Adopted – Becoming a Child of God
Romans 8:14-17 (NASB)
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Family therapist Paul Faulkner tells the story of a man who set out to adopt a troubled teenage girl. Many questioned his logic. The girl was destructive, disobedient, and dishonest. One day she came home after school and ransacked the house looking for money. By the time the man came home the house was in shambles.
Upon hearing what happened many of his friends urged him not to finalize the adoption. “Let her go,” they implored the man. “After all, she’s not really your daughter.” His response was simply profound, “Yes, I know. But I told her she was.” (In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado).
God has made a covenant to adopt us. His covenant is not invalidated by our rebellion. It is one thing to love someone when they are obedient, strong and never cause anyone trouble. That would be easy to adopt that type of person. But when we ransack His house and make a mess out the life He has given us; now that is a real test of love. That adoptive love is called grace.
- Paul gives us a metaphor describing the relationship we have with God when we accept God’s grace found in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us that we are adopted as a child into the family of God. We need to look at how serious and complicated this was in Paul’s culture to really understand its true meaning.
- This was a real complex process in the Roman culture because of the father’s power over the family.
- A father had absolute control over the family. He was the only one who had disposal power over members of the family.
- In fact he had the power over life and death.
- In fact a Roman son never came of age even as an adult. The father had absolute control over the children even if they were adults. Children as well as wives were property of the man / father.
- This made adoption into another family very challenging proposition. And then the adoption when it did happen the son would go from one father’s control to another father’s control.
- There were 2 steps that had to occur:
- The first was known as mancipatio – where symbolically the son was sold for a copper coin and then bought back. This would happen 2 times. On the third time the father would not buy back his son. The father’s ownership and control was broken.
- Then a ceremony called vindicatio took place where the adopting father went to court and presented a legal case for the transferring of the son or daughter into his fatherly control. It was a matter of going from one fatherly control to another.
- Paul knew the law and when the adoption took place there were 4 consequences:
- The adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. In a legal binding way he got a new father.
- It then followed that he would become an heir. If there were other children he would become co-heirs. Even if other children came latter it did not affect his rights. He would continue to be a co-heir.
- In legal matters the old life was wiped clean. For instance all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life.
- In the eyes of the law he was absolutely the son of a new father.
- Paul had this in mind when he used the metaphor of adoption.
- Once we were under the control of our own lives – our sinful lives ruled us.
- But God in His mercy has brought us into His absolute possession
- The old life has no more rights over us; God has the absolute rights over us.
- All our debts have been forgiven.
- And we become heirs of everything God has – we become co-heirs with our big brother Jesus Christ.
- Here is the Good News: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). The father didn’t look at the house that was in shambles and tell the girl to come back when you learn some respect.
- God didn’t look at our frazzled lives and tell us’ “I’ll die for you when you deserve it.”
- Nor did David look at Mephibosheth and say, “I’ll rescue you when you can learn to walk.
- Mephibo who?
- You have to dust off 1 and 2 Samuel and there you find him. And why do I even mention his name? Who was this boy? After I tell you the story you will understand.
- A bit of background would be help. Mephibosheth was as son of Jonathan, making him the grandson of Saul. So what is the big deal? He was crippled. Okay and what is your point?
- A little history Saul was King of Israel and he really liked David in the beginning because he could play string instruments and do poetry to help Saul relax. David was his sleep aid; helping Saul relax.
- Jonathan and David became good friends and that friendship lasted through some very awkward times. Saul’s lifestyle and choices eventually caused God to remove His blessing on Saul as king and God chose David to be King of Israel.
- Saul becomes jealous and outraged with David and seeks to kill him. But Jonathan and David remained as close of friends as you could possibly have. They had deep love for one another. David learned of Saul’s plots to kill him through Jonathan. I return Jonathan asks one favor of David - he wants to David to show kindness to his family. Jonathan promises to alert David of danger and David promises to be kind to Jonathan’s family.
- Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle and that is where we get the first account of Jonathan’s son.
2 Samuel 4:4 (NIV)
(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth.)
- The scripture is in parenthesis as a kind of side story of David. David becomes a great king and has much to be thankful for. David reflects back to his days on the run and is thankful for his bond with Jonathan and remembers his promise to him.
- If it wasn’t for Jonathan none of this would have happened – basically David is looking for a way to give back an element of grace to Jonathan’s family. Paul understands that - experienced God’s grace. That is what Paul conveys in Romans 5:6 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
- David’s friend gave his life for him what can he do but show kindness to the family of Jonathan.
- A servant named Ziba knows of a descendant of Jonathan.
- 2 Samuel 9:3-4 (NIV) 3 The king asked, "Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?" Ziba answered the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet." 4 "Where is he?" the king asked. Ziba answered, "He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar."
- Who would have faulted David if he reasoned – a cripple – no way am I getting involved with someone on disability. Maybe he is deformed to – what am going to get into now?
- He wants to help; he doesn’t say I want to help a cripple – he asks where he is. When David speaks of Mephibosheth he calls him son but everyone else has called him crippled. David’s servants went Mephibosheth’s and carried him to a chariot and escorted him to the palace.
- He was of course anxious about being brought to David – David reassures him telling him to not be afraid. David then restored all the lands that belonged Saul and Jonathan to Mephibosheth and he provides him servants to work the land.
- Here is the big privilege he gets to dine at the king’s table all the time – he has become like a son to king David.
- Just as David kept his promise to Jonathan, so God keeps his promise to us. David returned to Mephibosheth all his land, crops and servants and then insisted that the cripple eat at his table not just once but whenever. He ate like one of David’s own sons. God promises the same for us. Paul talks about us becoming a son, a daughter, a child of God – adopted into the family of God.
- If we accept God’s grace – choose to follow Jesus Christ as Lord we are adopted into the family of God. We are called to take a permanent place at the table of God.
- Though we limp more than we walk, we take our place next to the other sinners-made-saints and we share in God’s glory as co-heirs with Christ.
- Let me share a partial list that comes with our adoption into the family of God:
- We are beyond condemnation (Romans 8:1)
- We are delivered form the law (Romans 7:6)
- We are near God (Ephesians 2:13)
- We are delivered from the power of evil (Colossians 1:13)
- We are members of His kingdom (Colossians 1:13)
- We are justified (Romans 5:1)
- We are mad perfect (Hebrews 10:14)
- We have been adopted (Romans 8:14-15)
- We have access to God at any moment (Ephesians 2:18)
- We are part of His priesthood (1 Peter 2:5)
- We will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5)
- We are a:
- Member of His body (1 Corinthians 12:13)
- Branch in the vine (John 15:5)
- Stone in the building (Ephesians 2:19-22)
- Bride for the Groom (Ephesians 5:25-27)
- Priest in the new generation (1 Peter 2:9)
- Dwelling place of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- If we are Believers / Christians because of Christ’s sacrifice and His resurrection we get it all – we inherit everything as sons and daughters of God – Amazing we get it all.
Romans 11:33-36 The Message (MSG)
33-36 Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Praise Him, Praise Him we are sons and daughters of the King.