Saturday, August 19, 2006

On Adoption

The doctrine of adoption is really one of the most amazing doctrines of all. That we who are sinners, justly deserving the wrath of God, should not only have our sins forgiven, but also be adopted as co-heirs with Christ! Adoption is permanent, of course. One does not adopt someone, and then later disown them. Well, I suppose that could happen with human adoption. But not with divine adoption. God knows that He has not made any mistakes. Adoption is part of the mechanism by which we are made eligible for the resurrection body and the inheritance of the new heavens and the new earth. We have to be God's children, God's sons, in order for us to inherit all that God would have for us. Adoption therefore points us to the fact that what is waiting for us is far beyond any knowledge that we have of it. The doctrine of adoption has led some to believe that we will partake of the divine nature. This is based on a misreading of 2 Peter 1:4. The text is talking about the fact that we will be indwelt fully by the Holy Spirit, not that we will become part of God Himself. Nevertheless, the benefits and the glory of the future state far surpass our wildest dreams. Adoption means that God is our Father. He is no longer our judge. We can come to Him crying "Father, Father," or even "Daddy," although that reading of "abba" is disputed by some scholars. However, adoption also means that when we sin, we no longer incur God's judgely displeasure, but His Fatherly displeasure. God's Fatherly displeasure can be quite severe at times, as can a human father's displeasure at his son's waywardness. However, the adopted son of God is never disinherited, but always brought back. It should be noted wherein the difference lies between us as adopted sons and Jesus Christ as the Son. Jesus Christ is God's Son by natural and eternal generation (that is, that Jesus never had a beginning; neither is He in process of becoming Son; nevertheless, He is eternally begotten), whereas we are sons only by adoption. It should be noted that to translate "sons" as "children," being gender-inclusive, misses the whole point of saying that we are all sons. In the 1st century, it was the son who inherited the estate. That is why the Bible is so powerfully not sexist, precisely because it says that we all are sons; that is, we all inherit, the women with the men. Think of how that would sound in the 1st century context where only sons inherited! Christianity is the true liberation of women, just as it is the true liberation of men. True liberation consists in freedom from sin, and in adoption as sons of God. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!


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