Adoption is About Status, Not Behavior

Posted: July 28, 2011 in adoption, family, god, sonship, theology

It seems that I have found a kindred spirit…

familia Dei (emphasis mine):

Adoption powerfully confronts the tendency for Christians to equate their morning “quiet time” to their relationship with God. What a cheap substitute an hour of reading the Bible, journaling, and prayer is when one is invited to behold and participate in the life of the Trinity – as a son of God and a brother of Jesus…

But perhaps the most overlooked aspect of our adoption into the family of God is that we are adopted and called God’s children, before we ever act like it.  Adoption into God’s family is first (but not primarily) a status change before a behavioral change. In this way, adoption is very distinct from regeneration. Regeneration has to do with recreating our nature, thereby changing our behaviors; adoption is about status.  An infinitely improved status is the heart of the gospel.

This is where “adoption…through Jesus” (Ephesians 1:5) comes in. On one’s behalf, this kind of relational change is utterly impossible to initiate with an infinitely holy and just God. Why? Because we are offenders. But we are offenders right up to our adoption. We are offenders after our adoption. So our improved status from enemies to beloved children is just that — an improved status. It pays no regard to right behavior. The reason that this is possible is because the new status ascribed to us was purchased through Jesus’ sinless life and death in our stead. In other words, we don’t need to behave perfectly because Jesus did.

Praise the holy Trinity for the glorious (and costly) privilege of being called sons and daughters of the living God!  Truly, nothing compares to the exceedingly precious gift of “adoption through propitiation“!

  1. jamogck says:

    Hey Matt,

    Great blog, brother! Thanks for jumping in and fleshing out the profundity of our adoption into the family of God!

    I’d love to collaborate a bit on this theme. I’ll definitely be checking out more of your posts.

    • Matt Tully says:

      Thanks for the note! I appreciate the offer and would love to collaborate as well.

      A deeper and more important understanding and appreciation of the doctrine of adoption has probably been the dominant theme of the last couple years of my life. I feel as though I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this wonderful facet of the believer’s relationship with God!

      Have you read Trevor J. Burke’s “Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor”?

      • jamogck says:

        I have. Wonderful. Looks like you were a student of his? That’s awesome!

        I recently picked up “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” By Scott Hahn which is, so far, an awesome narrative approach to the covenants.

        His thesis is something along the lines of, “The eternal Father…never fails to fulfill his word. No matter what obstacles arise, he never loses sight of his goal: to form and fashion a human family to share in the infinite love of the Trinity.”

        Have you come across this one? If not, I’d recommend it.

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