Hope in Adversity: Children of God (Romans 8.12-17)

– Bishop Stephen Hale

One of the great thinkers/writers of the twentieth century passed away last week, J. I. Packer. He wrote Knowing God in 1993 and it had a huge impact. Packer put it this way, ‘you sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy father (p.224). This is the wonderful thought we have before us here in Romans 8.12 onwards.

If we are led by the Spirit of God, then it is a clear sign that we are children of God. We are children by adoption into God’s household and family. We move from being enslaved to sin, to being liberated into true freedom. Just imagine, we become God’s own children. God becomes our Father and we know we are his children. We get to address God directly and personally as ‘Abba Father.’ God is still great and almighty, yet he is also personal and approachable. This means that God is our Father and Jesus is our brother and we each are brothers and sisters together. We are members of a global, cross generational and cross-cultural family.

Our adoption is one of the many blessings of being in Christ. As adopted children the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. We know that God is personally present in us. We have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that what is promised is true for us.

Not only that, but we are heirs. This means that we have a heavenly inheritance, which starts today. We get to share in the family business today. We get to serve in God’s workforce and to be a part of the outworking his plans in people’s hearts and lives today. It means that all of our lives have purpose and meaning because they are caught up in our service of God. He chooses to do his work on earth through his earthly servants. This is far more than pie in the sky when you die, but meat on the plate while we wait. At times this will involve suffering and struggle. It isn’t easy to serve God in all of our lives. As Paul puts it, we share in his sufferings today, so that we may share in his glory down the track.

I hope you find these profound spiritual realities uplifting and exciting. Give thanks to God for being his child. Be grateful that God is your loving heavenly Father. Praise him for the future inheritance that you have entered into already. Ask him to help you to serve him well today.

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