Puritan John Owen penned an unforgettable statement about God’s love:
“The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him, is not to believe that he loves you.”¹
Stop for a moment and reflect on that sentence—it could change your life.
Now, let me ask you three questions: Do you believe in God’s personal and passionate love for you? Are you delighting in God’s unconditional love? Or have you laid a sorrow and burden upon your adopted Father by questioning his love for you or refusing to believe that he loves you?
If you are uncertain of God’s love for you—or simply unfamiliar with the gift of adoption—I want to encourage you to restrict your spiritual diet for a season so that you might experience the greatness of God’s love. This is more than an academic exercise; this study is a means to experiencing God’s affection, closeness, and generosity as Father. Immerse yourself in an extended study of this topic, this passage (Galatians 4:1–7), and other passages on this topic.
Allow a godly scholar to hold your hand as you study, explore, and experience this topic. I would recommend three resources, ordered from the easiest to read to the most technical:
- J.I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP, 1993), 316 pgs. Especially note chapter 19: “Sons of God.”
- Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God (Banner of Truth, 1989), 144 pgs. Especially note his chapter: “Delighting in the Father’s Love.”
- Trevor J. Burke, Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor (IVP Academic, 2006), 233 pgs.
Why devote so much time to studying the doctrine of adoption? For fresh motivation I close with words from J.I. Packer:
If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.…Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.²
This post is part of a series of posts exploring and celebrating the adopting love of God, entitled Adopted.