Communion with Christ in Adoption – John Owen

From Communion with God, in Works, 2:211, 214–15.

Our adoption by the Spirit is bottomed on our absolution in the blood of Jesus, and therefore is the new name in the white stone privilege grounded on discharge (Rev. 2:17). The white stone quits the claim of the old family; the new name gives entrance to the other….

Slaves take liberty from duty; children have liberty in duty. There is not a greater mistake in the world than that the liberty of sons in the house of God consists in this: they can perform duties or take the freedom to omit them; they can serve in the family of God (that is, they think they may if they will), and they can choose whether they will or no. This is a liberty stolen by slaves, not a liberty given by the Spirit unto sons.

The liberty of sons is in the inward spiritual freedom of their hearts, naturally and kindly going out in all the ways and worship of God. When they find themselves straitened and shut up in them, they wrestle with God for enlargement and are never contented with the doing of a duty, unless it be done as in Christ, with free, genuine, and enlarged hearts. The liberty that servants have is from duty; the liberty given to sons is in duty….

Where love is in any duty, it is complete in Christ. How often does David, even with admiration, express this principle of his walking with God! “O,” he says, “how I love thy commandments!” This gives saints delight, that the commandments of Christ are not grievous to them. Jacob’s hard service was not grievous to him because of his love to Rachel. No duty of a saint is grievous to him because of his love to Christ. They do from hence all things with delight and complacency. Hence do they long for advantages of walking with God—pant after more ability—and this is a great share of their sonlike freedom in obedience. It gives them joy in it. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). When their soul is acted to obedience by love, it expels that fear which is the issue of bondage upon the spirit….

The object of their obedience is represented to them as desirable, whereas to others it is terrible. In all their approaches to God, they eye Him as a Father; they call Him Father, not in the form of words but in the spirit of sons (Gal. 4:6). God in Christ is continually before them, not only as one deserving all the honors and obedience which He requires but also as one exceedingly to be delighted in, as being all-sufficient to satisfy and satiate all the desires of the soul. When others napkin their talents, as having to deal with an austere master, they draw out their strength to the uttermost, as drawing near to a gracious rewarder. They go from the principle of life and love to the bosom of a living and loving Father; they do but return the strength they receive to the fountain, to the ocean.