Our Adoption as Sons
By Pastor Bill Snider
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:1-7
According to the above passage, the main reason Jesus came was to bring us into adoption as children of God. In Ephesians chapter one, Paul says that God predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus. To predestine means, "to mark out beforehand." God marked it out beforehand that he should adopt us, who were sold under sin and bound for hell under the same judgment as Satan. At that time, Satan was our father, but God wanted to be our Father. He wanted us as His children, like it was at the beginning. God couldn't stand for us to be left in bondage to Satan. He desired that we enjoy life and liberty that only Sonship with Him could bring.
Through Christ, we were adopted as God's children and we now have a new relationship with God. In order for us to understand what that relationship is, we must understand what our adoption means; and that's because our relationship with God is built on, and revolves around, our adoption by Him.back to the top
The word "adoption" is a combination of two words in the Greek, which literally mean, " a son; a placing." It signifies the place and condition of a son given to one to whom it does not naturally belong. In other words, when we received Jesus we were given a place, a position, as children of God even though we didn't naturally belong in it. Adoption also means "sonship bestowed in distinction from a relationship consequent merely upon birth (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)." That means that through Jesus we entered into a new relationship with God as our Father that we didn't have before. Because that relationship was given to us, it demonstrates God's desire to be our Father and for us to walk and live as His children.
One of the most important things to understand about adoption is that it is a legal term, which means that it is a legal reality. Before you were born-again, Satan was your father. However, when you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior it gave God the legal right to adopt you. That adoption severed every legal tie you had with Satan. Once those ties were severed, God had the right to do with us as He chose. The first thing God did was to purge us of our old satanic nature, through the new birth, and give us a brand new one. 2 Corinthians 5:17 confirms this: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
Our adoption has nothing to do with how worthy we were. We've been adopted and we now have a position and relationship with God that carries all the power and privileges that a natural offspring would have. Moreover, because it's a legal reality, it cannot be changed. Once you were adopted, you legally and legitimately became a child of God - no matter what kind of life you had before. Your previous parent, Satan, has no more say over you anymore, because you are no longer his child. You may not look like it, and you may not act like it; but, because God has adopted you, you're now His Child.back to the top
Because we were not originally born into God's family, but were adopted by Him, our adoption will require three things of us. First of all, adoption requires that we develop a relationship with God, the Father. Galatians 4:6 says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" God is hungry to have this kind of relationship with us.
To understand the importance of this, we must keep in mind that we do not have a "natural" relationship with the Father. We must develop one. This explains why so many Christians feel uncomfortable with God. Someone they don't really know adopted them. But Jesus knows Him, and God sent forth Jesus' spirit into us to help bring us into that natural father-child relationship Jesus already has with Him.
In the above verse, Galations 4:1-7, we see the two parts to our relationship with God that needs developing. One is the "abba" (daddy) relationship, which is a personal, intimate, love relationship. And the other is the "Father" relationship, which is a respectful, trusting, and obedient relationship. As we begin to respond to God in both those ways, our comfortableness with God will develop.
The second thing that our adoption requires is that we develop faith in God's love and goodwill toward us. Romans 8:31,32 says, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Based on this scripture, God will demonstrate His love and goodwill for us two ways: one, by being "for us", which means to be on our side; and two, by "freely giving us all things." God demonstrates His love and goodwill through His giving. The grace that saved us is nothing more than God's giving nature in action. We couldn't attain, or even earn, salvation on our own; so He just plainly gave it to us.
The Bible declares that God loves us, and is extending His goodwill toward us - goodwill meaning that God wants to do us good and not evil. However, we must believe that. We must learn to lean our lives, and ourselves, on Him - trusting His love and goodwill. We must learn to rely on His love and goodwill in everything. We must trust that God is on our side, and reflect that trust in our thoughts, words and deeds. And, furthermore, we must expect to benefit regularly from His love and goodwill. (As a side note, faith in God's love and goodwill will manifest itself as confidence in the face of adversity, because you know that God is for you.)
