Thursday, July 18, 2019

Perseverance, Part 3.

In the previous posts on perseverance, we learned that God guarantees our completion in Christ (Philippians 1:6), and that He, Himself, is the source of our eternal life (John 10:27-30). Now, we turn to Paul, in Romans, to see that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:35-39

In Romans 8, Paul names about 17 potential threats that might separate us from the love of Christ. Buried in the middle of the list -in verse 37- is a wonderful, beautiful idea. It isn’t easily translated into English, which is why the ESV, KJV and NIV read “we are more than conquerors”, the HCSB reads “we are more than victorious,” while the NASB reads: “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer.”

The Greek word here is ὑπερνικάω (hupernikao). In Greek, ὑπερ (hyper) can be used as part of a compound word, giving the meaning over, above, or beyond.
You are likely already familiar with the next part of the compound word, νικάω (nikao). It’s the verb form of the word Nike, the Greek goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nikao means "to conquer" or "to subdue" - to be victorious.

When it comes to this list of insurmountable obstacles that threaten to separate us from the love of Christ, we aren't just victorious, we are over-victorious! That isn’t because of our strength- Paul says we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Our guarantee of victory is "Him who loved us." Christ is our overwhelming victory over anything that might attempt to separate us from Him.

What does this mean for us? To borrow a phrase, "the struggle is real!" The Christian life is filled with battles: hardships of all kinds on the outside, and unending battles with sin in our own hearts. The assurance we have from the Scripture is that the war is already won, even if we can't resolve how the battles we're fighting fit into that war. 

Perseverance, then, is ultimately an exercise in faith. It is continuing in the difficult battles, no matter how difficult, and no matter the cost. That is possible because our hope is secure in Christ's victory. Persevering doesn't mean we never fail! It means we never stop fighting our failure. To give up is to admit a defeat that could never be, to concede victory to an enemy who has already lost. Christ is worthy of so much more!

In conclusion, I want to address three possible scenarios that a lot of people find themselves in. I hope you'll find these applications of perseverance useful and encouraging:

1. You are a believer in Christ, struggling with sin, and just about to give up. You need to hear this: If you are in Christ, God has made you more than victorious. Don’t listen to the enemy, who will tell you it doesn’t matter if you obey or resist temptation or give up, because you’ll be forgiven anyway. We’re warned about that kind of thinking in the Scripture (Romans 6:1-2; 1 Timothy 5:20; Hebrews 10:26). So don’t give up!  If you fail, don’t excuse the failure- hate it! Abominate it! Run to God and confess it, and take steps to have victory the next time. Then "rinse and repeat," no matter how long it takes. Victory, when it comes, will be worth it! It will be for your assurance, and His glory.

2. You have made commitments to Christ, but you’re struggling. You aren’t sure if you are truly converted or not. Perhaps you were certain at one time. Now, in defeat, you can no longer tell the difference between "saved and struggling," and "lost without hope." You need to hear this: there is hope for you! The first step is confession: to admit where you are, and to get help. Keeping your struggle a secret is not going to help! On your own, the enemy is going to beat you like a rag-doll. A healthy local church can offer help, accountability, and wise counsel. Trust the Lord to do a powerful work in your life, and let other, spiritually mature believers walk with you in the struggle.

3. Finally, you may have no idea what I'm talking about. If you have never responded to the gospel by placing your trust in Christ and repenting of your sin, you need to hear this: Today is the day of salvation. You can experience the hope, joy, and promises of assurance that I've been writing about... But you must obey. You must come to Christ on His terms, the terms of the Gospel. Trust in Christ today and repent of your sin - it will be the beginning of a whole new life for you. And I'd love to tell you all about it. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Perseverance, Part 2.

