We all become children of God the moment we are born again. We are “begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”(1 Peter 1: 3). Yes, at the moment we are born again, we experience a resurrection in our souls which is a spiritual parallel to the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is an instant in which this happens, but God usually hides this from us for our good. By nature we are prone to boast about any experiences we might have. Although that great instant is hidden from us, we soon sense the effects that it has on us. Our desires, inclinations and tastes begin to change. The detail of this varies from person to person, but in every case there will be a general swing away from the satisfactions of this world to the satisfactions of the spiritual life.
But here, as is often the case, God shows himself to be the God of the second mile. What we have described above is the first mile, where we are made the spiritual offspring of God. The second mile is, that God puts His Spirit within us to dwell there permanently, and by doing so, God is adopting us into His family making us more than offspring. We enter into a true Father/child relationship with God, and the Spirit who now dwells within us enables us to instinctively address God with humble confidence as Father. This is why the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of adoption. As Romans 8: 15, 16 puts it, “ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that, that we are the children of God”. (The words, Abba, Father, are simply the same word repeated, ‘Abba’ being like the Hebrew word for ‘Father’. Truly, our God is the God of the second mile.
This is often the way that God conveys assurance of salvation to the believer. Every true believer wants to have assurance that he or she is truly saved. Now, our first instinct is to know that we have truly believed, and that our sins are forgiven, because Christ has bourne them for us. God does not usually give us that information directly, but He sooner or later gives it to us indirectly. We have already mentioned changed desires and inclinations. Here is another way in which he gives us assurance: by enabling us to address Him Affectionately and reverently as ‘Father’, knowing that He delights in hearing it.
Of course, there are many other aspects of the Father/child relationship, which we do well to keep before us. There are all the protections, privileges and provisions that come with this relationship; there is also the discipline which comes with it, and the loving Fatherly chastisement which often goes with that discipline.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33).