Shorter Catechism Q. 36
Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Rom 5:1–2, 5; 8:32; 2 Pet 1:10
God is no stingy giver. When he gave, he gave everything and gave us his Son. The greatest gift God could have given us is his Son, and that is what he gave. Sometimes, when we think about the blessings we receive from God, we can so separate the gifts from the Giver that gifts no longer are gifts. Instead, they become the idols of our hearts and we further stray from the Lord after them. But the gifts of justification, adoption, and sanctification remind us how Christ-centered God wants us to be.
The gift of justification is being judged by God with the same judgment he has for his Only Son. And how does God judge his Son? He declares that “He is well pleased with him.” The Father has nothing but the deepest and the most profound love for his Son. Naturally! There is nothing in Jesus but the most perfect righteousness and holiness which please his Father. In turn, we are declared as righteous as Jesus, because his very righteousness is credited to our account. It is easy to talk vaguely about this gift of justification. But this gift would be nothing except in that it makes us one with Jesus in our righteousness.
The gift of adoption is the Father lavishing on us the same rights and privileges his Only Son has before him. Jesus’ rights are those of the Father’s beloved Son. Our privilege is also that of beloved children (John 1:12). Jesus’ place in his Father’s household is that of the only heir. Paradoxically, we are also heirs with Christ, but in such a way that neither Jesus’ nor our inheritance is diminished. Unlike human family where inheritance bequeathed to too many children dilute and decrease the family wealth, the Father’s riches only multiply with Jesus as the Firstborn heir and we as his co-heirs. So much so that when we get to heaven it will seem as if we have personally received the lion’s share of the Father’s inheritance. Our Father is no stingy giver.
The gift of sanctification is the Spirit making us as holy as Jesus, in whose likeness we are being cast. None of us will be perfectly holy in our life time. But what does that mean except that the Holy Spirit will never abandon us in this life, but with God-like patience (because he is God) and God-like wisdom (again) make us more and more like Jesus? Some day we will stand before our Father and we will delight at our family resemblance.
The gifts of justification, adoption, and sanctification are gifts that keep on giving, both in this life and the next. How can it be otherwise? Our Father did not give us just anything. He gave us his Son. If so, how can one life-time exhaust the riches of this gift? How can one man deplete this gift in his life time? Not even eternity will be enough to explore the full riches of this gift. But doesn’t that just thrill you knowing that is what you have to look forward to? It thrills me!
So, go ahead. Count your blessings. I hope, however, that Jesus is at the top of your list. I hope, also, that between #1 and #2 on your list there is a no small distance. Jesus is a gift like no other. Everything else pales in comparison.