In our first installment on perseverance, we learned that our confidence is based not on our own faithfulness, but God's. Paul assures his readers, in Philippians 1:6, that God is the one who guarantees the completion of the work begun in us:
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6
A second reason for our perseverance is the knowledge that God is the source of our eternal life. Consider Jesus' words from the Gospel of John:
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” - John 10:27-30
This passage alerts us to a very real, ever-present spiritual danger. There is an enemy, working through several adversaries, that is intent on snatching believers from their eternal security. Is it the devil? Certainly. Is it the world with all its allurements? Of course. False teachers? Yes, surely. The flesh and its corrupted desires? Definitely. We don’t have to look very far in the scriptures -just up the page to John 10:10, in fact- to see the troubling dichotomy of our spiritual reality: Jesus has come to give life, the thief has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

With that in mind, see that power of the promise Jesus gives to believers in this passage! Our spiritual safety, our assurance, is firmly established in our relationship with Christ and God. Jesus says, “I give them eternal life.” Not, I will give. I give, now. The Greek is present/active/indicative. Eternal life, is not something that we will one day have. It is something that is given to us now. If you have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Christ, it is already given to you.

This idea of eternal life being given in the present is consistent in John's Gospel. 
“Whoever believes in the Son haseternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” - John 3:36
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” - John 5:24

If eternal life is given in the present, it is no wonder that Jesus is also able promise: "no one can snatch them out of my hand." And if that were not enough, He goes on: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all.” The Supreme Power of all the universe and beyond has given the believer to Jesus. There are dangers, there are threats. But the danger is not greater than the one who saved you. So when you are struggling, cling to John 3:36 and 5:24 and 10:27-30... unless the trouble or doubt you face is bigger than God -and believe me, it isn't- you're hope is secure in Him. 

So, Philippians 1:6 tied our salvation to God’s character: He always finishes what He starts. In John 10, Jesus ties our salvation to God’s nature: He is supreme, and nothing is greater than Him. And it is He who has given us to the Son, with His omnipotent hand is wrapped around us.

Next time, we will consider how our security is ensured by the Love of God. Until then, keep persevering! May the Lord bless you and use you for His glory.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Perseverance, Part 1.

From the time I was a boy, and all the way up through my early teen years, my dad and I loved to go fishing together. We have a lot of great memories that weave through the south Louisiana waterways: Belle River and Lake Verret and Bayou Sorrel. One such trip was very "special," in the sense that we had a few boat problems, got turned around in the spillway, hadn’t caught anything, and endured miserable weather. It was hot and humid, but threatening clouds kept us worried that the outing was about to end without a single fish in the boat. We decided to try one final spot. As soon as we got there, the sky opened up and the rain came down. I was crushed. It would be weeks before dad could take off work again. With school starting soon, this was probably the last fishing of the summer. 

But then something incredible happened. As soon as it started raining, the big bass started biting. They bit like I had never seen before, nor seen since! The rain came hard and then soft, but for hours the beautiful, silver-green fish kept striking anything that hit the water. And now, looking back, I wouldn’t trade anything for that memory: Father and son, soaked to the bone, reeling in fish as fast as we could -and wondering if we would live to see anything like that feeding frenzy ever again.

The funny thing about that day is that we could have given up. Perhaps half a dozen times we thought of packing it all up. But we didn’t -we waited it out and hoped for the best- wanting to see what would happen.

In some ways, the believer’s perseverance is like this. We face difficulties and uncertainties and unanswered questions, and we battle the temptation to give up.

But in other ways -most important ways- my story is not like perseverance in the Christian life. Waiting it out through the rain isn't all that courageous, and we certainly weren’t very hopeful through it all. We didn't spur each other on with encouraging words that the weather would surely clear and the fish would start biting soon, because we didn’t know any of that for certain! In the Christian life, we face all kinds of difficulties and uncertainties, but we are taught to persevere because of the sureties of Christ. We know He will have victory. We know things will indeed be better. We know those things despite however bleak the circumstances may seem. In other words, the uncertainties of this present world do not have the power to overcome the certainties that are promised in God’s Word.

Over the next few weeks, I want to survey three passages that speak to perseverance in the Christian life.

First- The work begun in us is completed by God Himself.
Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Two words from that verse stand out to me: Paul says, "I am sure..." I like the NASB interpretation a little better: "I am confident of this..." The word means “persuaded.” Paul has been completely persuaded or convinced. Of what? That God will complete the work He is doing in us. The Greek word for complete is epiteleo: meaning, "to perfect, complete, or bring to an end." In this case, then, it means that God is not going to leave us unfinished.

