Thursday, November 4, 2021

What It Means to Be Adopted by God

Q. 34: What is adoption?
Answer: Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God. (WSC)

Adoption is related to justification in that both of them are acts of God concerning our status. In justification, God pardons our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight. In adoption, God goes further and receives us as his children and heirs. Not only is he the judge that declares us innocent, but he is also the father who welcomes us as his own. Both of these acts are on the basis of his grace and received through faith in Christ. “...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26, see also John 1:12).

As those who are adopted, we have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. Inheritance was a major factor in adoption in the ancient world. This is true in some biblical discussions of adoption as well. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 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” (Rom. 8:16–17, see also Gal. 4:7). This is one reason why we are all, male and female, called “sons” of God, to emphasize the fact that we are all heirs of glory (sons being the heirs of their fathers in biblical times unless there were no sons, e.g. Lev. 27:1-11).

By virtue of our adoption, we can also expect our Father's protection and provision, for both body and soul. Jesus speaks about this in Mathew 6. Our Heavenly Father can be relied upon to provide us with the food, clothing, and deliverance from temptation and evil (Matt. 6:10-13, 25-34). We are not orphans, but have a father who looks out for us. We also have access to him in prayer, as children have access to their fathers, and can expect to be heard and answered.
“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9–11)
We can also expect the privilege of discipline as sons of God. Discipline may not seem like a privilege until you realize what it is to lack wise and loving discipline. The book of Proverbs shows the importance of discipline, correction, and instruction and the danger of being without it. As a good father, God trains his children and corrects them when they go astray. As Hebrews 12 says, in the context of trials and persecution, 
“God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons … For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-8, 11)

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