The Doctrine of Adoption- J.I. Packer

This time last year, I adopted 4 words used in the book Gospel Coach for what it means to be a shepherd: Know, Feed, Lead, and Protect. I use this constantly in my own life to evaluate how I am knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting the sheep God has entrusted me to shepherd.

One area of shepherding that I try to be extremely intentional about is Doctrine. Feeding and Protecting the flock through systematic teaching on basic doctrine is essential for any pastor shepherding a flock, which brings me to my post. Periodically, I am going to post some of my sermon notes from sermons that I have preached specifically on Doctrine. I want to encourage anyone reading, be intentional about preaching doctrinal messages in a systematic way. Here is a Lord’s Supper Sermon, I preached on the Doctrine of Adoption.

Galatians 4:1–7 (ESV)

Sons and Heirs

4 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul teaches that the gift of justification (i.e., present acceptance by God as the world’s Judge) brings with it the status of sonship by adoption (i.e., permanent intimacy with God as one’s heavenly Father, Gal. 3:26; 4:4-7). In Paul’s world, adoption was ordinarily of young adult males of good character to become heirs and maintain the family name of the childless rich. Paul, however, proclaims God’s gracious adoption of persons of bad character to become “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

Justification is the basic blessing, on which adoption is founded; adoption is the crowning blessing, to which justification clears the way. Adopted status belongs to all who receive Christ (John 1:12). The adopted status of believers means that in and through Christ God loves them as he loves his only-begotten Son and will share with them all the glory that is Christ’s now (Rom. 8:17, 38-39). Here and now, believers are under God’s fatherly care and discipline (Matt. 6:26; Heb. 12:5-11) and are directed, especially by Jesus, to live their whole lives in light of the knowledge that God is their Father in heaven. They are to pray to him as such (Matt. 6:5-13), imitate him as such (Matt. 5:44-48; 6:12, 14-15; 18:21-35; Eph. 4:32–5:2), and trust him as such (Matt. 6:25-34), thus expressing the filial instinct that the Holy Spirit has implanted in them (Rom. 8:15-17; Gal. 4:6).

Adoption and regeneration accompany each other as two aspects of the salvation that Christ brings (John 1:12-13), but they are to be distinguished. Adoption is the bestowal of a relationship, while regeneration is the transformation of our moral nature. Yet the link is evident; God wants his children, whom he loves, to bear his character, and takes action accordingly.

Packer, J. I. (1995, c1993). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

The Wonder of Adoption:

I. The plan of God is Wonderful. (4)

II. The provision of God is Wonderful. (5)

III. The presence of God is Wonderful.(6)

IV. The promise of God is Wonderful. (7)

Praise God that we are accepted and adopted as His children, because of the sacrifice and substitution of Christ. This is “Good News”! Preach and teach doctrine, so your flock will have a foundation they can stand on.

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About George Ross

I am a pastor, church planter, husband, and father of four.
This entry was posted in Church Planting, Leadership, Preaching. Bookmark the permalink.

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