So the first moment of our conversion is like a spark being ignited in a cold, dark room. In the light of that spark, everything that was dark before is revealed in an instant. The effect on the darkness can be seen immediately. And in conversion, there is an immediate and radical changing of allegiance that affects everything else. Hope and purpose and joy explode onto the scene. But our salvation isn’t comprised of that single moment of conversion, alone. There is also an ongoing process. So we could compare other parts of our salvation to a fire being lit in a cold, dark room. All of the cold will eventually be overcome. It will take the fire some period of time to affect everything in the room, but affect it, it will. Philippians 1:6 tells us that the same God who conceived our salvation, chose us for salvation, and initiated our salvation, will continue and ensure our salvation's completion. We are still being saved and kept today, and we will be saved and kept tomorrow: by the same strong transforming power that began working in us at the instant of our conversion. 

What a comfort to know that our completion is not dependent on us, but on our faithful, consistent, unchanging God! That is exactly what we will be thinking about next time: that the work that is being done in us in inseparably tied to God’s character. Until then, let's press on through the difficulties and uncertainties of life in this fallen world, because He has made us totally confident in Him.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sanctification, Part 3.

In this final, brief look at sanctification, I want to consider the phrase “slaves to God” (Romans 6:22). We've already seen that when we were lost, we were slaves to sin. We also saw that conversion leads to a change of heart that makes us slaves to righteousness. This next phrase, "slaves to God," doesn't indicate a third, different kind of slavery. Rather, Paul is broadening our view to see that when we were made slaves to righteousness, we became slaves to God. In other words, we did not come under the influence and power of some abstract idea of righteousness. We came under the influence and power of a righteous God.  Having been saved, we are under His power and control. It is He who will bring us along on this journey of sanctification, and He that will ensure we arrive safely at the end. 

It might be good to remind ourselves of the relationship between His work and ours. His work assures us of the eventual completion of our sanctification. Our responsibility is to willingly participate in it. This is a critically important component of the Christian life! Our participation in sanctification is required but is nonetheless dependent on His initial work. Both parties are engaged in the process: He must work and we must strive. “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6)

J.C. Ryle wrote, "In justification the word to be addressed to man is believe — only believe; in sanctification the word must be 'watch, pray, and fight.'

Finally, I would remind us of the debt owed by the slaves to the Master. God justified us when we were saved- He declared us righteous. We now strive to live out that holiness, but it is not paying back what is owed. We do not strive toward holiness to somehow prove we were worthy of justification. In fact, just the opposite is true- every step taken toward holiness is yet another grace given by God. So as we strive, we are not paying back, but growing increasingly in His debt. Why? Because our sanctification is for His Glory! That has been one of His purposes in calling a holy people for Himself, since the beginning. So He gets all the credit for the progress we make.

Paul asserts in verse 22  that the end of sanctification is eternal life. I can think of at least 3 applications of this passage (Romans 6:17-22):

The first pertains to salvation. To which of these entities Paul names are you a slave? And which is the fruit for your service to that master: life, or death? It must be one or the other. One way to discern that is to determine what your heart really wants. What do you think of a life lived in obedience to him? Would that be a cold prison? Or would it be freedom from the things of the world that can no longer satisfy you?

The second application pertains to struggling with sin in the Christian life. You may be tempted to conclude that if you are still struggling with sin, something has gone terribly wrong. You may think that sanctification is so much your own responsibility that you give up, and fall away. But the struggle with sin is a battle you can fight, because the war is already won in Christ. Don’t let little defeats discourage you- stay the course and press on toward greater obedience. There is sufficient grace in Christ for second chances again and again- so when you fail, begin again in Christ!

A third application pertains to a lackadaisical attitude about sin. We can sometimes jump to the conclusion that because the war is already won in Christ, we no longer need to fight. That’s sanctification weighted toward His responsibility. But this battle is not a charade. If you are not engaged in putting sin to death and pursuing Godliness with all your heart, there is a very good chance you are not on the road to righteousness and eternal life at all.

If you have never placed your faith in Christ and repented of your sin, cry out to God to deliver you from the bondage to sin. The message of the Gospel is: He will hear you. He will come and break the bondage of sin and make you His own. Or, if you need to shake off some deceptions from the Enemy, and get back in the fight against sin, then seek out accountability with a believer you trust - and go to war. Whatever the case, let's join the battle, and fight as those who are sure of victory. The God who calls us to the sanctified life is worthy of our every effort.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sanctification, Part 2.

