The Benefits of Adoption, part 2 – Ephesians 1:3-8

Most adoptions happen when a child is very young and at a time when the child has no memory of the event. It is not like the child thinks it through, saying to self, “I need to get myself adopted somehow, so I’m going to act cute and see if I can find someone who will take me into their family and out of this mess that I’m in.”

Yesterday, we gave a first of four summary statements that we could make about this topic of being adopted as a child of God: Adoption leads to an entirely new and better situation for the adoptee.

Today we’ll give the other three …

  1. Adoption occurs by the initiation of the new father and at a time when the child has no memory of the event or contribution to it.

Surely, our adoption into God’s family did not happen because we were really awesome and cute and worked to get it done. No, it happened – in terms of speaking about it in linear time – before we were even born, and actually before creation.

Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

This is one of those very hairy passages, theologically speaking. Books have been written on the very complicated doctrines of election (choosing) and predestination. Complicating this is that it involves God (who is outside of time and sees everything – past, present, future – like we view the present moment) choosing us to be adopted (people limited to understanding this in the only way we can think – linear time).

What I know for sure from this text (and all texts about election and predestination) is that it is all because of God’s grace. He is the one taking the initiative, and anything that looks like us finding Him is because He came to us in some way – conscious to us or not – to enable us to find Him.

Ultimately, there is no way around this passage, and many like it, other than to understand that we owe it all to God. Spiritually speaking, we’re like that baby in the crib who cannot make a choice as to who his parents are going to be.

  1. Adoption is a costly proposition for the one doing the adopting.

According to the adoption.com information website, the costs of adoption are:

  • Most newborn domestic adoptions cost between $20,000 and $40,000 to complete.
  • International adoptions tend to cost about $35,000.
  • Approximately 69% of foster adoptions report total costs of less than $1,000. (But there are other sorts of costs and complications that go with this process. There is an emotional rollercoaster of stress; you’re putting your heart out on the street, hoping not too many cars run over it.)

And we see also, spiritually speaking, that the price of our adoption was very high …

Ephesians 1:5 – In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.

We’ve been talking about a lot of theological / soteriological terms the past couple weeks: Righteousness, Imputation, Justification, Atonement, etc.  And in this passage we see the word “Redemption.”  This means to pay a price to set something free.

We should be ever amazed at the gracious Father who paid the debt for our sin – we couldn’t pay it. It is easy to forget this grace. And that is why we are told to regularly observe a time of communion remembrance to recall this great and costly sacrifice.

  1. Adoption brings about multiple changes in relationships, as there is a new father and a new family, with new privileges and perspectives.

Again, it said in Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

But then also see how the Galatians 4 passage continues … 4:6 – Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

That phrase, Abba, Father, is a term of endearment and familiarity of close family warmth and relationship. To be a child of God! That is amazing!  That means we have access to the King of Kings as our daddy; we’re not prevented by guards around the throne, we can walk right up to him with our needs and desires.

And it is more than just a relationship with a new father, we have an entirely new family with all sorts of brothers and sisters and beyond. And in the church family, many of us have found that these relationships transcend all others.

And still more, there is a great future with an inheritance of eternal life. This entire idea of being an heir as God’s child will have its own focus as our fifth topic in the IDENTITY series. But it is OK to be amazed by this, even today.

And still more, all of this should lead us to a sense of profound gratitude.

We have had church families from TSF literally go halfway around the world to bring home a child in adoption. That is expensive and self-sacrificial, and maybe even a bit risky. But to secure our spiritual adoption, Jesus came from the glories of heaven and took on human form, becoming subject even to death on a cross, paying a price that we might be adopted as God’s children.

Adoption is a very special thing with very special benefits.

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Chosen for Adoption – Ephesians 1:3-8

Given my own background as an adopted child, it is totally impossible for me to talk about this topic without a flood of emotions and reflections.

We have some fantastic families in our church who have adopted children, having reached out to adopt either across racial categories in our country, or travelling even to remote parts of the earth to bring children home to a better place.

When you are adopted at a very young age and have no memories of any other household, it seems totally normal to be in the only home you’ve ever known. However, at some point you come to learn and know more about your past. In my situation, it never very seriously dawned upon me that anyone else was a parent other than the two people I had always called “mom and dad.”  Being that they were in actuality my biological grandparents, they were older than the parents of my friends. I do remember just one occasion where my mom went with me as a parent chaperon on a school field trip, and I recall looking at her and the other mothers and making note that she was clearly older than the rest. But I never thought upon it more deeply than making a passing observation.

It was not until I was about eight or nine years old (in 3rd grade, I believe) that my parents sat me down one evening and told me my real story. Though I knew my true mother (but never, ever met my actual father), I was not as close to her as many other relatives. And since there was an open strain between she and her mother (my adopted mom), I often did not have a high view of her in those years. Hearing that she was actually my mother was a terrible moment. I came entirely unglued and melted down emotionally for a brief time. But it was truly brief. It did not take long for the reasoning process to enlighten me to the true understanding that I had been the fortunate recipient of great grace and privilege as compared to what might have been. And that appreciation has only grown more deeply over the years.

And so it is for us, spiritually speaking, as we come to understand the wonderful grace we have received in our adoption by God. As Paul writes to the Ephesians, he speaks of praise to the Father, and of how we’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms … and of the riches of a grace lavished on us.

And just as a child has nothing to do with his adoption and only learns of it much later, our spiritual adoption was done for us very early. In fact, it is so early that it predates us, or anyone else! Yep, we were picked out by God before the creation of the world!!  Wow, that is amazing. And surely it supports the view that it is not because we were just so cute that God got all mushy and chose us. As it says in Romans, the situation is better described as on the other end of the spectrum – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

One of the women that I’ve gotten to know a bit over the past year of association with the Kingdom United Fellowship has a very unique and colorful way of expressing the joy of her faith on social media. I have seen her on a couple of occasions write something like, “I’m just God’s special little girl, He loves me so much!”  And I told her once that I thought this was actually good theology!  It is not to say that God loves any of us who are his children more than the others, but that He loves us so much as to have given His best for us when we were at our worst.

Imagine growing up in the finest and most beautiful home in the county, set upon a hillside overlooking the most stunning vistas. Your every need is cared for and met by wonderful parents. And like my story above, you are told one day that you are not actually their biological child. Rather, you learn that your original family lives in poverty and dysfunction, even as your natural father is imprisoned upon death row. Would you not grow to rather quickly have an amazement about the great fortune that has come to you – to be where you are rather than where you might have been?

That illustration does not begin to capture the spiritual grace we have by our divine adoption. There is great health is our possessing a proper identity of our family relationship with the Father, through the Son, sealed by the Spirit. We are blessed … for now, and for eternity.

Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.