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Theology in Romans

I.  Introduction:

 In his chapter on adoption, J. I. Packer summarizes the gospel with these words: ďadoption through propitiationĒ and comments, ďI do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.Ē   As he argues throughout the chapter, if we are going to understand Christianity then we must understand the doctrine of adoption.  As we noted this morning, Paul teaches us about our adoption through Christ in Romans 8.  We are not just forgiven of our sins and put into a right standing with God (justification).  Through Christ, we have actually become members of Godís family.  We are sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.  I want us to consider this doctrine together in our time tonight.  As we have done before, we will begin by looking at adoption through the lens biblical theology and then move on to systematic.

II.  Biblical and Systematic Theology:

 A.  Biblical Theology: The story of the Bible is one that shows God to be the Father of His people.  The Lord refers to Israel as His son (Exodus 4:22-23, Hosea 11:1).  Abrahamís descendents are His people, His family.  The Fatherhood of God becomes even clearer in the pages of the New Testament.  The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus is Godís Son who has come to us from the Father (John 1:14).  Likewise, the good news of the gospel is that through faith in Christ we can be reconciled to the Father through Christ.  In Christ, we become sons and daughters of God (see 1 John 3:1ff).  We are brought into the family of God through faith in Christ.  Our sonship is distinct from that of Christ, but Jesus makes it clear in His High Priestly prayer (John 17) that God loves us as He loves Christ (see v. 26).  Thus, the story of the Bible is the story of God redeeming a people through His only begotten Son to be His adopted sons and daughters.  In this way, the Bible points us to the glorious good news of our adoption.

 B.  Systematic Theology: There are three passages that give us some clear teaching on the doctrine of adoption.  Letís consider these.

  1.  Romans 8:14-17 This is the passage that we considered this morning, so I only want to mention it and make a couple of observations.  First, Paul makes it clear that all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.  Through Christ and the gift of the Spirit we are a part of the family.  Second, even though Paul calls us slaves to God elsewhere (Romans 6), he wants us to know that such slavery means that we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ďAbba! Father!Ē  God is our Father and we are His sons and daughters.  The Spirit that we have been given bears witness to this truth.  We are members of His family, heirs with Christ.

  2.  Galatians 4:1-7 Paul tells us plainly that God sent Christ to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  Christ took on flesh and came to the earth to set us free.  He came to purchase our pardon by paying for our sins.  But more than that, He came to make us part of the family.  Going on, Paul again notes that our adoption comes with the full blessing of being an heir through God.  We are full sons and as such we will receive a full inheritance through Christ.  This is what God has done for us in Christ.

  3.  Ephesians 1:3-6 In Ephesians 1, Paul is giving us a list of all of the blessings that we have in Christ.  In just a few verses he lists many unbelievably glorious blessings.  He tells us that chose us to be holy and blameless (v. 4), redeemed us and forgave our trespasses through the blood of Christ (v. 7), lavished grace upon us (v. 7-8), revealed to us the mystery of his will (v. 9), will give us an inheritance (v. 11) and has sealed us with the Spirit (v. 13-14).  These are all wonderful blessings.  Likewise, one other blessing is found in verses 4-6: In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  Before the foundations of the world, the Lord predestined us for adoption.  He did this because He loved us and He did it according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.  His adoption of us screams out the glory of His grace.  We could not have earned it or deserved it, it was simply His sovereign plan to love and lavish grace upon us. 

Of course, the difficulty with this passage comes due to Paul using the language of God Ďchoosingí and Ďpredestining.í  I understand the controversy surrounding such language.  Yet, in the context of the passage, I just want to  point out that our predestination to adoption is something that should lead us to praise and glorify God for His great love and grace.  Do not miss that.  We will return to this passage in a couple of weeks to look more at the doctrine of predestination and election, but I simply want us to see tonight that God deserves praise and thanksgiving for our  adoption.  He has graciously chosen to make us His children and we should marvel at such grace.

III.  Conclusion:

 I hope that by looking at just a couple of passages that speak of adoption into the family of God that we would be amazed at Godís love for us.  I have talked on many occasions about how we often misunderstand the doctrine of Godís love and I fear that can lead us to thinking less of Godís love.  But tonight, as we meditate on the doctrine of our adoption, I hope we see the biblical picture of Godís love for His children.  We are not step-children in the Kingdom.  We are not on the fringe of Godís family.  No, through Christ we are blood bought sons and daughters.  We have a shared inheritance with our Brother.  We have all the blessings that come with being in Godís family.  Perhaps our struggle is due to our misunderstanding of adoption.  There was possibly a time in my life when I would have wondered if adopted children are loved as much as biological children.  But not now.  God has shown me the love of an adoptive father.  And if as a sinner I can love Isaiah like I do, how much more does Almighty God love His adopted children?  I encourage you, marvel at such love and such grace.  Be amazed.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 September 2010 )

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