In this second part of our look at sanctification, we continue on through Romans 6. Previously, Paul established that we were slaves to sin. But now, he reveals an astounding truth: we have been made slaves to righteousness.

Once, we committed sins because we were under the power of sin… we did the things we wanted to do, and we reckoned them good. In that condition, we would have called righteousness slavery. But with a changed heart, we are want to be obedient. It isn't obedience in the way we previously imagined righteousness to be: forced and cold, and missing out on the things we’d really rather be doing if we weren’t pressed into this religious obedience. No! We have begun to pursue holiness from the heart –because God has changed our hearts– and because we now love to do those things.

What does that look like? The old desires and habits and hang-ups no longer give us the satisfaction they once did. We begin to take greater pleasure in pleasing God than pleasing ourselves. We begin to hate what God hates and love what He loves.

It isn’t accomplished perfectly or all at once. The faith that saves does not produce a perfectly lived righteous life of our own. Rather, it causes Christ’s righteousness to be reckoned to us. So the evidence of saving faith is not perfection, but changed direction. It’s imperfect, but demonstrable.

But what about being a slave to righteousness - what does that mean?

Paul says he’s using this slavery imagery so that we can understand. As horrible as slavery is, it was a part of the Roman world, and Paul knew that his readers would be familiar with it. He has also set this image up as a dichotomy: either one thing is true, or the other is. As he stated in verse 16, you’re either a slave either of sin or a slave of obedience and righteousness. You show yourself to be the servant of whichever master you go on presenting yourself to.

Just as we were formerly under the power of sin, we are now under the power of righteousness. In the instant that we first become believers, God justifies – He declares us righteous in Christ. He gives new life in regeneration. And in His initial act of sanctification, He breaks the power of sin over us. So this sanctification isn’t about being made to do something against your will. It’s that your will itself is held captive by that which you love. And now, the thing you love, the thing your will is being held captive by, is righteousness instead of sin.

When we were slaves to sin, sin was our master. Sin ensured our continued obedience to it. We went on sinning, powerless to change our status. In other words, we would go on serving our sin master until our demise in death. But being a slave to righteousness means just the opposite- righteousness will ensure our continued obedience to it- we will go on serving our growing desire for holiness on the path to eternal life. As Paul says in verse 22, "now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."

Next time, we'll look more at what Paul means by "slaves to God," and how we can participate in the work that God is doing in us.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sanctification, Part 1.

Sanctification sometimes feels as though God is bringing about circumstances in life which will make us both very holy and very unhappy. But that isn’t how it really is. Sanctification is an ongoing struggle, a battle waged against sin and the flesh. But while the battle sometimes seems to be trench warfare, there also great joys that come with victories. And the march is one that leads to home, heaven, and Christ Himself.

The New Testament uses the term “Sanctification” in three different tenses: past, present, and future. 
In the past: referring to the moment of regeneration, when the believer was set apart from sin positionally. In the present: when the believer is being set apart from the power and practice of sin. And in the future: when the believer will be set apart from the possibility and presence of sin.

So Sanctification is being made holy – being set apart. And while we do participate in our present-tense, ongoing sanctification, our contribution is completely dependent on God. No one grows holy by themselves. That is what I want us to see over our next few posts: How God makes sanctification possible for us, and how we should respond in light of what He has done.

Romans 6:17-22  "But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  (18)  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  (19)  I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  (20)  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  (21)  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  (22)  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."

So our first point is this: Before our salvation, we were Slaves of Sin. (v. 17)
What does Paul mean by “slaves to sin?” Romans Chapter 6 is Paul’s argument that saving faith does not produce people who are tolerant of sin. Christians who have been justified by faith and regenerated to new life are not casual or cavalier about sin.
Just think of scriptures like 1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
What part of God’s holiness is cavalier toward sin?

