By Pastor Stephen Hess –
The first couple of months of 2017 have been a whirlwind for our family! After being in the adoption process for the better part of year, God answered our prayers and brought a new daughter—Evangeline—into our family. One of the things we have been so thankful for throughout this process is the prayer and support of our Highview family. We appreciate each one of you who prayed for us over the past several months, and we know that those prayers made a difference! Additionally, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of various people at Highview (many anonymous) who went out of their way to help with some of our adoption costs. We couldn’t have gone through this journey without our church family and we want to express our deepest appreciation for you!
Our family has now been blessed twice through the gift of adoption. As we have gone through these journeys over the past few years it has caused us not only to think more deeply about the meaning of adoption, but also to see that adoption is an important concept in the Bible.
Sometimes you will hear people say that “all human beings are children of God.” However, the Bible says something different. According to Scripture, we are not naturally part of God’s family. In fact, Paul tells us in Ephesians that because of our sin we are separated from God and are therefore “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). In other words, apart from Christ we deserve punishment and are cut off from God’s family.
So if we are not naturally part of God’s family then how can we be reconciled to God and become his children? The answer is adoption. In Galatians, Paul tells us that God sent his Son Jesus “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). In other words, Jesus came and died on the cross so that we could be adopted into God’s family!
A person becomes a “child of God” only when they put their faith in Jesus Christ. As we read in John’s Gospel: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Paul tells us that when we become a member of God’s family this comes with many benefits: “And because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:6-7). As God’s children, we are reconciled to him and we can call him “Father.” As God’s children, we are also heirs of all the benefits achieved by Jesus. Paul uses the word “sons” here because in the ancient world, the sons were those who would receive an inheritance in the family. Therefore, by using this language Paul isn’t saying that God only has male children, but rather that all of God’s children become heirs of his benefits including the forgiveness of sins, the redemption of our bodies, and eternal life. All this happens through adoption as we become sons and daughters of God our Father! (see also Rom. 8:12-17 and Eph. 1:3-14).
Silas and Evangeline were not biologically born into our family. Instead, they became members of our family through adoption. However, once they were adopted they became full members of our family with all the rights and privileges that any biological member would have. In the same way, none of us are naturally born into God’s family. Instead we have to be adopted through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, every single believer is a child of God only because he/she was adopted. As full members of God’s family we receive all the benefits of being his children.
In this way, earthly adoption is a wonderful picture of the Biblical truth of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. God could have left us estranged from him as “children of wrath,” but thankfully he loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for us and reconcile us to himself, so that we could be adopted as his children.