Once there was an emperor whose dominion spread over many lands. The king had one son born to him, and this son was the crown prince. Yet the ruler was also so generous that he had taken in many orphaned children and raised them as his own. Only the crown prince would ever sit on the throne, yet the other princes and princesses enjoyed the same status as if they were of royal blood. Because the emperor’s duties ranged far and wide and he could not be in every place at the same time, he appointed his son the prince as his chief ambassador. This prince not only met with heads of state, but also oversaw the ambassadorial work of his adopted sisters and brothers. Wherever they went, the royal children wore robes of purple and carried the royal crest. Once, when the crown prince was visiting a minor country that was part of his empire, and negotiating with that tribute nation’s head of state, the ruler refused to listen to his counsel. Without being prideful, the prince simply displayed the signet ring that he bore and reminded the lesser king of his position. “One day, I will sit on my father’s throne,” he said. “You want to make sure that the prince who becomes the next emperor remembers you as someone who recognizes authority. I have the emperor’s mind on this matter. When you are talking with me, you are talking with the father.”
This is the kind of authority that Jesus carried as He walked upon the earth. In John 10:30, Jesus gets Himself in trouble for saying, “The Father and I are one.” In John 14:9-11, three times, Jesus says variants of the same statement: “The Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” One of the fundamental statements of the Christian faith is that Jesus is the Son of God. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” The Greek word that the King James Version translates as “begotten” is better rendered as “one and only.” God did not “create” Jesus, because Jesus has always existed as an eternal part of the Trinity. Yet, Jesus is unique in the sense that He is the only Son of God who has God-DNA. Colossians 1:15-20 describes Jesus as being the “image of the invisible God,” and the pre-existent agent of creation. “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” While Jesus was born physically, He was never created. Jesus always has been, and always will be.
We do not possess these attributes, yet John1:12-13 says that we too can become children of God. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” Romans 8:15-17 tells us that, just like the emperor had one crown prince but many adopted children who bore the same authority, so too, we who are adopted by God are co-heirs with Christ. Once someone has been adopted, they can’t be un-adopted. Jesus says in John 10:28-29, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” For this reason, those who have placed their trust in Jesus can be completely secure in their salvation. We can know that we are permanently adopted sons and daughters of Almighty God.
Watchman Nee tells about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. "No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I'm losing my salvation." Nee said, "Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christ's heir because it is for you that He died." We are Christ's heirs, not through our perfection but by means of His grace.[i]
In John 10:22-42, Jesus gets in trouble for claiming to be one with the Father. And for claiming to do the things that He did by the authority of God. In fact, they got so angry that they picked up stones to kill Him. But Jesus knew that He couldn’t do anything but what the Father wanted. In John 5:19, He says, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” If we are adopted sons and daughters of God, then it’s clear that we ought to be doing the same thing. Yes—in this world, it’s dangerous for us too when we claim to speak for God. But if we listen and obey as Jesus did, then we who wear the robes of royalty can show the signets that we bear and claim our right as heirs. Jesus says in John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” Through the Holy Spirit, God gifts adopted sons and daughters to carry on the work of Christ in the world. We become heirs, not just of the treasures of heaven, but of the responsibility borne by children of the King, to be ambassadors of His love wherever we go. I pray that you’ll put your trust in God’s one and only Son, that you’ll know the blessing of adoption, and that you’ll carry on the work of God in the world.