The Gift of Adoption

Rob Green December 3, 2017 Galatians 3:23-4:11
Outline

5 truths about God’s gift of adoption that should cause us to rejoice and motivate us to life for Christ.

John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

I.  The Blessing of Being in a Loving Unified Family (Gal 3:23-4:5)

A. Our old family held us in bondage

B. Our new family brings the blessings of Christ

II. The Privilege to Call God “Our Father” (Gal 4:6)

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is a theme that when a person is adopted into the family of God they not only close the distance between themselves and the Lord, but they also have an attentive father who is concerned about them.

III. The Promise of a Future Inheritance (Gal 4:7)

Iv. The Power to Refuse a Life of Sin (Gal 4:8-11)

Romans 6:16-18 - Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Romans 8:12-15 - So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 6:11 - Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

V. The Loving Discipline of a Father in Order to Help Us Grow

“It should not be thought that God is indulgent or permissive, however. He is our heavenly Father, not our heavenly Grandfather.” (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2d ed. [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998], 977)

A. Discipline is an act of love

B. Discipline is proof that you are son

It seems as if every family experiences at least one earth-shattering day. It is not just a day when you find something wrong with your house (although that is no fun), it is not just a day when your car breaks down in a very inconvenient location (although that is no fun either). It is one of those days that shakes you to the very core.

  • One of those days in our family happened in March 1999.
  • His name was Zachary, but we called him Zach or sometimes Zachy.
  • He seemed healthy at birth but a few months into his short life his parents were learning very concerning things about his health.
    • It was not long before his health issues took his life.
  • Today was different.
  • This day could actually happen again. Frankly, that was a scary proposition.
  • He is in the business of taking pain and using it to motivate us to think differently about ourselves, about him, and about our world.

This is a picture of our oldest nephew a few months before he died at the age of 20 months.

I remember being a pal bear for that funeral like it was yesterday. I had been a pal bear before. It was something that grandsons did … and it was a joy to do that. 

Burying our little nephew was not the same as burying a person who had lived a full life. The memories are different, the pain is different, and the size of the casket is different.

My brother in law and his wife had lost their first child and in addition to the pain of the lost child was the added pain that what killed him was genetic.

Thankfully, God is in the business of turning dark and painful moments into moments of beauty.

The God who does these great works was not finished. Philippians 1:6 says “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” and it was clear he was not done.

The family had a series of decisions to make in the days following the death of their son ….

