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Epistle to the Romans 8: 14-17 (NIV)
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.
The Apostle Paul’s references in these verses to “the children of God” and “heirs of God” reminds me of Jesus’ parable which we refer to as “The Parable of the Lost Son” or “The Parable of the Forgiving Father” (Luke 15: 11-32). The parable introduces to us two sons, both children of the same father. The younger son chose not to remain in the family but took his share of the estate and went off on his own wilful way.
All people whom God created are his children. Not all choose to remain in his family. Some are aware that God is referred to as their Father but reject their status, their son-ship or daughter-ship and, like the younger son in the parable, go off to lead an independent life. Others, sadly, are not even aware that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is their God too.
The children of God who know him as their Heavenly Father, which is what Jesus taught and what Paul repeated in verse 15, are those led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit which we have received has brought about our adoption into God’s intimate family as willing adoptees, grateful to be home with “Abba, Father”. Even as we call him “Father”, it is our spirit testifying with the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children, that we know we are God’s children and that we want forever to be God’s children.
That makes us heirs – heirs now and heirs into eternity. We are already in his kingdom on earth – with all the struggle that entails – and we are heirs of that heavenly kingdom to which we aspire with the confidence that can only come from the Holy Spirit’s leading within us.
As adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father we owe him complete obedience. To give him this obedience should be for us a source of fulfilment and joy. This distinguishes us from the older brother in the parable referenced above, whose obedience was resentful and whose demeanour was not characterised by joy. Secure in the knowledge of our status as heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, we welcome into God’s kingdom all those who, like the younger son in the parable, in complete repentance return to him.