Knowing We are Dearly Loved Children of God

If you did a web search for the phrase “a new you,” you would find all sorts of interesting results. You would find anti-aging treatments. You would find opportunities for cosmetic surgery, body slimming, or laser hair removal. You would find self-help gurus and inspirational speakers offering solutions to your problems. You would even find car dealers and clothing shops offering you a much-needed new look.

How many of us have not at some point wanted a new look, a new identity, or a new persona? Now, listen to these words of the Apostle John from 1 John 3:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)

Who are we, according to John, here? We are children of God.

That new identity begins with the outpouring of God’s love upon us through Jesus Christ.

What is God’s love like? John tells us, first of all, that God’s love is “great,” a Greek word which conveys astonishment and wonder. God’s love is shocking—amazing—it has a greatness that surpasses our understanding.

Second, John tells us God’s love is “lavished on us.” We may not use the word “lavish” very often, but it conveys an extravagant generosity. It’s the word we use to describe an over-the-top gift someone gives us. God’s love is a great, gift-love. That shocking gift-love is at the very center of our lives through Jesus Christ. It establishes who we are. It determines our identity.

So much of our lives is spent trying to feel significant; to feel like we’re “someone.” We seek that through the love or attention of others, through our accomplishments, through standing out from the crowd in some way. But here, we are told that the limitless love of God is generously and shockingly poured into our lives. It’s not something we have to search for all our lives, it’s something that is readily available and given to us through Jesus Christ.

Settle into that for a moment. The God of the universe, who created us, loves us lavishly, shockingly, and personally.

How powerful it is to know that we are God’s children. I can’t help but think of the way Paul describes this reality in Romans 8:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

Today, take some time to rest in the truth that through faith in Jesus Christ we are God’s children, dearly loved and held in the divine embrace by our Abba Father no matter what comes.

The Transcendent Gift of Adoption in Christ

Blue sky sunshine

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 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. (Romans 8:14-17)

Thank You, Father, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit which we have received through faith in Christ. I could not buy or earn this favor, but must receive it from You as a presented gift. I do not take it lightly. Thank You that the Holy Spirit makes us children, not slaves, and brings us boldly and lovingly into Your family. We can call out, “Abba, Father!”, by the Spirit and know that we belong and will be heard.

What dramatic sort of gift is this, Lord? How could it be that any who come by faith through Christ might receive the immeasurable gifts of belonging, sonship, and being able to call on You? All of these gifts are beyond value. Many things that we live our lives for and strive endlessly after still outpace our wild grasping or earning, but here with You it is sheer attainable gift! What else can we say but “thank You”? Thank You for the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit who speaks of our adoption, confirming within what we are told is true through Your Word. Thank You that we are heirs of Your full kingdom as we become children—even co-heirs with Christ—as we share in both the suffering and the glory of discipleship. As Peter writes, this is “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade…kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Thank You!

And so, Father, with never-ending praise and gratitude we step into this day as children of God, heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ, those who have received the Spirit, and we yield and surrender ourselves to You again. Let us enter into the fellowship of Your suffering that we might also enter into the fellowship of Your glory. Let us deny ourselves that we might find You, and also find ourselves in the journey. Today, Lord, we are Yours.

The Mystery of Prayer to a Sovereign God, part 1 [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_BannerThe Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

One pervasive problem of prayer is how our prayers relate to the sovereignty of God. If God is all-knowing and rules over all the cosmos, then why should we pray and what effect do our prayers have upon God and the universe? Over the next few days, we will explore this important challenge of prayer.

The starting point for this reflection is our firm belief that God is both the Creator of all the earth (Genesis 1-2) and the King over all the earth (Psalm 29:10). The cosmos has its origin in God and is sustained by God (Psalm 24:1-2; Colossians 1:17).  There is nothing that is hidden from God because God knows all things (Psalm 147:5; Hebrews 4:13).

If this is true, then why should we pray? The first way to answer this question derives from our relationship with God. We pray to the Sovereign God because He wants us to enter into relationship with Him. The entire Bible testifies to this, especially the great covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Furthermore, the very reason Jesus came as incarnate Messiah was “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) in order to reconcile us to God (Romans 5:10).

Reconciliation is all about restoration of relationship. Our relationship with God is established through Jesus Christ and infused with vibrant interactivity by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).

It is in prayer that we communicate with God, both establishing and strengthening our relationship. As John Piper writes, “Prayer is the nerve center of our vital fellowship with Jesus.”[1] Like two friends who grow in relationship by talking over a meal, or two spouses who communicate over great distances through phone calls, our prayer life with the sovereign God breathes life into the relationship we have with God the Father through Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit –
  the Sovereign, Triune God –
thank You for reaching me
  when I was lost in the dark territory of sin.
Before I ever gave a thought to You,
  You thought of me and rescued me.
I thank You and praise You.
  I worship You and offer my life to You.
Grant me the gift of knowing You more
  as I learn how to pray to You, my good God.


[1] John Piper, Desiring God (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1986), 145.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

I Am More Than My Image

With our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?”, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about finding our identity in God.

This past weekend, in my message “I Am More Than My Image,” I spoke to the ways in which we are  tempted to live according to false images of ourselves instead of living into the image of God and the restoration of that in Jesus Christ.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »