“ADOPTION… WHEREBY WE CRY, ABBA, FATHER”
Romans 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
We will be adopting a wonderful little boy and little girl very soon, and as this day is finally approaching, after almost three years of waiting, I started reflecting on what that word “adoption” means and all the connotations surrounding that word. We are all sinners and if/until we get saved we are under the bondage of sin, but after salvation we are adopted into the family of God and have every right by this privilege to call Him “Abba, Father.” Our little boy from almost the very beginning cried out to me “Daddy, daddy”, and our little girl as soon as she could speak, in fact I think her first word was directed at me, she cried out “Dally”, which is her version of “Daddy.” Just as a Christian is a sinner and under bondage of sin until we get saved, our two little ones, we are adopting soon, are also most definitely little sinners, however cute they may be most of the time. I say this about them with much affection and with a greater understanding of how our heavenly Father must look down on us with the love He has for us as His children. Our little ones too once they accept Christ as their savior will be officially adopted by God into His family and then they too can cry out to Him rightfully “Abba, Father!”
These two precious little ones will soon legally have all rights and privileges to call me Father, for I will be, finally, their legal father, though I have for the past three years already been their father and they have already been my children, but they will have the legal right of being my children, and all the privileges that come with that, and I will have the legal obligation of being their father and all the responsibility that comes with that. They will now have a legal right for an inheritance from their father along with my naturally born son, they will have an equal right with him under the law to that inheritance and I have equal responsibility toward them as I do my natural son. Though my natural son came first, they are no less loved or less important than him. If push came to shove, I would gladly sacrifice myself for them just as willingly as I would my own flesh and blood son.
As you can see as I consider all of this, all the implications to adoption, my mind runs back to the Scriptures and what they say about adoption and how we as Christians are adopted by God into His family as sons. Though we were not His natural children, we are not Israelites, we are lovingly adopted into His family, we are treated equally as His natural children, and Jesus was as willing to sacrifice Himself for us, the adopted children of God, as He was for the Israelites the natural children of God. The Israelites came first, they were His children first, but that does not mean God loves us Gentile Christians any less. We as Christians are just as much His children, though we are adopted into the family, though we are not the natural branches of the His family, God loves us just as much, God cares for us just as much, God sacrificed for us just as much, and we share equally and legally in all privileges of being in His family and also we share equally in the inheritance of God as well. (Romans 11:16-17 – For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;)
Legal inheritance refers to actual property or goods being transferred to the heirs after a family members death. Jewish inheritance customs were linked to family blood lines. Greek and Roman customs also provided for inheritance of possessions for an adopted heir. Though I have read that most Roman adoptions consisted of an adult being adopted by an older adult, who was either left heirless or his naturally born heirs had rejected their father and his blessings. In a theological sense, to inherit means to receive an irrevocable gift, to receive an eternally secure, without possibility of corruption or loss, gift; it has an emphasis on the special relationship between the benefactor and the recipients. Unlike traditional legal inheritance the benefactor, God, did not die, yet He provides the greatest inheritance ever devised to His children. But as with all inheritance, a death is implied to have occurred by the use of the word itself and a death did occur some 2,000 years ago on Mt. Calvary. Jesus died on the cross so that we would have the opportunity to partake of the inheritance of God the Father. Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross, Jesus made it possible for us to be adopted as joint-heirs with Him into the family of God! (Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.) All we have to do to have a share of this vast eternal inheritance is to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior – at that moment you will be officially and legally adopted by our heavenly Father into the family of God, you will become His son or His daughter at that moment. (John 1:12 – But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:)
Now let’s examine our opening verse Romans 8:15 a little more closely:
“Ye have not received the spirit of bondage” – All that were under the law were under bondage to its rites and ceremonies; they were not only under the bondage of the law they were under the bondage of sin itself. They were often transgressing, consequently they had forfeited their lives, and were continually, through fear of death, subject to bondage. The Gentiles were also in a state of bondage as well as the Jews, they had also a multitude of burdensome rites and ceremonies, and a multitude of deities to worship; nor could they believe themselves secure of protection while one of their almost endless host of gods, celestial, terrestrial, or infernal, was left unpropitiated. (Hebrews 2:15 – And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.). The believers in Christ Jesus were brought from under that law, and from under its condemnation; they were brought from under the bondage of sin, the Gentiles also were brought from under their bondage to false Gods and sin, and consequently, they were all, that accepted Christ as Savior, freed from that bondage.
“But ye have received the Spirit of adoption” – You are brought into the family of God by adoption; and the agent that brought you into this family is the Holy Spirit; and this very Spirit continues to witness to you the grace in which ye stand, by enabling you to call God your Father, with the utmost familial confidence and affection.
“The Spirit of adoption” – Adoption was an act frequent among the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans; by which a person was taken out of one family and incorporated with another. Men of wealth, who had no children of their own, adopted those of another family. The child who was adopted ceased to belong to his own family and was in every respect bound to the person who had adopted him, as if he were his own child; and in consequence of the death of his adopting father he inherited his estates. If a person after he had adopted a child happened to have children of his own, then the estate was equally divided between the adopted and the natural children. The adopted children were considered equal in all aspects and considered joint-heirs with the natural children. Adoption is the willing and loving act of receiving a stranger as one’s own child and treating and loving that stranger as one’s own natural child. The term Adoption is applied to Christians because God treats them as His children; He receives them into this relation, though they were by nature strangers and enemies. God’s adoption of Christians implies;
(1.) that we by nature had no claim on Him;
(2.) that, therefore, the act is one of unmatched kindness – of pure, sovereign love;
(3.) that we are now under His protection and care as if we were His own natural children; and
(4.) that we, in turn, are bound to manifest towards Him the spirit of children, and yield to Him obedience. (Galatians 4:4-7 – But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.)
“Whereby we cry, Abba, Father” – I am not going to get into any of the theological implications of this phrase, I am just going to touch on the practical implications. As Children who need protection and help, who need to feel the love of Father, who need to know Father is near, who need to know Father is willingly accessible, this phrase exemplifies the habitual spirit of a child of God, it demonstrates a disposition to:
(1.) Express towards Him the feelings due to a Father;
(2.) Call upon Him, to address Him in the language of affection and endearing confidence;
(3.) Seek His protection and aid.
“Abba” – This word is Chaldee and means father. Its repetition here can denote intensity of the child’s address to their Father, like my children when excited about something or scared about something will usually come running to me saying “Daddy, daddy”. It can also denote the interest with which a Christian dwells on the name, it can denote a spirit of affection coming from a tender child. It is not unusual, even today, to repeat such terms of affection. The person that can in sincerity and with ardent affection apply this term to God, addressing God with a familial spirit as his Father, has a true and sincere recognition of his standing with God.
The Greek word translated as adoption in Romans 8:15 is huithesia, it means the placing as a son (figuratively Christian sonship in respect to God). Now let’s dig a little deeper and take this word apart. The first half of the word is huios, the common noun for adult son. The latter half is thesia which means a placement, an installation, a setting of a person or a thing into its place or proper position, so you can look at the whole word as meaning the placing of a child as the son of whoever is adopting them with the full rights, honors and privileges as if they are already adult sons. This is significant in the historical and cultural setting this is found in. In Roman society at this time sons had many more rights, privileges and received greater inheritances than daughters; and sons that had come of age received greater honor and had greater privileges and rights than sons that were younger. So, what this word adoption in this context tells us is the person being adopted in this situation, Christians, are instantly getting the full rights, honors, privileges and inheritance as the natural already adult son, which in this situation which would be Christ Jesus. We are not just treated as a younger son but we are treated instantly as if we are a fully adult son with all that applies to that. We truly are as the Bible teaches us “joint-heirs with Christ”. Digging a little deeper in this situation gives you such a tremendous and marvelous understanding of our position in God’s family. So truly undeserving we are of that position and how eternally grateful we should be for it.
Adoption truly is a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to be able to bring these two little ones officially into our family. They will be given my last name, they will be in the eyes of the law the same as if they were my own flesh and blood. They will get the same rights, privileges and inheritance as my natural born son. They will be loved the same, cared for the same, and protected the same, in my eyes there will be no difference. Adoption is such a wonderful picture of what God through Christ has done for us. Opening up the family of God for a lowly sinner such as I am and welcoming me in, loving me, caring for me, giving me His name, and dying for me when it became necessary, just to give me the opportunity to be adopted into His family. I am incredibly thankful to the Lord, beyond what mere words can express, for my salvation and my adoption into His family. I am also incredibly thankful He allowed us the privilege to be able to adopt these two precious little children and to be able to rescue them from the life situation they were in and to be able to provide them a loving family. Another great picture of what the Lord has done for us, He too rescued us from the terrible sinful life situation we were in and has provided us a loving family to be a part of, and not just be a small part of it, but to be “joint-heirs with Christ”, God adopted us fully into His family, with no limitations. God is an awesome God!