We begin a grand adventure with God at our new birth in Christ. But, like Nicodemus, I found that I really did not understand this new birth thing. It was adoption, and Paul’s explanation of it, that helped bring the truth home to my heart.
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if we are children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Rom. 8:14-17 (ESV)
We are fellow heirs with Christ! As God’s children, we both suffer with Him, and receive an inheritance of glory with Him. Being a member of any family will bring with it shared hardship and blessing. Families hang together through both. For Christians, adoption is a wonderful, tangible, picture of what God has done, and is doing, for us.
When our adoption was “final” less than 7 months after that first wonderfully dangerous prayer, our children received new birth certificates. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was astonished to see my name on them. According to the powers that be, it was just as if I was the one that had given birth to them, not on the date of the adoption, but on the date of their birth, now made new. In official eyes, adoption was a retroactive commitment. It is like these children had a birthing redo with a different father, and a different mother - me. Now, understandably, they didn’t immediately FEEL that way, or ACT that way, but it was still the legal reality. These four new children now had every legal right and inheritance, that our “old” or original children had. All eight of my children were fellow heirs. Forever. They would all enjoy every advantage, and disadvantage, of being my child.
As Christians, as daughters of God, we have been given a new birth certificate as well. God has chosen us to be part of His family. Though we are daughters, we need to not miss the fact that our inheritance, in Paul’s first century context, is as a son. Daughters didn’t get anything in that world, but the sons inherited all that was the Fathers. As God’s daughters, we get a full son’s inheritance. God has committed Himself to making a place for us in His heavenly mansion. He has adopted us, and His intention is for it to be for keeps. It is so important that we understand the full implications of adoption. We are God’s heir, co-heir with Christ, – in both suffering and glory! The suffering part is but a vapor, but the glory…. the glory is now, and for all eternity.
What I wasn’t, now I am. My identity in Christ is the reality, and finality, of adoption by my Father, whether it always feels real to me or not.
Down Victory Road
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57