From Your Pastor: The Glorious Benefits of Justification, Adoption and Sanctification

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 36: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

 

Answer: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, (1) joy in the Holy Ghost, (2) increase of grace, (3) and perseverance therein to the end. (4) (1)Rom. 5:1,2,5 (2)Rom. 14:17 (3)Prov. 4:18 (4)1 John 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5

 

Scripture Memory: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13)

 

An Explanation: What a glorious joy it is to be one of God’s beloved children! What lavish grace God has been kind enough to bestow upon repent sinners who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! To be in Christ by His grace is to be the treasured possession of the Triune God, possessing an imputed righteousness given by faith alone in Christ alone because of grace alone, knowing confidently that one is loved by a good and faithful Heavenly Father, and enjoying some measure of growth in Christ-likeness, and in conformity to the holiness of the Son of God (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:21; 1 Jo. 3:1-3; Eph. 1:3-6, 4:19ff; Rom. 8:29-30; Tit. 2:11-14).

And there are glorious benefits of this salvation that we should be enjoying in this life on our way to heaven!! Though we suffer, and are often weary from battling flesh, the allurements of the world, and the temptations of satan, we can possess assurance that we are loved by God (1 Jo. 5:13), and we enjoy the joy of the LORD that is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Though the unbelieving world is often given moments of happiness (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17), it does not possess the joy of the LORD which is a (as I paraphrase from Dr. David Murray) “God-given…God- centered understanding of God’s love for you in Christ”. Only believers possess true and lasting happiness which is true joy, and found in the love of God in Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to believers so that we are sealed as God’s children until the Day of Redemption, and enjoy God’s love that has been poured out abundantly into our hearts (Eph. 1:14; Rom. 5:5).

And another benefit is that believers, the children of God, possess consciences that have been reconciled to God its Creator, and have peace that passes all understanding, though shaken at many times by different temptations and trials! (Rom. 5:1-11). Our consciences tell us about God and His righteous requirements for all mankind, but they will only haunt us if we do not possess as God’s children the reconciling mercies of God our Creator found in Christ! The Bible teaches that in fact there is “no peace for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21), and their consciences bear witness to the fact that they offended the true and only living, Triune God (Rom. 2:15; cf. 1:32). Only justification, adoption, and sanctification can bring peace to a sinful, troubled soul!

And as God is committed to making His children holy as Christ is holy, we can expect fruitfulness in Christ as we abide in His love, keeping His commandments, and loving God and one another by His grace (John 15:1-11). We ought to be thankful that this very day, we can expect an increase of grace as we turn from our sins to more grace in the Living God because of Christ. Christ is enthroned as Mediator at God’s right hand full of grace for all we need, full of mercy for all of our sinful struggles, and whatever grace we need, we can find it. We are promised this as God’s Beloved children! “God gives more grace…” (2 Pet. 1:3-11; Heb. 4:14-16; John 1:14-18; James 4:6).

And if this is not enough, because heaven has begun in us now through union with Christ by His Spirit, we shall also confidently, yet humbly persevere until the end because Christ is praying for us that our faith will not fail us in His Heavenly Intercessory ministry (Heb. 7:24; Rom. 8:34; cf. Luke 22:32). Yet we do not grow lazy because of this, but work all the harder, knowing that as we have been possessed by Christ and we have a zeal to possess more of Him! (Phil. 3:8-16; Tit. 2:14; cf. Phil. 2:12-13). In fact, as beloved children of God, we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, growing in holiness and in the fear of the LORD, and attain to our full heavenly inheritance knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ, and no one, or nothing—absolutely nothing!!—can snatch us out of the tight and loving grip of Christ’s beautiful, strong, and saving hand (Heb. 12:1-2, 10, 14; Rom. 8:31-39; John 10:27-30; 1 Pet. 1:5). Let us rejoice in the benefits that do accompany and flow from our salvation in Jesus!

 

A Prayer: Father, I am your treasured possession. Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. Your heart is with beloved children. Grant me to grow in the benefits of my salvation, in possessing more joy in Christ, in growing in holiness, humility and honesty, in enjoying more peace, and persevering grace unto the end all for your glory! Amen. Let my life adorn your precious gospel this day! Amen and amen.

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs

 

From Your Pastor: What is Adoption? (A Study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Question 34: What is adoption?

Answer: Adoption is an act of God’s free grace,(1) whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.(2) (1)1 John 3:1 (2)John 1:12; Rom. 8:17
Scripture Memory: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Rom. 8:15)

An Explanation: God legally declares believers righteous before Him in justification, but also (very importantly!) legally adopts us into His family, giving us His name, granting us privileges of being His children, and granting us a rich and eternal inheritance in Him, and with Him. We could imagine a judge that would pardon our crimes or sins against the law, but would not necessarily embrace us and receive us into his family. God has pardoned our sins, and received us as sons!!

