The worship due our God for all eternity is certainly a worthy outcome of our adoption. But there is also a purpose in our adoption as sons that we can live out and give expression to while we live here on earth.
A. DESTINED FOR RELATIONSHIP
The Scriptures reveal that mankind was originally created in the image of God (Gen 1:26,27). This includes the fact that mankind was made with the capacity for free will and choice. We are able to think, to feel, to reason, and to make intelligent decisions. We have emotions as well. These are all attributes that are necessary for having normal, healthy relationships.
Ultimately, mankind was made for the glory of God (Rev 4:11). But how was man to bring that glory to God? Was that to be accomplished through the complexity of our design? Or through our intelligence or creativity? Those are all wonderful characteristics God has given us. But they alone do not reveal God’s true purpose in creating humanity in His image.
Or perhaps man was to bring glory to God through his service. But did God need more servants? If so, then why wouldn’t God simply make more angels? They are stronger, swifter, and without many of our human, fleshly limitations. Certainly mankind has the capacity to serve. But once again, this is not why we are made in the image of God.
SIN DESTROYS RELATIONSHIP
Several Bible passages that we have already studied give us insight into why God created man in His likeness. We read that God chose us in Christ and predestined us to adoption “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4). In other words, God in eternity past chose to create us in His image in order that we would be His sons.
God chose to create us the way He did in order that we might have a loving relationship with Him as our heavenly Father! We were originally intended to walk and talk with God face to face, as Adam did in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2). You and I were created for relationship – a personal, loving and close relationship with our Creator.
Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to violate that relationship through disobedience and rebellion against God’s commands. Thus sin entered our world and began its cruel work upon and within God’s creation. Sin always destroys relationships – in marriage, in friendships, in families – but especially between us and a perfect and holy God.
OUR CLEARLY DESIGNED DESTINY
Sin and its consequence of death threatened to ruin God’s plans for His creation. But God very quickly set in motion His redemptive plan (Gen 3:15). Though it would take centuries to completely unfold, it was perfect in its design and timing.
At just the right moment in history – after the Law had been used as a tutor to reveal to mankind his desperate need for God (Gal 3:23-25) – God sent His Son to take upon Himself the death penalty for all the sins of mankind (John 3:16). This perfect and unblemished Lamb became the sacrifice for all (Isa 53; 2Cor 5:15; 1Pet 1:18-21). Then Jesus Christ rose from the dead to reign forevermore as our Living Lord and Savior!
All those who believe in and receive Jesus, the Living Savior, have their sins forgiven. Because the sins of the repentant sinner are removed from him as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12), there is no longer the separation caused by sin between the sinner and his Creator God.
Thus the sinner is made an adopted son and is restored to what God originally intended – to have a personal relationship with Him as the heavenly Father. That is God’s clearly designed destiny for every person – and that is why we must carry this Gospel message into all the world!
PASTOR TO PASTOR
Pastors, our busy lives and ministries can often lead to the neglect of our personal relationship with God. Our “first love” (Rev 2:4) becomes the work of ministry, or perhaps something else. All of our time and effort is devoted to things other than our relationship with the Lord.
None of us intends to neglect God. But slowly, as our ministry grows and our lives become full, we find ourselves spending less and less time with the Lord. Our prayer life becomes focused on asking for things we want, blessings for us or anointing to do well, instead of just sitting at the feet of our Savior to be with Him. We study God’s Word only to get a good sermon, rather than to simply commune with Him and feed ourselves spiritually.
Many pastors fall into this trap. It is no wonder that they begin to “burn out”, asking: “Why do I feel so dry spiritually? Where is my sense of call and vision? Why does Jesus seem so far away? Where is God in my life? Why does ministry feel like an outward performance, and not something vital and alive that is coming from my heart?”
Do any of those questions sound familiar to you? Each of us must be careful to protect and actively strengthen our relationship with God, and grow in that relationship. Without fresh, daily communion with Him and fresh manna from His Word, we will quickly become weakened spiritually. When we are weak, we are much easier targets for demonic attacks. We then have less strength to resist and overcome our flesh (Rom 13:14; Gal 5:16; Eph 4:27; 6:10-18). Inevitably, compromise and failure will soon follow.
