Meditations on ‘Of Adoption’

Adoption is one of the benefits of New Covenant membership. It is also one of the most neglected doctrines in theology books. Our own Confession only commits one paragraph to it; but that one paragraph carries the weight of ten. It reads:

All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.

First, notice here that the confession uses precise language by saying, “All those that are justified…” It does not say “all those that are saved,” or “all those who profess the name of Jesus.” Now, it is true that those who are truly saved are justified and therefore adopted; but the confession is sure to be specific. The forensic declaration of justification is objective and if you are a justified person you are an adopted son or daughter of the Father.

Second, adoption is vouchsafed. What does that mean? It means God has conferred (given) the blessing of partaking in the grace of adoption to those who are justified. Those who wear the righteousness of Christ are those who are children of the Father. There is no other way to be a son unless one wears the imputed righteousness of the Son of sons.

Third, by virtue of this adoption, God’s people experience the liberties and privileges made available in God’s family. An orphan has nothing in the orphanage but a bed to sleep in and rationed food; but when a wealthy family adopts them, they live a wealthy life. So it is with the children of God who have been adopted by God the Father through God the Son, the very perfection of wealth and abundance.

Fourth, seeing that we have the benefits of so great a Parent, we are indwelt with His Spirit, the most intimate relation possible. An earthly father cannot impart his spirit to his offspring; but our heavenly Father places His Spirit in His children.

Fifth, since we are His children we are treated as His children. He disciplines us as a father disciplines his own. Yet, our Supreme Father’s chastening is for our benefit, a result of His spotless love. Unlike our earthly fathers, our Chief Father’s discipline is never motivated by the sins of unrighteous anger, malice, frustration, or drunkenness. Our heavenly Father does all things well.

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