About Me

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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio



Taught by Charles e Whisnant,
Romans 8

In these words the glorious privilege of the saints is set down. Those who have made their peace with God and labour to make peace among brethren, this is the great honour conferred upon them, They shall be called the children of God'.

They shall be (called)', that is, they shall be so supposed and esteemed of God. God never miscalls anything. He does not call them children which are no children. Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest' (Luke 1:76), that is, thou shalt be so. They shall be called the children of God', that is, they shall be accounted and admitted for children.

The proposition resulting is this: that born again children are the children of the most High. God is said in Scripture to have many children:

1.     By eternal generation. So only Christ is the natural Son of his Father. Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee' (Psalm 2:7).
2.     By creation. So the angels are the sons of God. When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy' (Job 38:7).
3.     By participation of dignity. So king and rulers are said to be children of the high God. I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the most High' (Psalm 82:6).
4.     By visible profession. So God has many children. Hypocrites forge a title of son-ship. The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair' (Genesis 6:2).
5.     By real sanctification. So all the faithful are peculiarly and eminently the children of God.
That I may illustrate and intensify this, and that believers may DRAW much sweetness out of this gospel-flower, I shall discuss and demonstrate these seven essentials:

1 That naturally we are not the children of God.
2 What it is to be the children of God.
3 How we come to be made children.
4 The signs of God's children.
5 The love of God in making us children.
6 The honour of God's children.
7 The privileges of God's children.
Naturally we are not the children of God. As Jerome says, we are not born God's children but made so. By nature we are strangers to God, swine not sons (2 Peter 2:22). Will a man settle his estate upon his swine? He will give them his acorns, not his jewels. By nature we have the devil for our father: Ye are of your father the devil (John 8:44). A wicked man may search the records of hell for his pedigree.
What it is to be the children of God. This child-ship consists in two things. Adoption; infusion of grace.
Child-ship consists in adoption: That we might receive the adoption of sons' (Galatians 4:5).

1  Wherein does the true nature of adoption consist?
In three things:
(i) A transition or translation from one family to another.
He that is adopted is taken out of the old family of the devil and hell (Ephesians 2:2, 3) to which he was heir apparent, and is made of the family of heaven, of a noble family (Ephesians 2:19). God is his Father, Christ is his elder-brother, the saints co-heir, the angels fellow-servants in that family.
(ii) Adoption consists in an immunity and unwilling to help somebody from all the laws of the former family.
Forget also thy father's house' (Psalm 45:10). He who is spiritually adopted has now no more to do with sin. Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols?' (Hosea 14:8). A child of God has indeed to do with sin as with an enemy to which he gives battle, but not as with a lord to which he yields obedience. He is freed from sin (Romans 6:7). I do not say he is freed from duty. Was it ever heard that a child should be freed from duty to his parents? This is such a freedom as rebels take.
(iii) Adoption consists in a legal  installing somebody in position into the rights and royalties of the family into which the person is to be adopted. These are chiefly two:
The first royalty is a new name. He who is divinely adopted assumes a new name; before, a slave; now, a son; of a sinner, a saint. This is a name of honour better than any title of prince or monarch. To him that overcometh I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written' (Revelation 2:17). The white stone signifies remission. The new name signifies adoption, and the new name is put in the white stone to show that our adoption is grounded upon our justification; and this new name is written to show that God has all the names of his children enrolled in the book of life.
The second royalty is a giving the party adopted an interest in the inheritance. The making one an heir implies a relation to an inheritance. A man does not adopt another to a title but to an estate. So God in adopting us for his children gives us a glorious inheritance: The inheritance of the saints in light' (Colossians 1:12).
1.     It is pleasant; it is an inheritance in light.
2.     It is safe; God keeps the inheritance for his children (1 Peter 1:4), and keeps them for the inheritance (1 Peter 1:5), so that they cannot be hindered from taking possession.
3.     There is no disinheriting, for the saints are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Nay, they are members of Christ (Colossians 1:18). The members cannot be disinherited but the head must.
4.     The heirs never die. Eternity is a jewel of their crown. They shall reign for ever and ever' (Revelation 22:5).
2  How do God's adopting and man's adopting differ?

