Sonship

by

pastor C.R.Stam

Who are Israelites; tho whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory..." Romans 9;4

"Having predestinated us into the adoption of children.........." Ephesians 1:5

 

Both these statement were penned by the apostle Paul, who indeed, is the only New Testament writer to empoly the word here translated adoption. 

At first sight the apostle seems to contradict himself, for after stating specifically, in his letter to the Romans, that the adoption and the glory pertain to Israel, he writes to Gentiles, in his Ephesian letter, saying that God has "predestinated" us unto the adoption of children"

   In order to arrive at a solution to this problem we must first determine the meaning of the New Testament word adoption. 

 

PLACING AS SONS

In looking this word up in a Bible Dictionary, some time ago, we were disppointed to find the following definition: 

    "Adoption is an act by which a person takes a stranger into his family, acknowledges him as his child, and constitutes him heir of his estate. ......In the New Testament, adoption denotes the act of God's free grace... by which, on being justified through faith, we are received into the family of God, and made heirs of the inheritance of heaven"

 

That this is the present popular usage of our English word adoption no one will deny, but tha tis NOT the meaning of the Greek word rendered "adoption"in the Aughorized Version, in clear from its usage in the New Testament. 

   Perhaps no passage of Scripture will shed so much light on the meaning of the original word as Galatians 4:1-7: 

      "Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

       "But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 

       Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 

         But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

       To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

       And because ye are the sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

      Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God, through Christ"

According to this passage "adoption is simply the "placing as a son"----that is , a grown up son. this is the definition of the word huiothesia (adoption) as given by Young, Robinson and others, while Thayer, referring to that adoption for which believers still wait, calls it, "the consummate condition of the sons of God, which will render it evident that they are the sons of God"

    The adoption of children as we speak of it today generally refers to the taking in and bringing up of other people's children. This is not so of the Bible word huiothesia, for according to Galatians 4:1-7 this "placing as sons"affected those already children. This is not to imply, or course, that a stranger could not also be taken in and given a place as a full-grown son, but the point is that Bible "adoption"does not refere to mere acceptance into the family, but to a declaration of full sonship,with all its rights and privileges. 

    In the life of  the Hebrew boy there came a time, appointed by the father, when "adoption"proceedings took place and the boy was declared to be the son and heir of the father. 
    Before that time he had  been a son, indeed, but "under tutors and governors" He had been told what he must and must not, what he may and may not do. In this he differed nothing from a servant. 

    But finally  the "time appointed"arrives. He is a gown son now. It is assumed that he will no longer need overseers to keep him in check. There will be natural understanding and cooperation between father and son. And so the "adoption" proceedings take place-----a declaration that the son now enters into all the rights and privileges of full sonship.

     Such is the meaning of the word adoption as it is used in the writings of Paul.

 

ISRAEL AND THE ADOPTION

 

   In Exodus 4:22 we find the striking statement: "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh. Thus saith the Lord, ISRAEL IS MY SON, EVEN MY FIRSTBORN"

   But this does not  signify that Israel was a full grown son while in Egypt. It was in Egypt that the nation had been born and by now it had scarcely begun to walk.

  Hosea 11:1 says: 'WHEN ISRAEL WAS A CHILD . THEN I LOVED HIM, AND CALLED MY SON OUT OF EGYPT" and Jeremiah 31:232 speaks of "THE DAY THAT I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO BRING THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT"

   So far were they from their time of "adoption" that it was only after God had taken by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt that He first gaven them the law. They had not by any means come to the place where God could make a declaration of full sonship. Instead he had to give them the ten commandments and a thousand other commandments beside. They had to be told "Thou shalt"and "Thou shalt not". Thogh "heir of the world"God 's son, Israel, was placed "under tutors and governors until the time  appointed of the Father"

    Note carefully the phrase,  "the time appointed of the Father". Israel, left to himself, woudl never have reached the place of "adoption" He would never have attained to the place of full sonship, the place where he could be trusted to work in harmony with the Father. Often as we read about him in the Old Testament we find him described by such words as "rebellious, "perverse" and ' stiffnecked"

