Section 7: Salvation – Part 2
Week 1: Adoption
Day 5: We’ve Already Been Adopted, but God Has More in Store for Us
When we think about salvation, it’s helpful to think of it in terms of what theologians refer to as the already and the not yet. That applies to every aspect of salvation, including our adoption as God’s children. As we’ve seen, we have already begun to experience the benefits of a new relationship with God. That’s a tremendous blessing we can see in the difference in the way we relate to God now and the way Old Testament believers did. That difference is perhaps most clearly symbolized by the Most Holy Place.
The Most Holy Place was the place in the Old Testament temple where God’s presence resided. It was separated from the rest of the temple area by a curtain. No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. The only exception was that once a year the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.
In contrast, because of Christ’s sacrifice, we now can go into God’s presence in prayer and in worship at any time — not just once a year as was the case for the Old Testament High Priest, not just during our Sunday worship services, and not just during our daily quiet times. We can go into God’s presence at any time. That means we can go to him throughout the day to ask his help in the many difficulties we face, and we can go to him to give thanks and praise throughout the day as we recognize his hand at work blessing us.
As great as that is, don’t we long for even greater intimacy? Wouldn’t it be nice to walk and talk with God the way Adam and Eve did? Of course it would. As we’ve noted before, God intends to restore his creation. An important aspect of that restoration involves the restoration of the intimacy we had with God in the beginning. The restoration of that relationship has begun, but there is more to come.
Take a look at Rom. 8:23. Paul says,
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Although Paul can speak of our adoption as a present fact (Rom. 8:14), he recognizes there is a sense in which our adoption has not yet been fully realized. The intimacy we long for awaits Christ’s return. In the book of Revelation, John gives us this picture of what we can look forward to:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children…” (Rev. 21:1-7).
Read Revelation 21:1-7 again slowly.
How would you compare our current experience of God’s presence with the picture John gives us of the future? What do you think it means that at that time God’s dwelling place will be among his people? How do you think that compares with the experience Adam and Eve had in the beginning?