HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
In Order to Live in Praise,
Believers Must Focus on Their Adoption as Sons
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,— (Ephesians 1:5)
The Interpretation Question: What is the difference between election and predestination?
The next thing we should focus on to live a life of praise is our adoption as sons. God predestined us to be in his family. But what is the difference between predestination and election? Aren’t they the same thing?
The word [predestination] simply means “to ordain beforehand, to predetermine.” The election seems to refer to people, while predestination refers to purposes.
- The events connected with the crucifixion of Christ were predestined (Acts 4:25–28).
- God has predestined our adoption (Ephesians 1:5),
- And our conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29–30),
- As well as our future inheritance (Ephesians 1:14).
God’s purpose in electing and predestining us was to make us his sons—his children. God could have just saved us; he didn’t need to make us part of his family. How can we apply this truth?
Here is the Application Question: What applications can we take from our adoption as sons?
1. Adoption means that we are absolutely new people—our past is behind and our identity is in Christ.
Let us read what Commentator William Barclay says:
In Roman law, “When the adoption was complete it was complete indeed. The person who had been adopted had all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family and completely lost all rights in his old family. In the eyes of the law, he was a new person. So new was he that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed.”
The people who Paul wrote to would have immediately thought of this. A person adopted into a wealthy family was completely new. All debts and ties to his old life were cancelled. And this is true for us as well. We are new in Christ.
We are no longer obligated to live in sin—no longer obligated to follow the ways of the world. We are free to follow Christ and enjoy fellowship with him, and we can leave our past lives behind—which includes our sin. Therefore, even when we fall, we should remember our adoption, confess, repent, and continue to follow Christ (Romans 6:11).
Are you bound to some sin? Let it go—for you have been adopted into God’s family. You are new.
2. Adoption means we receive God’s inheritance.
No doubt this was a cause of much rejoicing and praise on Paul’s part. Under Roman law, an adopted son would receive the rights and privileges of a biological son—including an inheritance—and we receive every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
Romans 8:17 says: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Whatever Christ has is ours as well. God has committed all judgment to him (John 5:22), and Scripture says that when he returns, we will reign and judge with him. Scripture teaches we will judge the world and the angels with him (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Is this not something to praise God for? Adoption means we receive Christ’s inheritance.
3. Adoption means we have a new family.
Christ says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” We are now part of the family of God. We have brothers, sisters, moms, and dads all around the world. And one day, we will all be together in heaven.
In fact, Paul taught that even here on earth we should treat people in the church as a family.
The Book of 1 Timothy 5:1-3 says, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. 3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.”
To add to this, Scripture teaches that though Christ is our God, he is also our brother.
Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Christ is the firstborn, the chief amongst the family of God and all creation (Colossians 1:15)—and we have been adopted into the family of God.
4. Adoption means we get a new nature.
Now, this reality is foreign to the practice of human adoption. Adoptive parents can make a child part of their family, and give him wealth and many other benefits, but they cannot impart their DNA into that child. However, this is exactly what God does with us. We are adopted not by legal action but by the new birth (John 3:3). God has given us his nature through the Spirit.
Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
We have been given his Spirit. The Spirit draws us to call God “Abba”— ”Daddy dearest.” He also gives us a desire to read the Word and to see souls saved. As he gives us holy affections, we start to hate sin and love righteousness. In adoption, we receive the nature and characteristics of our Father.
How could Paul not sing while in prison? He had been adopted into the family of God. He was a new person; he had received a new inheritance, a new nature, and a new family. As we contemplate these realities, it should draw us into worship as well. Praise God for our wonderful adoption into his family! Thank you, Lord!
Think about this Application Question: In what ways is God calling you to apply this reality of being an adopted son and having a new family in Christ?
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …