Monday, April 23, 2007

Theology 101 - Adoption

(Clarification: This post addresses the Biblical doctrine of spiritual adoption--not human adoption. While I'm a great advocate of human adoption, this post is in keeping with my "Theology 101" series covering various aspects of Biblical theology.)

I realize that while adoption is a very familiar concept in our family (for obvious reasons), it may be a very unfamiliar topic to many others. However, for the believer it should become a very familiar and beloved topic!

I've understood the concept of adoption since I was very young, my aunt and uncle adopted my cousin in the early 70's. I grew up knowing that my cousin was adopted and so did he--there was no "whispering" about him being adopted. But he had such a deep and healthy sense of being part of his family--truly belonging--that he came home from school one day eager to share about a lab experiment. That day during the lab, the class tested and identified blood types. After questioning his parents regarding their blood types, "J" was puzzled that his blood type did not follow theirs like it should. At that point my aunt gently reminded J. that his blood type did not follow the pattern because he was not born to my aunt and uncle. THAT is how deep the sense of belonging should be in our heavenly family! And, it is exactly how God has designed it to be. Consider what J. I. Packer has to say about the doctrine of Adoption:

"Paul teaches that the gift of justification (i.e., present acceptance by God as the world's Judge) brings with it the status of sonship by adoption (i.e., permanent intimacy with God as one's heavenly Father, Gal. 3:26; 4:4-7). In Paul's world, adoption was ordinarily of young adult males of good character to become heirs and maintain the family name of the childless rich. Paul, however, proclaims God's gracious adoption of persons of bad character to become "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17).

Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ (John 1:12). The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ's now (Rom. 8:17, 38-39). Here and now believers are under God's fatherly care and discipline (Matt. 6:26; Heb. 12:5-11) and are directed, especially by Jesus, to live their whole lives in light of the knowledge that God is their Father in heaven. They are to pray to him as such (Matt. 6:5-13), imitate him as such (Matt. 5:44-48; 6:12, 14-15; 18:21-35; Eph. 4:32-5:2), and trust him as such (Matt. 6:25-34), thus expressing the filial instinct that the Holy Spirit has implanted in them (Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:6).

Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings (John 1:12-13), but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature. Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and takes action accordingly. "
Isn't it interesting--and very telling--that God does not make it a practice in Scripture of frequently calling us "adopted children", "adopted son/daughter", but He primarily calls us "HIS children", "HIS son/daughter". The fact that we have been adopted is no secret, but our being adopted is not a matter that he focuses on--because He has MADE us His very own, we are no longer strangers!

This of course, is a facet of Biblical truth that has become very noticeable to me because I am an adoptive mom. I/we do not call our daughters, "our adopted daughters", we do not introduce them as such, because they ARE our daughters. We have set our affection upon them and they are entitled to everything that a biological child would be entitled to. The fact or principle is known, but instead of weakening or "qualifying" the relationship, it merely sets the stage for the relationship.

May you, by God's grace and mercy, rejoice in the fact that such a wonderful loving Father adopts us into His family--as His son or daughter!


Marcian said...

I was thinking about adoption last night, and then I found this post. I appreciated the story of your cousin. We call God our Father but don't often make the distinction that He is our Father only because He chose us as Him children.

Connie said...

marcian: Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I followed the link to your blog and saw that you have Countryside Bible linked--we visited there several years ago with friends who lived in the area. Ran into a former DTS prof. of ours while we were there.

Also noted your love for storms--I enjoy them too, but like to keep my distance (having been raised in tornado alley)! Blessings!

Kim said...

What a beautiful post! I am often reminded through our adoption process of God's great love for us--that we could become His children and all the benefits that involves. Such a wonderful God!


Connie said...

kim: Thanks! I love how God causes us to "apply" our theology--moment by moment, day by day! It is both sweet and challenging.

Terri said...

Connie, The theology of our spiritual adoption is by far the sweetest to me. When I was a baby my biological father just disappeared leaving me, my mother and brother with out any explanation. I don't know exactly why if it was my mothers deep faith in God, but I grew up with an acute awareness that God was my heavenly Father. When I reflect on the years of my life as a child, rebellious teenager, and party hard adult, I can see so clearly how my heavenly Father was watching over me as a Father does their child. Sometimes I wrestle with the desire to find my biological father, I know roughly where he lives. He would literally be a stranger to me, yet on that glorious day when I meet my heavenly Father I will know and be known by Him as His deeply grateful daughter. Blessings, Terri

PS My computer went wacky so this might be a double post=(

Dan Cruver said...


Enjoyed reading your post (even though I didn't read it until August!)! Thank you. I am the Ministry Outreach Coordinator for Carolina Hope Christian Adoption Agency. We are working hard to articulate the connection between spiritual and human adoption. We believe that the more people grow in their understanding of spiritual adoption the more they will consider extending the same kind of kindness to orphans (whether through adopting themselves, assisting others to adopt, or through mission trips to orphanages around the world). Please check out our new blog which seeks to connect these two forms of adoption.


Dan Cruver

Connie said...

dan: I'm glad you found this post of value--whether it's a new or old post!! :-) I'm especially glad to know someone in the adoption field/ministry/business understands the Biblical picture of earthly/human adoption--keep spreading the Word!