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The Essential: Adoption

This is the fourteenth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, Fall, common grace, sin, righteousness, faith, pride, election, revelation, and atonement.

“Our first point about adoption is that it is the highest privilege that the gospel offers” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 206).

J. I. Packer rightly considers adoption the highest privilege of the gospel—higher even than justification—because of the richness of the relationship with God that it begins.

In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship—he 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 [justification] is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father [adoption] is a greater. (207)

Scripture backs Packer’s assessment of adoption as seen in passages like Romans 8:15-17 (cf. Galatians 4:4-7), in which Paul emphasizes the closeness, affection and generosity that come to us when through justification God makes us his children. As adopted children we call God “Abba!,” the Aramaic word for “father” or “daddy” and the term Jesus himself used to address him (Mark 14:36). Through adoption we also experience great generosity as we become “heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ,” which means we become the heirs and owners of all things (Hebrews 1:2; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

J. I. Packer goes on in Knowing God to explain how adoption must be the framework through which we view and live the rest of the Christian life. Yes, it really is that important and that essential to the Christian life.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Praise God for that! (1 John 3:1)