July 12, 2017 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
There is little happiness in a courtroom. Litigants are usually tense as they face the government or an opposing party. Even if a jury returns a large verdict in a personal injury case, the plaintiff suffered serious injury to justify such an award. The money is bittersweet. People would rather be healthy. There is just one exception to the "little happiness in a courtroom" phenomenon. There really is only one happy case. The petitioners bring their cameras, their families and they bring a child. It is an adoption case.
Adoptions are filled with joy. A family is created. A child becomes a son or daughter of a new family. An adopted child has all the rights of a natural child, just as if he or she were born into that family. Sometimes an adoption is made possible through a special non-profit organization known as an adoption agency. As a result of the adoption, the child often times has a new father when formerly the child had none.
Many people say that we are all God's children. In one sense, this is accurate. We have all been created by God. Yet, according to the Bible, all persons are sinners by nature, and are therefore called “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). However, those upon whom God bestows his grace and mercy become “children of God” (1 John 3:1). They are adopted. Adoption in the Bible is one of the aspects of salvation by and through Jesus Christ. The Bible says to the Christian, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
(Galatians 4:4-7 ) "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:15-17)
Jesus bought us and thereby freed us from slavery under sin. We were caught and there was nothing we could do. Yet he bought us back from slavery so he could adopt us as sons, with full rights. We now have a new family. Our new father is God, our new mother is the church and
our elder brother is Jesus. We have many brothers and sisters from all tribes and tongues. Through the agency of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, we have been adopted.
God the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to cry out to God the Father in terms of endearment and tenderness, "my Father, my dear Father! ("Abba! Father!") We come to God not in terror but rather in love knowing that he has adopted us because of what Jesus Christ has done for us in His death, burial and resurrection. Such grace is nothing short of amazing! The one and only true and living God of the universe may be approached by the Christian in confidence because of Christ. We call Him our heavenly father, and He is. We have been adopted by Him. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1) This is a wonder to the soul which warms the heart and brings tears to the eyes. Douglas Moo aptly remarks, "If some Christians err in basing their assurance of salvation on feelings alone, many others err in basing it on facts and arguments alone. Indeed, what Paul says here calls into question whether one can have a genuine experience of God’s Spirit of adoption without its affecting the emotions."
The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith provides that all those that are declared righteous in Jesus Christ are made "partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation." The confession is but a summary of what the Bible teaches about the spiritual wealth enjoyed by the children of God. An old hymn expresses the joy of the Christian's adoption:
I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, and an alien by birth
But I've been adopted, my name's written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.
A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They're building a palace for me over there
Though exiled from home, yet still I may sing:
All glory to God, I'm the child of a King.
I'm a child of the King
A child of the King
With Jesus my Savior
I'm a child of the King.
There is a channel on television called the "Family Channel." Its marketing slogan is "a new kind of family." The various shows on this channel make you wonder. The depth of dysfunction is shocking. The Christian has been adopted by God and is being purified from the pollution of sin. The Christian is not alone. God is with him and he has a new family. It is the family of God. This is a global and local community of Christians who love and pray and care for each other. God is adopting a great multitude of sons and daughters that no one can count "from every nation, tribe, people and language." (Revelation 7:9)
I have a Christian brother named Simon. He is originally from Africa. His skin is as black as coal. He is precious to me. One day he came to my office and asked for me. My loyal secretary employed the standard interrogation to make sure he wasn't a salesman attempting a cold call. Simon, in his innocent way, told my assistant that he was my brother. She was puzzled. Incredulously, she asked me if I had a brother named Simon. With a twinkle in my eye, I was proud to say that I did.