“Our first point about adoption is that it is the highest privilege that the gospel offers” - J. I. Packer, Knowing God
Our Past Calling
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” – Ephesians 1:4-8
God has a plan. He didn’t just create everything we see because He was bored. He decided to choose you and me before He ever picked up his cosmic paintbrush. In the redemptive heart of Jesus, God called us to be more than just a creation of His, but to become His child. This is the first point we discover in the Good News of Jesus. By belonging to Jesus we have been adopted as one of His children, and it was ordained in eternity past. Jesus is the only original Son or Child of God. But He shares this with His Father’s creation, and it’s why He became one of us so that we can become like Him.
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Our Present Identity
But this calling isn’t just a past event or mystery. It’s a present reality for those who come to believe in Jesus. We didn’t know what to call it when it happened. However, when you come to Jesus, you experience this acceptance from God. We feel things like peace and joy, and we realize we are forgiven and set free out of our response to the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection. What’s happening is that you are divinely adopted into God’s family. The legalities and paperwork have all been done when Jesus said: “It is Finished” (John 19:30).
It’s just for you to now realize that God has become your Heavenly Dad when you believe in His Heavenly Son. God is a Good Good Father, and that’s why Jesus said “My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John14:2). The “rooms” and “place” Jesus is preparing, is for you to be adopted into God’s family. This is not just for you to have after you die, it’s a present reality right now. Jesus sits at the Right Hand of God, and we are seated with him (Ephesians 2:6). That’s what Jesus was doing through His death and resurrection. I want you to think about what God’s intentions have been all along in giving us this adoption through our Salvation. Paul explains to the Church in Galatia
“So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4:3-7
Paul does not only speak of our adoption as something that will eventually come to fruition in the future, but He speaks of us being God’s children now in this present age. We see also that adoption is something we receive, because it has been made available to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, or what Paul says Jesus did by his death as to “redeem” us. In placing our faith in this redemption made by Christ, God sends the Spirit of His Son into our lives. Again, we see that the goal of salvation is to bring us into the highest and most significant relationship with our Creator, as His children.
Our Future Destiny
Now although adoption is a present reality by faith through the Spirit because of Christ, it is not entirely official. But it is guaranteed. God has no intentions of looking to refund on his payment for our lives. It’s what Paul meant when He said “for God's gifts, and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Jesus’ Resurrection did not just bring forth the forgiveness of our sins; it also brought forth the Future of God’s plan. God plans to liberate His creation fully from the effects of sin, and this future is brought forth into the present reality by the Gospel of Christ. Think about why Paul says to the Church in Rome:
"For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." – Romans 8:18-24, NIV
For what Hope were we saved? The Adoption to Sonship. We are redeemed in our Spirits in believing the Gospel. We are being redeemed in our Souls by the working of the Spirit of God’s Son. We will be redeemed in our bodies at the Coming of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead. This event is going to happen one day. We know it to be true because what God plans to do in the future, He has shown to us through His Son. When the Resurrected Jesus returns, He will resurrect all of those who belong to Him. There is a day that Jesus will say “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). But that day has not come yet. However it is on this day that we look forward too, and it’s the end of the chapter on this side of Heaven that we read:
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” – Revelation 21:7, NKJV
“Jesus is the definition of all that sonship means” Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father
So what does it mean to have this Sonship? Sonship is simply the declaration that we are God’s children. The Love of God has been lavished upon us because of our faith in God’s beloved Son.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” - 1 John 3:1, NIV
As God’s children, we are to imitate our Father, and this is what is called Discipleship. Discipleship is simply learning to live in our Sonship. That’s why Paul tells the church in Ephesus “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1, NIV).
To grow in our new identity is not primarily to focus on what it means to be a child, but rather what it means to have a Father. Think about why Jesus declared to us “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). I want to end with a quote from C.S. Lewis that concludes our discussion about Sonship and why it’s the whole point and goal of our Salvation.
“. . . the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless ‘spiritual’ life, has been done for us. Humanity is already ‘saved’ in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work—the bit we could not have done for ourselves—has been done for us. We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us. Remember what I said about ‘good infection’. One of our own race has this new life: if we get close to Him we shall catch it from Him.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity