The Ordo Salutis: Adoption
If we shared our testimonies with one another, we would find that they are as individual as we are. We were saved at different times in our lives and in very different circumstances, but there is one thing we all have in common. Unbeknownst to us, the Holy Spirit was at work. We were dead to the things of God, and then suddenly he made us spiritually alive. Upon hearing the gospel message, we became aware that we were sinners and needed a savior. And then the empty hand of faith, a gift in itself from God, reached out to Christ, trusting in what he has done to save us. In that very moment, God declared us righteous on the basis of Christ’s work alone, and “No condemnation,” was pronounced over us. But that is not the only thing that happened. At the moment of our justification, our position before God was changed in another way. Previously we were his enemies and orphans, and now we are adopted by God. He is now our Father, and we are his beloved children.
Adoption is one of the glorious links in the golden chain of redemption, and it is secure as the others because its foundation is God himself. We did not chose him, but he chose us. In fact, he chose us before the foundation of the world, before we were born or did a single thing to merit his favor. The Apostle Paul writes, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” (Eph. 1:6) We were also predestined to “become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29)
Our adoption is secure because it is based on our union with Christ. We were chosen in him. Our adoption is through Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1: 3-10) He is the author of our salvation who is bringing many sons to glory, and he is not ashamed to call us his brethren. (Heb. 2:10-11) And “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
We do not have to be afraid. For instead of a spirit of slavery leading to fear, we have “received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:15-16) We have also been sealed by the Holy Spirit, who has been given as the pledge or guarantee of our inheritance. (Eph. 1:13-14)
Because our adoption is this secure, this doctrine can strengthen our assurance and comfort us in times of doubt. When troubles overwhelm us or during struggles with sin, it is possible to begin to wonder if we have overstayed our welcome. Will God cast us off? Will he send us back to the orphanage? To all these doubts, the answer is a resounding, “No!” Our acceptance before God is not based on anything we have done or ever will do. The Triune God has done it all from beginning to end. We add nothing, and we can take away nothing. Just consider the many passages that speak to this precious familial relationship. God pities us as a father pities his children. (Ps. 103:13) Our heavenly Father knows what we need. (Matt. 6:32) “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” (1 John 3:1) If God has saved us by grace through faith in Christ alone, these verses are true for us. Adoption then is a grace God has lavished upon us to the praise of his glory.
“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.” (WCF and LBC1689 chapter 12)
All scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
Persis Lorenti is member of Grace Baptist Chapel in Hampton, VA where she serves as bookkeeper and deacon of library/resources. She blogs at Persistent Thoughts and Tried With Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @tea_et_books.