As we continue through our study we now have a comprehension of Who God is. We know what it means that there is no God but one God. We know that the God the Father is Himself full deity, not lacking in “Godness” apart from His own Spirit and His own Son – but being complete. We have at least a vague but technical comprehension of the incomprehensible nature of God the Father; and we have seen His Supremacy in the godhead – the Trinity. What remains then to be seen is our own relationship to Him.
For those who are not born again the only relationship possible with God is that is the relationship of the judged to judge. But for those who come to the Father through Jesus Christ the relationship transforms beyond imagination: John 1:12 summarizes the reality when we read:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Through faith in Jesus Christ we are more than forgiven, we are adopted.
We are adopted by the Father’s Sovereignty
Open your Bible this morning to the first chapter of Ephesians; where we begin our journey with the Father’s role in our adoption as sons.
(Read Ephesians 1:3-14)
Eph. 1:5 Tells us first that the Father adopted us to Himself. Second it tells us that we are adopted through Jesus Christ which we’ll talk about in a moment. And third it informs us that God in his sovereignty predestined us to adoption as sons. In Eternity past God determined those who would be adopted. 1 The point being that we are adopted by the Father’s absolute sovereignty and not by our own hands.
Everywhere in scripture where adoption is the content, the context see’s God as the activator and we as the recipient of God’s adoption. This was all done to the praise of the glory of his Grace. Our adoption points directly to the overflowing grace of God. And Look at verse eight where that grace is described as “lavished” upon us. The word used for lavished there is beautiful in it’s meaning of “Over and above”.
The Father’s grace lavished upon us doesn’t mean that he merely gave us lots of grace it means that his grace overpowers, overflows and is superabundantly stacked towering above our heads with grace upon grace, of gifts and glory and forgiveness and knowledge and relationship and love and redemption stacked higher and higher and higher until over and above us it floods our souls and overwhelms our being! So great a grace is this which God has poured out upon us by adopting us as sons through Jesus Christ!
The Father in in his absolute authority predestined us before the earth was made to adoption through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace which is poured out in torrents upon us. In that phrase do not miss that we are adopted through the Son!
We are adopted Through Jesus
We’ve already talked about God revealing Himself as Father and having supremacy in the trinity; but the great revelation of God the Father to us through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ is that through receiving Jesus as Savior we gain the right to be called Children of God. John 1:12.
Keep your mark here in Ephesians where we’ll return but open also your Bible to John 1:12. (Read!)
Adoption does not happen for those who do not receive Jesus Christ. I’ll say it again, you are not adopted by the Father if you do not receive Jesus Christ. Notice please and notice it clearly that it was “to those who received Him…” it was to those “Who believe in His name..” that God gave the right to become children of God.
Galatians 3:36 emphasizes the necessity of Jesus’ role in our adoption when it says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
So we can see that our adoption is done BY the Father having been predestined in eternity past, and that our adoption is accomplished through Jesus by Faith. What then of the Holy Spirit’s role in our adoption?
We are confirmed through the Spirit
Twice in the Bible we see the Holy Spirit’s active role in our adoption. And in both instances His work is identically confirmatory. First in Romans 8:15 and second in Galatians 4:6.
“ For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” ” ( Romans 8:15 , NASB95)
“ Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” ” ( Galatians 4:6 , NASB95)
In both of these passages, it is God the Spirit confirming to us in the core of our being that we belong to and are adopted by the Father. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to cry out to the Father not as a distant deity but as a Father who is near to us.
Again we can see that our adoption is predestined by the Father, accomplished through Jesus by faith and confirmed by the Holy Spirit who cries out within our hearts in recognition of God as our own Father. What is our role in this adoption process?
We are called in adoption to Holiness
It means we respond with holiness. “ If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. ” ( 1 Peter 1:17–19 , NASB95)
Notice that Peter isn’t talking about how we make ourselves adopted, he is talking about our response to it. If you address God as Father (Which implies your adoption) than you’d best live in holiness. Why? Because your salvation has been bought with the most expensive substance of all eternity: The blood of Christ.
We are predestined to adoption by the Father, we are adopted through Jesus by faith, and the Holy Spirit of God Himself cries out in our hearts in this new relationship of adoption. Let us therefore be holy.
I would be remiss if I went any further without asking the only question that matters. Have you been adopted by the Father? Have you by faith come to Jesus? It’s possible for you to sit a lifetime in these pews and not to be born again in to a new and living hope. It’s possible to fool yourself into thinking that nodding your head in agreement to the facts is enough to save your soul. If you don’t know, today is the day to make sure of it.
This power of adoption is seen In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus which traces Joseph’s lineage – and thereby makes the connection that Jesus though not Joseph’s blood son, was adopted as Joseph’s son. Joseph then being a descendant of David and a legal heir to the throne is able through the power of adoption to pass that same legal right to Jesus his adopted son. 2
Adoption is a powerful image even today. But I think it’s important to note that the background for the disciple’s thinking about adoption came out of their own culture which was heavily influenced by Roman culture. According to Roman custom the ceremony of adoption had four distinct effects. 3
- The adopted person lost all rights in his old family, and gained all the rights of a fully legitimate son in his new family.
- He became heir to his new father’s estate.
- The old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out. For instance, legally all debts were canceled; they were wiped out as if they had never been.
- In the eyes of the law the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father.
It was against this backdrop that we are described as being adopted by the Father. The doctrine of being adopted by the Father is central then to understanding our current position as believers in Jesus Christ.
Because we are adopted by the Father, we are not hoping to separate ourselves from Adam (our old family) it has been done!
Because we are adopted by the Father, We are not hoping to inherit what God our Father has for us, it is promised! (also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (Eph 1:11 NAU)) The Holy Spirit Himself has been given to us as a pledge of our inheritance! (Eph 1:13-14)
Because we are adopted by the Father all of the debts incurred in sin have been canceled, wiped completely from the record for we are not our own!
Because we are adopted by the Father we stand legally and absolutely as children of the Living God!
Therefore, as you have received such a rich and glorious new identity as a child of God, I exhort you to live it, celebrate it, flaunt the majestic grace of God before the world in desperate hope that some may see the wonder of it and desire also to embrace this Christ who has purchased us for holy adoption by God the Father!
1Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997), 106.
2Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997), p222
3 Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1997), 329. quoting William Barclay,The Letter to the Romans Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1957), pp. 110–11.