1 Man adopts to supply a defect, because he has no children of his own, but God does not adopt upon this account.
`                                   He had a Son of his own, the Lord Jesus. He was his natural Son and the Son of his love, testified by a voice from heaven, This is my beloved Son' (Matthew 3:17). Never was there any Son so like the Father. He was his exact effigy, the express image of his person' (Hebrews 1:3). He was such a Son as was worth more than all the angels in heaven: Being made so much better than the angels' (Hebrews 1:4); so that God adopts not out of necessity, but pity.

2 When a man adopts, he adopts but one heir, but God adopts many:
In bringing many sons to glory' (Hebrews 2:10). Oh may a poor trembling Christian say, Why should I ever look for this privilege to be a child of God! It is true, if God did act as a man, if he adopted only one son, then you might despair. But he adopts millions. He brings many sons to glory'. Indeed this may be the reason why a man adopts but one, because he does not have enough estate for more. If he should adopt many his land would not hold out. But God has enough land to give to all his children. In my Father's house are many mansions' (John 14:2).

3 Man when he adopts does it with ease.
It is but sealing a deed and the thing is done. But when God adopts, it puts him to a far greater expense. It sets his wisdom on work to find out a way to adopt us. It was no easy thing to reconcile hell and heaven, to make the children of wrath the children of the promise; and when God in his infinite wisdom had found out a way, it was no easy way. It cost God the death of his natural Son, to make us his adopted sons. When God was about to constitute us sons and heirs, he could not seal the deed but by the blood of his own Son. It did not cost God so much to make us creatures as to make us sons. To make us creatures cost but the speaking of a word. To make us sons cost the effusion of blood.

4 Man, when he adopts, settles but earthly privileges upon his heir, but God settles heavenly privileges justification, glorification.
Men but entail their land upon the persons they adopt. God does more. He not only entails his land upon his children, but he entails himself upon them. I will be their God' (Hebrews 8:10). Not only heaven is their portion, but God is their portion.
God's filiating or making of children is by infusion of grace. When God makes any his children he stamps his image upon them. This is more than any man living can do. He may adopt another, but he cannot alter his disposition. If he be of a morose rugged nature, he cannot alter it; but God in making of children fits them for son-ship. He prepares and sanctifies them for this privilege. He changes their disposition. He files off the ruggedness of their nature. He makes them not only sons, but saints. They are of another spirit (Numbers 14:24). They become meek and humble. They are partakers of the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4).

3 How we come to be the children of God.

There is a double cause of our  child-ship.
The impulsive cause is God's free grace.
We were rebels and traitors, and what could move God to make sinners sons, but free grace? Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children according to the good pleasure of his will' (Ephesians 1:5). Free grace gave the casting voice. Adoption is a mercy spun out of the bowels of free grace. It were much for God to take a clod of earth and make it a star, but it is more for God to take a piece of clay and sin and instate it into the glorious privilege of son-ship. How will the saints read over the lectures of free grace in heaven!
The organic or instrumental cause of our son-ship is faith. Baptism does not make us children. That is indeed a badge and livery and gives us right to many external privileges, but the thing which makes God take cognisance of us for children is faith. Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus' (Galatians 3:26). Before faith be wrought we have nothing to do with God. We are (as the apostle speaks in another sense) bastards and not sons (Hebrews 12:8). An unbeliever may call God his Judge, but not his Father. Wicked men may draw near to God in ordinances, and hope that God will be their Father, but while they are unbelievers they are bastards, and God will not father them but will lay them at the devil's door. Ye are the children of God by faith'. Faith legitimates us. It confers upon us the title of son-ship and gives us right to inherit.

How then should we labour for faith! Without faith we are creatures, not children. Without faith we are spiritually illegitimate. This word illegitimate, is a term of infamy. Such as are illegitimate are looked upon with disgrace. We call them baseborn. You who ruffle it in your silks and velvets, but are in the state of nature, you are illegitimate. God looks upon you with an eye of scorn and contempt. You are a vile person, a son of the earth, of the seed of the serpent'. The devil can show as good a coat of arms as you.