  • Were they to live as a married couple without children and seek to honor Christ in that condition?
    • That was certainly one viable option. Who would blame them if they had made that choice?
  • Were they to try to have another child and risk the possibility of losing another one to the same genetic problem?
    • That was another viable option. Who would stand in judgment over them if they chose not to have additional biological children?
  • Were they to seek to raise children who were unable to be cared for by their biological parents?  This was still another viable option.
  • Today I would like us to consider God’s gift of adoption. When you think of it redemption and adoption are two awesome gifts!
  • The people receive the law and how long is it before they break it? About 5 minutes.
  • The people repent and turn to the Lord, how long before they drift away? About 5 minutes.
  • Even Joshua’s generation failed to pass on to the next generation a commitment to the Lord.
  • The time of the judges, the kings, the prophets all exhibit the exact same reality.
  • The law taught the nation they could never ever be good enough for God on their own.
  • The slavery associated with sin does the same thing. It proves that you can never be good enough for God on your own.
  • But they remain as slaves to sin. That is the point he makes in v. 3.
  • In the creation sense of the word that is okay. God is the creator of all life.
  • But it is not an accurate statement to say that every person is a child of God. John 1:12 said that we become a child of God. In Gal 4:5 it says that we might be redeemed in order to be adopted.
  • I want to encourage you to see that Galatians 3 and 4 encourage you to think differently. You need to see your need.
  • To see that your sin is an offense against a holy God and to repent of your sin and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for your salvation.
  • We were baptized into Christ (3:27).
  • We have clothed ourselves with Christ (3:27).
  • We are one in Christ (3:28)
  • Heirs according to the promise (3:29)
  • We are sons (4:5)
  • We have the Spirit of His Son in our hearts (4:6)
  • In Christ we are all equal and are one in Christ.
  • The point is not to limit these descriptions to the Jew/Greek, or the slave/free or man/woman, but other categories could be true as well such as rich/poor, black/white, or healthy/sick.
  • You related to God understanding his holiness. Moses is told to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground.
  • Isaiah proclaims that he is “undone” because he is standing in the presence of God.
  • The average person worshipped God from a distance.
    • The holy of holies was only allowed to be entered one day per year and only by the high priest.
    • The holy place was restricted to the priests.
    • There was a certain distance between you and God that demonstrated that God is not like you. You are not divine buddies.
  • The sacrificial system was a constant reminder that you could not come to God without a payment for your sin. You handed the animal to the priest who killed it for you.
  • One day you will have a new heart.
  • One day you will have the Spirit of God.
  • We no longer relate to God through the intercessory work of the priest, we no longer relate to God through barriers of walls and curtains to the holy and holy of holy places, we no longer relate to God through the killing of animals as an atonement for sin.
  • That is why we are told to humble ourselves by casting our cares on the Lord because he cares for us.
  • They is why God says our earthly fathers (at least most) did not give us a rock when we asked for a meal and if our earthly fathers could give us good things then how much more will our heavenly father give us good gifts.
  • When one was adopted with full rights then all that the family owned was passed on to the children in the appropriate proportions.
  • There was no second class child in this case.
  • Pastor Viars is going to speak later in this series about the gift of eternal hope so I will leave the details of that subject for that sermon.
  • They each provide their own special view of salvation, but each of them in connected to the other.
  • Justification that is being declared innocent cannot happen without Jesus satisfying God’s wrath.
  • Regeneration, which is the giving of new life, is closely connected to notion of faith in Christ.
  • That is one of the beauties of the gospel. Each element has its own value and emphasis and yet they are all closely related.
  • The second truth is that we have a closeness with God expressed in the terms abba father.
  • The third truth is that when we were adopted as sons and daughters we were also made an heir of a future inheritance in heaven.
  • We are not enslaved anymore, we willing become slaves.
    • We willingly give ourselves to power of the bottle, to the power associated with a particular drug, to the internet for that next pornographic image or video, to anger that scares and intimidates those around you so you get your way, or to run to the places that provide temporary satisfaction but never seen to last long.
  • You have periods of success followed by periods of failure and then the cycle seems to start all over.
  • You long for God just to deliver you from that trial as he delivers some.
  • You are not bound by that sin anymore.
  • When you were justified by faith, adopted as a child of God, you were set free from the power and penalty of sin.
  • I may have been a slave to my sexual sin and I may have even given myself to it as a Christian, but I don’t have to stay that way.
  • Sometimes that means God will grow me and strengthen me as I spend time with him.
  • Sometimes God will use another person to walk with us and encourage us in our growth.
  • Maybe that is a person in your ABF … maybe you would benefit from more formal mentoring or counseling with one of the pastors or lay leaders.
  • That is why v. 5 says not to regard lightly the discipline of the Lord
  • We need to see it as an act of love designed to produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
  • We expect teachers to exercise some discipline in order to be able to have a productive day in the classroom.
  • We expect coaches to exercise discipline in order to have a productive practice.
  • We even expect other parents to set limits on behavior for the well-being of everyone in the home.
  • Ironically, it is one of the proofs that you actually have parents.
  • Sometimes he does it with an internal conviction that what we are doing is wrong. It is as mild a form of discipline as you can imagine.
  • Sometimes he does it by putting someone in your life who says the right thing at the right time. Have you ever listened to a sermon and thought … what the pastor secretly in our living room last night?
  • Sometimes, the Lord allows our sin to be discovered by someone else.
  • Sometimes, the discipline of Lord takes more significant measures.
  • We also see the gift of adoption which has put us in a loving family (as opposed to the ruthless master of sin),
  • we have a closeness with God that allows us to call him daddy and he is equally attentive to our needs,
  • we have a future inheritance because we were adopted as a son with full rights (nothing, not even the family inheritance was held back from me),
  • we have a means to fight against sin in our lives so we no longer have to be controlled by a sinful struggle,
  • we have a loving father that disciplines us in order to grow us and mature us to be more like Christ.

In the sovereignty of God they had another biological child who did not have the same genetic issue and they decided over the years to add four other children to their family through adoption.

Earlier this year Stephanie’s parents asked the family to gather in Tennessee to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and here is a picture of their clan.

They are a delightful bunch. Those little girls … Trin and Lulu are their nicknames … are as cute as Christmas with personalities to match.

Their story is a beautiful story. Adoption was part of that story. As wonderful as physical adoption is how much more is spiritual adoption by a loving heavenly father.

This year our annual theme has been In Christ Alone. Pastor Viars started a new series last week entitled Gifts that come from being in Christ by looking at the gift of regeneration or the giving of new life.

With that in mind I invite you to turn to Galatians 3 which is on page ____ of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

I want us to consider 5 truths about God’s gift of adoption that should cause us to rejoice and motivate us to life for Christ.