In the first part of the chapter, vs. 1-14, Paul explains that our old self is crucified with Christ and we must now consider ourselves dead to sin. Here, in the second section, Paul uses the imagery of bondage or slavery- and he says in verse 19: "I am speaking in human terms so you can understand." Bondage and Slavery is something that First Century Christians could see and understand. It was all around them.
It is also of utmost importance that we understand sin as being more than a single infraction. It’s a state, a nature, a power. Being a slave of sin means being held under sin's authority, under its power, and being completely unable to change our condition. That's what "bondage" means.

We learn in verse 19 that we presented our members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness. Not only were we powerless to change our bondage to sin-  it’s much worse than that- we wouldn’t have called our bondage “bondage” at all! This slavery is not at all being made to do what is against our will. It is that our will has been taken captive! “We present ourselves.”

When we were lost, we were quite happy with our sin! We’re not happy with other peoples’ sin, but we can’t wait to participate in our own. So, we presented our members to impurity and lawlessness. And that leads to more of the same thing. That’s the problem with a corrupted appetite- it’s insatiable. The thing that made us happy is the thing we want more of.  
In verse 20,  Paul says when we were slaves to sin, we were free in regard to righteousness. That means sin held us in bondage, but righteousness had no power over us- no appeal whatsoever.

You’ve probably heard reasoning like this, before: "Who wants to have to be righteous? Rules and regulations and observances and prohibitions… I don’t want to be prisoner to that! I’m free from all of that."

That’s how badly sin messes us up! Sin-sick people look straight in the face of freedom and call it bondage; and then go right back to the enslavement that makes them happy.

Last time, I brought up the Israelites who wanted to return to Egypt. That little illustration still fits. In Numbers 11, the people were lamenting the manna. So they cried at the doors of their tents for meat. And they said, “Remember in Egypt, we ate fish!” and get this- I’m not making this up! This is Numbers 11:5. “We ate fish in Egypt that cost nothing.” Now that is insanity! In Egypt, if you were a Hebrew, you could have free fish. They also murdered your children and whipped you with Lashes and gave you tasks like “bricks now, without straw.” Of course the fish was free. Tim Keller said, “What rational person looks at this and says, “well there was a perk. The fish was free.”
Think of it! Freedom and provision literally raining down from heaven rejected because they wanted to satisfy their bellies.

So we were slaves to sin, and we didn’t want holiness or righteousness. We were in bondage: endlessly presenting ourselves before sin, our master, and always wanting more. In verse 21, Paul shows us the fruit of this bondage: death. But for those who would believe in Christ, the story doesn't end with death! The call of scripture is to come to Christ in faith and repentance, when God Himself will exchange our bondage to sin with bondage to righteousness. In the next post, we'll see how God makes that possible. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


There are so many wonderful, beautiful adoption stories. I recently read about a family that went to the airport to receive their newly-adopted baby boy. Their three-year old daughter, now a big sister, thought for several years that baby brothers all came from airports. The most wonderful, beautiful adoption story of all is our own; forever recorded in the pages of Scripture. It is the original- all the others are reflections of the goodness and grace found in the adoptive heart of God. In Him, believers who were once enslaved are adopted as sons, and made heirs with Christ.

1. Believers were once enslaved.
The Galatians had heard the gospel and believed it. But now, Paul was mortified to learn that the Galatians who had been set free were choosing slavery again. The gospel had set them free from the bondage of pagan idolatry, but they were now choosing a new task-master: The Law. Teachers had crept in and persuaded many that observing the Law, as well as faith in Christ, was required for salvation.

So, Paul argued that the Law was like a guardian over a small child. Imagine the child of a ruler or some other prominent person: the child has the right heritage, the right last name, but has no power, no real authority or wealth. The guardian makes all the decisions and oversees all the aspects of the child’s daily life. And Israel, under the law, was like a child under a guardian: of the right lineage, but managed. At the end of chapter 3, Paul said that this made anyone under the law “no different than a slave.” In fact, he referred to this arrangement as being “held captive”, “imprisoned” by the law. In chapter 4, he wrote:

"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,  2  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.  4  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  5  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  6  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  7  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." -Galatians 4:1-7

If you flip through the pages of the Bible, you’ll see something really frightening: given a choice between freedom with hardships and slavery with gratifications, the sin-sick human heart will choose slavery every time. Think of Israel in the wilderness longing for the offerings of Egypt- “leeks and garlic and melons” -at the cost of their freedom! Freedom for them and their sons and their daughters, and they’d trade it all for fish and cucumbers. That’s what Paul means in v9 – they want to be enslaved. They want the perks of enslavement:

"But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" -Galatians 4:9

So, the human condition is grim. We are enslaved by sin and our own attempts to justify ourselves- and we have a heart that is given over to the perks of being enslaved. What then is to be done for us?

