Confessing Our Faith In the Culture – Chapter 12

Of Adoption

A. The need

1.       unmarried mothers – see Barna update, 05/07/07

o        age 23-41: 1 out of 3, 1 out of 6 never married

o        age 18-22: 4 out of 5

2.       broken homes – see stats

o        father-love as a predictor

3.       the effects on individuals and society – see stats and IMAPP excerpt

o        crime rate

o        substance abuse

B. The theology

The greatness of the doctrine:

Justification is a great blessing; but adoption is greater. Justification is the constituting or making a person righteous in the eye of the law; delivering him from every charge of guilt, or obnoxiousness to punishment, and furnishing him with an active righteousness, commensurate to its utmost demands. …simply to be justified, would be only recovering us from the ruins of the apostasy, and reinstating man in his former dominion, holiness and happiness. This would be grace. It would be free, unmerited grace; and, admitting it to be confirmed, would be infinitely valuable. But who does not see, that the price of our redemption is too precious to be expended in this way, and for no greater end? Here then comes in the necessity of the superlative grace of adoption; which is necessary to render our state better than it was before — necessary to raise us above the condition of servants; and to enlarge the expressions of the infinite kindness of God towards the elect; and especially necessary to reward, in an ample and satisfactory manner, the beloved Son of God for the arduous work of our redemption. The persons for whom Christ died, were the objects of his delight from eternity. He could not therefore have been satisfied, that they should be eternally removed from his presence. Philadelphia Baptist Association, Circular Letter, 1786, Rev. Thomas Ustick

The importance of purity of the doctrine:

To substitute the message of God’s universal fatherhood for that which is constituted by redemption and adoption is to annul the gospel; it means the degradation of this highest and richest of relationships to the level of that relationship which all men sustain to God by creation. In a word, it is to deprive the gospel of its redemptive meaning. And it encourages men in the delusion that our creaturehood is the guarantee of our adoption into God’s family. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 136

1.       the beneficiaries

o        the justified Galatians 3:24-26

2.       the basis

o        Christ’s work of redemption Galatians 4:4-5

3.       the blessings

o        liberties and privileges of children John 1:12; Romans 8:17

o        compassion Psalm 103:13

o        protection Proverbs 14:26

o        provision 1 Peter 5:7

o        direction Hebrews 12:6

C. The presentation

1.       you have a need

o        you never knew your father

o        you wish you never knew your father

o        you have no clue what to expect from a good father

2.       God has a solution Psalms 68:5-6

o        the gift of Himself


While it is both theologically and practically misleading to offer men regeneration or the new birth as a response to their complying with the gospel, it is proper to offer men justification, adoption and the gift of the Spirit, if they will but embrace Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel. …They are to receive from Christ through the empty hand of faith the enormous blessings of justification, adoption and the gift of the Spirit. As justified, adopted and empowered sons of God they are then to live the Christian life. What tremendous blessings we have to offer men in the gospel of Christ. Samuel Waldron, Modern Exposition of the 1689, p. 171

Like many aspects of salvation, there is an eschatological component of adoption. Believers “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” ( Rom. 8:23 ). The full revelation of the believer’s adoption is freedom from the corruption present in the world. Being a member of God’s family includes the ultimate privilege of being like him ( 1 John 3:2 ) and being conformed to the glorious body of Christ ( Phil. 3:21 ). This is part of the promised inheritance for all God’s children ( Rom. 8:16–17 ). Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Adoption, William E. Brown

The supreme demonstration of God’s love was the sending of his Son to die for our sins and to rise again so that sinners might have the right to approach God and might have the pleasure of his presence forever. In order for the Christian gospel to be good news it must provide an all-satisfying and eternal gift that undeserving sinners can receive and enjoy. For that to be true, the gift must be three things. First, the gift must be purchased by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. … Second, the gift must be free and not earned. … Third, the gift must be God himself, above all his other gifts. John Piper, God is the Gospel, p. 14.


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