At the Biggs’ home, we think of the distinction between the legal work that had to be accomplished to adopt our dear daughters from China and Ethiopia, and the actual “Gotcha Day” when we received them as our own daughters, and they officially and legally had a right to all the privileges of being in our family (humble as that may be!). While both justification and adoption are legal acts, justification emphasizes the work that had to be legally accomplished by Christ to achieve adoption; adoption emphasizes “Gotcha Day” with our Great God and Savior! At our home, we’re prone to say when reciting this catechism question: “Adoption is an act of God’s free “Gotcha” grace” (but you don’t have to say it this way!).

Our adoption is because of the Father’s love from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6); it is because of the Son’s redemptive work in willingly coming as our big brother to redeem us and to obtain for us the Spirit of Sonship (Gal. 4:4-7), and it is the Spirit’s work to seal and further reveal this reality to our hearts (Rom. 8:15-16, 26; cf. Eph. 3:16-19). Our adoption changes our relationship to God so that He is no longer merely our Creator, and because of the fall, He is no longer our Judge, but He is now our Heavenly Father, and we cry out: “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). In Christ, believers are now the very heirs of God, and like Jesus Christ, the Father’s dearly and beloved children. “What manner of love has God the Father bestowed upon us that we are called the children of God, and that is what we are!” (1 Jo. 3:1-2). We now have a big brother, the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself for our redemption so that we could take on a family resemblance (Heb. 2:11-18). What joy should characterize us as God’s children, because one day we will be like Him fully (1 Jo. 3:2-3; Rom. 8:23).

Note that in the Westminster Shorter Catechism adoption like justification is described as an “act of God’s free grace” impressing upon us that it is once and for all, whereas sanctification is a “work of God’s free grace” that continues throughout the Christian life. We should never separate justification and sanctification, though we should make the proper distinctions between the “act” and “work” of God’s free grace (act is final, work is continuing). The same is true with adoption. In light of our adoption, though we formerly walked as those who loved the world, with the desires of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jo. 2:15-17), we no longer love the world in this way because the world is passing away and we desire to do the will of our Heavenly Father (1 Jo. 2:17). In fact, because of God’s once for all “act” and as a privilege of being children of God, we as heirs with Christ and now begin to take upon a family resemblance, knowing that one day we shall be fully like Him as part of God’s ongoing “work” of sanctification in believers (1 Jo. 3:2-3; Phil. 1:6; cf. Titus 2:11-14).

As adopted sons in Christ we know that we possess the encouraging word of our Heavenly Father through our labors: “Well down my good and faithful servant” (cf. Heb. 6:10-12). We know that we have in our union with Christ the Father’s blessed affirmation saying: “This is my Beloved…with whom I am well pleased.” This should change how we view ourselves, and make us as believers—and children of God—to want to live faithfully pleasing God as our kind king and father (2 Cor. 5:9). We are part of a new family in Christ and as the Lord Jesus taught, we are to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 15:9-16). In fact, as the Father has loved Christ, so Christ has loved His own in this same way and this is the motivation for doing His commandments with eager joy (John 15:12ff). Love will characterize the children of God as we love one another (1 Jo. 4:7-21). We love because He first loved us (1 Jo. 4:19). Let us rejoice, and live as God’s beloved children!

A Prayer: “Abba, Father” I am grateful to pray with my elder brother, the Lord Jesus, “Our Father in Heaven”. Thank you for your grace and rich mercies in adopting me as your own. You have received me in Christ, and this is my great joy and hope!

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: Our Adoption in Christ

 

What wondrous grace that the Father has lavished on believers that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are! (1 Jo. 3:1). The Apostle John makes clear that it is an “out of this world” truth that sinners are not only righteous by God through a legal declaration of righteousness before God’s throne, but we are also legally adopted into the family as God’s children. Our adoption changes our relationship to God so that He is no longer merely our Creator, and because of the fall, He is no longer our Judge, but He is now our Heavenly Father, and we cry out: “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).

The Father has wondrously elected believers to be in union with Christ and to receive His adoption as sons, as heirs of His many and unfathomable blessings in the Heavenly Places (Eph. 1:3-4; cf. Gal. 4:6). In the fullness of the times, Christ came to redeem us under the condemnation of the law so that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15). Christ, our elder brother was sanctified, and sanctifies us so that we can be sons of God who take upon ourselves a family resemblance (Heb. 2:9-11). God is now our Father, and now we are no longer citizens merely of this world, but we await the full realization of the Heavenly world to come (Rom. 8:17-25; cf. Phil 3:20-21).

In light of our adoption, though we formerly walked as those who loved the world, with the desires of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jo. 2:15-17), we no longer love the world in this way because the world is passing away and we desire to do the will of our Heavenly Father (1 Jo. 2:17). In fact, because we are heirs with Christ and take upon ourselves a family resemblance, knowing that one day we shall like Him, we also purify ourselves as He is pure from worldly and sinful influences in our lives (1 Jo. 3:2-3; cf. Titus 2:11-14). We know as adopted children that the Spirit has sealed us unto the Day of Redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22), and we also have the Holy Spirit who testifies and witnesses with our spirits that we are sons of God (Rom. 8:15, 25-26). This is the glorious Spirit who even intercedes for us to help us in our prayers and our relationship with God! Though we have these glorious blessings now, we suffer in Christ, and we await the full realization and revelation of our adoption as sons that is the resurrection and glorification of our bodies (Rom. 8:17-25). This is the hope we do not see, but we wait for it patiently, and so our future is glorious and brings great joy and peace to us now.

