Earlier this week I made a post quoting from J. I. Packer regarding the doctrine of adoption and the way we are loved by God as sons because of being in Christ through faith.
God receives us as sons, and loves us with the same steadfast affection with which he eternally loves his beloved only-begotten. There are no distinctions of affection in the divine family. We are all loved just as fully as Jesus is loved. It is like a fairy story–the reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them. But, praise God, it is not a fairy story: it is hard and solid fact, founded on the bedrock of free and sovereign grace. This, and nothing less than this, is what adoption means. No wonder John cries, “Behold what manner of love!” When once you understand adoption, your heart will cry the same (Knowing God, IVP, 1993, p. 216).
This morning in our Oxford Club for men we raised the question as to whether or not Dr. Packer might overstate the case a bit when he writes, There are no distinctions of affection in the divine family. Is there no difference at all between the affection shared by the Father and His Son within the Godhead in comparison with the affection we enjoy as sons through adoption?
John Frame speaks to the question in his book Salvation Belongs to the Lord:
Jesus Himself is the Son of God . . . . He has a unique sonship, a relation to God that we cannot attain. His sonship is higher than ours, and it is the source of ours, for it is only those who receive Christ (John 1:12) who gain the authority to be sons of God. In John 20:17 Jesus distinguishes his sonship from ours when he says to Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Jesus never describes God as “our” Father in a way that equalizes the relationship between Jesus’ sonship and ours. Nevertheless, we are sons of God because God sees us in Christ, in his beloved Son. So, we share the blessings that the Father gives to his unique Son, Jesus (P&R, 2006, p. 206).
Of course this clarification takes nothing away from the astounding truth that God loves us as sons through the association we share with Jesus, our Brother. But it does help to recalibrate our thinking to remember the ultimately unique and ultimate sonship of the second person of the Trinity in relation to the first.
The recalibration notwithstanding, the immedidate message to our hearts from a consideration of adoption, as Dr. Packer reminds us (and I doubt Dr. Frame would disagree) remains the same. I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too (p. 228).
May we preach this message to our hearts every day and multiple times throughout the day until we finally go home to our reward and inherit the fullness of all our adoption secures for us in Christ Jesus. Then we will no longer need to preach these truths to our hearts for then we shall see Him as He and be like Him. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.
Thanks for taking the time to research what Frame had to say on this “hard” saying. This “recalibration” from Frame does provide context for Packers statements making them easier to understand. Great another great Oxford Club meeting – God is good!
You are welcome, sir! What a privilege to study, pray, and fellowship together as men.