Category Archives: Adoption

“This God is your God” by Jonathan Edwards

“This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened– this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.

He is reconciled to you and has become your friend. There is a friendship between you and the Almighty. You have become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.

Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He has become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.

He cares for you, and will see that you are provided for, and will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you. He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with His Son, and will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.

You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.

The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1992), 435. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here. Edwards was only nineteen years old when preached this sermon.

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“Adoption is a miracle of mercy” by Thomas Watson

“See the amazing goodness of God, that He is pleased to enter into this sweet relation of a Father.

God needed not to adopt us. He did not lack a Son, but we lacked a Father.

God showed power in being our Maker, but mercy in being our Father.

When we were enemies, and our hearts stood out as garrisons against God, that He should conquer our stubbornness, and of enemies make us children, and write His name and put His image upon us, and bestow a kingdom of glory, what a miracle of mercy is this!

Every adopted child may say, ‘Even so Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight,’ Mat. 11:26.

If God be a Father, then hence I infer, whatever He doth to His children is love.”

–Thomas Watson, The Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, Comprising His Celebrated Body of Divinity, in a Series of Lectures on the Shorter Catechism, and Various Sermons and Treatises (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 389.

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“Adoption in Christ” by Marcus Peter Johnson

“Jesus Christ is an inexhaustible fountain of blessing to us (Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:30). When He gives Himself to us that we might enjoy Him, He is not only our justification—the One through whom we experience the forgiveness of sins and the fellowship of His righteousness—He is also our sanctification— the One through whom we are made holy and are transformed into His image.

Yet He is the source of yet another blessing, one so amazing that it would be blasphemous to suggest if it were not true. In our union with Christ, the only begotten Son of God, we participate in what is most precious to Him: His relationship with His Father.

We are, in union with Christ, adopted into the family of God; we become the children, the sons and daughters, of the Most High God. The blessing of adoptive sonship answers another desperate need we have as sinners.

Whereas justification (a forensic benefit) addresses the guilt and condemnation that accompanies sin, and sanctification (a transformative benefit) addresses the depravity and pollution of our nature, adoptive sonship (a familial benefit) addresses our estrangement and alienation from God…

The neglect of adoption in the soteriological understanding of the church is sorely lamentable, for our participation in the sonship of Jesus Christ is indeed basic to the New Testament gospel.

From the biblical teaching on adoption, we learn that we are restored to a familial intimacy with God the Father, through which we are assured of His eternal fatherly care and provision, a love and indulgence that exceeds our imaginations.

We learn that our relationship to God is so radically changed that we go from being ‘children of wrath’ (Eph. 2:3) to His beloved sons and daughters, a relationship in which the Father vouchsafes to care for our every need.

Perhaps even more amazing, we learn that by sharing in the Son we share in His rights as the Firstborn and only begotten Son of God—we are ‘heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ’ (Rom. 8:17).

Our minds and hearts should surely stagger under the weight of this reality. It simply exceeds our comprehension.

All of this makes defining adoption concisely a rather difficult task. Nevertheless, here is my effort:

Adoption is that benefit of being united to the Son of God through which we share in His sonship with the Father, become the beloved children of God, and enjoy all the privileges and rights of being included in God’s family.

–Marcus Peter Johnson, One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 145-146, 147.

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“This is surely the apex of grace” by John Murray

“By adoption the redeemed become sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; they are introduced into and given the privileges of God’s family…

Adoption, as the term clearly implies, is an act of transfer from an alien family into the family of God Himself. This is surely the apex of grace and privilege.

We would not dare to conceive of such grace far less to claim it apart from God’s own revelation and assurance. It staggers imagination because of its amazing condescension and love.

The Spirit alone could be the seal of it in our hearts. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God’ (1 Cor. 2:9, 10).

It is only as there is the conjunction of the witness of revelation and the inward witness of the Spirit in our hearts that we are able to scale this pinnacle of faith and say with filial confidence and love, ‘Abba Father!’…

It is the same Person who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in the ineffable mystery of the trinity who is the Father of believers in the mystery of His adoptive grace.

God the Father is not only the specific agent in the act of adoption; He also constitutes those who believe in Jesus’ name His own children.

Could anything disclose the marvel of adoption or certify the security of its tenure and privilege more effectively than the fact that the Father Himself, on account of whom are all things and through whom are all things, who made the captain of salvation perfect through sufferings, becomes by deed of grace the Father of the many sons whom He will bring to glory?

And that is the reason why the Captain of salvation Himself is not ashamed to call them brethren and can exult with joy unspeakable, ‘Behold I and the children whom God hath given to me’ (Heb. 2:13).”

–John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 132, 134, 140.

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“The weakest Christian” by Thomas Brooks

“The weakest Christian is as much justified, as much pardoned, as much adopted, and as much united to Christ as the strongest, and hath as much interest and propriety in Christ as the highest and noblest Christian that breathes.”

–Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth, in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 338.

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“We are His children” by Martin Luther

“Here you learn what a great glory and what an ineffable eternal treasure the advent of God’s Son brought to those who accept Him, believe in Him, and regard Him as the Man sent by God to help the world.

