Romans 8:14-17 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
The Apostle speaks in this passage of the richest people on earth. The inheritance which he describes:-
- is the only inheritance really worth having. All others are unsatisfying and disappointing;
- is the only inheritance which is within everyone’s grasp
In order to have a part in this inheritance, you must have a part in God’s family.
1. The relation of all true Christians to God
The are ‘sons of God’. To be servants, subjects, soldiers, disciples, friends, of God are all excellent titles; but to be a son is more excellent still. See John 8:35.
To be a son of the rich and noble is often reckoned to be a great privilege. But to be a son of God is far better:- and it is the portion of every true Christian.
We look to our earthly fathers for affection, maintenance, provision and education. There is an open home. There is a love which even bad conduct does not lessen. How great then is the privilege of those who can say of God, “He is my Father”.
This sonship is not ours by nature, Eph 2:3. It is ours when we believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, Gal 3:26; John 1:12.
We do not deny God’s fatherhood over all mankind, Acts 17:28. But this is a limited sonship, and does not give a man a title to heaven.
We do not deny that God loves all mankind with pity and compassion, Psa 145:9. But he is a reconciled and pardoning Father to none but those who believe and trust in Christ.
This view is not narrow-minded or harsh: it sets an open door before every man, and its promises are wide and full. But the Scripture doe snot warrant us to believe that thr proud, the worldly, or the unbelieving have any part in Christ.
There is a school of theology, which talks much of liberality and love. Everything is right, and nothing is wrong. But it leads to hell:-
- facts are against it: the world contains ample evidence that God does punish sin;
- experience is against it: nothing to comforting in death, as real Christian faith; nothing so empty as religion without conversion;
- common justice is against it: every reasonable mind revolts against the idea that no final distinction is made between Pharoah and Moses, Abraham and the Sodomites, Paul and Nero, Peter and Judas Iscariot.
- the interests of holiness are against it: such a doctinre is subversive of all godly living; it removes one of the great motivations for Christian faith and life;
- the Bible is against it: this view throws away God’s word; it robs us of the bread of life, and does not give so much as a stone in its place.
Let every person then be sure that he is a child of God: that he has repented and believed, that he is experimentally acquainted with Christ, that he is united to him in heart.
2. The special evidences of the true Christians relation to God
The sons of God are led by his Spirit, Rom 8:14. They are no longer led by self, by sin.
They have the feelings of adopted sons toward their heavenly Father. They are delivered for a slavish fear of God; they are delivered fro their guilt; they no longer feel that there is a great gulf separating themselves from God. Their feelings bowards God are not those of peace and confidence. They draw near to him with boldness. They can speak to him with freedom.
They have the witness of the Spirit in their consciences. It is the indwelling Spirit who tells them that their relationship with God is real. It is he who imparts a felt, positive, reasonable hope. They have the ‘seal’ and the ‘earnest’ of the Spirit.
They take part in suffering with Christ. They have a cross to carry; they have trials, troubles and afflictions.
No man can suppose himself to be a son of God unless he has these marks of sonship. These mark may indeed vary in degree, but they must be present. Baptism, church membership, and the life, are quite insufficient by themselves.
3. The privileges of the true Christ’s relationship to God
Our prospects are glorious. We are heirs: something is prepared for us which is yet to be revealed. We are ‘heirs of God’ – better far than to heirs of any earthly king. We are joint hears with Christ – we will share in his majesty, and take part in ihs glory.
This is for all God’s children.
We can scarcely begin to comprehend the nature and scope of the riches of this inheritance, 1 Jn 3:2. The Bible only lifts a corner of the veil. It often employs language to dscribe the absence of certain things, leaving the picture of what is present unpainted: no fading, no withering, no devil, no curse of sin, no sorrow, no tearts, no sickness, no death (1 Pet 1:4; 5:4; Rev 20:2; 21:25; 22:3; 20:14; 21:4; Isa 33:24).
But there are positive things too: perfect knowledge, 1 Cor 13:12; perfect holiness, Eph 5:27; perfect rest, Heb 4:9; perfect service, Rev 7:15; perfect satisfaction, Psa 17:15; perfect communion with the saints, Psa 16:3; Mt 24:31; perfect communion with Christ, 1 Thess 4:17.
Whose son are you? If you are not a son of God, become one straight away. If you are a child of God, labout to feel and behave like one.
Based on J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion, ch. 18.