Category Archives: Adoption

“Bless Him with your praises who hath blessed you in making you His sons and daughters!” by Thomas Watson

“Extol and magnify God’s mercy, who hath adopted you into His family; who, of slaves, hath made you sons; of heirs of hell, heirs of the promise.

Adoption is a free gift. He gave them power, or dignity, to become the sons of God. As a thread of silver runs through the whole piece of work, so free grace runs through this whole privilege of adoption.

Adoption is a greater mercy than Adam had in paradise; he was a son by creation, but here is a further sonship by adoption.

To make us thankful, consider, in civil adoption there is some worth and excellency in the person to be adopted; but there was no worth in us, neither beauty, nor parentage, nor virtue; nothing in us to move God to bestow the prerogative of sonship upon us.

We have enough in us to move God to correct us, but nothing to move Him to adopt us, therefore exalt free grace. Begin the work of angels here.

Bless Him with your praises who hath blessed you in making you His sons and daughters!”

–Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1970), 160.

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“In this consists every bit of our blessedness” by Petrus Van Mastricht

“Saving faith is nothing other than the act of the whole rational soul by which it receives God as the highest end and Christ as the one and only Mediator, for this purpose, that we may be united with Him, and being thus united obtain communion with all His benefits…

The end or fruit of this faith or reception, namely, union and communion with Christ, is contained in that one word ‘adoption,’ since by the reception of Christ we who have been made His brothers are rendered heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. And in this consists every bit of our blessedness.”

–Petrus Van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology: Faith in the Triune God, Volume 2, Trans. Todd Rester, Ed. Joel Beeke (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1698/2019), 2: 5-6.

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“Humility” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“A beggar would invite scorn if he were to boast of an expensive garment which someone had loaned him for one day… The graces, gifts, beauty, strength, riches, and whatever else you may have, God has but granted you on loan. Would you then put these on display as if they were your own?”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 4: Ethics and Eschatology, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 4: 71, 75.

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“All that He is, He is for His children” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“The excellency of the children of God is so great that it exceeds all comprehension. This may be known in some measure by considering their origin and state. The origin and state of a child of God is more excellent than anything imaginable.

To be the child of a king is a great thing in this world. Many boast of the fact that they consider themselves among the descendants of kings and of great men of the world; some pagans boasted of being descendants of the gods.

What then must it be to be a child of God Himself who has all glory within Himself, is above all praise, and has made everything? Everything belongs to Him. All creatures and all kings of the earth must be at His service and His beck, and must obey Him to the minutest detail.

He accomplishes all that He wills, and is nothing but love and goodness. And all that He is, He is for His children.

They are of divine descent. Let kings and princes boast of their descent. Let nobility, by way of a long succession of noble ancestors, ascend to generations of higher origin.

And let families who are now poor and of low estate be encouraged by the fact that their ancestors at one time were noble–all this is at best but an earthly honor.

Oh children of God, you must, however, consider your descent to be from God Himself, not only as Creator (which you have in common with everyone else, and which can only cause us to be ashamed, considering that we have fallen away from this majestic God, have thus become His enemies who are worthy to be punished by Him), but that you have been adopted as children by Him and appointed to be the objects of His fatherly goodness.”

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 2, Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 2: 417.

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“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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