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The Gospel of Adoption

by Dan Cruver Published Oct 24, 2012

Jared Wilson writes in Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus (pp. 152-53):

There is a peculiar tension in the biblical narrative of redemption, a depth if you will, to our state apart from Christ before God. As already asserted, in one sense we are cast as lost children, foreknown by God before we are even born and loved by him from eternity past, and therefore predestined to be brought back into the fold. But in another sense, we are cast as total foreigners to God’s fold—aliens and strangers, even rebels and enemies. The biblical characterization of our lostness is just as full orbed as its characterization of Christ’s goodness. In Ephesians 2:1-3, for instance, we learn that apart from Christ we are both dead and following the world, the Devil, and our appetites (which is quite a lot of activity for someone who is dead).

Yet we learn that the resolution to this tension—simultaneously a lost child of God and a rebellious stranger to God—emanates from God himself, who both hates and loves. What are we yearning for, groaning for? Our adoption as sons, according to Romans 8:23. And what makes enemies into sons is God himself, who according to Romans 8:14-15 leads us with his Spirit, the Spirit of adoption who translates for us our inner groaning to the cry of “Abba! Father!”

Deep in the foreknowledge of God is the reconciling difference between a fist shaken at the Father and an open hand upheld for his clasping. Proceeding from the Father is the Spirit who gives us ears to know the voice of our brother-shepherd Jesus (John 10:27). Only in the complex depths of the triune godhead are wrath-owed enemies also love-won children. Isn’t adoption too wonderful?

. . .

God turns rebels into family. He does this in deep love before time began (Eph. 1:5), through meticulous sovereignty throughout the old covenant (Rom. 9:4), by abundant grace in the new covenant offering of Christ (Gal. 4:4-5), and with affectionate power in the Spirit’s ongoing mission (Gal. 4:6). He is still on the surface of the deep, calling out order from the formless void of our hearts. And in this wonder is another incomprehensible wonder, namely, that the Spirit’s conversion of us godward is characterized as both adoption and rebirth.

When God adopts us into his family, he is not simply declaring us his children—he is actually making us his children.

Purchase Jared Wilson’s Gospel Deeps.

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