Adoption

I turned this in as a forum response for seminary. I figured I'd toss it up here if anyone wanted to read. Don't worry if the opening quote bores you, just skip past it. I'm sure a certain friend of mine who did a massive Galatians paper on Sonship will be wondering, "why didn't you listen to me better?" Anyway, here is what I threw down (and I did not do close to the research others have, so be gentle with me if I'm way off)
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On page 77 of our Everett Lindsay textbook it says, "Judging from the Second Psalm, the sonship is closely connected with heirship, for the very next verse mentions the nations as the divinely appointed inheritance of the Son. This becomes the issue in the third phase of Jesus' temptation. In the parable of the wicked husbandmen sonship and heirship are closely conjoined. The son and heir will die, not because the divine appointment has been withdrawn, but because of the wickedness of those to whom he is sent (Mt. 21:38)."

First off, all I can say, is "wow." That may not be what one is supposed to say in a response for graduate school, but that is what I am left saying. Truly, being called "sons of God" in John 1:12 is more than something that sounds really cool. It is the key to the inheritance. This quote really makes perfect sense when it comes in the context of Galatians 3:26-4:7. This passage could not more clearly link sonship with being the heir of the inheritance. It is interesting to note, though, that in that passage the son is no different from the slaves while he is young - even though he has the inheritance. However, when "the time set by his father" comes as Gal. 4:2 says, that's when the difference is truly seen in the son instead of the slaves. Logically speaking, it would make sense that this would be as he would approach maturity.

Now then, something that I was wrestling with even in the last few days is that even though the Bible is full of so many promises, why the vast, vast majority of the church seems to rarely see a trace of those promises. However, when I look at the church (at least the American one, I think it probably is a different story in China), it is filled with complacency, bondage, sexual immorality, pornography, fear, worldliness, resentment, and on and on. The reality is that it does not look very different from the world, except that many in the church have a fear of reaching out to the world (not realizing that their behaviors are virtually identical). It seems for much of the church there is no concept of doing the things that Jesus called us to - evangelize, abide in Him, forgive, and so forth and a strong propensity towards worldliness, all the while accusing others who may confront them on this as being legalistic. Sadly, the true adventure of being in his presence and loving and seeing God's power flow through us in prayer and evangelism gets replaced by vicarious living (whether through relationship or media), evil, and all sorts of distorted thrills because they are inferior replacements to what God has called us to. After seeing how Galatians talks about "the time set by his father," it makes perfect sense why the church sees so few promises. There is very little maturity. How can God give a promise to someone if they will only get proud of the promise and think that they are somehow spiritually better than another and compare themselves with others because of it? This is an incredible distortion of grace!

I remember when I first started pressing it to see God heal people that I prayed for. I could not figure out why God would answer all sorts of other prayers in my life but not heal someone. It was not until I truly got a revelation of Acts 3 with Peter and the healing of the crippled man that I realized that Peter's response is the key, "Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" When I truly got the idea that healing had nothing to do with me and that it was God's grace working and that God had to receive the glory like Peter gave him, was when healings started to occur around me. It is something so simple, but it really comes down to the smaller things. Could I let the Lord speak something insightful through me without getting proud about it? Could I avoid even being proud about having a Bible that is full of underlining and highlighting? Could I avoid spiritual pride when people complimented me about preaching well? If I could not even do this, how in the world could God possibly trust me with anything more? Truly, the process of growth involves greater and greater realizations of His grace both in and through me. It involved being concerned a whole lot less with man's opinion and a whole lot more with God's.

The preceding paragraph makes sense when one reads Millard Erickson's understanding of adoption. From p. 322 of his Introducing Christian Doctrine book, he says: "Adoption involves a change of both status and condition. In the formal sense, adoption is a declarative matter, an alteration of our legal status. We become God's children. In addition, however, there is the actual experience of being favored of God. We enjoy what is designated the spirit of sonship. The Christian looks affectionately and trustingly upon God as Father rather than as a fearsome slavedriver and taskmaster (John 15:14-15)." This truly is a profound revelation, which backs up my point. I see many Christians today just trying to get the Lord's favor, but they do not realize that they already have it! We are sons! Even bad fathers give their sons favor. How much more will good fathers (Mt. 7:11)! God just does not want His children to be arrogant because they walk in pride in regards to how they handle His gifts. And so He waits for me to grow in maturity so I can receive what He wants to send to me without it destroying me.