Saturday, June 5, 2010
No doubt does God multiple things the moment he saves us. Two of them, regeneration and adoption, have intrigued me as of late, mainly because, to the human mind, you are either born into your family or you are adopted into your family. You aren’t both, though. Yet, in God’s realm, we are both born again and adopted into the same family. How do both happen?
Being born again and being adopted are two things that do occur, but they involve a different emphasis. Regeneration (i.e., being born again) is about the spiritual life God births in us – His own! Adoption is about the spiritual family God places us in – His own! God does both fully and solely, yet with different ends in mind. We are his, inside and out.
Think about it like this – when you were conceived physically, you came into existence and, though not seen, were alive. But when you were delivered physically and then brought home, you were then visibly part of a family. I realize that, even in your mother’s womb, you were part of your family. But it wasn’t quite the same as when your parents brought you home and suddenly everything changed (and I mean everything)! Up to that point you were, practically, more part of your mother than you were the family. But after your delivery, well, everyone knew you had arrived. Your birth was now a family affair.
That analogy, though a loose one, is some idea of what is going on spiritually in regards to regeneration and adoption. And from a divine angle, these events happen in incalculable nano-seconds of time, so it is difficult to really think of them in sequential order. But most technically, theologically, and biblically, this is how it occurs. God births life within us and then, after conversion, adopts us – delivers us -- into his family with our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ (John 1:12).
The same idea can also be seen when looking at two other aspects of God’s marvelous salvation – justification and reconciliation. Justification is about the legal standing God grants me – righteous! Reconciliation is the about relational result God secures me for me – peace! Both occur, but have a different emphasis.
Ah, the multifaceted diamond of salvation! From regeneration to adoption to sanctification, it is a gem worth viewing for a lifetime!
Friday, June 4, 2010
Paul’s message of reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5:18-21 contains at least three other elements that accompany reconciliation. These are elements of God's peace process with us that was started in the Gospel.
1. Adoption [“reconciled the world to himself”] In adoption, God claims us! He sought us for himself and brought us to himself through the death of his son, Jesus. And when he did, he made all who believe his children (John 1:12). That’s adoption! Also, keep in mind that reconciliation is a relational word, so think "family." Think "friend." The heartbeat of adoption is that we are no longer under a judge's wrath, but instead a Father's care. Check out Gal 4:4-7 for further insight about adoption.
Of course, you may be wondering how we can be "born again" while at the same time be "adopted." Good question! The answer? That’ll be in the next post!
Additionally, here are some Web sites for those who want to model spiritual adoption by physically adopting: http://www.therainingseason.org/, http://www.hopechest.org/, http://www.showhope.org/, http://www.togetherforadoption.org/, http://empoweredtoconnect.org/, and http://www.4kidsofsfl.org/.
2. Forgiveness – [“not counting their trespasses against them”] In forgiveness, God pardons us! He puts our sins behind him and, because of the cross, considers us justified. We say with the Psalmist, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The Stiles paraphrase reads like this – it feels good to be forgiven! See Col. 2:13-15 for more forgiveness principles.
3. Ambassadorship – [“entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”] In ambassadorship, God sends us (and speaks through us)! We are his representatives in a hostile territory. So we pray, like Paul, that “words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20).
Did you know these three spiritual elements that accompany reconciliation also have corresponding physical actions that accentuate reconciliation? In other words, there are some things we can extend that indicate we have experienced reconciliation. Consider this: We extend adoption by rescuing children, we extend forgiveness by resolving conflict, and we extend ambassadorship by representing Christ. Indeed, living as someone adopted, forgiven, and sent by God is enough to enable us to love loudly and live boldly as a reconciled child of the Almighty.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Reconciliation is illustrated well by the story of Ruth Youngsman, who, at a Prison Fellowship banquet in Seattle, said these words: "The man I ate dinner with tonight killed my brother."
The words, spoken by the stylish west-coast woman, were how she introduced her incredible tale of reconciliation. She told how John H. had murdered her brother during a robbery, served 18 years at Walla Walla, then settled into life on a dairy farm, where, unbelievably and ironically, she met him in 1983, 20 years after his crime. Compelled by Christ’s command to forgive, Ruth Youngsman went to her enemy and pronounced forgiveness. Then she took him to her father’s deathbed, prompting reconciliation with the dad as well.
At that PF banquet, his voice cracked as he said, "Christians are the only people I know that you can kill their son, and they’ll make you a part of their family. I don’t know the Man Upstairs yet, but He sure is hounding me."
Ah, the message of reconciliation and the ministry of reconciliation.
Source: Albert Quie, President of Prison Fellowship Ministries, as taken from the publication Jubilee (p. 5)