Church Renewal is the process by which a person or church body experiences a new awareness of their sin and need for God’s grace; their privileges as ambassadors of the kingdom and as sons and daughters of God; a new appreciation for their place as they anticipate the kingdom of God coming and reaching that place; a new prayerfulness and passion to share the good news; holistic discipleship; a new curiosity to know God, the self, and the world; a new awareness to the missionary opportunity around them; a new joy and reverence in worship; a new personal commitment to the means of grace.
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7, ESV)
In my personal walk with the Lord I can remember a time thinking that God must have been really disappointed at having saved me. I was calvinistic in my thinking, and I knew that it was only by grace that I was saved. But since I'd prayed the "sinners prayer" as a child, at around 22 years old I was convinced that I'd been such a disappointment to God was there any point in trying anymore. Functionally, I knew I was saved by grace, but I was pretty sure my good works at best made me God's biggest disappoint and at worst would cast me out of the household of God.
It was at about this time in my spiritual understanding that I was exposed to the above passage of scripture and the doctrine of adoption. I wasn't the sloppy seconds of God's grace. The righteousness of Christ really covered me and I was really a son in the household of faith. God wasn't my father abstractly, he was my Heavenly Father in reality.
Recovering the doctrine of adoption for myself personally strengthened my walk with God. My anemic obedience was imbued with new life. My tepid worship was warmed. My lackluster evangelism was shining.
This week, in the Church Renewal Podcast, we talk about what happened when the doctrine of adoption captures the hearts and minds, not just of an individual, but a congregation. Does your church grasp what a privilege it is to be called sons of God? How does that shape your church? If you're missing that sense of awe and privilege how do you recover it? Check out the podcast to learn more, or reach out to Flourish to tell your own story of spiritual adoption.