Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12- Spiritual Adoption

February 12- Adoption as Salvation

Scripture: Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” Rom. 8:14,15; Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6

Calvin: “With what confidence would anyone address God as “Father”? Whou would break forth into such rashness as to claim for himself the honor of a son of od unless we had ben adopted as children of grace in Christ? (3:20.36)
The name “Son,” which had been somewhat obscure under the law, was to be illustrious and
known everywhere. Paul concurs: because we are now sons of God through Christ, we freely and confidently cry, “Abba! Father!” [Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 4:6]. Were not the holy patriarchs of old also held to be among the sons of God? Yes — relying upon this right, they called upon God as Father. But after the only-begotten Son of God was brought into the world, the heavenly fatherhood
became more clearly known. Accordingly, Paul assigns this privilege, as it were, to Christ’s Kingdom. Yet this ought to be unwaveringly maintained: to neither angels nor men was God ever Father, except with regard to his only-begotten Son; and men, especially, hateful to God because of their iniquity, become God’s sons by free adoption because Christ is the Son of God by nature.(II.14. 5)
The first name of the Holy Spirit, is the “spirit of adoption” because he is the witness to us of the free benevolence of God with which God the Father has embraced us in his beloved only-begotten Son to become a Father to us; and he encourages us to have trust in prayer. In fact, he supplies the very words so that we may fearlessly cry, “Abba, Father!” [Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6]. For the same reason he is called “the guarantee and seal” of our inheritance [ 2 Corinthians 1:22; cf.Ephesians 1:14] e because from heaven he so gives life to us, on pilgrimage in the world and resembling dead men, as to assure us that our salvation is safe in God’s unfailing care. (III.1.3)

Every now and then someone asks me, “When were you saved?” Some are turned off by this question. But in a way it is a beautiful question. If I have time, I point out that my salvation is a multifaceted thing. In one sense I was saved when God predestined me (Eph. 1:4). In another sense I was saved when Christ died for me on the cross. In another sense I was saved when I accepted the gift of salvation (commonly called conversion-this is the date they are looking for). In another sense I was saved when I was baptized and promises were made in my behalf (though baptism and promises alone do not save us). In another sense I am being saved as I “work out my salvation” in sanctification (Eph. 2:10). In a sense I will be saved when I get to heaven (glorification). The focus should not be just on conversion, though that should not be left out either (contra to some ultra Calvinists and liberals). There is a sense, however, in which conversion (regeneration), justification (acceptance), adoption (being claimed) all happen at once. For some baptism also occurs about the same time.
Adoption is an important part of the order of salvation (ordo de saludis), but it is not a headlining act for Calvin. He mentions our adoption extensively in books 2 and 3 of the Institutes.
In his catechism- Calvin speaks of faith as “placing our whole confidence in God- which includes believing God is Almighty and good” but also that “God loves us and is willing to be our Father and author of our salvation.” Adoption is the focus and assurance that we are loved by God, included in God’s family, and heirs of the blessing. Adoption, as all the other parts of salvation for Calvin, is purely of God’s grace, and has nothing to do with how we look, what we do, our ancestry, or anything else in us except for His good pleasure.
Years ago some of my charismatic friends talked about being “a child of the king” and how important that was for them. In a sense, that is an important aspect of adoption. Knowing that you are part of the family gives assurance, confidence (not in self- but in God). Personally, this idea of being a part of God’s family was life-changing. I hope it is for you too.

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