THE ELECT ARE NOT ‘MADE’ CHILDREN BY THE NEW BIRTH, BUT ARE GOD’S CHILDREN LONG BEFORE CHRIST DIED FOR THEM.
Believers have “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father”: they have received that unspeakable Gift which attests and makes known to them their adoption by God. Before the foundation of the world God predestined them “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself’ (Eph. 1:5). But more-the elect were not only predestined UNTO the adoption of children-to actually and openly enjoy this inestimable favor in time-but this blessing was itself provided and bestowed upon them in the Everlasting Covenant of grace, in which they not only had promise of this relationship, but were given in that Covenant to Christ under that very character. Therefore does the Lord Jesus say, “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me” (Heb. 2:13).
It is to be carefully noted that God’s elect are spoken of as “children” PREVIOUS to the Holy Spirit’s being sent into their hearts: “Because ye ARE sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:6). They are not, then, made children by the new birth. They were “children” before Christ died for them: “he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one THE CHILDREN of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11:51, 52). They were not, then, made children by what Christ did for them. Yea, they were “children” before the Lord Jesus became incarnate: “Forasmuch then as THE CHILDREN are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same” (Heb. 2:14). Thus it is a great mistake to confound adoption and regeneration: they are two distinct things; the latter being both the effect and evidence of the former. Adoption was by an act of God’s will in eternity-regeneration is by the work of His grace in time.
Had there been no adoption, there would be no regeneration: yet the former is not complete without the latter. By adoption the elect were put into THE RELATION of children; by regeneration they are given a NATURE suited to that relation. So high is the honor of being taken into the family of God, and so wondrous is the privilege of having God for our Father, that some extraordinary benefit is needed by us to assure our hearts of the same. This we have when we receive the Spirit of adoption. For God to give us His Spirit is far more than if He had given us all the world, for the latter would be something outside Himself, whereas the former is Himself! The death of Christ on the Cross was a demonstration of God’s love for His people, yet that was done without them; but in connection with what we are now considering, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).
Wondrous and blessed fact that, God manifests His love to the members of His Church in precisely the same way that He evidenced His love unto its Head when He became incarnate, namely, by the transcendent gift of His Spirit. The Spirit came upon Jesus Christ as the proof of God’s love to Him and also as the visible demonstration of His Sonship. The Spirit of God descended like a dove and abode upon Him, and then the Father’s voice was heard saying, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”- compare John 3:34, 35. In fulfillment of Christ’s prayer, “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be IN THEM” (John 17:26) the Spirit is given to His redeemed, to signify the sameness of the Father’s love unto His Son and unto His sons. Thus, the inhabitation of the Spirit in the Christian is both the surest sign of God’s fatherly love and the proof of His adoption.