Spiritual Adoption simply means to be placed in the family of God. It is another way of looking at the doctrine of salvation. It is summarized in

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

Please listen as I read in Galatians 3:23-4:11. This is the word of the Lord. The first truth associated with God’s gift of adoption is …

I.  The blessing of being in a loving unified family (Gal 3:23-4:5)

There is a contrast in this passage between the old family and the new family. The old family is represented by the law (3:23), slavery (4:3), and the weak and worthless things (4:9). The Bible ensures that is covers those with a Jewish background … since they would have the law … as well as those without that background … they would have not had the law. Either way ----

A.     Our old family held us in bondage

As you read the OT and read the OT and read the OT there is a continual flow of failure. The Israelites could not keep the law. It was burdensome to them.

That is no different from the person who grew up without any knowledge of Christ. Regardless of which old family it was … the law or the slavery associated with sin … we were all in a family of bondage.

The law was good because it served as a tutor and as a pointer to Christ so that every person would realize that they could not attain salvation on their own.

Those who came to the conclusion that they kept the law and were saved were deceived. They were still slaves to sin.

The average person living in Lafayette Indiana who does not know the Lord probably is not trying to keep the Mosaic law. They are not raising goats or sheep for sacrifice. They are not going to the temple for Saturday worship.

Whether we realized it or not we were slaves to sin forced to do the will and desires of our sin. Sin is a ruthless master.

Our old spiritual family was cruel to us and hard on us and continually beat us up. In some cases it took a long time for us to realize that.

But when a person trusts Christ for their salvation they are removed from their old spiritual family and are adopted into a new one …

B.      Our new family brings the blessings of Christ

The law pointed to the need for something more … so that we could be justified by Faith.

Sometimes at a funeral or some other religious ceremony a person will refer to everyone as a child of God.

It may be that you are here this morning and you have been convinced that if you die and God should ask you why he should let you into his heaven … you would say that you have done a lot of good things.

For those of us who have done that, according to v. 26 we are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

This is a picture of a loving family living in unity. We all have been baptized into Christ, we all are clothed with Christ so that God sees us through the righteousness of Christ, we are one in Christ, we are joint heirs in Christ. We are one big happy family.

Our Christ family is characterized by a loving oneness where each of us loses ourselves in the midst of gaining Christ.

I hope this portion of the discussion encourages you to do two things.

  1. I hope it causes you to rejoice. If you know Christ as your Lord and savior … if you have exercised saving faith then I hope you will thank the Lord for placing you in his family.
  2. I think we can ask whether our behavior is consistent with how the Lord would want us to treat one another … that is brothers and sisters in Christ. Do we allow distinctions like rich/poor to challenge our unity? Do we allow the color of our skin to challenge the unity we have in Christ? Do we listen to one another long enough to learn about the joys, sorrows, and concerns of another person? Do we clothe ourselves with Christ by being respectful and kind to those who have yet to see their need?

A second truth about the gift of adoption is that children of God have …

II. The privilege to call God “our father” (Gal 4:6)

The term “abba” was a term of endearment … maybe closer to daddy. It designates the closeness of the relationship. If I hear someone call me daddy, then I am expecting it to be one of my children.

But in order to see the real shocking value to this blessing is to remember how, prior to Christ and prior to adoption, one related to God.

The greatness of the OT promises is that one day it will not be like that.

Now that Christ has come adoption is available and the distance between God and his children has been closed.

One of the gifts that God gave us was to invite us to come directly to him through the cross of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus satisfied the wrath of God against sin that has opened the door to you and I to come directly.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The concept of “abba father” is that God is attentive to our concerns.

There is a theme that when a person is adopted into the family of God they not only close the distance between themselves and the Lord, but they also have an attentive father who is concerned about them.

I hope that when you think about God as an abba father

  1. You rejoice at the closeness of the relationship. He is letting you come to him and even inviting you to tell him your concerns and to ask for mercy and grace to help.
  2. On the other hand, I hope we would say that we do not want to be like the son who takes advantage of the kindness of our heavenly father.
    1. Some earthly sons are not very kind to their loving father. They refuse to listen to their advice. They take advantage of their generosity.
    2. Some spiritual children are even worse. Let’s not be the child who refuses to appreciate the gift of adoption and the blessings of closeness that come with it.

We have seen that adoption puts us in a loving family and it gives us the opportunity to be close to the Lord. The third truth about God’s gift of adoption is

III. The promise of a future inheritance (Gal 4:7)

In v. 5 when Paul speaks of adoption as sons he emphasizes the full rights that come with adoption. It was a statement of equality as legal heirs to the family inheritance.

