that death has lost its sting, and the grave its victory, and the fear of death therefore has vanished as the dew before the morning sun, it is because he or she has received the Spirit of adoption.
The adoption law of our country and its work can only in part be compared with the work of the Spirit of adoption. Through that law the son of one man becomes legally the son of another, and if a son, then an heir of the adopter and a joint-heir with his own children. This is the extent of the figure, if we may so call it. The law of adoption cannot change or make void the relationship existing between the actual father and his son. Though adopted by another, and legally his son and heir, he is still bone and flesh of his own father.
Some excellent brethren confess that they do not understand the work of the Spirit of adoption, and ask, How can the children of God, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, be adopted children? Whether any of us understand it or not it is an absolute Bible truth, and should not be denied nor considered lightly. We should remember that in God’s plan, purpose and decree they were children, but not actual children by generation and birth. The natural birth precedes the spiritual; that which is first is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual; hence Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By natural generation and birth men are the sons of Adam, but by regeneration and the work of the Spirit of adoption they become the children of God, “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” The only reason any mortal can give for men and women becoming the children of God, is that God “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” When this scriptural reason is analyzed it seems clear enough to convince the most biased mind that the man predestinated unto the adoption of a child is as passive in the matter as the child born in nature.
The very fact that by nature men are the children of Adam, possessing his life, his nature and his sin, makes it necessary that they be adopted into the family of God; and the work of the Spirit of adoption is so perfect and glorious that the sons and daughters of Adam become the actual children of God, being partakers of his life and divine nature, and are no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit, (Romans viii. 9,) hence are heirs of God through Christ.
We understand the work of the Spirit of adoption to be close kin to the spiritual birth, as it is called, and will call your attention to John i. 12, to establish our opinion: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Power was given men to become the sons of God; it was through their birth of the Word of God, that incorruptible Seed which lives and abides forever, that they became the sons of God. In our text we are told that through the Spirit of adoption we cry, Abba, Father; the cry always follows the birth, and those who were the children of Adam are now the children of God through Christ, the Spirit of adoption, and if children, then heirs of God their Father and joint-heirs with Christ, the only begotten Son. This seems too wonderful, too good for poor, halting sinners, yet it is God’s word.
We shall not attempt to enumerate the wonders and glory of the inheritance of Christ, but whatever he is heir to, the children, by adoption, share in the same measure.
Immediately the suffering of Christ is mentioned, as though it were necessary for the children to suffer with him that they be glorified together. This suffering with him does not mean that the children sweat as it were great drops of blood as he did, nor that they wear a crown of thorns, nor be nailed to the cross, but that they shall suffer for sin with him. He bare our sins in his own body, therefore knows the guilt and iniquity of all his people; he was pressed down as a cart under many sheaves. Is it a wonder that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief! Each one must suffer in his own measure with Christ. If it is in any way through suffering that we are glorified together with Christ, we should not think of the word “glorified “as referring altogether to the future state of the redeemed of the Lord. The word has a broader meaning than that; it means “honored; dignified; exalted to glory.” One of the ten lepers returned and “glorified God;” that is, he honored him. By reading Romans viii. 29, 30, it will be seen that the apostle speaks in the past tense in presenting the work of God in the salvation of sinners. If we believe and are agreed that He has already “called,” already “justified,” why not accept the same tense used in the next clause: “them he also glorified”! If the children of God are so honored as to be acknowledged or owned by him, having been exalted in Christ above the law, sin and death, and are in possession of his life and divine nature, are they not already glorified together with Christ! And because of this gracious work they shall all at last enter the haven of rest where hope and faith are done away in fruition, but charity, the love of God, shall abide forever. Now because ye are the sons of God, through the Spirit of adoption, He sends forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father. This Spirit comes when sent of God, and always cries the same thing: Abba, Father. It guides the children into all truth, keeps them in the day of temptation, supports them in the time of affliction and receives them at last unto glory. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 5.
MARCH 1, 1908.