A lot takes place the moment our trust and confidence rests in Jesus Christ. Saying, “He saved me” does not capture the half of what has just occurred. Part of the greatness of our salvation is demonstrated by God bringing the sinner into His “courthouse.” The man starts at the far end of the hallway in criminal court. It is there that the Lord forgives him of all his sin and declares him to be righteous. The repentant sinner is declared innocent of all the laws he has or ever will break, and not only that, he is also seen to be in full compliance with God’s holy standard. The amazing truth in this is that the words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” now also applies to the one in Christ. As Isaiah records it: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10 ESV).
However, it does not stop here. The newly justified sinner is immediately escorted down the hallway to God’s family court for a second legal ruling. In this courtroom, God adopts this new believer as His own son giving him a new identity and relationship which means full access to his Heavenly Father, and an immeasurable inheritance to be shared with his brother, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17; Hebrews 2:11).
If the Lord would have stopped short of what I am calling the family court ruling, the believer would still have an immeasurable and undeserved treasure. He has still received a priceless gift which he did not earn and this came through the unjust death of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sinner. The justified sinner would still be able to sing, along with all the other saints, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation …” (Revelation 5:9 ESV).
As we know, there is more to the story than just this. If you are a believer, you did make a trip down the hallway, and the God of the universe has adopted you as a son and has placed you into His family. God has done so much more than show some random act of kindness to His children. He is not like the billionaire who gives a boat-load of money to help poor Ethiopian orphans whom he never meets, never invites to his house, and certainly never incorporates into his family. God’s adoption of the sinner, therefore, is really the pinnacle of all His grace. He has truly demonstrated to His children the full meaning of loving kindness and mercy.
Michael Horton commenting on this act of God writes: “Adoption is not a goal held out to children who successfully imitate their parents; nor is it the result of an infusion of familial characteristics or genes. Rather, it is a change in legal status that issues in a relationship that is gradually reflected in the child’s identity, characteristics, and actions. From the courtroom, with the legal status and inheritance unalterably established, the child moves into the security of a growing and thriving future” (The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, 645).
All of this amazes the apostle John, as it should every saint. He wrote: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 ESV). God the Father has positioned His children in such a way that they are secure and destined by His pre-determined plan to grow up into the image of Jesus Christ—completely displaying the family likeness.
Appropriately and done so well, Stuart Townsend has captured these thoughts in his song “How Deep the Father’s Love.” May we the children of God be lead to worship and thanksgiving as we meditate on these thoughts.
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom