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The Necessity of Adoption

by Dan Cruver Published Jun 30, 2008

James Buchanan, a Scottish theologian and pastor of the 19th Century, writes the following about the necessity of adoption:

“This closer and more endearing relation to God, which is constituted by Adoption, is necessary, in addition to that which is included within our Justification, to complete the view of our Christian privileges, and to enhance our enjoyment of them, by raising us above ‘the spirit of bondage, which is unto fear,’ and cherishing ‘the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’  It is necessary, also, to explain how the sins of believers are not visited with penal afflictions properly so called, but are nevertheless treated in the way of fatherly chastisement” (James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, 263-64).

According to James Buchanan, the necessity of adoption is seen in that it completes and enhances our enjoyment of our Christian privileges, namely, as he outlines earlier in the chapter, the full pardon of sin, acceptance before God, and the right to eternal life. In other words, adoption is necessary because it sets the gifts of pardon, acceptance, and eternal life within the context of a loving familial relationship with God as our Father. As J.I. Packer has written, “To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater” (Knowing God, 207). Adoption raises us from the fundamental blessing of legal freedom before God the Judge—as great and as necessary as that is—to the highest blessing of familial relationship with God our Father.

If you desire to learn more about the necessity and importance of God’s gracious provision of adoption and how it should affect the church’s commitment to care for orphans in their affliction, please consider joining us for our first regional conference. Go here for details.


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