    By the time John the Baptist, the King's heral, had appeared, Israel had gotten farther from that place instead of nearer, for John's message was one of repentance. He said, "Now als the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:10). And evan all of John's warnings and pleadings had brought Israel morally no nearer to the place of "adoption, for the story ends with the reformer's head brought as a present to the daughter of a wicked woman with whom Herod, then king of the Jews, was living in adultery, while the Lord Jesus had to take up where John had left off, crying to Israel to repent. 

   Thank God, however, that "adoption" does not depend primarily upon the son's attainments, but on the father's will. It takes place at "the time appointed of the father, and it is heartening here, to see the Father take the first steps. 

   Israel would never have grown up or come to the place of adoption, "BUT WHEN THE FULNESS OF THE TIME WAS COME, GOD SENT FORTH HIS SON, MADE OF A WOMAN, MADE UNDER THE LAW, TO REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION OF SONS" ( Galatians 4:4-5)

   The apostle  speaks historically, of course, and it is not difficult  to understand why "we, not they, have received the adoption, when we consider what happened after the resurrection. 

    In the early chapters of the book of Acts we find Peter offering to Israel the adoption and the glory. All the blessings of Israel's exaltation in the Millemnium are bound up in the phrase "the times of refreshing". 

    "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that so may come THE TIMES OF REFRESHING from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you" (Acts 3:19-20)

     As we know, the people of Israel refused both the Messiah and the glories He had purchased for them. He had come to redeem them that were under the law that they might receive the adoption of sons, but they did not feel that they needed to be redeemed. He had come to 'save His people from their sins, but they wanted to be saved from their troubles instead fo from their sins. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness " they refused to "submit themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romand 10:3)

    "What then? ISRAEL HATH NOT OBTAINED THAT WICH HE SEEKETH FOR" (Romans 11:7)

   Israel had beomce a rebellious son and even to this day remains out of God's favor. 

As we see the nation groping about the darkness we recall the word of God by Hosea the prophet: 

"Then said God, Call his name Loammi; for YE ARE NOT MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL NOT BE YOUR GOD" (Hosea 1:9). This is what Paul calls the "fall", the "casting away", the diminishing of them. Thank God, this condition is only temporary! Israel will yet learn the lesson, for Hosea goes on to say,

"Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall it be said unto them, YE ARE THE SONS FO THE LIVING GOD" (Hosea 1:10)

 

THE LORD JESUS AND THE ADOPTION

 

When John the Baptist went to preach in the wilderness, we read: "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, AND WERE BAPTIZED OF HIM IN JORDAN, CONFESSING THEIR SINS." (Matthew 3:5-6)

     John's baptism was a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Nothing could be clearer than that. There was nothing "non-essential" or "of secondary importance"about it. It lay at the very heart of his message and ministry. Those who doubt this should consider carefully and prayerfully ( Mark 1:4)

     "JOHN DID BAPTIZE IN THE WILDERNESS, AND PREACH THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS"

      But what is this? 

  "THEN COMETH JESUS FROM GALILEE TO JORDAN UNTO JOHN, TO BE BAPTIZED OF HIM' ( Matt. 3;13)

           Little wonder that John "forbad Him". He had no sins to confess. Why should He be "numbered"with the transgressors?"

And little wonder that God broke through the heavens, after that baptism, to say "THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED" ( Matt. 3:17).

        Surely our blessed Lord need not wait for any doption proceedings to be recognized as the Son of God!  Surely He could be trusted to work in harmony with the Father!  Surely it would be no risk on the part of the Father to exalt Him immediately to the position of full Sonship with its rights and privileges! 

        True, but our blessed Lor dhad come to redeem others from bondage so that they, by His merits, might be given the place of sonship. Thsi is why Galatians 4;4 says "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, MADE UNDER THE LAW, TO REDEEM THEM THAT WERE UNDER THE LAW, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION OF SONS"

    Yes, He too.....for the sake of others.....was placed under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father. 

