My family has been a licensed NJ Foster Home for a while now, in that time we have seen many kids come through our door. Some only needing to stay a short time, others several months, and maybe one day (perhaps in the near future) we will be faced with the very real question of adoption. Will we consider making this child a permanent part of our family, we officially become “Mom” and “Dad,” our kids become “Brother” and “Sister,” and we get to call them our “Son” or “Daughter” – with all the rights and privileges therein. Let’s be straight up – that is a big deal. Huge. Perhaps in this life there is no bigger commitment or responsibility than becoming a parent.
The concept of adoption is that a child who has been rejected or orphaned from their birth family can be fully accepted as a member of another family. In that is actually a beautiful picture of the gospel. Let me explain.
Spiritually, we are all orphans – alienated from our Heavenly Father by sin. Sin that is in us from the Fall and sin that we have willingly committed in rebellion against God’s authority in our lives. Just like there is nothing a child can do to make themselves be adopted by another family, there is nothing that we can do spiritually to make us adopted by God. It is an act of his jaw-dropping grace that he adopts us. He pursues rebellious sinners and chooses to lavish his love on us in Jesus thru the cross. Let’s look at a few elements of our spiritual adoption:
- God pays the full adoption price in Jesus. Adoption is costly financially. Those of you who have adopted internationally are well aware of this. Then there is the normal expenses of providing for a child. Adoption is also costly in other ways as well – we give a part everything we have with another child – our time, our emotional energy, our comfort…our sleep! Likewise, the price of our spiritual adoption is extremely high – it is the life of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. This is an infinitely high price, one that no one can pay except God alone. He pays it, and we receive adoption. Galatians 4 helps us understand this more deeply – “But 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 ESV) Theologian and author J.I. Packer wrote if he had to summarize the message of the New Testament in three words it would be “adoption through propitiation.” God adopting us by providing a wrath-bearing sacrifice (“propitiation”) in Jesus.
- We are adopted with all the rights and privileges of God’s child. When a child is adopted into a family, they assume the family name and everything that goes along with it. This is an astounding fact. We become children of God. I heard a Pastor say the other day “We are all God’s creation, but not all His children.” We become His children by faith in Jesus Christ. John 1:12 tells us clearly – “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12 ESV) Becoming a part of our family is cool and all, but has limited rights and privileges (we aren’t all that famous or wealthy…) BUT, when we place our faith in Jesus, God adopts us into His family! Check out Ephesians 1:1-14 for a more detailed list of our blessings of being adopted.
- Through adoption, we have direct and intimate access to God as our Father. Children have (or should have) unrestricted and continuous access to their parents. Kids should have that feeling that they are special and dearly loved by their moms and dads. They do not need to go thru anyone else to be with mom or dad. We do not need to go thru a priest, a prophet, or any kind of middle man. We do not need to be at a certain spiritual level in order to be accepted by God. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”” (Galatians 4:6 ESV) The great Dr. Ryan Boys said that there is no evidence of any ancient Jewish prayers where they called God “Father” – now thru adoption by faith in Jesus we can!
- By adopting us, God makes us heirs to Himself and His kingdom. Let’s pretend for a moment that my family had amassed a fortune worth billions of dollars, and I had no children. By adopting a child, they would become heirs to everything I had as my “official” child. Here’s the crazy thing – is there anything of more supreme worth than God himself? This is mind blowing even more. We will inherit God himself. The joy of being with God is God himself. Again, Paul’s letter to the Galatians is helpful in understanding this concept more: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:7 ESV) Pastor and Author CJ Mahaney spent over an hour plunging the depths of this mystery at the 2015 Sovereign Grace WorshipGod conference, I would say that will be an hour worth your time. (To see that message click here).
All of this is grace and all of it should amaze and astound us with the blessings that God provides in us. When others notice that we are caring for the widows and orphans and praise us, it is an immediate opening to briefly share that this is the picture of our spiritual adoption in Jesus. As we show grace to others, let us remember the grace of God in adopting us in Christ Jesus. Dustin Kensrue sums things up well in his song “Grace Alone” –
I was an orphan lost at the fall
Running away when I’d hear your call
But Father, you worked your will
I had no righteousness of my own
I had no right to draw near your throne
But Father, you loved me still
And in love before you laid the world’s foundation
You predestined to adopt me as your own
You have raised me up so high above my station
I’m a child of God by grace and grace alone
You left your home to seek out the lost
You knew the great and terrible cost
But Jesus, your face was set
I worked my fingers down to the bone
Nothing I did could ever atone
But Jesus, you paid my debt
By your blood I have redemption and salvation
Lord, you died that I might reap what you have sown
And you rose that I might be a new creation
I am born again by grace and grace alone