Category Archives: Adoption

“We needed a Father, but He did not need sons” by Thomas Watson

“See the amazing love of God in making us His sons.

It is love in God to feed us, but even more to adopt us: ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1) It is full of wonder.

The wonder of God’s love in adopting us will appear the more if we consider this: that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own.

Men adopt because they want children, and desire to have some to bear their name.

But that God should adopt us when He had a Son of His own, the Lord Jesus, here is the wonder of love.

Christ is called ‘God’s dear Son,’ (Col. 1:13); a Son more worthy than the angels, (Heb. 1:4), ‘being made so much better than the angels.’

Now, when God had a Son of His own, such a Son, here is the wonder of God’s love in adopting us:

We needed a Father, but He did not need sons.”

–Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons Upon the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1692/1970), 234-235.

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“Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ” by John Newton

“Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look unto Him as He hung naked, wounded, bleeding, dead, and forsaken upon the cross.

Look unto Him again as He now reigns in glory, possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, with thousands of thousands of saints and angels worshipping before Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand ministering unto Him.

And then compare your sins with His blood.

Compare your wants with His fulness.

Compare your unbelief with His faithfulness.

Compare your weakness with His strength.

Compare your inconstancy with His everlasting love.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 574-575.

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“Serious thankfulness” by John Newton

“If we are really Christians, and do indeed believe the tenour of the Scriptures, with what serious thankfulness, and joyful composure, ought we to commemorate the coming of a Saviour into the world?

If the little good offices we perform to each other demand a grateful return, what do we owe to Him, who, of His own free motion and goodness, humbled Himself so far, and suffered so much, to redeem us from extreme and endless misery?”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 5 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 5: 403.

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“My hope is built, not upon what I feel in myself, but upon what He felt for me” by John Newton

“The gospel gives me relief.

When I think of the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ in my nature, as a public person, and in behalf of sinners, then I see the law, which I could not obey, completely fulfilled by Him, and the penalty which I had incurred sustained by Him.

I see Him in proportion to the degree of faith in Him, bearing my sins in His own body upon the tree.

I see God well pleased in Him, and for His sake freely justifying the ungodly. This sight saves me from guilt and fear, removes the obstacles which stood in my way, emboldens my access to the throne of grace, for the influences of His Holy Spirit to subdue my sins, and to make me conformable to my Saviour.

But my hope is built, not upon what I feel in myself, but upon what He felt for me; not upon what I can ever do for Him, but upon what has been done by Him upon my account.

It appears to me becoming the wisdom of God to take such a method of showing His mercy to sinners, as should convince the world, the universe, angels, and men, that His inflexible displeasure against sin, and His regard to the demands of His truth and holiness, must at the same time be equally displayed.

This was effected by bruising His own Son, filling Him with agonies, and delivering Him up to death and the curse of the law, when He appeared as a surety for sinners.

It appears to me, therefore, that, though the blessings of justification and sanctification are coincident, and cannot be separated in the same subject, a believing sinner, yet they are in themselves as distinct and different as any two things can well be.

The one, like life itself, is instantaneous and perfect at once, and takes place the moment the soul is born of God; the other, like the effects of life, growth, and strength, is imperfect and gradual.

The child born today, though weak, and very different from what it will be when its faculties open, and its stature increases, is as truly, and as much, alive as it will ever be. And, if an heir to an estate or a kingdom, has the same right now as it will have when it becomes of age, because this right is derived not from its abilities or stature, but from its birth and parents.

The weakest believer is born of God, and an heir of glory.”

–John Newton, “Letter XIV,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 247-249.

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“Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption” by J.I. Packer

“The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not through being born, but through being born again. ‘As many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12-13)

Sonship to God, then, is a gift of grace. It is not a natural but an adoptive sonship, and so the New Testament explicitly pictures it. In Roman law, it was a recognized practice for an adult who wanted an heir, and someone to carry on the family name, to adopt a male as his son—usually at age, rather than in infancy, as is the common way today.

The apostles proclaim that God has so loved those whom he redeemed on the cross that he has adopted them all as his heirs, to see and share the glory into which his only begotten Son has already come.

‘God sent forth His Son… to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5): we, that is, who were ‘foreordained unto adoption as sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Ephesians 1:5 RV).

‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God… when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’ (1 Jn 3:1-2).

You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father.

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.

If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.

For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God.

‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”

–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 181-182.

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“Having God’s Son, we have all we can ever wish for” by John Calvin

“We may always come boldly to God’s throne, assuring ourselves that His majesty will no more be terrifying to us, seeing He shows Himself a Father towards us in the person of His only Son. We see then that St. Paul’s intention is to keep us close to Jesus Christ.

And therein we also see what our perversity is. For it is certain that the care and zeal which St. Paul had, to make us cleave steadfastly to the Son of God, came through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who knew our frailty and inconstancy. If we had (in a manner of speaking) one drop of sound sense, it would be enough to make us understand that by the gospel we may possess God’s Son who gives Himself to us, and that by having Him, we have all we can ever wish for.

It would have been enough to have spoken this in one word, as St. Paul has shown already, (Rom. 8:32) but we see how he repeats and confirms his saying, as though it were hard to believe. And indeed it is hard, because we are too much given to distrust and unbelief. Again, to believe for one day is not all that we have to do.

It is necessary for us to persevere, which is found as a very rare thing in this world, because we are always fluttering about, by reason of which men, as it were, willfully deprive themselves of what was given them. Furthermore, since all the world is in this case, and we cannot be won or persuaded without great pains to come to our Lord Jesus Christ and to rest on Him, let us use the remedy St. Paul proposes here.

And first of all we must carefully observe that Jesus Christ is the door to open heaven to us, (John 10:9) for we know that at His death the veil of the Temple was rent in two, (Matt. 27:51) and that in such a way, that we may now enter without inhibition into the sanctuary of God—not of such a material temple as was then— so that we may approach into the presence of our God and come to Him for refuge, just as a child throws himself into the lap of his father or mother, for it is certain that God surpasses all the fathers and mothers of the world in all kindness and favour.

Seeing then that we know that, what more do we think would be to our benefit? What better or more excellent thing would we have rather than God? Then we must go and search for it in the bottom of hell. For when we have engaged in wanderings to our heart’s content we shall invariably find that there is nothing in any of all the creatures high or low that is worth a straw in comparison with God, as the prophet Isaiah says. (Isaiah 45:6)

So then, seeing that God has given Himself to us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in that great sanctuary which was typified by the visible sanctuary of the law, (Hebrews 9:9) ought we not to be fully satisfied when we have that, and to rest ourselves wholly there?

And although our minds and our affections are fickle, yet they ought to be held in check like prisoners, so that we may say, ‘Let us cleave, let us cleave to our God,’ according to that saying of David, ‘Behold, all my happiness and all my joy is joined to my God! (Psalm 73:28) He is the fountain of light and life. (Psalm 36:9) He is my portion, I cannot have a better lot, I must take all my delight in Him.’ (Psalm 16:5)”

–John Calvin, “Sermon on Ephesians 3:9-12,” Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 266-268.

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“A weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain” by C.S. Lewis

“To be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son— it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”

–C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 1949/2001), 39.

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