   He had to be placed in the position of a child, of a servant... in the position of obedience..."MADE UNDER THE LAW". Though equal with God, He had left the place of equality to go to the garden and cry, "O my Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! NEVERTHELESS NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS THOU WILT" ( Matt. 26:39).

   THOUGH HE WERE A SON, YET LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS WHICH HE SUFFERED [ Heb 5:8]

Not that He had been disobedient before. It simply had not been a question of obedience, for He was the eternal Son, equal with the Father, and in perfect agreement with Him. But now, for the sake of others, He assumed the place of subjection to learn obedience. 

    While on earth He was God's beloved Son, to be sure, but th declaration of full Sonship could not yet be made. The adoption proceedings could not yet take place. 

   It is in the second Psalm, however, that we read these significant words: I WILL DECLARE THE DECREE: THE LORD SAID UNTO ME THOU ART MY SON; THIS DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE  [ Psalm 2:7]

   Should the reader ask "What day"? or "When was our declared to be the Son of God?" he will find the answer in Acts 13:33

  God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that HE RAISED UP JESUS AGAIN; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou are my Son, THIS DAY have I begotten thee"

     So it was at the ressurection  that the "decree" was made and Christ was declared to be the SON of God,   begotten in the larger sense of the word. 

    This agrees with what we find in the first chapter of Romans, where Paul speaks of the good news of God, 

"Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and DECLARED TO BE THE SON OF GOD WITH POWER, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" { Romans 1;4|

 

      The adoption proceedings over, He ascended "far above all principalilty, and power , and might, and dominion" to sit at the right hand of God... the place of favor and privilege and honor. 

 

OUR ADOPTION IN CHRIST

Ephesians 1:3-6

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath 

blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation

of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before

Him in love;

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by

Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will

To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us

accepted in the Beloved"

 

      What a revelation! Blessed now with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies!  And let us not forget that the Ephesian 

letter was distinctly addressed to Gentiles in the flesh Ephesians 3:1. How is it that we, poor sinners, have thus been given 

free access to all the riches of the Father? Was it according to our works, or character, or devotion? No, it was "according to the good pleasure of His will"---"According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world"

      It was His own gracious plan to make us "holy and without blame before Him; IN LOVE HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN"

     But how could He make us "holy and without blame before Him and give us the place of adoption?

    There is only one answer-----'BY JESUS CHRIST", and it is eternally "TO THE PRAISE OF THE GLORY OF HIS GRACE THAT HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED"

    Now it is true that those referred to here as having "adopted"were, indeed, strangers and aliens , gracilously taken into the family of God, but a careful examination of the passage will clearly reveal that again more than present-day adoption is meant. 

    According to this passage we have not merely been saved, but accepted as grown sons in Christ, the beloved Son, and given a place at the Father's  right hand with free access to all the Father's riches in the heavenlies! 

    That we could not have attained to full sonship any more than Israel, is clear to any saved sinner. Indeed, it was when we came to a realization of our unwothiness, and put our trust in Christ, God's perfect Son, that He gave us this exalted position. 

    Thus, as far as our position is concerned, there is no period of preparation or discipline. God does not first place us "under tutors and governors", until we have shown that we are worthy of a position of full sonship. 

    No, Israel had already demonstrated how futile it is i for the sons of Adma to try. Now God is demonstrating His perfect satisfaction with those who take their place "in Christ". 

    Under the dispensation of law God demonstrated the insufficiency of man. Today, under the dispensation of Grace He is demonstrating the all-sufficiency of Christ. 

    But let us not proceed further with theis thought until we have first seen that our "adoption, like Christ's , is bound up with resurrection. Indeed itis bound up with His resurrection. 

    To see exactly what has taken place we need but turn to the second chapter of Ephesians, where in verse 3 and 4 we are found, to begin with, ad "children of disobedience" and "children of wrath". 

