The Heart of Adoption

By Richard  D. Phillips: 

In adoption, God gives himself to us: He opens our access to Him and provides all that we need, even when what we need is discipline. God does this for the unlovely—those who were dead in sin and trespasses, who were in bondage to the ways of Satan and the world and sin, who were His enemies and justly under His wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the cesspool out of which He adopts us into His family in the beloved, and He does this by the redeeming blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whatever stood between you and God, Jesus has removed by grace, not because you stood out against the crowd in the great orphanage that is the world.  There is no material to work with in us but demerit, guilt, and rebellion, but God says He wants to be glorified by taking the chief of sinners and making him glorious by grace. The truth about our relationship to God can empower us to live in light of His love. No longer must we live as servants, desperately trying to do something to win approval. Instead, let us live in glorious freedom as children of God.

A Modern Parable of Horizontal and Vertical Adoption

A couple in my church in Philadelphia wanted to have children because they had great love in their hearts from God. I ministered to them over three years in their intense struggle of childlessness and they finally decided to adopt a child from Russia. They completed the legal work and one day received a photograph of a little boy. He had no idea, but there was suddenly a couple of Christians in America who began spending time with his picture. They gave him a name and started buying things for his room and praying for his whole life. So too, in eternity past, before the worlds were born, God knew his children and named them and poured out His love for them and planned all of what he would do in and through them before they even existed.

The day came when the couple got on a plane for Russia only to encounter many difficulties once they arrived. First, they received a scary medical report that turned out bogus.  Then another family arrived from Eastern Europe and tried to take their child, resulting in a ten-day courtroom fight and unexpected expenses. Think too of the difficulties God the Father came into this world to overcome so that you could be His child, primary of which was the problem of our guilt, which He overcame through the cross of Christ.

Human adoption is a picture of God’s adopting love for us, but God’s adoption of us can also teach us something about what it means to adopt human children. It is not easy, yet you have all you need if you are a child of God. Yes, you must love the child you adopted, but you have a great love within you because God has an eternal and everlasting and costly love for you. He gave what we could never imagine, sending His Son to die on the cross that He might love us. Will you then give your heart to God?

Give Me Your Heart

In Proverbs 23:6, God calls to us: “My son, give me your heart.” Your heavenly Father wants your heart. Will you trust His Word? Will you live and feed off the promises of adoption? If you do, it will radically change how you look upon life and the world. You will marvel that you have received an inheritance in the beloved and you will no longer seek your satisfaction in this world. Instead, you will have a new heart for the lost of the world.

Not everybody can adopt, nor is every Christian called to adopt a child, but the Church is called to look upon the world’s lost. I know of no more beautiful expression of the gospel in our culture than for an unloved and maybe even unlovable child to be seen and loved by Christian families and Christian churches simply because of God’s great love for them. That love is now within us, so we adopt that child and bring that child into our love. We raise that child in the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. What more glorious, more wonderful thing can we do?

Adoption on a horizontal level is a picture of God’s love for us, where God loves us and invites us to give Him our hearts. But then He invites us to take His heart and look upon the lost, the alien, the fatherless, and bring them into His love. Believe God’s Word that you have been declared God’s dear sons and daughters and walk in that truth, giving your hearts to Him and receiving His heart as well so that you might live as His children in the world.

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