Tim Chester on our upcoming book, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father:
The wonderful good news of our adoption by God is such an important truth for Christians today. Too many of us believe we will be acquitted on the last day, but in the meantime we live as slaves, distanced from God because we do not embrace him as our loving Father. As a result our obedience is reduced to mere duty instead of being animated by joy. How can we put this right? This book is a great place to start. Enriching theology and missional application are beautifully interwoven. The result is a book that will warm your heart and might just change your life.
The great Dutch theologian Herman Ridderbos writes that our union with Christ is not a reality that “becomes reality only in certain sublime moments, but rather [is] an abiding reality determinative for the whole of the Christian life.” Do not miss that word, “determinative.” We must not think of our union with Christ as only involving “spiritually oriented” activities. Rather, it is the reality that should shape and determine the entirety of our Christian lives.
Join us for the Cry of the Fatherless conference this coming January 21-22 in Jackson, Mississippi.
When Paul speaks of the renewed material creation, he says the new heavens and new earth are guaranteed to us because on the cross Jesus restored of our relationship with God as his true sons and daughters. Romans 8:18ff teaches, remarkably, that the redemption of our bodies and of the entire physical world happens when we ‘receive our adoption.’ As his children we are guaranteed our future inheritance (Heb. 9:15, Eph. 5:5). And because of that inheritance, the world is renewed. The future is ours because of Christ’s finished work in the past. ~“Gospel Theology,” p. 5
Gerrit Dawson on our upcoming book, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father:
“Reclaiming Adoption is the best kind of theological work: it sings and it sends! As I read, I wanted to praise the Triune God for his great love. Then I felt the urgency of the call to live that love among the world’s orphans. Completely accessible and appealing to “ordinary” Christians, Reclaiming Adoption is thoroughly grounded in Scripture and flows from the great heart of the Church’s historic understanding of the Word. The authors have uncovered new depths and fresh passion in expressing how adoption clarifies the meaning of our union with Christ. Too much evangelical theology today is shallow and powerless because it arises from an abridged gospel. Reclaiming Adoption expands our vision to the fuller glory of the whole narrative of Christ’s work. Thus, this book can transform the worship, education and mission of any church bold enough to explore its truth.”
—Gerrit Dawson, Teaching Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge and author of Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation and Called By A New Name: Becoming What God Has Promised.
Cruciform Press recently released Greg Lucas’ powerful little book Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace. About Greg’s book, Joni Eareckson Tada writes:
Witty…stunning…striking…humorous and heartfelt. In our culture which is so quick to devalue life, Wrestling with an Angel provides a fresh, honest look at one father’s struggle to embrace God in the midst of his son’s disability. Can sheer laughter and weeping gracefully coexist in a world of so much affliction? Greg knows all about it. And inside these pages he passes on his lessons of grace to us. I highly recommend this wonderfully personal book!
What is not immediately apparent from Greg’s book is that it’s also an adoption story of sorts. One of the many things I loved about Wrestling with an Angel is that you do not find out that Jake was adopted until chapter 7. Adoption is about a child’s full and unconditional entrance into a family. It’s not about attaching a new and permanent adjective to a child as in “he is my adopted son.” As Russell Moore has written, “Adopted is a past-tense verb, not an adjective.” By not telling us until chapter 7 that Jake was adopted, Greg Lucas’ little book powerfully illustrates the truth that adoption is about full membership into a family.
If you looking for a powerful, grace-satuarted book to read, let me encourage you to get Wrestling with an Angel. You can purchase it here either as a print book ($7.45) or as an ebook ($4.49). Wrestling with an Angel is also now available in .mobi (great for Kindle) and .epub (great for iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, and Kobo), but those formats listed on the site yet. So if you buy the PDF, Cruciform Press will follow up with an email to ask if you would rather have one of those other two formats.
It has been my experience that many people do not really begin thinking about Adoption theologically until they themselves are involved in adopting (or at least considering adopting) a child. Very often, the consideration to adopt a child precedes the consideration of the truth that God has graciously adopted us to be His children. We usually think adoption before we think Adoption.
So is this a problem? Of course not. It’s natural and right to long for a child, and many people choose adoption for the same reason that couples bear children: in order to be parents. But for all those who are adopting – and have adopted – Together for Adoption desires to enrich your understanding of this act of love by showing how it relates to the theological concept of adoption.
Why, you ask? First, because we are convinced that the more we think about God’s gracious work of adopting us into His family, the more we will see and appreciate His glory, grace, beauty, love, etc. Adoption is first about the glorious God of the universe coming to profoundly needy people in the person of His Son to give us adoption as sons (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). When we grow in our understanding of who this God of grace is and what He has done to adopt us through Jesus Christ, we will find our love for and pursuit of Him steadily increasing. So, ultimately, we want to see people grow in their enjoyment of God Himself.
Second, if Christians better understand God’s work of adoption, they will find themselves joyfully compelled to extend this same kind of compassion to orphans, both here and abroad. Christians who love the wonderful doctrine of adoption will become increasingly passionate about “visiting orphans in their affliction” (James 1:27), whether through caring for orphans directly or indirectly, adopting a child, or assisting others in the adoption process. A proper theological grounding of horizontal adoption within vertical adoption has profound implications for our understanding of horizontal adoption and for our practice of orphan care (more on this in another post).