    "BUT GOD, WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, FOR HSI GREAT LOE WHEREWITH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE

DEAD IN SINS, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST ( BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED). 

    AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS"

(Ephesians 2:4-6). 

    What infinite grace!  How far above the law He places us: and that immediately, without any period of probation! 

    But will this not produce careless living? No!  Such love will accomplish what the law never could. Those whose hearts  hae been won by His infinite grace will now long to sere their blessed Lord. God in love has drawn them close to Himself and brought about a mutual understanding. 

     This the law could never have done. Indeed, the apostle distinctly says in Romans 6:14 " For sin shall not have dominion over you FOR ye are not under law but under grace"

     "FOR YEA HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AGAIN TO FEAR; BUT YE HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, WHEREBY WE CRY ABBA, FATHER" ( Romans 8:15)

      As we have said, this is the position God has given in Christ, but like salvation itself, the realization of it is progressie. However, the realization too is associated with resurrection. 

      How do we enjoy sonship now?  By resurrection, for the 11th verse of this same chapter of Romans says,

"BUT IF THE SPIRIT OF HIM THAT RAISED UP JESUS FROM THE DEAD DWELL IN YOU, HE THAT RAISED UP CHRIST FROM THE DEAD SHALL ALSO QUICKEN YOU MORTAL BODIES BY HIS SPIRIT THAT DWELLETH IN YOU ( Romans 8:11)

     This passage is often applied to the future resurrection of the body, but we believe it refers to experiencing the resurrection life now, for the next verse goes on to say,

    "THEREFORE, BRETHREN, WE ARE DEBTORS, NOT TO THE FLESH, TO LIE AFTER THE FLESH". 

     In other words, the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead will quicken our mortal bodies to help us to lie the resurrection life-----to walk in newness of life. this is what Paul meant when he exclaimed , "THAT I MIGHT KNOW HIM, AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION."

     And some daywe shall come into the full enjoyment of our position!  Who knows how soon! 

     As yet, "we which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves. groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption or our body". ( Romans 8:23). But the blessed day will come! And again  it will be a time of resurrection!  "THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED. FOR THE CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL MUST PUT ON IMMORTALITY. " ( I Corinthians 15:52-53)

BACK TO ISRAEL

"WHO ARE ISRAELITES; TO WHOM PERTAINETH  THE ADOPTION, AND THE GLORY....." (Romans 9:4)

"For I would not, brethren, that ye shoudl be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own concets; that blindnes in part  is happened to Israel, unti the fulness of the Gentiles be come in

And so all Israel shall be saved; as iti is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" ( Romans 11:25,26)

Finally Israel too, will come into the place of adoption. Adn once more it will be a resurrection.

FOR IF THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM BE THE RECONCILING OF THE WORLD, WHAT SHALL THE RECEIVING OF THEM BE BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD! " ( Romans 11:15)

Then shall the world know that Israel, so long hated and despised, is God's son. 

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the natiosn, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you" ( Zech. 8:23)

And then shall Israel know that the position of sonship, with all its privilege and glory can only be obtained through the very One who was "wounded in the house of His friends"------the house of Israel.

And before the Millenium is over millions more will have learned that lesson, for God will yet kepp His covenant with Abraham. 

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 

"AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED; because thou has obeyed my voice ( Genesis 22:17-18)

Even creation will feel the results: 

BECAUSE THE CREATION ITSELF ALSO SHALL BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD  (Romans 8:21)

 

THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL

Thank God that He has already "made known unto us the mystery of His will.... that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all thigns in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him" (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Thus we, as His heavenly people, and Israel and the Gentile nations on earth will come into the full enjoyment of "adoption". Our place, however, will be highter and closer than theirs, for we are the "members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones"( Ephesians 5;25)

Is this because we have trusted Him during this age of His rejection? Even so, it is all by his fathomless, wonderful grace.