In episode 349, you encouraged folks who were considering adoption with your own story of adopting Talitha when you were 50 years old. Pastor John, do you have any more encouragement or guidance as couples ponder this huge, life-shaping issue?
Adoption is huge. It was especially huge for us. When my wife wanted to adopt a little girl, it seemed just overwhelming to me. I was 50, that wasn’t in the plan, and God had to do a deep work in my life. We had raised only sons; she would be the first daughter. She was a young African American; I was an old white man. I asked, “Why are we doing this?” but God wonderfully turned my heart around. I am personally aware of how huge this can feel for a mom or a dad. They need to get on the same page. In this session, I want to nudge folks toward taking the risk.
Adoption is one of the most glorious truths in the Bible, isn’t it? I am thinking of God adopting us. It is glorious, not only because of what it means vertically between us and God, but also because of what it means horizontally between us and our family. The horizontal effects of our vertical adoption are phenomenal in the Bible, and they should be in our lives. And vertically, this is one of the greatest realities in the gospel. God the Father planned it, Jesus the Son achieved it, and the Spirit of God applies it. In other words, it is a Trinitarian event. We could get a text for each of those.
The Father adopts us: “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5). The Father invented and predestined adoption. He created the whole concept of adopting us into the family of God.
“God sent his Son to die for us so that sinners could not be just saved but folded in to the very family of God.”
In Galatians, we see the action of the Son: “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” (Galatians 4:4–5). Christ died so that I might be adopted into the family of God.
Paul wrote of the Spirit’s role: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:14–15). Christians feel this cry welling up in their hearts: “Father. God is my Father. I love you.” That is the Spirit of God himself applying his predestined, purchased work in our experience of adoption. It is simply amazing how powerful, precious, deep, and wonderful this is. When the Spirit comes, he cries, “Abba! Father!”
Unbelievably Good News
When the apostle John pondered this, he was just staggered. He said, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. . . . Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him” (1 John 3:1–2). Based on John’s language, it seems to me he is blown over by God’s love. God’s love looked at sinful human beings and sent his Son to die for us so that sinners and rebels could not be just saved but folded in to the very family of God. What does the Spirit bear witness of with us? That we have a spectacular inheritance.
This is a very great truth. If belonging to God as his child is wonderful (which it is), then belonging to God bears wonderful implications. Since we belong, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16–17).
Be Imitators of God
When we ponder the reality of our own adoption, we remember how awesome it is. Our adoption is awesome not only because it shows God’s indescribable love, but also because it evidences his predestined care for us. It evidences Christ’s purchase of us at infinite cost. It evidences the Holy Spirit’s work to make us experience it in our lives. It is proof that we will have an inheritance greater than the riches of every rich person in this world — Bill Gates, Buffet, or whoever. They do not own anything compared to our inheritance. That is what God did for us.
“Take a deep breath. You are about to do something like what God did.”
You parents considering adoption are about to do something like that. Take a deep breath. You are about to do something like what God did. Be encouraged that not only are you imitating a beautiful thing, but your own adoption guarantees that God your Father will be there for you in every challenge you face in adoption. The vertical intersects with the horizontal. Because we have experienced God’s vertical adoption, we can take the massive risks of adopting horizontally. We know he will be there for us in every way.