We Are Adopted Into God’s Family

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Eph. 1:4b-5)

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. (Gal. 4:4-5)

In the early months of 1984, God adopted me into his family by opening my 19-year-old ears to the gospel and applying its truth to my heart by the Spirit. At the time, I was a prisoner to sin and a spiritual orphan but didn’t know it. Though religious, I did not know the Lord; I did not have a living relationship with God.

It all started one weekend when I was not scheduled to work at the group home where I lived. Sunday morning, I decided to visit the church that my sister and brother-in-law had recently begun to attend. The simplicity of the gathering took me by surprise. There was exuberant singing, preaching from an open Bible, and congregational prayer. Absent from the service were the fancy religious garb and ceremonial ritual that I was accustomed to.  

However, one characteristic about that morning stood out to me the most: the people clearly wanted to be with one another and openly expressed love for each other and for me. Strangest of all, they lingered for almost an hour afterward to visit with one another. They acted like they belonged to a family, not a religious organization. Their contagious joy left an impression on me.

The following week, I responded to a welcome letter from the pastor and decided to join a home Bible study in the Gospel of John. Each week the blinders that covered my spiritual eyes were being removed a little bit at a time so that I began to see Jesus Christ as never before. By the time we reached the third chapter, the Spirit had prepared me to meet Jesus alongside a religious man named Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). Soon after, that religious man’s encounter with Jesus became my own when, in the privacy of my bedroom, I found myself crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. By faith, I turned from the futile self-effort of religion to the only One who could save me from the power and penalty of my sin. And I was adopted into God’s family.

According to Scripture, a believer’s adoption is rich with the assurance of God’s ongoing love and commitment as our heavenly Father. Spiritual adoption may be defined this way: Adoption is the gracious act of God by which he places the believer in Jesus Christ into his family, giving him or her the full rights and privileges of mature sonship. Therefore, adoption results in a personal, permanent relationship and a new status. Instantly, on our adoption day, we received the full rights and privileges of a full-grown heir whose name is included in the guaranteed inheritance.

In Ephesians, the apostle assures us that it was God’s love that motivated him to predestine us “for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.” In Galatians, he makes it clear that “God sent forth his Son” to redeem us “so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Picture a rich father who plans to share the fullness of his wealth with his son. However, the son is still a child and, therefore, cannot receive the inheritance until he has reached mature adulthood. Though a son positionally, he is functionally like his father’s slave or household servant. But then God broke into our lost world by giving his Son! At the perfect time, “when the fullness of time had come,” the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. He did this “to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

As we learned previously, the Holy Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance as a child of God and heir of Christ through whom we can approach God: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:6-7).

So What?

In Christ, God not only rescued you from the condemnation of the Law but he brought you into his loving family where you are meant to enjoy the full privileges of mature sonship. Why not cry out to your heavenly Father right now?

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