In my last blog post (“C.J. Mahaney on Adoption: Abba, Father“), I talked about how I had the opportunity recently to listen to a sermon on adoption by CJ Mahaney. It was such a refreshing sermon, I thought I would share with you another point that has really stuck with me – assurance.
CJ does a masterful job of unpacking the distinct benefits of understanding the doctrine of adoption. If you have ever doubted God’s love for you, or your fixed and unchanging place at the table of God’s family, then meditate on the doctrine of adoption.
If my son knew how much I loved him, and how permanent and unchanging his status is as my son, then he would never fear abandonment. I think we, as believers, struggle with this “abandonment” issue a lot. This is one of Paul’s central themes in his letter to the Galatians. He is concerned that the Galatians are not relating to God as sons, but as slaves, trying to earn God’s favor through right living. If those foolish Galatians only knew how much God loved them, and if they trusted in that love to secure their place at the table, then it would change their whole worldview.
We, as adopted children in God’s family, must daily renew our minds with the reality of the steadfast love of our Heavenly Father. Because, the truth is, that our sin nature is always trying to drag us away from trusting in the love of God that we cannot see, and into trusting our own works that we can see. Paul calls this, slavery and tells the Galatians, and us through the Spirit, “you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Paul’s letter to the Galatians calls us to right living, but it is a radically different kind of obedience than what comes from a slave. It is an obedience that springs from the security of feeling our Heavenly Father’s unchanging approval.
My son is my son because he is my son; not because he is a “good boy.” Whether he is a “good boy” or not, is irrelevant to his seat at the table of my family. He will always be my son.
CJ graciously lists several resources for further study to help solidify our understanding of the doctrine of adoption. I list them here for you along with a link to CJ’s sermon.
Knowing God, Ch. 19, JI Packer
Children in the Living God: Delighting in the Father’s Love, Sinclair Ferguson
Adopted into God’s Family, Trevor Burke
Mahaney’s sermon: God as Father: Understanding the Doctrine of Adoption