This word illegitimate' also imports infelicity and misery. Persons illegitimate cannot inherit legally. The land goes only to such as are lawful heirs. Till we are the children of God, we have no right to heaven, and there is no way to be children but by faith. Ye are the children of God by faith'.

Here two things are to be discussed:
1 What faith is. If faith instates us into son-ship, it concerns us to know what faith is. There is a twofold faith.

(i) A more lax general faith. When we believe the truth of all that is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, this is not the faith which privileges us in son-ship. The devils believe all the articles in the creed. It is not the bare knowledge of a medicine or believing the sovereign virtue of it that will cure one that is ill. This general faith (so much cried up by some) will not save. This a man may have and not love God. He may believe that God will come to judge the quick and the dead, and hate him, as the prisoner believes the judge's coming to the assizes, and abhors the thoughts of him. Take heed of resting in a general faith. You may have this and be no better than devils.
(ii) There is a special faith, when we not only believe the report we hear of Christ, but rest upon him, embrace him, taking hold of the horns of this altar', resolving there to abide. In the body there are sucking veins, which draw the meat into the stomach and concoct it there. So faith is the sucking vein which draws Christ into the heart and applies him there. This is the filiating faith. By this we are made the children of God, and wherever this faith is, it is not like physic in a dead man's mouth, but is exceedingly operative. It obliges to duty. It works by love (Galatians 5:6).

But why does faith makes us children? Why should not other graces, repentance, love etc., do so? I:answer: Because faith is instituted of God and honoured to this work of making us children. God's institution gives faith its value and validity. It is the king's stamp makes the coin pass current. If he would put his stamp upon brass or leather, it would go as current as silver. The great God has authorised and put the stamp of his institution upon faith, and that makes it pass for current and gives it a privilege above all the graces to make us children.

Again, faith makes us children as it is the vital principle. The just shall live by faith' (Habakkuk 2:4). All God's children are living. None of them are stillborn. Now by faith we live'. As the heart is the fountain of life in the body, so faith is the fountain of life in the soul.
Faith also makes us children as it is the uniting grace. It knits us to Christ. The other graces cannot do this. By faith we are one with Christ and so we are akin to God. Being united to the natural Son, we become adopted sons. The kindred comes in by faith. God is the Father of Christ. Faith makes us Christ's brethren (Hebrews 2:11), and so God comes to be our Father.

The fourth particular to be discussed is to show the signs of God's children.

It concerns us to know whose children we are. Augustine says that all mankind are divided into two ranks; either they are the children of God or the children of the devil.

1 The first sign of our heavenly son-ship is tenderness of heart:
Because thy heart was tender' (2 Chronicles 34:27). A childlike heart is a tender heart. He who before had a flinty, has now a fleshy heart. A tender heart is like melting wax to God. He may set what seal he will upon it. This tenderness of heart shows itself three ways.

(i) A tender heart grieves for sin.
A child weeps for offending his father. Peter showed a tender heart when Christ looked upon him and he remembered his sin, he wept as a child. Clement of Alexandria says, he never heard a cock crow but he wept. And some learned writers tell us that by much weeping there seemed to be as it were channels made in his blessed face. The least hair makes the eye weep. The least sin makes the heart smite. David's heart smote him when he cut off the lap of King Saul's garment! What would it have done if he had cut off his head?

(ii) A tender heart melts under mercy.
Though when God thunders by affliction, the rain of tears falls from a gracious eye, yet the heart is never so kindly dissolved as under the sunbeams of God's mercy. See how David's heart was melted with God's kindness: Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?' (2 Samuel 7:18). There was a gracious thaw upon his heart. So says a child of God, Lord, who am I((a piece of dust and sin kneaded together) that the orient beams of free grace should shine upon me? Who am I, that thou shouldest pity me when I lay in my blood and spread the golden wings of mercy over me? The soul is overcome with God's goodness, the tears drop, the love flames; mercy has a melting influence upon the soul.
(iii) A tender heart trembles under God's threatenings.
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee' (Psalm 119:120). Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and didst rend thy clothes...' (2 Chronicles 34:27). If the father be angry, the child trembles. When ministers denounce the menaces and threats of God against sin, tender souls sit in a trembling posture. This frame of heart God delights in. To this man will I look, even to him that trembleth at thy word' (Isaiah 66:2). A wicked man, like the Leviathan, is made without fear' (Job 41:33). He neither believes the promises nor dreads the threatenings. Let judgement be denounced against sin, he laughs at the shaking of a spear'. He thinks either that God is ignorant and does not see, or impotent and cannot punish. The mountains quake before the Lord, the hills melt, the rocks are thrown down by him (Nahum 1:5). But the hearts of sinners are more obdurate than the rocks. An hardened sinner like Nebuchadnezzar has the heart of a beast given to him' (Daniel 4:16). A childlike heart is a tender heart. The stone is taken away.

