Pictures of the Gospel in Adoption
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Ephesians 1:3-5
One of the most poignant pictures of salvation and our relationship with God is the doctrine of adoption. None of us were born into God’s family, but Galatians 4 tells us that all who have been redeemed in Christ have been adopted as sons and heirs. Earthly adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel and it points to the greater adoption that Christ has offered all who call upon his name.
One of the amazing characteristics of God that we can see in adoption is his providence. He has chosen his people and directed all things toward his good purposes. In Ephesians 1 we see very clearly that God has chosen a specific group of people to be his children. It is very significant to consider that God isn’t the Father to all people (John 1:12, John 8:42-44). He has purposefully and lovingly chosen certain people to be his children. In Ephesians 1:5 it says he did so in love and according to the purpose of his will. This act of God was done outside of anything you or I bring to the table. It was an act of God’s will for His Glory.
My wife Crystal and I adopted our son, Luke, four years ago. As we look back on that process, we are amazed at how God sovereignly brought Luke into our family. Just a couple weeks after we joined our family Luke told me, “Dad, before I came here I didn’t know God, but now I know God.” That was one of the greatest things I have ever heard from my child. God took Luke out of the pain and instability of the foster system and placed him in a family that would raise him in the knowledge of the Lord. Without that pain and suffering this earthly adoption never would have taken place; in much the same way, because of God’s beautiful providence through the events in our lives, the Lord has brought each of us to himself and adopted us into his family.
God’s adoption of us is a wonderful act of grace. Apart from Christ, there is nothing in us worthy of being called children of God. We didn’t and couldn’t do anything to clean ourselves up and make ourselves worthy. Our adoption is purely a gift from God.
The main reason Crystal and I decided to adopt is because of the grace through which we have been adopted ourselves. We brought Luke home shortly before Thanksgiving in 2013. We already had one perfect little girl (maybe not perfect, but she is a pretty good kid!) Our daughter, Bella, was four years old and our world was pink and purple with sparkles. Then we adopted a four-year-old little boy who had a very difficult early childhood, didn’t know how to handle emotion, didn’t know what a loving family looked like, didn’t know boundaries, didn’t know stability, and most importantly, didn’t know Christ. Our world changed immediately, but we have never looked back. Luke has been an amazing brother and son.
Adoption helps remind us of God’s good grace toward us. In the picture of adoption into God’s family, you and I are the messy little four-year-old in desperate need of a Father. In choosing to adopt Luke, Crystal and I didn’t look at his report card, behavior, or lifetime earning potential to determine if we would take him as a son. It was love and grace; we wanted to impact his life for God’s glory.
In his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote, “What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father.” What an amazing privilege it is to be able to call the almighty creator of the universe our Father!
When finalizing Luke’s adoption, Crystal and I signed a huge stack of papers. One of those papers was a legal document that promised that Luke would be an “heir to our inheritance with all the same rights and responsibilities of a biological child.” I love that phrase. Luke is now as much our child as Bella and our younger son, Caleb, even though he was not biologically born into our family. We also signed another document that legally changed Luke’s name. He even got a new birth certificate, which gave my name and my wife’s as his father and mother. This is what God has done for you and me. As children of God, we now have the rights and responsibilities of his heirs. We are part of his family now. We have a new identity in Christ.
The analogy of our adoption of Luke isn’t perfect—Crystal and I were two sinners adopting a sinner into an imperfect home. But God’s adoption of us is a perfect, holy God adopting us as sons and daughters, and giving us Christ’s righteousness in his perfect kingdom. As believers, we should be encouraged to know that by his sovereignty and loving grace, we are children of God. We have been given the wonderful privilege of calling God our Father.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1-2
Knowing God by J. I. Packer, (Chapter 19: “Sons of God”)
Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore
Matt and Crystal Moore have been married for 17 years and have been attending Providence since the summer of 2014 when they moved to Texas from Southern California. Matt has served as Director of Connections since January 2018 and Crystal is an elementary teacher. Matt and Crystal have three children - Bella(9), Luke (9), and Caleb (3).