April 21, 2020

Children of God

Devotional by: Wyatt Brandt

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” ~ John 1:12

Here is something you probably don’t remember learning about the Christmas story. The ruler that wanted a census, causing Mary and Joseph to make the trek to Bethlehem, was adopted.

Caesar Augustus, originally known as Octavian, was the grandnephew of Julius Caesar. It was after Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC that 18-year old Octavian found out he was named in Julius’ will as his adopted son and heir, giving him claim to wealth, military forces, and authority. It wasn’t his lineage that made Caesar Augustus a child of Julius and emperor, it was adoption.

Caesar Augustus is one of the most well-known cases of Roman imperial adoption, a practice that can provide some context for the New Testament theme of adoption. If the emperor's biological offspring offered poor options for his replacement, the emperor would choose a worthy adult male from outside his immediate family and adopt him as a son so he could be the successor to the throne. This provided a way for Roman emperors to ensure the perpetuation of their dynasty.

Surely the Apostle Paul, a Roman citizen, had this in mind when he spoke of Christians receiving “the Spirit of adoption as sons . . . and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:15-17).

If you have received Jesus, and believe in his name, you are an adopted child of God. And it isn’t because you would make a worthy heir, but because of God’s grace. As a member of the family, you carry the name, the privileges, and the inheritance of the family.

Unlike the Roman imperials, our inheritance is not one of wealth, military power, and imperial authority. Our inheritance is far greater—so great that Paul insists “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

We are living in uncertain times of pain, fear, and confusion—but we can set our hope on something that transcends this moment in time. Our inheritance as God’s children is God himself. With glorified bodies, we will fully and deeply enjoy our Father for all of eternity. Our current suffering is incomparable.

Passages for Further Study
Romans 8:12-30
Ephesians 1:11-14
1 John 3:1-3