Why Adoption Is a Higher Blessing than Justification

J. I. Packer:

Paul teaches that the gift of justification (i.e., present acceptance by God as the world’s Judge) brings with it the status of sonship by adoption (i.e., permanent intimacy with God as one’s heavenly Father, Gal. 3:264:4-7). In Paul’s world, adoption was ordinarily of young adult males of good character to become heirs and maintain the family name of the childless rich. Paul, however, proclaims God’s gracious adoption of persons of bad character to become “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ (John 1:12). The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s now (Rom. 8:1738-39). Here and now, believers are under God’s fatherly care and discipline (Matt. 6:26Heb. 12:5-11) and are directed, especially by Jesus, to live their whole lives in light of the knowledge that God is their Father in heaven. They are to pray to him as such (Matt. 6:5-13), imitate him as such (Matt. 5:44-486:1214-1518:21-35Eph. 4:32-5:2), and trust him as such (Matt. 6:25-34), thus expressing the filial instinct that the Holy Spirit has implanted in them (Rom. 8:15-17Gal. 4:6).
Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings (John 1:12-13), but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature. Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and takes action accordingly.

—J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 167-168.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Reclaiming Adoption Study Guide

The primary focus of Reclaiming Adoption is on our adoption by God but we don’t want to leave it at that. We want to also help people think about and discuss its implications for and applications to horizontal adoption (our adoption of children) and orphan care.

That is why we created a free study guide. Each section walks through the chapters of the book with questions for discussion and concludes with quotations for meditation. The aim is to grow deeper in understanding and awe of our adoption in Christ while moving towards the outward implications on our lives.

We also encourage you to check out our orphan care and adoption resource page for suggestions on practical ways your church or small group can care for the orphan.

Watershed Moments

A kind note came in today to Dan Cruver, Director of Together for Adoption, and we’d love to share it with you all. This adoptive father was excited to share some news about accepting a leadership position at a domestic adoption agency and provided encouragement by sharing some of his testimony.  ABBA Fund was blessed to be a part of this family’s adoption journey by providing an interest free loan through one of our church partners at the end of March this year to help bring their child home!

I wanted you to be one of the first to know, because the Lord has used you as a very instrumental part of this process in our lives over the last few years. Looking back we can see that we were at a watershed moment when we attended the first Together for Adoption Conference in Greenville. Honestly, it’s a little scary to think about the turn our lives might have taken had we not attended the conference. Out of that one weekend the Lord enabled us to joyfully embrace adoption as a picture of the Gospel (as opposed to embracing it begrudgingly as our “Plan B”). Through your ministry, we were blessed to have a Gospel perspective on adoption from the start, and it’s made all the difference in our journey over the last few years.

I can’t really express in an e-mail the passion that we now feel for adoption. I suspect it’s similar to what you feel in your own heart. Suffice it to say that we have a strong sense that this is where the Lord has been leading us for quite some time. Not only have we been blessed to adopt our children, but we are now asking the Lord that He would work through us to advance the Gospel in broken lives all across our state, that many birthmothers would come to know Jesus, and that many children would be saved from abortion. 

Thank you again for your ministry; know that God is working through you and through T4A in very real ways.

To find out about this year’s Together for Adoption Conference, please visit www.togetherforadoption.org.

Adoption and the Seminary

The latest issue of Southwestern News is devoted to the theology and application of adoption. Check out the links below.

On a related note, it is exciting to see what God is doing in America’s seminaries when it comes to adoption and orphan care. This is where many of the churches future leaders are preparing. We have helped numerous couples who are in seminary adopt over the years and it is always exciting to see their faith. Most of these couples had no money of their own to pay for the adoption but believed God would provide – and He did!

Please, pray for these families today who are preparing for ministry around America burdened with a call to adopt! May God show himself mighty in His provision and use these families in their current and future churches to stir even greater zeal for Gospel-reflecting adoption and orphan care. 

picture-402Stories of adoption are woven throughout the fabric of human and divine history. God’s compassion for orphans leaps from the pages of Scripture and demands that all Christians consider their role in the issue of adoption.

A Call to Discipleship »
Mark and Jennifer Leeds always wanted a big family.

Adoption Advocates in Word and Deed »
Just mentioning the word adoption causes John Mark Yeats’ eyes to light up.

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel »
While a few have responded to this call for writings on the subject, the lack of attention may cause you to wonder why adoption is important.

As Miraculous as Childbirth »
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and for Southwestern alumnus Bart Barber one photograph captures the essence of life.

Fostering a Gospel Legacy »
For Master of Divinity student Bruce Kendrick and his wife, Denise, ministry to orphans began as a matter of “pure ob-edience,” but years of experience as foster parents have taught them the value of caring for these children.

Helpful Adoption Information »

Modeling the Family of God »
Dean Nichols, campus chaplain, and Waylan Owens, associate professor of pastoral ministry, have many things in common.

Obtained by Grace »
The apostle Paul reminded believers in Corinth that God’s “grace is sufficient” and that His “strength is made perfect in weak-ness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Few images portray the grace of God amid weakness like the story of five-year-old Christopher Savage.

Jesus Was Adopted

picture-2Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus himself was adopted? This struck me for the first time as I watched The Nativity Story last year. There is a beautiful scene in which a woman looks at Mary and Joseph and noticing that Mary is expecting says to Joseph, “There is no other joy than seeing yourself in your child.” Joseph and Mary look at each other knowing that this baby would not look like Joseph.

Though Jesus is not his biological son, Joseph of Nazereth, is clearly identified as Jesus’ father (Luke 2:41, 48). This is also seen in the fact that Luke and Matthew identify Jesus’ relationship with Abraham and David through the lineage of Joseph’s. Just as my adopted son inherited my lineage and is ingrafted into my family tree, so too was Jesus into Joseph’s.

A number of things strike me about this but one in particular is Joseph’s experience as an adoptive father. Dr. Russell Moore points out in his excellent commentary

With full legal rights to abandon Mary and her unborn child — perhaps to a fate worse than death — Joseph obeyed the Father in becoming a father. When Herod — the Roman Empire’s precursor to “Planned Parenthood” — sought the destruction of the infants, Joseph shielded this child from the murderous rage of infanticide (Matthew 2:13-18). In his obedience, Joseph demonstrated what his other son would later call “pure and undefiled” religion, the kind that cares for the fatherless and the abandoned (James 1:27).

It is here that Joseph is perhaps a model for a new generation of Christians. In a culture captivated by the spirit of Herod, could it be that God is calling our churches to follow the example of Joseph?

The implications of Jesus’ adoption by Joseph were history-altering and life-transforming for all mankind. Imagine what would have happened had Joseph not claimed Jesus as his own and provided the protection and care that he did?

I pray for the many men this year who will follow the example of Joseph and obey God’s call on their lives to care for the fatherless. Joseph’s obediences literally changed history. We have an opportunity to change history (to a lesser degree but still significantly) by changing the future destiny of the fatherless and unborn of our world.