Fred Sanders is the man who said that Christians talk to God like they are Jesus Christ. I think he is right, but it has taken some labor to get there.
What Sanders is saying is what adoption means. And I have rarely believed in what adoption means.
Sometimes I do not really believe in adoption. It is as if I had a friend who had a cool, generous, and very wealthy Dad. He brings me into a relationship with his dad. They welcome me into the family. There are a lot of great benefits. But he is clearly a son to his dad and I am not.
Sometimes I get close: I had a friend who was adopted as a child. He was welcomed into the family, treated with respect, given gifts — but it was clear that he was not a full member of the family. That is sort of what I have thought adoption means.
But Scripture says God sent His Son into the world that we may be adopted as sons. God gave the Spirit of his Son to us that we may cry out, “Abba, Father.” Those are the words Jesus used to address his Father in the most agonizing moment of his life.
I now relate to God as Jesus relates to God because the Son of the Father shed his blood for me.
The scholar Jeremias has noted that no one called God “Father” until Jesus. And that Jesus called God “Father” every time he prayed but one. More than that, he spoke about his Father, trusted his Father, knew his Father’s eternal love, and obeyed his Father.
Sanders puts it like this:
Sonship was always within God, and it came to be on earth as it is in heaven, in the person of the incarnate Christ.
Eternal sonship becomes incarnate sonship and brings created sonship into being.
Come to find out, this is what many have believed before us. Take this quote from the Heidelberg Catechism. In answer to the question, “What do you mean when you say you believe in God the Father Almighty?”, we hear this: It means that . . .
. . . the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ His Son.
Did you catch that? Let me clip it out and make it terse:
. . . the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is my God and Father because of Christ His Son.
Ursinus, commenting on the Catechism elsewhere, is bold to say:
When I say, I believe in God, I mean, I believe that he is my God, that is, whatever he is and has is all for my salvation. Or, to believe God, speaking properly, is to believe a certain person to be God, according to all his attributes. To believe in God, is to be persuaded that he will make all things attributed to him subservient to my salvation, for the sake of his Son.
God is for us, because of Christ his Son. All that he is for Christ his Son he is for us.
If that is true, why do I worry? why do I fear? why do I, first things in the morning, prefer the company of email and twitter to his company?
Be bold. Believe all that Christ has won for you and given to you. Pray like it is true.