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“I’m Adopted”

                For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

 

                In a recent Bible class we were discussing the above verse when a question was brought up about adoption and how that relates to us as heirs.  The question dealt with the difference between one who is natural born and one who is not.  Let us take a few minutes to discuss what the New Testament says about our spiritual adoption.

                We are all sons of God in a sense.  In Luke 3:38 where the lineage of Christ takes us back to Adam it says, “…the son of Adam, the son of God.”  We also read in Acts 17:28-29 where Paul is speaking to idolaters in Athens, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as also some of you own poets have said ‘for we are His offspring’.  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, or something shaped by art and man’s devising.”  In these verses we learn that being human we are “related” to God if you will.  Genesis 1:26-27 tells us we are created in the image of God.  But this description has nothing to do with salvation.  It is more about our dominion over the earth and how we are subject to God.  It is no secret that human beings are unique in many ways – having the ability to reason and build in detail.  We are the only creatures with a conscience and the ability to build civilizations.  We are the only creatures that can read and write and leave a legible history for future generations.  We are the only creatures that see something beyond this life.  In all these things we are like God.  But such says nothing about our salvation.

                When we speak of being “adopted” in the 5 texts of the New Testament (Rom. 8:15, 23, 9:4, Gal. 4:5 & Eph. 1:5) we are speaking of those who, because of sin, were alienated from God and destined to eternal condemnation (Isa. 59:2, Jer. 5:25, 2 Thess. 1:8-9) but WE obeyed the gospel and were delivered from death.  (Yes, I am proud that I have been adopted by God).  In so doing  we became a part of God’s family.  Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  “In Christ” we are a part of His family.  We are described as “sons of God” (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 6:26), “children of God” (Rom. 8:16, John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-2) and “the adoption”.

                In what sense are we adopted?  Let us consider the passages that mention adoption.

·         For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15) 
Earlier in Romans Paul made reference to those who were in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:6, 17).  Paul’s point in 8:15 is that we have escaped that bondage and are now part of God’s family instead.  We can call on our heavenly Father because of this relationship.  And it is a loving relationship.  It is worthy of note before moving on that because of this relationship (being led by the Spirit) we need to obey Him (Rom. 8:1, 12-15).
As you continue to read this text you find, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with your spirit that we are children of God, and if children, the heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (8:16-17)  Notice the result of our adoption – we are heirs of God, having a hope when this life is over.  What more do we need to say about adoption?  (But we will)

·         “ Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23) 
The context of this verse finds us in the world and frustrated because of its failures.  But we know that even though we must continue to live in this world (cf. John 17:11), because we are adopted by God, we can hope for that inheritance with Him when this life is over (8:24-25).  Therefore we persevere as long as our Father desires that we remain on this earth.

·         Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; (Romans 9:4).
In this text Paul is expressing grief because of Israel’s rejection of God (9:1-3).  In verses 4 & 5 he notes that the nation had so much advantage in God’s eyes.  One of those advantages was “the adoption”.  The point being that God chose them to bring salvation to all of mankind (though they did not understand or accept that).  They had special privileges because they were God’s chosen.  You might call it “the inside track” to God.  But they rejected Him and left Him no recourse but to turn to others.
How does this “adoption” apply to us?  Specifically in the text it does not (it had reference to the Jews) but we can take confidence that in the same way God chose them to be His special people (for His special purpose to bring Christ and salvation into the world – cf. Gal. 3:24) even so we have been chosen to be part of His family.   We are REMINDED that we belong to Him.

·          To redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:5)  In this text, Paul is explaining the purpose of the Law was to bring Christ to all the world.  He notes it happened just as God planned (“the fullness of time”).  The result of Christ coming was, “that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  In other words, through Christ we can be added to God’s family!

·         Finally, ”Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,( Ephesians 1:5)
The adoption of this verse is the same adoption mentioned in Romans and Galatians, our being added to God’s family.  However, in this text we find that it is a product of being chosen by Him and being predestined to become part of His family.  Phrases such as these (chosen & predestined) are misunderstood by many to mean that God predetermined specific persons before the foundation of the world to be saved and that all others will be lost.  The result is that we have no control of our eternal destiny (This is the essence of true Calvinism).  This doctrine is patently false as it makes God a respecter of persons (cf. Acts 10:34, Job 37:24, 1 Peter 1:17, Col. 3:11, Rom. 2:11, Gal. 2:6, etc.) and it removes our free will (cf. Ezek. 18:4, 20; 2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:12, Mark 16:16, etc.) and further more it presents all sorts of problems with the nature of God’s goodness, grace, fairness, love, etc.  The point of Ephesians 1:5 is that in our adoption we have hope!  REJOICE in it!

 

                Does being adopted make us any less the heirs of God?  NOT at all.  As a rule, when parents adopt a child, they do so unconditionally and treat that child as if he were a product of their birth.  Are there exceptions and bad experiences in this world? Certainly.  But there is no way that God can be compared to such.   All that He has done for us is out of love (John 3:16).  As our heavenly Father He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7, cf. Luke 12:30-32) and even chastens us (Heb. 12:3-11).  And He desires to give us a home in heaven with Him when this life is over.  That is the point of these contexts that speak of our adoption.  Furthermore, it will be shared with our Lord Jesus Christ, the only TRUE Son (i.e. not adopted).  What a comfort it is to know that I am adopted by my heavenly father!

                That leads to this question: How do I become adopted? To become a part of God’s family you must obey the gospel.  Salvation is found IN Christ.  We become a part of Christ through believing in Him (John 8:24, 3:16), repenting of our sinful past (Luke 13:3 & 5, Acts 2:38), confessing Him as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10, cf. Acts 8:37) and being baptized for the remission of your sins calling on His name (Acts 2:38, 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, etc.).  Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  Romans 6:3-4 says that we are “baptized into His death…Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

                And thus we can see the adoption of the New Testament.  Friend, this adoption is not something you want to miss out on.  Have you done what is required to be adopted by Him?  Think about it!