The third thing our adoption requires is that we develop faith in our rights and privileges in the family of God. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (authority) to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." You can't earn the any rights or privileges to walk, talk and act like children of God. They were given to you the moment you believed on Jesus. Now, God expects you to exercise them just as any naturally born child would.
In order to exercise your rights and privileges as children of God, you must do two things. First, you must believe that you really do have position with God, the Father. You must believe that He respects and acknowledges you as equally as He does Jesus. You must believe that He loves and cares for you simply because you're His child. Second, you must go to His Word and find out exactly what your position in Christ is. You must learn what your rights and privileges are in Christ. And as you learn them, you must begin to exercise them.
Finally, you must no longer allow your feelings to affect your confidence in the position you have with God. Your adoption by God is a legal reality that has eternally bound you and God together as Father and child. No matter what you feel, or don't feel, that can't be changed. And God doesn’t want it changed. It was His intention, in the first place, for us to be bound together with Him, forever.back to the top
We will never be able to walk fully in our adoption until we understand what it means for us. There are three realities that adoption in Christ produced for us. To walk in our adoption is to walk according to these three realities.
The first reality is that we're no longer servants of the Law. Galatians 4:3-5, 7 says, "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
Until Jesus we were servants to the law. That word "servant" can literally mean, "slave." We were slaves to the Law. The Law was the sum total of everything we had to do in order to gain God's approval. Worse yet, that approval was based on being perfect in the Law. We were being forced to try and keep a Law that no one could ever keep, perfectly. And since no one could keep the Law, perfectly, no one could gain God's approval. As a result, the Law separated us from God. We couldn't know Him and we couldn't get close to Him.
However, Jesus put an end to that separation. He perfectly kept the Law, and then became the door through the Law to God. Once He got us through, He abolished the Law. Therefore, we are no longer to serve the Law. We are no longer to go to the Law as a means of gaining God's approval. The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Now that we are in Christ, faith is what gains God's approval. As Galatians 3:24,25 says, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." If we want God's approval for our lives, now, then we must base it on living by faith and not on the works of the Law. That means we'll have to put faith in all that Christ did for us, especially in our adoption as children of God.
The second reality of what our adoption means for us is that we are sons of God. Galatians 4:6 says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" You must realize that through adoption you received the exact same sonship as Jesus. That means that the Father sees absolutely no difference between you and Jesus. He does not respect Jesus anymore as a Son than He does you. You have the same exact position and relationship with the Father as Jesus. The reason this is so is because God sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.
The sonship that was instilled in us is now crying out for expression. It is in your being to walk with God as His child. Your heart cries out to know God intimately as a loving Father. Your heart cries out to walk with God obediently and respectfully. You wouldn't and couldn't have that drive, that yearning, unless you were truly a child of God.
Jesus is your Lord and God is your Father. Jesus is the Master of your destiny, because God turned over all authority to Him. God doesn't want to lord it over you. He's only interested in manifesting His love and goodness to you. When we, by faith, walk as sons and daughters of God, it frees Him up to do so. However, for us to receive God's love and goodness, we must be submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. That's our way of showing that we're truly one of His children.
The third reality of what adoption means is that we're now God's heirs. Galatians 4:7 says, "Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." The moment we believed in Jesus, we went from being the Law's slaves to being God's heirs. Galatians 4:1 defines perfectly what being God's heirs means: "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all." The heir is the master of all. Through adoption, we became masters of all that God has.
Now that we're no longer under guardianship to the Law, we can take our position as children of God. There is nothing in heaven or earth that is withheld from us. We can go where we want, and we can have what we want - all of which is guaranteed as long as we stay submitted to the Lord Jesus. And the only limitations to enjoying the fullness of what we've inherited are a lack of knowledge of them, and a lack of faith in them. So, don't be ignorant and don't be faithless. Dare to walk as heirs of God. Dare to walk as Sons of God.back to the top