C. H. Darch, Taunton, England
One may be introduced into a family in two different ways, by birth or adoption. Often, too, we contrast the immaturity of the ‘child’ with the more adult maturity of the ‘son’. In order to understand this more clearly, it may be well to consider each of these aspects separately.
1. Birth. A boy is born into a family, and at once is a son of his parents and remains such for the rest of his life.
2. Adoption. A child may be transferred from one family to another thereby becoming a member of a new family.
3. Sonship, growth. Babies are not taken into business partnership with the father. This is the prerogative of the grown-up son. One 98 never sees as a business heading So-and-So and Baby, but So-and-So and Son, which at once indicates that the father has a grown-up son in partnership with him.
If we apply these ideas to the Christian life and New Testament teaching, we find that each are brought out in relation to those who are in God’s family through His grace.
Family Relationship and Christians
1. Birth. In John 1. 12 we have a wonderful statement that poor sinful human beings can become the children of God. These are born ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’. Hence such are said to be ‘born of him’, that is, of God, 1 John 2. 29, and ‘born of the Spirit’, John 3. 6, 8. Of such Christ can say, ‘Behold I and the children which God hath given me’, Heb. 2. 13.
Indeed the Lord taught plainly that apart from the new birth none can enter into the kingdom of God, John 3. 5; hence the importance of being perfectly sure that we are born of God. How many tests there are given in John’s first epistle to establish this beyond doubt; see, for example, 2. 3, 5; 3. 19, 24; 4. 13.
2. Adoption. Ephesians 1. 5-6 teaches us that we can be brought into the family of God in spite of the fact that we are by nature ‘children of wrath’, 2. 3. God in His mercy is willing to deliver us from the power of darkness and to translate us into the kingdom of His dear Son, Col. 1. 13, bringing us into the family of God and even Calling us ‘dear children’, Eph. 5. 1. ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are.’, 1 John 3. 1, R.V.
3. Maturity. In Matthew 5. 45, the Lord says ‘That ye may become sons of your Father which is in heaven’, Newberry. Here it is not the word for children but for grown-up sons that is used. Maturity of character is connoted. As we love our enemies and pray for them that persecute us, so we manifest the character of the Father who ‘maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust’. Such evidence of spiritual maturity displays sonship.
The teaching of the Epistle to the Galatians is again of this character. The Old Testament saints were viewed as children under a teacher, which was the law, until Christ came, 3. 24-25. Now, the Christian occupies a higher position and is not regarded as a child but as a son because he has received the Holy Spirit. He has become an heir of God and is, therefore, dispensationally regarded as a son, 4. 7. It is, therefore, important to live as one who has been made partaker of this great honour of being brought into the liberty of the sons of God, 5. 1.
Thus linked with the One on the throne of God, our eternal security as children, our future hope and privilege as heirs, and our present responsibility as sons are all delightfully suggested. Let us rejoice in the sovereign and matchless love of our God that has brought us into His family, and seek grace to live in accordance with our lofty privileges.