OUR ADOPTION IN CHRIST
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
The Bible shows us, instead, that God, the creator of the universe, intentionally intervenes in human life for our good. Our passage today begins with “when the fullness of time had come”. When the time came that God had chosen he sent his Son.
And God sent his Son with a purpose: to redeem men and women from slavery to the law. To “redeem” is to pay the price to obtain freedom. God sent Jesus to pay the price to redeem us from slavery to the law, to sin, to the principles of the world some people follow, like those who believe the planets control their destiny.
God’s redemption had an additional purpose. He redeemed us so that we might receive adoption as sons. You cannot be a slave and a son at the same time, so God redeemed us from slavery and adopted us as sons.
Our adoption by God was intentional and was always his plan even before he created the universe.
Ephesians 1:4-6 says “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Before the world began, the Father decreed that those who receive Jesus as savior will be adopted into God’s family as sons.
So, adoption is an act of God’s love and his grace. When Jesus saves us, the Father adopts us into his family. We become sons.
Why does Paul say we are adopted as sons rather than sons and daughters? Is he excluding women from adoption? No, he is using as the basis of this discussion the system of adoption in the Roman Empire. In Rome, a man could name any male relative as his adoptive son. The one who was adopted would get the estates and titles of the father.
A famous example of this is Julius Caesar. His will provided that his great nephew was his adopted son. So, when he was assassinated, his will was read and Augustus became his adopted son. He received not only Caesar’s estates, but his political standing. This ultimately allowed him to become the first emperor of the empire.
So, when Paul says believers become sons by adoption, he means each believer gets a special set of privileges no one else gets, like an adopted son would get in Rome.
And this applies to believing men and believing women alike. Paul, and actually the Lord, elevates the status of women. In Rome, a woman could not inherit an estate or a title. But, in Christ there is no male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) Men and women both receive all of the benefits of redemption and adoption.
What are the privileges we receive as sons of God adopted into his family?
There are two mentioned in this passage. Let’s take the last one first.
Because we are sons, we are also heirs. We have an inheritance. Our inheritance is eternal life. 1 Peter 1:3-4 tells us our eternal life is an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for us. An earthly inheritance may vanish. For example, you may have seen an RV with a sticker on it that says “spending my kid’s inheritance”.
But the heavenly inheritance is protected by God and does not diminish or go away. It is God’s promise that it will be there when we get there to claim it. You do not lose your salvation because you do not keep it, the Father keeps it for us.
The second privilege we have as sons is a special connection to the Father though the Holy Spirit. Verse 6 says “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!””
While the rest of this text is written originally in Greek, the word “Abba” is Aramaic. That was the language commonly spoken in Israel during that time. It was the language Jesus used. In fact, Jesus used this very word. When he prayed in agony, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)
The word “Abba” reflected the intimate relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
The Holy Spirit, which Paul calls the Spirit of his Son, lives in each and every believer. He gives us this special connection to God as a child to his or her father. As Jesus did, we can cry out to him, expecting him to listen, to care, and to help.
When my adopted grandson needs something, or is upset about something, he goes to my son-in-law, and says “daddy”, the English word that conveys this special relationship.
A word of caution is needed here. Although I am using earthly examples to help explain this relationship, it is important that you do not transfer the traits of your earthly father to your Heavenly Father if they are not scriptural.
It is a natural thing to do, but you should not do it. For example, if your father was remote and detached, do not export that to your image of your Heavenly Father. He is always there, he never sleeps, he never stops caring, he is never powerless.
As we head into the end of this year, I know that many of you are limping to the finish line, not sprinting. This is one reason I chose to speak of adoption. You are emotionally spent. You are physically injured or sick. You do not have enough money. You have been abandoned by friends or family.
Your Heavenly Father knows all that you suffer and all that you need. He cares. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast our anxieties on him for he cares for us.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to let our requests be made known to God. Then, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
I do not know what the new year holds for any of us. If this year was a bad one for you, I pray you will have a better one next year. Most of all, I pray that you will go to the Father with every care and concern, every hurt, every need, and to thank him for every blessing.
If you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I pray you will do that today, repenting of your sin and placing your trust in him. Then you too will become an adopted son of God and enjoy all of the benefits he gives.