We’re all adopted, and that’s the best news in history.
Welcome to Adoption + Foster Week at All Things New. Adoption is a picture of the gospel, and the church should be its foremost champion. November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and National Adoption Day is November 18. More than a dozen families between Summitview and our sister church in Greeley have experienced the incredible journey of adoption or fostering. Many of these families shared their stories with us, and we compiled these stories into a full-length publication, Heirs: A Celebration of Adoption and Foster Care, which will be available on Sunday, November 5 during our worship service. This week, we’ll be publishing excerpts from a handful of the stories that you’ll find in Heirs. We are all adopted, and that’s worth celebrating.
What happens when someone believes in Jesus Christ? What truly changes? How exactly is that person a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)? The Bible uses lots of different words to describe what happens at that moment. Salvation. Justification. Atonement. Redemption. Forgiveness. Regeneration. Each helps us to understand an important aspect of what occurs when somebody comes to faith.
But there’s one word that captures the essence of this change in an especially meaningful way: adoption.
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!” 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 8:15-17)
When somebody comes to Christ, he or she is adopted by God and becomes his child. That may sound simple and even obvious to those familiar with the Bible, but it’s one of the most profound truths you will ever know and one of the gospel’s greatest treasures. It’s also easily overlooked. J.I. Packer explains this well:
Our first point about adoption is that is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification. This may cause raising of eyebrows, for justification is the gift of God on which since Luther evangelicals have laid the greatest stress, and we are accustomed to say, almost without thinking, that free justification is God’s supreme blessing to us sinners. Nonetheless, careful thought will show the truth of the statement we have just made.
Regularly Paul speaks of righteousness, remission of sins, and justification as the first and immediate consequence for us of Jesus’ death. And as justification is the primary blessing, so it is the fundamental blessing, in the sense that everything else in our salvation assumes it, and rests on it – adoption included. But this is not to say that justification is the highest blessing of the gospel. Adoption is higher, because of the richer relationship with God that it involves.
Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship – he established us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater.
There’s a reason God so frequently uses the title of Father. There’s also a reason that from the beginning of time, humans were designed to exist within the structure of a family. God wanted to communicate the substance of his desired relationship with us through a picture that would be known to all people in every generation. Adoption, then, is such a powerful idea because it’s so relatable. An important spiritual reality can be understood through a clear physical parallel. When we see or experience adoption, our eyes are opened to the realities of our faith in a new and powerful way.
The posts on All Things New this week will give you a preview of the stories of Summitview families we’ll be highlighting in Heirs: A Celebration of Adoption and Foster Care. This publication will be available on Sunday, November 5, during the Sunday service. In these stories, you’ll see joy and pain, but through it all, we hope that you will get a glimpse of God. We hope that you will see the intensity of his love and understand freshly the lengths he went to in order to make you his own.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).