Since Together for Adoption is an organization that exists to equip the church for orphan care by stressing theological adoption (i.e, our adoption by God), I’m frequently asked versions of the two questions below. So, I thought I’d share a CliffsNotes version of my answers here.
You’ve taught Bible and theology for many years. When did theological adoption begin to be a prominent part of your thinking?
I can’t identify a decisive moment when theological adoption really began to become prominent in my thinking. My growth in this area, at least the first couple years, was a fairly gradual, almost imperceptible process. As I think about it now, my thinking in this area really started a few years before our first adoption as I began to consider the practice of transracial adoption through the lens of Scripture. God used my study in this area to move my wife and me to joyfully embrace transracial adoption, in part, as a wonderful and powerful picture of what God is doing through the gospel, namely, creating a mulit-ethnic family through His work of adoption. Then, after our first transracial adoption, my thinking gradually broadened out to consider Scripture’s teaching on adoption in general terms to the point where it is now my primary theological focus. I can honestly say that nothing has grown my understanding and amazement of God’s grace more than the theology of adoption over the past several years.
Has the doctrine of theological adoption affected how you relate to your sons and daughter?
One of the main ways it has affected my relationship with my two sons by adoption (7 and 8 years old) and my 14 year old biological daughter, is that even though I grew up in the home of my biological parents, I can look my two sons in the eyes and tell them that I too know what it is like to be adopted. Since God has adopted me as His child, I know the experience of being brought into a family that was not originally mine, a family where many of my siblings are much different than I am.
My daughter is also able to relate to her brothers on this level. Adoption is not unique to just my two sons. As a result of our adoption by God, we are better able and equipped to rejoice in the horizontal adoption of our two boys. Theological adoption gives us great reason to make adoption a cause for celebration in our household. It enriches and informs our experience as an adoptive family.
Check out our latest update on Reclaiming Adoption. We’ve tweaked the subtitle.
As Orphan Sunday week gets rolling, join Alliance President Jedd Medefind tomorrow for a live “Twitterview” with Mary Beth Chapman on Tuesday, November 2, at noon eastern (9 AM pacific). The 12-minute rapid-fire interview live on Twitter will touch on Orphan Sunday, Mary Beth’s passion for orphans, her new book and speaking tour, and more. You can follow the live interview by “following” Mary Beth at #MaryBethChapman and the Christian Alliance for Orphans at #orphanalliance.
“Christians often find it difficult to believe that God’s unfailing love is real. This is where the knowledge and increasing assurance that we are children of God is a refuge and shield against the attacks of Satan. Just as part of his plan of action in his temptation of Jesus included the issue of whether he was really the Son of God (compare Matt. 4:3, 6), so a parallel issue arises with us. Satan will cast up to us the sins of both the past and the present; he will allure us with temptations to sin to which we may fall in the future, and then lead us to question, the reality of our relationship to God. Can we be God’s children after all when such thoughts lurk in our minds and such deeds lie in our past? (Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God, 27).
If you find that “such thoughts lurk” in your mind, let me encourage you to make it a habit to meditate on God’s commitment to assure you of your sonship and of His love for you as your Father. Consider the lengths to which God has gone to assure us of our sonship:
First, He demonstrates (notice the verb tense of “demonstrate” – cf. Romans 5:8) the commitment of His unfailing love in that He sent His Son into the world to become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) so that we might receive the gift of adoption (Galatians 4:4-5). God the Father did not wait to address our struggle until after we began to doubt His unfailing love. He was profoundly proactive. He daily demonstrates His Fatherly love for us by what His natural Son, our Elder Brother, did almost 2,000 years ago, namely, die for us (Romans 5:8). Fight the temptation to doubt your Father’s love by daily looking at what your Elder Brother did for you at the cross before it was even possible for you to doubt.
Second, God the Father demonstrates (notice, again, the verb tense) His unfailing love for us by giving us the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15). The Spirit that God the Father has given us—who Himself is co-equal, co-eternal with the Father and Son—is the Spirit of adoption; and one of His primary responsibilities as the Third Person of the Trinity is to take the Gethsemane cry of our Elder Brother, “Abba! Father!” (Mark 14:36), which he cried on the eve of accomplishing our redemption, and lovingly place it in our hearts (Galatians 4:6). The Triune God does not assure us of our sonship from across the universe or even from across the room. As we meditate upon what God has done in Christ for us, He assures us through the Spirit of Adoption’s witness within our hearts that we are indeed the Father’s children. God the Father did much more than merely come alongside us. He sent the Spirit of His Son to actively indwell us that we might be assured that He delights in us as His children. This is adoption’s blessed assurance.
Two great conferences are being held on November 5-6, one in the Southeast and the other in the Northeast. My only disappointment is that I cannot attend both of them. If you live on the East Coast, let me encourage you to attend one of these adoption conferences.
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