2. Believers are adopted- made Sons of God

What must be done for us is what only God could do.  It is clearly stated in verses 4 and 5. God sent forth His Son to redeem us that we might receive adoption. What could not be accomplished by enslavement to works and the law, what the “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world” could not do, God did for us through the person and work of His Son.

Finally, in verse 5, Paul uses the wonderful, beautiful word: “Adoption.” God sent his son that we might receive adoption. It isn’t something as trite as God “accepting” us. This is Holy God, at great expense, taking ownership of those who could offer nothing in return! We have become well aware of the spiritual status of mankind apart from God, so there is no cosmic bargaining chip. That is one reason why adoption is such a beautiful thing: it is not the merit or worth or greatness of the orphan… it is the other way around! The orphan is helpless! The child’s situation is hopeless! The grace and generosity on display is that of the adopter! So it is with our adoption by God: all the countless merits of His character are on display in this act of adoption.

There is another important word in verse 5. He sent His Son to redeem. An adoption comes at a great price. Adoptions are notoriously expensive affairs for many families. And it was no different for us. God made a payment unlike any other. He sent forth His Son, that He might redeem. The word means “to purchase out of.” God sent His son to purchase us out of something; to ransom us; to pay the price of our rescue.

If nothing else helps you understand how great the gulf is between sinful man and holy God, consider the price of our adoption! If the ransom had been anything else, it would have cost God very little. What charge is too costly for the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? Or who made the stars by the breath of His mouth? But His very Son? No wonder we sing:

This, the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

3. Believers are heirs with Christ

Verse 6 says that because we are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our Hearts, crying, ‘Abba Father!’ “Abba,” was the term a Hebrew child would call his father, an intimate term of endearment and familiarity. Some historians have even remarked that among the Hebrews, servants were not allowed to call their master Abba. The term was reserved for a child of the master. So, the change in the nature of our relationship with God is astounding. We are no longer servants kept at some distance, but children who are intimately acquainted with our Father.

So, we are no longer slaves, but sons and daughters. And then Paul gives us the gift of verse 7: “No longer a slave, but a son, and if a son- then an heir.” Could we really be heirs, inheritors of God Himself? What can it mean? It means that everything God has is yours. John Piper breaks this idea into three categories:

1. God Himself is yours. Never, ever forget that God is the prize. It is so hard to keep that right in our minds. The Christian life is not a pursuit of what He has or what He can do for you, but of Him. Do you love Him, or His things? Him, or what He can do for you?

2. The World is yours. Paul sums it up this way, in 1 Corinthians 3:
“For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”

As believers serve the Lord, we are within our jurisdiction everywhere. It all belongs to our Father, and we are sons and daughters and heirs. So, be bold. All things are meant for the purpose of His glory and your joy.

3. The hope of future glory is yours. There is a beautiful parallel thought in Romans 8:15-17: Notice this – “We are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

One way to know if you are indeed adopted into God’s family is that you know Christ in His suffering. It may be the patient and well-tempered suffering of life in a fallen world. It may be shameful, torturous persecution for the name of Christ. But the sons and heirs of God’s family consider that “this light and momentary affliction is not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed.” So, we suffer, but we do not lose heart.

So, I conclude with two questions for readers to consider.

First, if you have never repented of sin and placed your trust in Christ, you are already a slave. What prevents you from being made free? Would you be a son, and an heir? God alone can free you and has promised to do so when you come to Him on His terms.

Second, if you are a believer, have you become so callous that you would trade your freedom in Christ for the fleeting perks of slavery? Are you struggling with some idol? Have you forgotten your love is of Him and not merely what He has or can do? Remember what it means to be a son or daughter, and an heir. He alone has made you free!