When Adam’s descendants through Abraham wound up slaves in Egypt, something tremendous happened. God didn’t just save them from Pharaoh; He called Israel His own son (Ex. 4:23). God was at work, bringing a fallen people near Him. He brought them into the land He had promised to Abraham and pledged, if they would serve Him, that He would once again walk among them—just as He did in Eden (Lev. 26:12).
Sadly, Israel failed. They repeatedly rejected God’s law and His love. David knew God was a compassionate Father to those who feared Him, but no one feared Him as they should (Ps. 103:13).
What God did next still sends a thrill up the Christian’s spine. The perfect, sovereign, just Creator—the eternal Father—sent His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, into the world. Jesus gave up His life, bearing His Father’s wrath as He suffered and died on the cross. Yet by this tragedy, God accomplished the unthinkable—He accomplished atonement for His people. In the application of that atonement, He justifies sinners (Rom. 3:24) and gives them new birth (2 Cor. 5:17). Not only that, but the Father welcomes them into His family (Gal. 3:26; 4:4–7). Is there better news?
We live in a world full of people longing for a home, a place to belong, and a seat at the table. God the Father, through God the Son and by the power of God the Spirit, does so much more. He gives repentant sinners His very name and makes them His heirs (Rom. 8:17).
Is This Doctrine Sweet to You?
This doctrine should be sweet to you for many reasons.
First, the doctrine of adoption is closely related to the doctrine of assurance. All who have “received the Spirit of adoption” have God’s Spirit testifying within them that they are “children of God” (Rom. 8:15–16). The doctrine of assurance is as wonderful and mysterious as a father’s undying love for his prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32). If you struggle with the assurance of your salvation, run to God who adopted you. The blood of Christ did more than justify you—it also made God your Father.
Second, the doctrine of adoption helps us understand and appreciate the church. If you’ve ever traveled abroad and spent time with believers in other countries, you likely rejoiced about all you have in common. Regardless of language and cultural differences, you share the same love of God, view of the world, and hope of a new heaven and earth. Why? Because they are your brothers and sisters. You have a global family.
Not only has God given you a global church, but He calls you into a local church. When Jesus told His disciples that following Him would mean losing everything, He encouraged them with promise of a new family:
Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29–30).
The Christian life is hard, but it comes with a home—a local church. This is a family of justified sinners who are now your family. If you struggle with feelings of loneliness, not only can you remember God is your Father, you can also remember that you are part of a local church filled with your spiritual siblings and parents.
Third, the doctrine of adoption is a motivation to act. A few years ago, when my wife and I became foster parents, it wasn’t out of guilt. We did not think James 1:27 implied that every Christian had to open up his home to an orphan. God simply captivated us with the biblical theology of adoption. He warmed our hearts with the truth that when we were weak and ungodly, Christ died for us, providing us with adoption into the family of God (Rom. 5:6–11). Our own adoption of a little girl in 2015 is nothing but the dimmest reflection of the love God has lavished on us.
Meditate on the doctrine of adoption. The Spirit will make it sweet to you. More than that, He will lead you to act. You may not adopt an orphan, but you will most certainly give of yourself to others, expecting nothing in return. This is the doctrine of adoption at work.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 21, 2019.