I’m Adopted!

One of the many spiritual blessings that comes to us in Christ is adoption. Yes, if you’ve received Christ, you are adopted! Truth not only sets us free, but it enables us to enjoy the awesome blessings afforded us by God, which came at a great cost to Himself. So consider with me some of the amazing facets of this ‘gem’ called: adoption. “Adoption, is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have the right to all the privileges of the sons of God” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). The word literally means ‘the placing of a son.’ In the flow of God’s redeeming activity, adoption logically follows our regeneration. Regeneration gives us God’s nature as His child and adoption gives us the position as a child of God. By adoption, we are brought into the family of our heavenly Father and fellowship with Him as His dear children. The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. This act is at the heart of the gospel. God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how He saved us, or even how we become part of His family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all His children were described as children by nature only: “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” (John 1:12-13). But God chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Adoption was costly for God, in fact the ‘price’ was infinitely high, though vitally necessary. “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” (Galatians 4:4-5). To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? It cost God the price of His Son’s life. Adoption also involves the legal status of the child. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6). There were legal realities God had to deal with in making us His children. Righteousness was required and punishment was demanded. God had to satisfy His justice and His law in order to adopt sinners into His family. This He did by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. Adoption is blessed because God pours out His Spirit of sonship into our hearts. Again listen to these words: “…God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6) and “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” (Romans 8:15-16). God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when He adopts us. He does not leave us without feelings of acceptance and love – He pours His Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term “abba”– it is an Aramaic word.  Jesus in Gethsemane prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” In adopting us, God gives us the very same Spirit of His Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.

But the blessings keep coming because adoption transforms us morally through the person and power of the Holy Spirit. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). God does not leave His children without helping them to bear the moral image of the family. We can trust that His help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform His children. Adoption also brings to us the rights of being heirs of the Father. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:6-7). There is no childhood period in the sphere of the Christian’s responsibility. At the moment of our spiritual birth, we are advanced to a position of maturity. Whatever God says to believers, He says to all – regardless of how long they are saved. God’s adoption is not a random or whimsical undertaking, rather it was intentionally planned. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Adoption was not a ‘Plan B’ in God’s mind. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by His adopted children. Adoption was not second best, it was planned from the beginning. Finally, adoption is out of very bad situations. We were by nature ‘children of wrath,’ like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3). God did not find us like an abandoned child bundled up and neatly placed on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly, evil, and rebellious sinners. There was nothing attractive about us. We would not be ‘easy’ children to deal with, especially in light of His absolute holiness. So realise that all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any adoption that has ever occurred in the world of men.
So tell me, aren’t you glad that you’re adopted?

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