No doubt, you know people who are adopted or who have adopted children into their family. Perhaps, you are adopted. With my wife’s and my experience of serving a mission to Haiti, we immediately noted the two Haitian children the new nominee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, and her husband had adopted into their already sizable family. These two busy legal minds, judge and lawyer, portrayed compassion as well as the willingness to designate significant resources to offer a better life to these children. Adoption is a legal process by which the adoptee is granted all the same benefits that children who are born into the family enjoy. All the love, support, and guidance that parents shower on natural-born children are available to adopted children.
Adoption is a biblical word, just like the word “justification”. A simple definition of justification would be: “just as if I’d never sinned.” When we place our full trust in Christ and his sacrificial death on our behalf for the forgiveness of sin, we are declared righteous by God! He sees us as if we are (and we are) in Christ, his sinless Son. We become recipients of God’s amazing love and grace but purchased at an enormous cost. We become part of the family of God with full legal standing.
Interestingly, J. I. Packer, in his classic book, “Knowing God”, says that: “Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers, higher than justification. Justification is the primary, fundamental blessing, but adoption is higher because of the richer relationship with God that it involves. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love and viewing God a Father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship – he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection, and generosity are at the heart of the relationship.”
Many Scriptural references reflect this relationship. Here are a few.
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:4-7
The apostle Paul repeats this truth when writing to the believers in Rome and Ephesus.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”’ Romans 8:15
“In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:5-6
And, the Apostle John could hardly contain himself when he declared:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
What a privilege to be part of God’s family. We can enjoy all the spiritual blessings that are ours in this relationship. We can experience the security we all crave because it is Almighty God who has adopted us; we will never be separated from God’s family. Just as human children with loving parents, we have a loving Father who helps in time of need, who protects, provides, and disciplines us. He is always available to listen to our cries, our needs, and our worship. We love him because he first loved us!
Finally and amazingly, because we are “in Christ’, and he is the Son of God, we can call Jesus our “elder brother” who stands in our place. The writer to the Hebrews assures us that Jesus regards all those for whom he died, and whom he makes into his disciples, as his brothers and sisters.
“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 2:11
Perhaps you are adopted and the victim of bad parenting; your natural-born siblings are treated preferentially better than you. It is a painful experience. You can take heart because you have a perfect, loving Father and a community of brothers and sisters, all part of God’s family. Here is J. I. Packer again.
“God receives us as sons and daughters, and he loves us with the same steadfast affection with which he eternally loves his beloved Only Begotten. There are no distinctions of affection in the divine family. We are all loved just as fully as Jesus is loved…This, and nothing less than this, is what adoption means.”