The Grace of Adoption

There’s been a lot written about the doctrine of adoption lately, both in books and around the blogosphere.  The doctrine that we are made God’s children in Christ, not just by nature, but through a sure and firm, though gracious adoption has become a great comfort to me and my wife over the last couple of years. J.I. Packer was on to something when he said that the richest description of a Christian was someone who “has God for his Father.” (Knowing God, pg. 181)

I plan on returning to this theme in the future, but I wanted to share one of my favorite descriptions of what is meant by and entailed in God’s adoption of us as his children. The Westminster Confession states in its 12th chapter:

All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption,251 by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God,252 have His name put upon them,253 receive the spirit of adoption,254 have access to the throne of grace with boldness,255 are enabled to cry, Abba, Father,256 are pitied,257 protected,258 provided for,259 and chastened by Him as by a Father:260 yet never cast off,261 but sealed to the day of redemption;262 and inherit the promises,263 as heirs of everlasting salvation.264

This is rich and worth meditating on. I’ve left all of the footnotes in the text and included the verse references below. Take some time this weekend, and maybe the next week to read through and around these verses, considering and delighting in what it means to “Have his name put upon them” and to be one of those who have been made “partakers of the grace of adoption.”

251 EPH 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
GAL 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
252 ROM 8:17 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.
JOH 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
253 JER 14:9 Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not.
2CO 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
REV 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
254 ROM 8:15 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.
255 EPH 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
ROM 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
256 GAL 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
257 PSA 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
258 PRO 14:26 In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
259 MAT 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
1PE 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
260HEB 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
261 LAM 3:31 For the Lord will not cast off for ever.
262 EPH 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
263 HEB 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
264 1PE 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.HEB 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

5 thoughts on “The Grace of Adoption

  1. As far as confessions of faith go, I believe the WCF is the only one to devote an entire article to it.

    We have a family in our church who adopted. As a witness to the legal proceedings, I was amazed how the legal aspects of adoption correspond to the theological ones expressed in the confession!

  2. Derek,

    I discovered your blog through your Gospel Coalition article and did a quick search to see if you’d written anything on adoption. I’m always thrilled to discover pastors and bloggers writing on the theology of adoption. Let me encourage you to return to this theme soon! We need more clear thinking and writing on the doctrine of adoption.


  3. Pingback: The Peace of the Triune God | Reformedish

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