As adopted sons in Christ we know that we possess the encouraging word of our Heavenly Father through our labors: “Well down my good and faithful servant” (cf. Heb. 6:10-12). We know that we have in our union with Christ the Father’s blessed affirmation saying: “This is my Beloved…with whom I am well pleased.” This should change how we view ourselves, and make us as believers—and children of God—to want to live faithfully pleasing God as our kind king and father (2 Cor. 5:9). We are part of a new family in Christ and as the Lord Jesus taught, we are to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 15:9-16). In fact, as the Father has loved Christ, so Christ has loved His own in this same way and this is the motivation for doing His commandments with eager joy (John 15:12ff). The Apostle John writes in 1 John 3-4 that one cannot hate his brother and be a true Christian. In fact, we cannot say we love God whom we haven’t seen if we don’t love our brother who we do see (1 Jo. 3:11-18). And so, in our new family, adopted as children of God, we are to “not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 Jo. 3:18). Love will characterize the children of God as we love one another (1 Jo. 4:7-21). We love because He first loved us (1 Jo. 4:19). Let us rejoice, and live as God’s beloved children!

 

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

 

From Your Pastor: The Benefits of Effectual Calling (WSC Question 32)

Question 32: What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

Answer: They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification,(1) adoption,(2) and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.(3) (1)Rom. 8:30 (2)Eph. 1:5 (3)1 Cor. 1:26,30

 

Scripture Memory: “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

 

An Explanation: Glorious benefits are found in Christ Jesus! Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth: “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16-17). Jesus is a Storehouse of benefits and blessings for the believer! Jesus is the True Treasury of God’s riches. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Pet. 1:3a). “…To reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2b-3).

Although we are impoverished by nature, Jesus is rich! Although we are weak, Jesus gives strength! Although we are sinful, Jesus grants grace, abundant, wonderful grace for every need! “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.…Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Eph. 1:15-23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 5:6-8, 5:15, 20).

When the Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ in our effectual calling, we are recipients of great and glorious blessings and benefits! What are the blessings and benefits of union with Christ which in this life either accompany or flow from them? Specifically, justification, adoption, and sanctification! Hallelujah, to the Lamb!

Justification: God legally declares us as righteous in Christ, imputing our sins to Christ, and imputing Christ’s righteousness to believers by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:5, 8, 11-12, 16). There is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). We are declared righteous by Christ’s blood (Rom. 3:24-26). Our consciences no longer condemn us (1 Jo. 3:20). We are reconciled to God, and we have peace in our union with Jesus (Rom. 5:1). We have confidence for the day of judgement because of God’s love for us in Christ (1 Jo. 4:17-18).

What a benefit to know that God has legally declared you righteous in Christ—there is no condemnation, no judgment awaiting you! We will face the Judgment Seat of Christ clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and though our every word, thought and action has been tainted with sin, the Lamb without blemish has loved us and given Himself for us! (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are spotless in Him! We can rejoice with the Psalmist: “…Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Adoption: God legally declares us righteous before Him, but also (very importantly!) legally adopts us into His family, giving us His name, granting us privileges of children, and granting us a rich and eternal inheritance in Him, and with Him (The Westminster Confession was the first confession of faith to formally make the proper biblical distinction between justification and adoption). Our adoption is because of the Father’s love from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), it is because of the Son’s redemptive work in willingly coming as our big brother to redeem us and to obtain for us the Spirit of Sonship (Gal. 4:4-7), and it is the Spirit’s work to seal and further reveal this reality to our hearts (Rom. 8:15-16, 26; cf. Eph. 3:16-19).

We are called heirs of God, and His dearly and beloved children. “What manner of love has God the Father bestowed upon us that we are called the children of God, and that is what we are!” (1 Jo. 3:1-2). We can call on God as our Father: “Abba, Father!” because we have received the Spirit of Sonship (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). We are heirs of all that is His! We have a big brother who gave Himself for our redemption so that we could take on a family resemblance (Heb. 2:11-18). What joy should characterize us as God’s children, because one day we will be like Him fully (1 Jo. 3:2-3; Rom. 8:23).

Sanctification: We are resurrected by the Spirit and set free from slavery to sin and self to live the life that God has created us to live: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:5, 11, 14). We are free from our sins so that we can live for Him: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

We are given a faith in our effectual calling that is a working faith that seeks to work through love (Gal. 5:6). In fact, we are created in Christ for good works: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10; 2 Thess. 2:13).

 

A Prayer: What manner of love is this that I should be called a child of God, dear Abba, Heavenly Father!! Thank you, kind king for your amazing love and benefits for sinners in Christ! Thank you for the Spirit of Sonship that makes my life joyous in Christ, and helps me to live for you, and to be like my elder brother, the Lord Jesus! You love me, let me be controlled by that love, kind king! (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs