The Confession of Faith: A commentary on The Westminster Confession of Faith
All those that are justified, god vouchsafes, in and for his only son jesus christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption,(1) by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of god;(2) have his name put upon them,(3) receive the spirit of adoption;(4) have access to the throne of grace with boldness;(5) are enabled to cry, abba, father;(6) are pitied,(7) protected,(8) provided for,(9) and chastened by him as by a father;(10) yet never cast off,(11) but sealed to the day of redemption,(12) and inherit the promises,(13) as heirs of everlasting salvation.(14)
(1) Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4,5. (2) Rom. 8:17; John 1:12. (3) Jer. 14:9; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 3:12. (4) Rom. 8:15. (5) Eph. 3:12; Rom. 5:2. (6) Gal. 4:6. (7) Ps. 103:13. (8) Prov. 14:26. (9) Matt. 6:30,32; 1 Pet. 5:7. (10) Heb. 12:6. (11) Lam. 3:31. (12) Eph. 4:30. (13) Heb. 6:12. (14) 1 Pet. 1:3,4; Heb. 1:14.
The instant a believer is united to Christ in the exercise of faith, there is accomplished in him simultaneously and inseparably two things: (1) A total change of relation to God, and to the law as a covenant of life; and (2) A change of his inward spiritual nature. The change of relation is represented by justification-the change of nature by regeneration. REGENERATION is an act of God, originating, by a new creation, a new spiritual life in the heart of the subject. The first and instant act of that new creature, consequent upon his regeneration, is FAITH, or a believing, trusting embrace of the person and work of Christ. Upon the exercise of faith by the regenerated soul, JUSTIFICATION is the instant act of God, on the ground of that perfect righteousness which the sinner's faith has apprehended, declaring him to be free from all condemnation, and to have a legal right to the relations and benefits secured by the covenant which Christ has fulfilled in his behalf. SANCTIFICATION is the progressive growth toward the perfect maturity of that new life which was implanted in regeneration. ADOPTION presents the new creature in his new relations-his new relations entered upon with a congenial heart, and his new life developing in a congenial home, and surrounded with those relations which foster its growth and crown it with blessedness. Justification effects only a change of relations. Regeneration and sanctification effect only inherent moral and spiritual states of soul. Adoption includes both. As set forth in Scripture, it embraces in one complex view the newly-regenerated creature in the new relations into which he is introduced by justification.
This divine sonship, into which the believer is introduced by adoption, includes the following principal elements and advantages-
1. Derivation of spiritual nature from God: "That ye might be partakers of the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4; John 1:13; James 1:18; 1 John 5:18.)
2. The being born in the image of God, the bearing his likeness: "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him." (Col. 3:10; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18.)
3. The bearing his name. (1 John 3:1; Rev. 2:17; 3:12.)
4. The being made the objects of his peculiar love: "That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." (John 17:23; Rom. 5:5-8.)
5. The indwelling of the Spirit of his Son (Gal. 4:6), who forms in us a filial spirit, or a spirit becoming the children of God-obedient (1 Pet. 1:14; 2 John 6), free from sense of guilt, legal bondage, and fear of death (Rom. 8:15-21; Gal. 5:1; Heb. 2:15), and elevated with a holy boldness and royal dignity. (Heb. 10:19,22; 1 Pet. 2:9; 4:14.)
6. Present protection, consolation, and abundant supplies. (Ps. 125:2; Isa. 66:13; Luke 12:27-32; John 14:18; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 2 Cor. 1:4.)
7. Present fatherly chastisements for our good, including both spiritual and temporal afflictions. (Ps. 51:11,12; Heb. 12:5-11.)
8. The certain inheritance of the riches of our Father's glory, as "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17; James 2:5; 1 Pet. 1:4; 3:7), including the exaltation of our bodies in fellowship with the Lord. (Rom. 8:23; Phil. 3:21.)