2 The second sign of son-ship is assimilation.
Ye have put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him' (Colossians 3:10). The child resembles the father. God's children are like their heavenly Father. They bear his very image and impress. Wicked men say they are the children of God, but there is too great a dissimilitude and unlikeness. The Jews bragged they were Abraham's children, but Christ disproves them by this argument, because they were not like him. Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God; this did not Abraham' (John 8:40). You, Abraham's children, and go about to kill me! Abraham would not have murdered an innocent. You are more like Satan than Abraham. Ye are of your father the devil' (verse 44). Such as are proud, earthly, malicious may say, Our father which art in hell'. It is blasphemy to call God our Father and make the devil our pattern. God's children resemble him in meekness and holiness. They are his walking pictures. As the seal stamps its print and likeness upon the wax, so does God stamp the print and effigy of his own beauty upon his children.
3 The third sign of God's children is, they have the Spirit of God. It is called the Spirit of adoption; ye have received the Spirit of adoption . . .' (Romans 8:15).

How shall we know that we have received the Spirit of adoption, and so are in the state of adoption?

The Spirit of God has a threefold work in them who are made children:

 1 A regenerating work.
Whomsoever the Spirit adopts, He regenerates. God's children are said to be born of the Spirit'. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God' (John 3:5). We must first be born of the Spirit before we are baptised with this new name of sons and daughters. We are not God's children by creation, but by renovation; not by our first birth, but by our new birth. This new birth produced by the Word as the material cause (James 1:18), and by the Spirit as the efficient cause, is nothing else but a change of nature (Romans 12:2), which though it be not a perfect change, yet is a thorough change (1 Thessalonians 5:23). This change of heart is as necessary as salvation.

How shall we know that we have this regenerating work of the Spirit?

Two ways
By the pangs: there are spiritual pangs before the new birth, some bruisings of soul, some groanings and cryings out, some strugglings in the heart between flesh and Spirit. They were pricked at their heart' (Acts 2:37). The child has sharp throws before the birth; so it is in the new birth. I grant the new birth is marked by more and less'. All do not have the same pangs of humiliation, yet all have pangs; all feel the hammer of the law upon their heart, though some are more bruised with this hammer than others. God's Spirit is a Spirit of bondage before He is a Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). What then shall we say to those who are as ignorant about the new birth as Nicodemus: How can a man be born when he is old . . .?' (John 3:4). The new birth is a derision of the ungodly', though it be a great secret' to the godly. Some thank God they never had any trouble of spirit. They were always quiet. These bless God for the greatest curse. It is a sign they are not God's children. The child of grace is always born with pangs.

The new birth is known by the products, which are three:

Sensibility. The infant that is new-born is sensible of the least touch. If the Spirit has regenerated you, you are sensible of the ebullitions and first risings of sin which before you did not perceive. Paul cries out of the law in his members' (Romans 7:23). The new-born saint sees sin in the root.
Circumspection. He who is born of the Spirit is careful to preserve grace. He plies the breast of ordinances (1 Peter 2:1). He is fearful of that which may endanger his spiritual life (1 John 5:18). He lives by faith, yet passes the time of his sojourning in fear (1 Peter 1:17). This is the first work of the Spirit in them who are made children, a regenerating work.

