As a teenager, I babysat for a little boy whose parents had adopted him. I saw the announcement they sent to their friends. It said, “I wasn’t expected, I was selected!” Adoption involves being chosen, wanted, and included. It really is an amazing thing!
In ancient times, in fact, slaves would sometimes become so loved and valued in their service that they were adopted as sons into the master’s family. Roman law, seeking to protect adoptees from what might have been perceived as double rejection, would not allow any adoption to be rescinded. You could disown a biological child, but could never disown a child you had adopted under Roman law. Adoption was fixed and unchangeable.
There are those who teach that all people on earth are children of God. He made them, therefore, they are His. But, the Bible doesn’t teach that. Yes, we are all given life by God, but because of the Fall, we are born into a family of sin, not into the family of God. We need to become part of God’s family – we need to be adopted. And that process requires action by each member of the Trinity.
First, we need Jesus. “Yet to all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12). John Owen refers to this as “. . . a judicial act exalting us into membership in that family, where God is the Father, Christ the elder brother, all saints and angels brethren and fellow-children, and the inheritance crown immortal and incorruptible that fades not away."*
Second, the Holy Spirit works. Again, from Owen, “The Spirit of Christ testifies to the heart and conscience of a believer that he is freed from all engagements to the family of Satan, and is become the son of God (Romans 8:14-15).”
Third, we have a new relationship with God, not just as our Creator and Judge, but now as our dearly-loved Father. Read it in Galatians, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7).
An heir? What will we inherit from our new Father? Many blessings in this life, to be sure – fruit of the Spirit, fellowship with our spiritual family, forgiveness, wisdom, and access to Him through prayer. But, then, when this life is over, we will live with Him, enjoying the beauty of the new earth and the amazement of His heavenly dwelling where there is always room for us.
What a Father! What a Brother! What a family! Let joy and peace reign in our lives every day because of this amazing, eternal, irreversible adoption!
*John Owen, Communion with God (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), p. 320.