The Royal Family!

J.C. Ryle
 

Reader, It is reckoned an honor in this world to belong to a royal family. But it is an honor beyond the reach of most people. There are many poor on earth. There are few kings.

Yet there is a dignity which the poorest man in the world may attain to. Reader, that dignity may become your own this very day. You may join the family of Him who is King of kings, and Lord of lords. You may become a member of Christ, and a child of the Almighty. This is the honor of all true Christians they are the sons of God.

But HOW can sinful men like you and me become sons of God? When do they enter into this glorious relationship? We are not the sons of God by nature. We are not born so when we come into the world. No man has a natural right to look to God as his Father. It is a vile heresy to say that he has. Men are said to be born poets and painters but men are never born sons of God.

The Epistle to the Ephesians tells us, "You were by nature children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:3). The Epistle of the apostle John says, "The children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God" (1 John 3:10). All are by nature born in sin, and children of wrath! Yes! we are all rather children of the devil than children of God. Sin is indeed hereditary, and runs in the family of Adam. Grace is anything but hereditary, and holy men have not, as a matter of course, holy sons.

How, then, and when does this mighty change come upon men? When, and in what manner, do sinners become the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty? Men become sons of God in the day that the Spirit leads them to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation, and not before.

What says the Epistle to the Galatians? "You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26).

What says the Epistle to the Corinthians? "Of Him are you in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

What says the Gospel of John? "As many as received Christ, to them gave He power (or privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12).

Faith unites the sinner to the Son of God, and makes him one of His members. Faith makes him one of those in whom the Father sees no spot, and is well pleased. Faith marries him to the beloved Son of God, and entitles him to be reckoned among the sons. Faith gives him fellowship with the Father and the Son. Faith grafts him into the Father's family, and opens up to him a room in the Father's house. Faith gives him life instead of death, and makes him a son instead of a servant. Show me a man who has this faith, and whatever be his church or denomination, I say that he is a son of God.

Reader, this is one of those points you should never forget. You and I know nothing of a man's divine sonship, until he believes. No doubt the sons of God are foreknown and chosen from all eternity, and predestined to adoption. But, remember, it is not until they are called in due time, and believe it is not until then that you and I can be certain they are sons. It is not until they repent and believe, that the angels of God rejoice over them. The angels cannot read the book of God's election. They know not who are His hidden ones in the earth. They rejoice over no man until he believes. But when they see some poor sinner repenting and believing, then there is joy among them joy that one more brand is plucked from the burning, and one more son and heir born again to the Father in Heaven. But once more I say, you and I know nothing certain about a man's sonship to God until he believes in Christ.

Reader, I warn you to beware of the delusive notion that all men and women are alike children of God, whether they have faith in Christ or not. It is a wild theory which many are clinging to in these days, but one which cannot be proved out of the Word of God. It is a perilous dream, with which many are trying to soothe themselves, but one from which there will be a fearful waking up at the last day!

That God, in a certain sense, is the universal Father of all mankind, I do not pretend to deny. He is the Great First Cause of all things. He is the Creator of all mankind, and in Him alone all men, whether Christians or heathens, live and move and have their being. All this is unquestionably true. In this sense Paul told the Athenians a poet of their own had truly said, "we are His offspring" (Acts 17.28). But this sonship by creation, gives no man a title to Heaven. The sonship which we have by creation, is one which belongs to stones, trees, beasts, or even to the devils, as much as to us.

That God loves all mankind with a love of pity and compassion, I do not deny. His tender mercies are over all His works. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He has no pleasure in the death of him that dies. All this I admit to the full. In this sense our Lord Jesus tells us, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

But that God is a reconciled and pardoning Father to any but the members of His Son Jesus Christ; and that any are members of Jesus Christ who do not believe on Him for salvation this is a doctrine which I utterly deny! The holiness and justice of God are both against the doctrine. They make it impossible for sinful men to approach God, excepting through a Mediator. They tell us that God out of Christ, is a consuming fire.

The whole system of the New Testament is against the doctrine. That system teaches that no man can claim a saving interest in Christ, unless he will receive Him as his Mediator, and believe on Him as his Savior. Where there is no faith in Christ, it is folly to say that a man may take comfort in God as his Father. God is a reconciled Father, to none but the members of Christ.

Reader, once more I warn you to beware of this theology. I charge you to hold fast the doctrine which I have been endeavoring to uphold in this tract. Remember what I have said, and never let it go. There is no inheritance of glory without sonship to God! There is no sonship to God without a saving interest in Christ! There is no saving interest in Christ without your own personal faith! This is God's truth. Never forsake it.

Who now among the readers of this tract desires to know whether he is a son of God? Ask yourself this day and ask it as in God's sight, whether you have truly repented and believed. Ask yourself whether you are experimentally acquainted with Christ, and united to Him in heart. If not, you may be very sure you are no son of God. You are not yet born again. You are yet in your sins. Your Father in creation God may be but your reconciled and pardoning Father, God is not.

Yes! though church and world may agree to tell you to the contrary though clergy and laity unite in flattering you your supposed sonship is worth nothing in the sight of God. Let God be true, and every man a liar. Without faith in Christ, you are no son of God you are not born again.

Who is there among the readers of this tract who desires to become a son of God? Let that person see his sin, and flee to Christ for salvation and this day he shall be placed among His children. Only acknowledge your iniquity, and lay hold on the hand that Jesus holds out to you this day and sonship, with all its privileges, is your own. Only confess your sins, and bring them unto Christ and God is faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. This very day, old things shall pass away, and all things become new. This very day you shall be forgiven, pardoned, and accepted in the Beloved. This very day you shall have a new name given to you in Heaven. You took up this tract as a child of wrath. You shall lie down tonight as a child of God.

Mark this, if your professed desire after sonship is sincere if you are truly weary of your sins, and have really something more than a lazy wish to be saved there is real comfort for you. It is all true. It is all written in Scripture, even as I have put it down. I dare not raise barriers between you and God. This day I say: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be a son, and be saved.

Who is there among the readers of this tract that is a son of God indeed? Rejoice, I say, and be exceeding glad of your privileges. Rejoice, for you have good cause to be thankful. Remember the words of the beloved Apostle, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God!" (1 John 3:1).

How wonderful that Heaven should look down on earth that the holy God should set His affections on sinful man, and admit him into His family! What though the world does not understand you! What though the men of this world laugh at you, and cast out your name as evil! Let them laugh if they will. God is your Father. You have no need to be ashamed. The Queen can create a nobleman. The Bishops can ordain clergymen. But Queen, Lords, and Commons Bishops, Priests, and Deacons all together cannot, of their own power, make one son of God, or one of greater dignity than a son of God! The man that can call God his Father, and Christ his elder brother that man may be poor and lowly, yet he never need be ashamed.