This reminds us that one of the blessing is the promised inheritance that comes in our heavenly home.

But one of things that Galatians has shown is that the various aspects of the gospel … faith, justification, adoption, and propitiation are all interconnected and closely related.

For example, adoption, being brought into the family of God with the privilege of calling God father cannot happen without propitiation – Jesus satisfying God’s wrath against sin.

I said at the beginning that there were 5 truths about God’s gift of adoption that was worth our time this morning. The first was being made part of a loving family. We are no longer under the cruel master of sin.

IV. The power to refuse a life of sin (Gal 4:8-11)

Galatians is concerned not only with a false gospel, but also with a failure to understand the problems with both legalism and continued willful slavery to sin.

All unbelievers regardless of their Jewish or Gentile background were still slaves to sin. They had to sin because sin exercised mastery and control over them.

The freedom that children of God enjoy by virtue of their adoption is that they are no longer under that mastery.

But sometimes we go back anyway.

For those of you have struggled with a particular sin in your life it can seem as if it will never get better.

The longer the struggle lasts the more it seems that you will never overcome and it wears you down and takes the fight out of you. Like the nagging person who you just decide it will be easier in your life to give in.

But notice the language of Galatians 4 … you were a slave, now you are a son … why turn back and be enslaved all over again?

Romans 6:16-18 says, 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

So you are not controlled by that sin anymore. You do not have to go back. You do not have to remain. The door to leave is always open.

In a very similar passage to Galatians 4 we see in Romans 8:12-15.

Romans 8:12-15 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

I may have been a slave to my anger as an unbeliever and I may have practiced anger in my relationships as a means to control people in my life but I don’t have to live that way.

I do not have to live a defeated life. I do not have to live as a slave to my former sin. By God’s amazing gift of adoption I am free.

Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I am dead to sin and alive to God.

What better gift could be wrapped up under the tree than freedom from the power and penalty of sin? That gift was given by the only person who could actually give it – Jesus himself.

Again, it is not hard to see how this truth should cause us to rejoice. It tells us that our condition and our fight against sin is not hopeless.

But this might also motivate me to seek to grow in an area of struggle.

The final truth I would like us to consider this morning is …

V. The loving discipline of a father in order to help us grow

This truth is found in Hebrews 12:4-11. Hebrews 12 is found on page ____ of the back section of the Bible. Read the text….

I loved how Millard Erickson put this, he wrote, “It should not be thought that God is indulgent or permissive, however. He is our heavenly Father, not our heavenly Grandfather.” (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 2d ed. [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998], 977)

Too funny, right? Erickson’s point was not to slam grandparents. He was a grandparent when his book was published. His point is that grandparents do not normally take the responsibility of parenting. They enjoy their grandchildren, spoil them, and occasionally correct them, but the hard work in the trenches of training that child is the responsibility of mom and dad.

The Lord, giving us the privilege of calling him father or daddy takes that responsibility himself.

A.     Discipline is an act of love

The reason that God’s children should not be upset about God’s discipline is that discipline is an act of love. I am not suggesting that every earthly parent disciplines in a biblical fashion but God does.

When we experience the discipline of the Lord we are not be to like the rebellious son who refuses it or refuses to learn from it.

B.      Discipline is proof that you are son

I think it is fair to say that we do not appreciate it when other people discipline our children without some basic understanding in advance.

But we also expect these individuals to exercise restraint and to communicate with us parents so that we can work together if further action is required.

That idea is in the text. If we do not receive discipline then we are not being parented … we are not legitimate children. Because children are disciplined by their parents.

God uses that same analogy to remind us that our spiritual heavenly father disciplines us precisely because we are a child. It is one of the evidences that you belong to the Lord.

As we think of how to apply this … I can think of several ways I believe God brings out his discipline.

Friends. I want to encourage you to do a few things related to God’s discipline

  1. Be thankful for it. It is designed to help you … to grow you … to produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness … and to show you that you are a legitimate child.
  2. Learn from it. The Lord is gracious, compassionate, and slow to anger which is why discipline often starts with a simple tap on the shoulder.

Christmas is a great time to give gifts and it is also a joy to receive thoughtful gifts. As we look as the gifts that God gives we see the gift of regeneration (the new life we have in Christ).

It is hard to imagine better gifts than these. The proper response is two fold … first that we rejoice and give thanks for a loving father who adopted us into his family. Second, that we would allow each blessing to test whether we are living consistent with that blessing.

 


Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.