How do we become children of God?

How do we become children of God? 

I answer, first, by “eternal election;” and therefore we are called “a chosen generation,” 1 Pet. 2:9. 

2 By “pre-adoption“. And, because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” Gal. 4:6. 

3, By regeneration. God, who from everlasting willed our adoption in Christ, begets us by his word, under the prolific operations of his Spirit operating and working with it. “God of his own will begat us with the word of truth,” James, 1:18. 

The word comes to the elect, “not as the word of man,” 1 Thes. 2:15; “not in word only, but in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,” 1 Thess. 1:5. When this is the case, the word, under the operation of the Spirit, becomes a spiritual embryo; or, as Peter terms it, an incorruptible seed; “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, that lives and abides for ever,” 1 Peter, 1:23. 

Under the quickening influences of the word and Spirit the sinner is brought to a spiritual sense of his state; he feels the severity of the law, the terrors of God, and the fears of death. These generally entangle the quickened sinner more or less. The ever-blessed and glorious Trinity are jointly concerned in this work of quickening the sinner. 

God gave us life in Christ Jesus; 

Christ is the resurrection and the life; and the 

Holy Ghost appears the Spirit of life, and quickens us to feel our need of “the bread of God that came down from heaven;” as you see in the parable of the prodigal son, who cried out, “I perish with hunger,” and yet was convinced there was enough of the bread of life in his father’s house. Thus God gave us life in Christ Jesus, and the Spirit quickens us to feel the need of it, and in time leads us to feed on it. 

The word of God does not quicken unless the Spirit attend it. Some “hold the truth in righteousness,” and the gospel comes to some in word only; but when Jesus speaks to the sinner’s heart, the Spirit of God applies the word, and life and power are felt. “The words that I speak unto you are spirit, and they are life.” 

It is true the Psalmist says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me;” yet he owns the Spirit of God as the life of that word, as appears by his prayer, “Take not thy holy Spirit from me.” 

Under this powerful sensation the will is humbled, and sweetly inclined to choose the better part. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of my power.” Psalm 110:3. The soul longs for reconciliation with his offended God; and the word of God at times gives a little encouragement to faith and hope; but fresh discoveries of sin, attended with Satan’s temptations, encourage doubts, fears, and unbelief. Thus the soul labours between feeble faith and unbelief, languid hope and slavish fear. This is the travail of the soul that is quickened, and drawing near his delivery; as it is written, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but, as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man child is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice,” John, 16:21, 22. 

Under this spiritual travail the soul is kept in spiritual activity: every power is in motion after God, though it has such a burden of imaginary and real evils to wade through. “I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search,” Psal. 77:6. 

The world, with its trifles, is detested, and the one thing needful will be uppermost. The trouble of his mind crucifies him to popularity, and secret retirement best suits the frame of his heart: this keeps him from his old companions; the word of God becomes his hourly study and meditation; and a saving knowledge of God is the ultimate desire of his soul. “Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom,” Prov. 18:1. 

William Huntington

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