June 12, 2008

Salvation as Adoption

Ephesians 1:1-14

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-5


The Scriptures sometimes use courtroom language: apart from Jesus, the verdict is that we are guilty. We need Jesus to be our advocate, to bear our punishment so that we can be acquitted. This terminology is especially helpful for seeing how radical and undeserved God’s forgiveness is.

But courtroom language is only one type of scriptural language. We also hear lots of family language, including the language of adoption. God offers us not only forgiveness, but also membership in a family. God offers us a lifelong relationship in which he adopts us as sons and daughters.

And when God takes us as his children, we inherit a lot of gifts. Children who are adopted receive a lot more than a home. They also receive an extended family, a set of memories, and a set of traditions. Adoption is a one-time act that leads to a full life of opportunities, relationships, and memories.

Spiritual adoption is similar: we receive more blessings than we can count. We, too, receive a family (the church), a set of memories (recorded in the Bible and history), and a set of traditions (especially for holidays).

The image of adoption reminds us, in part, how radical conversion is. We are not merely God’s clients. We are God’s children!

O God, you welcome us as sheep of your flock through your Son, Jesus. You embrace us as full members of your family. Thank you for this good news of your great love. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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