2 The Spirit of God has a supplicating work in the heart

The Spirit of adoption is a Spirit of supplication. Ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father' (Romans 8:15). While the child is in the womb it cannot cry. While men lie in the womb of their natural estate, they cannot pray effectually, but when they are born of the Spirit, then they cry Abba, Father'. Prayer is nothing else but the soul's breathing itself into the bosom of its Father. It is a sweet and familiar intercourse with God. As soon as ever the Spirit of God comes into the heart, He sets it a-praying. No sooner was Paul converted but the next word is, Behold, he prayeth' (Acts 9:11). It is reported in the life of Luther that, when he prayed, it was with so much reverence as if he were praying to God, and with so much boldness, as if he had been speaking to his friend. And Eusebius reports of Constantine the Emperor that every day he used to shut up himself in some secret place in his palace, and there on bent knees make his devout prayers and soliloquies to God. God's Spirit tunes the strings of the affections, and then we make melody in prayer. For any to say, in derision, you pray by the Spirit', is a blasphemy against the Spirit. It is a main work of the Spirit of God in the hearts of his children to help them to pray: Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father' (Galatians 4:6).

But many of the children of God do not have such abilities to express themselves in prayer. How then does the Spirit help their infirmities?

Though they do not have always the gifts of the Spirit in prayer, yet they have the groans of the Spirit (Romans 8:26). Gifts are the ornaments of prayer, but not the life of prayer. A carcass may be hung with jewels. Though the Spirit may deny fluency of speech, yet He gives fervency of desire, and such prayers are most prevalent. The prayers which the Spirit indites in the hearts of God's children have these threefold qualifications.

The prayers of God's children are believing prayers. Prayer is the key. Faith is the hand that turns it. Faith feathers the arrow of prayer and makes it pierce the throne of grace. Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive' (Matthew 21:22). Whereupon, says Jerome, I would not presume to pray unless I bring faith along with me. To pray and not believe is (as one says) a kind of jeer offered to God, as if we thought either he did not hear or he would not grant.

That faith may be animated in prayer, we must bring Christ in our arms when we appear before God. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt-offering; and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him' (1 Samuel 7:9). This sucking lamb typified Christ. When we come to God in prayer we must bring the Lamb, Christ along with us. Themistocles carried the king's son in his arms and so pacified the king when he was angry. The children of God present Christ in the arms of their faith.
The prayers of God's children indited by the Spirit are ardent prayers. Ye have received the Spirit, whereby we cry Abba, Father' (Romans 8:15). Father'; that implies faith. We cry; that implies fervency. The incense was to be laid upon burning coals (Leviticus 16:12). The incense was a type of prayer; the burning coals, of ardency in prayer. Elias prayed earnestly, James 5:17). In the Greek it is in praying he prayed', that is, he did it with vehemence. In prayer the heart must boil over with heat of affection. Prayer is compared to groans unutterable (Romans 8:26). It alludes to a woman that is in pangs. We should be in pangs when we are travailing for mercy. Such prayer commands God himself' (Isaiah 45:11).
 against sin and sin against prayer. God's children not only pray against sin, but pray down sin.

3 The Spirit of God has a witnessing work in the heart

God's children have not only the influence of the Spirit, but the witness. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God' (Romans 8:16). There is a threefold witness a child of God has the witness of the Word, the witness of conscience, the witness of the Spirit. The Word makes the major proposition. He who is in such a manner qualified is a child of God. Conscience makes the minor proposition; but you are so divinely qualified. The Spirit makes the conclusion therefore you are a child of God. The Spirit joins with the witness of conscience. The Spirit witnesseth with our spirits' (Romans 8:16). The Spirit teaches conscience to search the records of Scripture and find its evidences for heaven. It helps conscience to spell out its name in a promise. It bears witness with our spirit.

But how shall I know the witness of the Spirit from a delusion?
The Spirit of God always witnesses according to the Word, as the echo answers the voice. Enthusiasts speak much of the Spirit, but they leave the Word. That inspiration which is either without the Word or against it, is an imposture. The Spirit of God indited the Word (2 Peter 1:21). Now if the Spirit should witness otherwise than according to the Word, the Spirit would be divided against Himself. He would be a spirit of contradiction, witnessing one thing for a truth in the Word and another thing different from it in a man's conscience.