They believe that He is to be the new means and agency for the bestowal of both the power and the prerogative of children of God upon all who believe in His name.

If we believe that He is the eternal Word of the Father through whom all things were made (John 1:3); if we believe that He is the Light and the Life of man (John 1:4) and the Lamb of God which bears the sins of the world (John 1:29) and removes these sins and casts them into the depths of the sea, as the prophet Micah said (Micah 7:19); if we call upon Him in every need and thank Him for His inexpressible grace and benefits—then we shall have the singular privilege, liberty, and right to be the dear children of a gracious Father in heaven, to be heirs of all His eternal and heavenly goods, to be, as Paul declares in Rom. 8:17, the brethren and fellow heirs of Christ, and to have salvation and life eternal.

How is this to be understood? Did He grant this power and privilege to all men, who, as we know, are all children of wrath (Eph. 2:3)?

The evangelist replies: ‘No, not to all; but to all without limit and to the exclusion of none who believe in His name; this means, to all who accept His Word in faith, who remain steadfast and call upon Him.’

Here you hear explicitly that this high honor, glorious liberty, and power to become the children of God can be attained through no other means or method than solely through a knowledge of, and faith in, Christ.

Ascetic life, the Carthusian order, the rules of St. Francis, free will, human skills, devotion, holiness, whatever you may mention on earth, yes, angelic piety and humility, also God’s Law—all these prove bootless.

This glory is preached and offered to us year after year and day after day. No man, no matter who he may be, can ponder the magnificence sufficiently or express it adequately in words.

We poor mortals, who are condemned and miserable sinners through our first birth from Adam, are singled out for such great honor and nobility that the eternal and almighty God is our Father and we are His children.

Christ is our Brother, and we are His fellow heirs (Rom. 8:17). This is a grand and overpowering thought!

Whoever really reflects on it—the children of the world will not, but Christians will, although not all of them either—will be so startled and frightened by the thought that he will be prompted to ask: ‘My dear, can this really be possible and true?’

Therefore the Holy Spirit must be the Master here and inscribe this knowledge and faith deep in our hearts, must bear witness to our spirit, and say yea and amen to the fact that we have become and eternally remain children of God through faith in Christ (Rom. 8:16).

If we really believed with all our heart, firmly and unflinchingly, that the eternal God, Creator and Ruler of the world, is our Father, with whom we have an everlasting abode as children and heirs, not of this transitory wicked world but of all God’s imperishable, heavenly, and inexpressible treasures, then we would, indeed, concern ourselves but little with all that the world prizes so highly; much less would we covet it and strive after it.

Indeed, we would regard the world’s riches, treasures, glories, splendor, and might—compared with the dignity and honor due us as the children and heirs, not of a mortal emperor but of the eternal and almighty God—as trifling, paltry, vile, leprous, yes, as stinking filth and poison.

For this glory, no matter how great and magnificent it may be, is, in the end, consumed by maggots and snakes in the grave. And if those who sit enthroned and exalted here on earth do not depart this life in the knowledge of, and belief in, Christ, they will pass into the hands of the devil; ‘their worm will not die, their fire shall not be quenched’ (Is. 66:24).”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), Jn 1:12.

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“Suffering is the diet of the Lord’s family” by J.C. Ryle

“All the sons of God take part in suffering with Christ. What says the Scripture? ‘If children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him.’ (Rom. 8:17.) All the children of God have a cross to carry.

They have trials, troubles, and afflictions to go through for the Gospel’s sake. They have trials from the world,—trials from the flesh,—and trials from the devil. They have trials of feeling from relations and friends,—hard words, hard treatment, and hard judgment.

They have trials in the matter of character;—slander, misrepresentation, mockery, insinuation of false motives,—all these often rain thick upon them. They have trials in the matter of worldly interests.

They have often to choose whether they will please man and lose glory, or gain glory and offend man. They have trials from their own hearts. They have each generally their own thorn in the flesh,—their own home-devil, who is their worst foe. This is the experience of the sons of God.

Some of them suffer more, and some less. Some of them suffer in one way, and some in another. God measures out their portions like a wise physician, and cannot err. But never, I believe, was there one child of God who reached paradise without a cross.

Suffering is the diet of the Lord’s family. ‘Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.’—’If ye are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then ye are illegitimate children and not sons.’—’Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God.’—’All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ (Heb. 12:6, 8; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12.)

Suffering is a part of the process by which the sons of God are sanctified. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God’s holiness. The Captain of their salvation was ‘made perfect through suffering,’ and so are they. (Heb. 2:10; 12:10.)

Let us try to settle this down into our hearts also. The sons of God have all to bear a cross. A suffering Saviour generally has suffering disciples.

The Bridegroom was a man of sorrows. The Bride must not be a woman of pleasures and unacquainted with grief. Blessed are they that mourn! Let us not murmur at the cross. This also is a sign of sonship.”

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (London: Charles Murray, 1900), 418-419.

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