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The Wonder of Adoption

October 2006
By: David O'Leary
Adoption is one of the important resources available in the ministry to women and men who face crisis pregnancies. While it may not be the optimal choice for all, it certainly provides the right option for many. If we consider the biblical pattern of adoption, we can draw a parallel to crisis pregnancy ministry.

The Bible tells us of ! It is a privilege that every believer has and that many believers overlook. We have status. We are somebody. I don't mean this in the modern secular sense of the word, which seeks to build our self-esteem. I mean this in the gospel sense—you are a child of the living God through our Lord Jesus Christ. You have been adopted into the family of the King! Put it another way: "Adoption is the act of God's free grace by which we become His children with all the rights and privileges of being His." Amazing! Such status! John writes of his amazement in 1 John 3:1, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"

It is important for us to distinguish adoption from other acts of God's grace. Adoption, though inseparable from justification, is still distinct. Justification bestows on us the legal status of forgiven sinners who are righteous before God. Adoption accords us the status of belonging to the family of God along with all the privileges which that brings. We are not just legally acquitted; we are welcomed and embraced as prodigals who have returned to our Father.

That is the first privilege we have as children. We receive the Spirit of adoption and may call God our Father. Notice what Scripture says:

"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians 4:6-7).

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:15-16).

More than that, we enjoy the love of the Father for his children, which John speaks about (1 John 3:1); we enjoy his Fatherly compassion (Psalm 103:13); and we are invited to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). And the blessings continue. Paul says, "And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:17).

But, what I think is the richest privilege is that we have access to our Father. We have His attention when we are in need. So our Lord reminds us of the Father's provision:


"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:30-32).

He also invites us to ask our Father for His help: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11).

What a privileged place we have as children of our Heavenly Father. No wonder one theologian called adoption "the apex of covenant grace and privilege."

Consider the parallel to adoption in our own human families. Beyond all imagining, a child who may not be able to receive the care and nurture he or she needs is received into a family because of that family's deliberate decision of love. And that love not only bestows blessings of care and nurture, but it gives a new status—a child of the house, a member of the family. In addition to care, the child will have the comfort of knowing that he or she has been chosen in love to be one of the family. An adopted child takes the family name, has the family love and protection, and has at his or her disposal all the resources of the family. Granted, each and every family falls short of this ideal, but we are reminded of our own adoption in Christ as the pattern for adoption of children in need. What a wonder that is!

Isaiah 49:1-2 tells us, "The Lord has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, And made Me a polished shaft; In His quiver He has hidden Me."

David O'Leary pastors a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and can be contacted at

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