How did Father’s Day come to be a national holiday? Sonora Smart Dodd, 1909, Washington state, had the idea to honor her widowed father, a Civil War veteran, who had raised her and 5 other children. By way of a long and winding road, the 3rd Sunday in June became the official national day to recognize fathers in 1966 as a result of LBJ’s proclamation. The concept is certainly not without Biblical foundation; after all, the 5th command is “Honor your father and mother”.
Yet in our enthusiasm to honor our God-given earthly fathers and properly keep the 5th command, we must not minimize the significance of the 4th command – the command to keep the Sabbath or Lord’s Day is our reason for being here, gathered for corporate worship. Our love and honor for earthly fathers should point us to the one who defines, demonstrates and decrees the standard for proper fatherhood – God himself.
According to Stuart Olyott, retired Pastor of Belvidere Road Church, Liverpool, England, “All that makes the Christian religion distinct from other religions including Judaism is summed up in this highest privilege of the Gospel, adoption. It is in the context of sonship and the loving relationship between father and son that the believer should consider what it means to be a disciple or follower of Christ. It is not by following an endless list of rules but by behaving like a member of the family, imitating the Father that Christians please God.”
In our text we see these facets of the doctrine of adoption:
our relation to God as sons
our position as members of God’s family, and
our condition as heirs of an eternal treasure
A. Sons of God vv. 14-15
relation – close to the heart; see 1 John 3:1
intimate closeness, seen in the term of address: Abba – daddy or papa
draws attention to the individual and deeply personal (in contrast to the corporate) aspect of our relationship and that it is a simple gift of God’s love to those he makes his children
family likeness – see 1 John 3:2
Later in this very passage, in verse 29, Paul declares that the destiny of the believer is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. He makes a similar point in 1 Cor. 15:49 when he says that we shall “bear the image of the man in heaven”. In 2 Cor. 3:18 he teaches us that it is by “beholding the glory of the Lord” that we are transformed into the image of Christ.
“There is a third difference between human adoption and divine. Human adoption was introduced when there were no, or too few, natural sons. But divine adoption is not from any want but from abundant goodness, whereby a likeness of a natural son and mystical union is given to the adopted sons.” Thomas Ames, Marrow of Theology, 1623
B. Children of God vv. 16-17a
position – in the family
granted by God (not grasped at) – John 1:12-13
13 They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children. CEV
loves us 1 John 3:1
understands us Psalm 103:13-14
provides for us
in this life Matthew 7:9-11
throughout eternity 1 Peter 1:3-4
guides us Romans 8:14
disciplines us Hebrews 12:5-10
C. Heirs of God v. 17b
condition – sons, not servants; see Gal. 4:4-7
a spiritual inheritance – in the world yet transcending worldly things; see Eph. 1:3
the greatest inheritance of all – God
In order for the Christian gospel to be good news it must provide an all-satisfying and eternal gift that undeserving sinners can receive and enjoy. For that to be true, the gift must be three things. First, the gift must be purchased by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our sins must be covered, and the wrath of God against us must be removed, and Christ’s righteousness must be imputed to us. Second, the gift must be free and not earned. There would be no good news if we had to merit the gift of the gospel. Third, the gift must be God himself, above all his other gifts. John Piper, God Is the Gospel
God gave his Son as a ransom for us and a Savior to us; God gave his Spirit to help, comfort, instruct, assure and direct us; God gave himself to us as our Father, that we might enjoy him in his glory and fulness for ever. (John 17:21-23)
Why did the Father adopt us into his family, give us the right and privilege of calling him Father, and give us himself as our greatest treasure? So that we would love and desire him above all else, so that with the Psalmist, Asaph, we would say, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:24-26).
Are you still outside God’s family? Come to him in faith, throw yourself on his mercy, trust in Christ as your Savior and his righteousness as your merit.
Are you not sure if you have been adopted into God’s family? If it is your sincere desire to have assurance that you are indeed a true child of God, turn your attention to the one who established the relationship and call on him as your Father.
Are you struggling to desire God more than his good gifts? Spend time with him in prayer, reading his word, worshiping with his children your brothers and sisters. Make your way of thinking and living like the Apostle Paul’s as he expressed it in Philippians 3:7-12
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” NIV