Of all the privileges that are ours through the gospel, which is the greatest? According to many theologians, there is no privilege higher than adoption. J.I. Packer says it like this: “Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification.” He doesn’t just say it, but also defends it, and his defense is worth pondering.
Packer acknowledges that justification is God’s supreme blessing to sinners. Justification is the primary blessing because it meets our primary spiritual need. It is also the fundamental blessing because it is foundational to everything else. But that is not to say that it is the highest blessing of the gospel. No, adoption is the highest blessing “because of the richer relationship with God that it involves.” Justification is a legal or forensic idea which deals with God as judge declaring that Christians are now free from the demands of the law. But adoption is a much richer family relationship, “conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship, and establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection, and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is greater.”
But that is not all. Packer points to the truth that adoption is a blessing that abides.
Social experts drum into us these days that the family unit needs to be stable and secure, and that any unsteadiness in the parent-child relationship takes its toll in strain, neurosis, and arrested development in the child himself. The depressions, randomnesses, and immaturities that mark the children of broken homes are known to us all. But things are not like that in God’s family. There you have absolute stability and security; the parent is entirely wise and good, and the child’s position is permanently assured. The very concept of adoption is itself a proof and guarantee of the preservation of the saints, for only bad fathers throw their children out of the family, even under provocation; and God is not a bad father, but a good one.
Packer is not alone in his belief that adoption is our highest privilege. And if he is correct, it leads to a simple point of application: Do you thank God for your adoption? Shouldn’t you? If it is your highest privilege, then it should be your highest joy to thank God for what he has so graciously given.
If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read the final chapters for next week. And then we will be done!
The purpose of Reading Classics Together is to read these books together. This time around the bulk of the discussion is happening in a dedicated Facebook group. You can find it right here.
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