Word of the Week: Adoption

Some of the greatest people I know have fostered and adopted little ones into their home. There is just something right and wonderful about a family making a home for a child in need.

Adoption is a glorious concept. Theologically, adoption is the aspect of salvation whereby God brought us into his family.

Paul highlights adoption in the book of Romans.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 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!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God17 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.

Romans 8:14-17 (emphasis mine)

In the Old Testament, God’s people were a specific nation. God chose Abraham and his descendants (Isaac, Jacob, and the patriarchs), to be his people. To be identified with God in the Old Testament was to be a part of the Hebrew people. But even in the Old Testament, there were promises that God’s people would include more than a race (Hosea 1:9-10; Psalm 96).

In the New Testament, God fulfilled these promises in the doctrine of adoption. God adopted those into his family who were not previously part of his family. This is the promise for every believer. We are now children of God (John 1:12), and as children of God, we are heirs of God (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Upon hearing they were adopted through Christ, the first believers would have been astounded. According to Roman law, when someone was adopted into a family, they could never be disinherited. A biological child could be disinherited, but not an adopted one. Used in this context, the doctrine of adoption is not only glorious, but it is also guaranteed. God will never disinherit us once he’s chosen us for his family.

Adoption is a great blessing that reflects the love of God for us.

Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. J. I. Packer (quoted in The Preacher’s Catechism, 97). 

J. I. Packer (quoted by Lewis Allen in The Preacher’s Catechism, 97). 

Because we have been declared right with God through justification, we can be made into sons and daughters of God. God adopted us into his family, giving us a family. We belong to Someone, our Heavenly Father. We have the greatest big Brother, Jesus Christ. And we have a universal family, all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But not only does adoption give us a family, adoption makes us heirs of God. We will share in the abundance and wealth of our Heavenly Father. Sinclair Ferguson describes our inheritance this way:

According to the Law, as Paul knew, the firstborn son received a double inheritance, while all the others received a single portion (Deut. 21:17; cf. 2 Kings 2:9). But neither the Father nor the Son binds Himself to the limits of the Law. Paul declares: “[We are all] heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Do you see the implication? All that belongs to the last Adam is for us. As the early church fathers delighted in saying, Christ took what was ours so that we might receive what was His. All that is His is ours: “All things are yours:… the world or life or death, or things present or things to come-all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:21-23).

Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (kindle edition, locations 1015-1019)

You may or may not have much in this life. But if you have been adopted into the family of God, you have all that belongs to Christ. As adopted heirs of the One True King, we are rich.

  • The blessing of adoption should make us grateful. God adopted us. He chose us to be part of his family. That is a glorious thought.
  • The blessing of adoption should make us joyful. We have God, and God has us. We can rejoice no matter our circumstances in life because we belong to the God who rules all things.
  • The blessing of adoption should make us evangelistic. God doesn’t want a small family. The bigger, the better. The more, the merrier. We should share the good news of Christ because all who repent and believe receive the gift of being children of God.
  • The blessing of adoption should make us generous. God owns everything, and as his children we inherit what he has. We can be generous with what he has blessed us with, for there is so much more to inherit.

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

One thought on “Word of the Week: Adoption

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