Big Words of the Christian Life: Adoption (Part 1)January 29, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 17 Comments
Tags: adult children, assurance, Bema Seat, Biblical adoption, Ephesians 2, God's family, Hebrews 5, learning to walk, Romans 8, toddlers
Adoption, in the common every-day sense of the legal adoption of a child, involves three entities: a parent, a child, and a family. So does Biblical Adoption. However, the Biblical doctrine of Adoption demolishes some of our false applications of earthly practices to Heavenly realities.
Supposedly, when Charles Spurgeon, who held different views about God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s will from John Wesley, was asked if he expected to see Mr. Wesley in Heaven one day, Mr. Spurgeon replied, “No.” The questioner was somewhat taken aback, until Mr. Spurgeon elaborated further: “I don’t expect to see him in Heaven because he will be so near the throne of God, and I will be way in the back.” This was undoubtedly a tongue-in-cheek remark, and an example of Mr. Spurgeon’s good-natured self-deprecatory humor, but the fact remains: Many people do believe that, in Heaven, there may be people standing closer to the throne of God than others. This type of theory seems to fit in with the idea of rewards given to believers at the Bema seat of Christ, but, in one sense, it is a very worldly concept.
It is true that some believers are more mature than other believers (Hebrews 5:12-14). However, no believers have greater family rights than other believers. All believers have an “adult” standing in the family of God. That is the meaning of Biblical adoption: It is the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family. We get into God’s family by “birth” (regeneration, the second birth.) But we are given our standing (not our righteousness) by God through His act of adopting us. In other words, regeneration is how you get into God’s family. Justification is God’s declaration that you are right before Him in Jesus Christ. Adoption is how you experience your status as God’s child.
Your experience includes privileges and responsibilities. You are treated as an adult child, and God expects you to act like an adult child. The term “child” can refer to age or to relationship. Therefore, there are “adult children” (which sounds like an oxymoron, but is not in this case.)
Adoption, like justification, happens instantaneously. I want to use an acrostic to help study some key blessings under the doctrine of Biblical adoption. With each of these blessings we receive both a privilege and a responsibility.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Immediately upon being saved, through the act of adoption, we have knowledge of our own standing.
Privilege: Adults, unlike babies, know and understand who their parents are. They understand what it means to be in a family.
Responsibility: To learn more and more about God.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Babies cannot “follow” because they cannot walk. They have to be “carried.” Adults can walk. They can follow willingly. When my children were just learning to walk they would pull themselves to their feet and hold onto the edge of a piece of furniture. The reason they would let go of the furniture and take a few staggering, tentative steps to their dad was not because they wanted the independence of being able to move around freely on their own. The reason that they did it was because they wanted their father more than they wanted the security of the piece of furniture they were using to hold themselves up.
Privilege: We are able to walk in obedience.
Lost people cannot do this.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Responsibility: Being given the freedom to follow willingly, we must not walk after the flesh.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Next time, we will fill in some more of the acrostic: