“That we might receive the adoption of sons.” Galatians 4:5
Adoption is a word that carries positive and negative connotations. On the one hand, there is the good news that a child has been legally brought into what is hopefully a caring family. On the other hand, there is the sad reality of the reason the child was open for adoption in the first place. Was it death, a disturbed family situation, or outright rejection? These are not pleasant thoughts.
The doctrine of adoption in the Bible is different because it is all good news. The Shorter Catechism defines adoption as “an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into that number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God” [Answer 34].
It is sad that there are some unfortunate children who are born in less than ideal circumstances. In the spiritual sense, all of us are born in sin and into an abusive family where the father of sinners is the devil [John 8:44]. He has no thought for our good and will drive us into sinful pursuits that will eventually destroy both body and soul.
However, there is another family – the family of God – with its all-wise, loving, holy, and heavenly Father. Just as an orphan cannot force its way into an earthly family without invitation and adoption, neither can we force our way into God’s family. He must invite us and make us legally part of the household of faith. Adoption confers upon us all the rights and privileges of “sons of God.” Jesus said of those who received Him that He would give them “power” (or authority) “to become the sons of God” [John1:1]. How blessed we are to be able to say today, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” [Matthew 6:9].