But most tragic will be the loss of the close relationship with God for which you were created. He longs for you (Jas 4:5), and you desperately need Him. There is no other relationship or activity in this life that is more important than walking and talking with your Heavenly Father every day! This is true for you, and also for those whom you lead.
OUR DOOR OF ACCESS
Mankind was created for relationship with our Creator, God our Father. When sin destroyed that possibility, God sent His Son to take the death penalty for our sin. Jesus’ sacrifice for us reopened the door to God that sin had closed.
The Temple worship of Jesus’ day included a secluded place, the holy of holies. Only the high priest could enter there to speak to God on behalf of the people (Heb 9:6-9). It was covered by a large, thick tapestry known as the veil.
The Bible reveals that when Jesus died, the veil in the Temple that covered the holy of holies was supernaturally torn in two (Mark 15:38). The splitting open of this heavy, woven veil from top to bottom signifies to us that through Christ’s death, a door of access had been opened by God between Himself and all of mankind once again!
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom 5:10). The word “reconcile” means to change, re-establish or restore a relationship. Again we see that Christ’s sacrificial work established the possibility of our reconciliation to God.
This reconciliation is available to any person who believes on Christ for salvation (Eph 2:8-13; Rom 10:13). A close relationship with God is possible for any believer in Christ. But this reconciliation also provides a second important purpose.
B. DESTINED TO BE AMBASSADORS
As adopted sons of God, we have been sovereignly placed by God the Father into the mature position of sonship. We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).
This tremendous position of privilege also brings with it tremendous responsibilities. One of the prime responsibilities for every believer while on the earth is to reveal the Gospel – the eternal salvation and restored relationship to God that is available only through faith in Christ.
Every believer has the command and the privilege to tell others what God, through Christ, has done for them. It makes no difference the age, gender, calling or spiritual maturity – it is the responsibility of every Christian to tell others about Jesus!
Paul the apostle explained it this way to the church in Corinth, and for us today: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2Cor 5:18-20).
Every one of us is to be an ambassador for Christ. Our adoption requires far more of us than to just sit and rejoice in our own salvation and position as a son. We have a mission from our heavenly Father. That mission is to implore others to be reconciled to God, and to tell them how that is done – only by salvation through Jesus Christ.
This mission is Jesus’ final command to all of His followers: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matt 28:18-20; see also Mark 16:15).
Paul the apostle dedicated his life to this great purpose (1Cor 9:19-27; Col 1:24-29), as have countless other believers through the ages. And we today must do no less!
OUR FATHER’S WILL
Our greatest privilege and joy as God’s adopted sons is to reveal the love of God that is available through Jesus Christ to others. Our message includes: “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2Pet 3:9); “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13); and, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God told His first created son, Adam, to “be fruitful and multiply” and to be a steward of all that God had given him to care for (Gen 1:26-28; 2:8,15). God’s will for us is very similar, but now has this added dimension: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples… You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:8,16).
The “fruit” that we are to bear and that is eternal in nature is the fruit of people – those who are brought to salvation through Christ. We are to multiply the sons that are restored to God through salvation. We cannot save anyone by our own power. But we are given the message of salvation, and God gives us the power of the Spirit to deliver it with boldness! He will confirm the Gospel with signs and wonders following (Mark 16:17,18; 1Thess 1:5).
We are the adopted sons who are also called to be preachers of the Gospel (Rom 10:14,15). It is our Father’s will that every born-again person faithfully share the Good News of salvation through Christ with any person who will listen.
We must study the Word of God, and prepare to answer the questions that unbelievers might have (2Tim 4:1-5; 1Pet 3:14-17). We must also love and serve those who are needy in Christ’s name, showing very practically how much God loves people. These are all ways of sharing the Gospel, the Good News of God’s love and salvation in Christ.
As God’s adopted sons, we are given the privilege and responsibility to fulfill our heavenly Father’s will. This does not earn for us our adoption, prove our worthiness to receive it, or make God love us more than He already does (Luke 17:10; Rom 5:1-10; 1John 3:1-3).
We do not serve our Father in order to gain the privilege or position of sonship; that is already ours in Christ. But we serve because we are accepted as His sons. We are not sons because we serve; we serve because we are sons!