The Doctrine of Adoption
In regeneration, God gives new spiritual life within. In justification, God gives a right legal standing before Him. In adoption, God makes us a part of His family!
What is Adoption?
Adoption means "to be placed as a son." It is more than just a legal standing or even a change of nature - it is to become a part of God's family, which includes all the rights and privileges of that relationship. This is a family, however, that we are not born into. Rather, the Father of this family willfully and purposefully must bring us in!
· Ephesians 1:5 " he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will."
· 2 Corinthians 6:18 ".and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
A Bigger Definition:
"For the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ, God has been pleased to make all justified persons sharers in the grace of adoption, by means of which they are numbered with, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of children of God. Furthermore, God's name is put upon them, they receive the spirit of adoption, and they are enabled to come boldly to the throne of grace and to cry 'Abba, Father'. They are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by God as by a Father. He never casts them off, but, as they remain sealed to the day of redemption, they inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation." (1689 Confession)
When Does Adoption Take Place?
Adoption takes place at the same time as our salvation. It is true that there are some passages which speak of all men being God's children
· Acts 17:27-28 "Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.'"
This speaks of God's omnipresence and the fact that men in a real sense derive their existence from the Creator. However, Christians alone are made into the sons and daughters of God - a relationship that can only take place through adoption since in sin (see section on Total Inability) we cannot call God our Father.
· John 8:41-44 The Pharisees answered Jesus: "We have one Father-even God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires."
Adoption takes place at conversion.
· John 1:12-13 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Adoption Results in a Change in the Way God Relates to Us
Now God thinks of us as sons and Himself as our Father.
· Galatians 4:7 "So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."
· Matthew 6:9 "Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."
Now God loves us:
· 1 John 3:1-3 "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."
Now God takes care of us:
· Matthew 6:31-33 "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Now God disciplines us for our good.
· Hebrews 12:3-6 "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."
Adoption Results in a Change in the Way We Understand and Live Life
Now we have an inheritance in heaven with Jesus. HOPE
· Romans 8:17 ".and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
Now we are led by the Holy Spirit. FAITH
· Romans 8:14 "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."
Now we gain assurance of salvation. CONFIDENCE
· Romans 8:14-17 "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
· Galatians 4:4-7 "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."
Adoption Should Result in a Change in the Way We Relate to Each Other
· Romans 8: 12 "So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh."
· 1 Timothy 5:1-2 "Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity."
Adoption Should Result in a Change in the Way We Live in the World
· Ephesians 5: 5:1-2 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
· Philippians 2:14-15 "Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
Adoption Should Result in a Change in the Way We Present the Gospel
"It is proper to offer men justification, adoption and gift of the Spirit, if they will bur embrace Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel. We may, therefore, tell men that they must not think that they are called upon to live the Christian life in their present resources. Rather, they must come to Christ as poor and helpless sinners and from him receive all they need for life and godliness." Sam Waldron, 171-172.