Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 December 25, 2016
“That We Might Receive Adoption”
Text: Galatians 4:4-7
On this Lord’s Day, I pray for each of you a blessed Christmas Day—a day full with celebrating Jesus’ birth in that Bethlehem manger. Today we conclude our sermon series entitled God Sent Forth His Son. Over the previous four Sunday mornings, we have seen that God sent forth His Son in the fullness of time, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law. Today we note—and rejoice—that God sent forth His Son in order that we might receive adoption as the children of God. Let us hear Him this day as He speaks to us by His Spirit in His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We need begin with a quick remark about the phrase adoption as sons. Interestingly, the Greek root for the word son appears in the word generally translated adoption. Hence the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible, among others, translates the word in question (see footnote, below) as adoption as sons. The fundamental sense of what God conveys to the believer in Christ, however, includes both male and female. Hence, we may translate, “…that we might receive adoption as children (or, “…as sons and daughters…”)” (or, simply, “…that we might receive adoption.”). With this issue now handled, let’s look a bit more at adoption proper.
In adoption, someone who was not the legal child of a mother and father becomes in fact the legal child through judicial process. Many a child has mixed feelings about this. He or she is happy to be in a forever family—with all the security, provision, and affection that brings—but that child (even on reaching adulthood) sometimes remains conflicted about what happened before his or her adoption. Happily, many an adoptive mother or father makes no affective distinction between their naturally-born children and their adoptive children. In both cases, the children are their children—equally loved, equally supplied, and all the rest–period.
What is true in human adoption, though imperfect and finite, is true in divine adoption—perfect to the nth degree. In short, God adopts us into His family, in Christ Jesus, by His Spirit. Scripture attests copiously to this. The Apostle John, writing by the Spirit, notes our familial relation to God: “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). The Apostle Paul, writing by the Spirit to the Ephesian Christian households, notes, “In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4c-6). Paul, this time to the Roman Christian households, notes along this line, “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 8:15).
To be sure, Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, yet indeed we are adopted into God’s forever family. This is His fundamental relation to us. There are other ways to describe the relationship between God and His redeemed, such as Creator-creature and Master-servant, but He relates to us fundamentally on the basis of family. He is our Heavenly Father, and we who are in Christ are His children.
Hence, as God’s adopted children in His Son, Christ Jesus, there flow benefits from that adoption into His forever family. Our text notes that we receive the Spirit of sonship, who both cries out, “Abba! Father!” in us (Romans 8:15) and leads us to cry out, “Abba! Father!” unto Him (Galatians 4:6). This word Abba, an Aramaic (that is, a late Hebrew dialect) word, is a tender, close term of endearment expressed by a child to his or her father. Moreover, the Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16), thus assuring us of God’s favor toward us.
Thus, being heirs of God (Galatians 4:7) and co-heirs of Christ (Romans 8:17), we are legatees of all the inheritance that God has for us in Christ. Of all that is ours in Christ, here now follows a representative sample. We have forgiveness of sins. Our sin is laid to Christ, and His righteousness envelops us (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). We enjoy status as children of the King. We are not slaves, but we are sons and daughter. We also taste of Christ’s abundant life (John 10:10). In this we benefit from and discharge the gifts of the Spirit, and we also—increasingly over time—display the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Finally, we have the sure hope of eternal blessedness in God’s direct presence—both at the end of this life and to the full at Christ’s return. There we are freed from sin, its effects, and the very possibility of sin. There we enjoy our triune God in inexpressibly perfect joy and happiness. May God be praised for such a rich legacy—guaranteed to us in Christ Jesus and vouchsafed to us by the Holy Spirit.
This Christmastime, beloved, we are not, in God-ward terms, orphans. Neither are we strangers toward Him, nor are we foreigners regarding Him. On the contrary, we are the infinitely beloved children of our Heavenly Father. This has come to pass not on the basis of anything we have done, but solely on the basis of Who He is and what He has done for us in His Son, Christ Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate this very day. May you rejoice this day in your sure adoption into God’s forever family—and may His graciously given benefits that flow from this adoption gladden and encourage you along the discipleship way all the way Home.
 The Greek word for son is huios (uioV); the Greek word for adoption is huiothesia (uioqesia).