“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1
IT is not strange that the fact of his adoption should meet with much misgiving in the Christian’s mind, seeing that it is a truth so spiritual, flows from a source so concealed, and has its seat in the profound recesses of the soul. The very stupendousness of the relationship staggers our belief. To be fully assured of our divine adoption demands other than the testimony either of our own feelings, or the opinion of men.
Our feelings—sometimes excited and visionary—may mislead; the opinion of others—often fond and partial—may deceive us. The grand, the divine, and only safe testimony is “the Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit.” There exists a strong combination of evil, tending to shake the Christian’s confidence in the belief of his sonship.
Satan is ever on the watch to insinuate the doubt. He tried the experiment with our Lord: “If You be the Son of God.” In no instance would it appear that he actually denied the truth of Christ’s Divine Sonship; the utmost that his temerity permitted was the suggestion to the mind of a doubt; leaving it there to its own working. Our blessed Lord thus assailed, it is no marvel that His disciples should be exposed to a like assault.
The world, too, presumes to call it in question. “The world knows us not, because it knew Him not.” Ignorant of the Divine Original, how can it recognize the Divine lineaments in the faint and imperfect copy? It has no vocabulary by which it can decipher the “new name written in the white stone.” The sons of God are in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, illumining it with their light, and preserving it by their grace, yet disguised from its knowledge, and hidden from its view.
But the strongest doubts touching the validity of his adoption are those engender in the believer’s own mind. Oh! there is much there to generate and foster the painful misgiving. We have said that the very greatness of the favor, the stupendousness of the relationship, startles the mind, and staggers our faith. “What! to be a child of God! God my Father! can I be the subject of a change so great, of a relationship so exalted? Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You should exalt me to be a King’s son? Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?”
And then, there crowd upon the believer’s mind thoughts of his own sinfulness and unworthiness of so distinguished a blessing. “Can it be? with such a depravity of heart, such carnality of mind, such rebellion of will, such a propensity to evil each moment, and in everything such backslidings and flaws, does there yet exist within me a nature that links me with the Divine? It seems impossible!”
And when to all this are added the varied dispensations of his Heavenly Father, often wearing a rough garb, assuming an aspect somber, threatening, and crushing, oh, it is no marvel that, staggered by a discipline so severe, the fact of God’s love to him, and of his close and tender relation to God, should sometimes be a matter of painful doubt; that thus he should reason—”If His child, reposing in His heart, and sealed upon His arm, why is it thus? Would He not have spared me this heavy stroke? Would not this cup have passed my lips? Would He have asked me to slay my Isaac, to resign my Benjamin? All these things are against me.”
And thus are the children of God constantly tempted to question the fact of their adoption.