This quote from JI Packer is an oldie but a goodie. You may well have read it before, but I think it deserves another outing. So... sit back, lick your lips in anticipation, and then have a chew on this tasty morsel:
"Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification. This may cause raising of eyebrows, for justification is the gift of God on which, since Luther, evangelicals have laid the greatest stress, and we are accustomed to say, almost without thinking, that free justification is God’s supreme blessing to us sinners. Nonetheless, careful thought will show the truth of the statement we have just made.
That justification-by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with His acceptance for the future-is the primary and fundamental blessing of the Gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment. His law convicts us, guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable, and in lucid moments afraid. We have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world. And this Gospel offers us before it offers us anything else.
But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the Gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the rich relationship with God that it involves. What is a Christian? The richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as his Father. If you want to know how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all...
To those who are Christ’s, the holy God is a loving Father; they belong to his family; they may approach him without fear and always be sure of his fatherly concern and care. This is the heart of the New Testament message. . .
Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into His family and fellowship, and establishes us as His children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is greater..
” – J.I. Packer"