Adoption is a great doctrinal truth that is often overlooked in the Christian faith. Over the past year, my wife and I have been seeking the Lord’s direction in our desire to adopt. Consequently, I have also taken the time to study what Scripture tells us about adoption. Adoption is a wondrous doctrine. That we, those justified in Christ, should be called the “children of God” sits at the heart of the gospel message.
This evening, I was reading Sinclair Ferguson’s book, The Christian Life (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005). [Part of my 2011 housecleaning as I have been trying to finish this book for almost a year. It has taken me that long because it is so packed as a doctrinal introduction that I have wanted to read it chapter by chapter, digesting each fully.] Chapter 10, “Sons of God”, uncovered a new layer of understanding regarding the doctrine of adoption in the Bible.
Adoption in the New Testament is probably to be seen against the background of Roman Law with which the apostle Paul would be so familiar. In Roman society, unlike our own, the purpose of adoption in law was not to safeguard the rights and privileges of the child but was exclusively thought of in terms of the benefits and blessings which the adopter received. (p. 95)
This Roman background serves to remind us that even the highest privileges of the Christian’s experience do not have his own happiness as their only goal. They all eventually lead to the honour and glory of God. In the adoption of sons and daughters he restores for himself that glory of the image of his Son which was marred and shattered at the Fall. (p. 96)
Our adoption as sons and daughters of God is chiefly for God’s own glory, not for own benefit. But what great benefit we receive! An eternal inheritance as God’s adopted children.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-14)
The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance and it is to God’s glory. From the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.