• Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.

The Wonder of Our Adoption

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called

children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

1 John 3:1 NKJ


Question 74 of the Larger Catechism, asks, “What is adoption?” It gives the answer, “Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.” Last week we examined the forensic nature of justification. This week we consider the much neglected doctrine of adoption, and particularly, the wonder of it.

When was the last time you read an article about the Biblical doctrine of adoption? Many Evangelicals like to talk about justification, some talk about sanctification, but very few spend any time considering adoption. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt and perhaps that is nowhere more true than among believers as we consider this doctrine, since we are not awestruck that God would take sinners like us and make them His own, dear children! Think of how different King David’s reaction was when the prophet Nathan came and told him that God would build him a house, and that God would be a father to David’s son. The Bible says that David “went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?’” David is incredulous! It is as if he sits down because he cannot stand. He does not know what to do with this revelation. How could the almighty King of the universe take my son to be His own? David goes on to pray that God would do exactly what Nathan had just said He would do! Throughout his prayer David continues to call himself “Your servant” and he says that he prays so boldly concerning his house only because God had revealed to him that He would do it.


The Catechism first states that adoption is an act of the free grace of God. There was nothing in us, there was nothing potentially in us that moved God in the least degree to decide to adopt us. If God had any regard to the return on His investment, He would surely have been moved not to adopt us. Notice the Scripture at the head of this article, how the Holy Spirit through the apostle John seeks to fill us with wonder at the thought of our adoption: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon that we should be called the children of God.” Beloved, could anyone have imagined such an act of grace and grandeur that the King of the universe would take sinful rebels who crucified His own Son and make them his children along with Him? If the Scriptures did not so clearly teach it, we would be sinning a great sin of presumption to even dream of such a thing! The astounding truth of the matter is that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has, past tense, already made you His own dear child. GOD has made you HIS child! God has made YOU His CHILD! No matter how we say it or imagine it, it is still amazing and astounding! We can scarce believe such a thing. What manner of love is this?


Then there is the cost of our adoption. Adoption is very expensive. When my brother-in-law adopted a little girl from Ethiopia the final cost was many thousands of dollars. The cost of our adoption is expressed by our Catechism this way: “in and for His only Son Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ paid for our adoption by earning our righteousness and satisfying our debt to the infinite wrath of God! When we think of Jesus tirelessly laboring among the stubborn apostles (who were the best of us), crying out at one point, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Matt. 17:17); when we think of Him

constantly rebuking the disciples, grieving over their hardness of hearts, their little faith, their selfishness; when we think of Him sweating great drops of blood in the garden as he considered taking all of the wrath of God, and then actually taking it on Himself on the cross to pay for our adoption we can only reply with the American folk hymn:


What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!


No matter what your circumstances, may such thoughts cause you to take a few moments and joyfully say, “To God and to the lamb, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I will sing!”

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Reformed doctrine. Reverent worship. Real life.

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