The Love of Adoption
THE LOVE OF ADOPTION (Rom 8:28-30)
We’ve been working our way through Romans which is a systematic presentation of the gospel. It lays out God’s plan of redemption. Rom 8 brings us to the climax of that plan where we become sons and daughters of God and receive the Spirit of adoption and can cry out to our Abba, our Father. The focal point of salvation is this changed relationship with God, where we become His children and He becomes our Father. This changed relationship is what our salvation is more about…. So I say with all the conviction and passion I can muster – that there is nothing more important to understand than the love of adoption – which is the title I’ve given to this sermon – the love of adoption.
Let’s start by picking up the flow of the argument leading up to Rom 8:28-30
· Rom 8:12-14 We now live in a totally new way, not being directed and controlled by the flesh but being directed and controlled by the Sprit because all who are sons and daughters of God are being led by the Spirit. Our life here and now has taken a turn for the better, is on a whole new trajectory because of our adoption.
· 8:15-16 Fear of condemnation and punishment and abandonment is gone because God has put His very Spirit in our hearts and the Spirit leads us to run to our heavenly father for help.
· 8:17 the full inheritance of sonship is now ours.
· 8:18-19 life in this world will be characterized by suffering of various kinds because this world is fallen and broken and groaning. But a glory awaits us which is so amazing, so splendid – that is will literally swallow up the sufferings of the present.
· All of creation is groaning, is eagerly anticipating that glorious day when the sons and daughter of God finally and fully enter this glory.
· 23 We ourselves, are eagerly awaiting that day – the consummation of our adoption. God has given all of creation a goal, a focal point, a finish line and that focal point is the consummation of our adoption, the realization of our adoption.
· 24-25 this is not always what we see and experience in our present circumstances, but this hope forms the bedrock of our salvation. This is what our salvation is all about.
This hope not only gives us sure confidence about the future, about the outcome, the final destination - but it gives us sure confidence in the present. God is working out the love of adoption in every detail, in every moment of our lives.
· 8:26-27 Even when we are so weak and confused that we are unable to pray. The Spirit of our adoption is praying in our behalf to ensure that the will of God is being perfectly worked out in every detail of our lives.
· 8:28-29 and we know that God’s will, God’s desires, God’s plans and purposes for His children is always and only good and they are being worked out in every detail of our lives. His purpose is that we would be like His one and only Son and take our place alongside Him as fellow brothers and sisters in God’s family.
· What this passage will go on to say in response to all these things in 8:31 is that God is undoubtedly and unchangeably for us and therefore nothing and no-one can stand against us. In 8:38 Paul will conclude that we will certainly conquer above and over all things and trials and obstacles because of this love of God for us….the love of adoption.
So as we come to Rom 8:28-30, what we must understand from the context and flow of the chapter, is that this is all about God’s love, not just God’s providence and plan. This passage, more than anything else should change how you view the love of God and how you view yourself as the object and focal point of that love.
2 hallmarks of the love of adoption. 2 defining features of God’s adoptive love.
God's love is selective and God's love is effective. Or to put it another way – God’s love is personal; God’s love is powerful.
Only when you understand these 2 things about God's love can you fully appreciate what it means to be loved by him as His child.
Illustration – parents
• Like a parent, God has a unique love for His children. Though He loves all people as his creation, He only loves believer as His children. His love for His children is unique, it is reserved for them alone.
• Unlike parents whose love is sometimes thwarted by their own inconsistencies or by limited resources or adverse circumstances, or by the foolish choices of their children. God's love is always completely effective at accomplishing our good.
1: God's love is Selective (Rom 8:28-29)
28 who is this text talking about? For whom is God working all things together for good? For those who love God.
• Select group of individuals here: those who love God. This reality doesn't apply to all individuals the world over, but only those who love God. Another way of saying believers, Christians.
• Further defines them those who are called according to His purpose (28), as those whom he foreknew, those whom He predestined, those whom He justified and glorified.
• The focal point of this text throughout is on these specific individuals.
• You can see how the text keeps bringing us back to this by repeating this relative pronoun – those whom, those whom. The text keeps pointing a finger for us and saying – look, these ones, these specific ones are the ones I’m talking about
• And it’s clear that the text is talking about Christians
God is working all things together for good doesn't apply to all people, but only to this select group of people, to us who believe.
Let us have a closer look at this group of people – what defines or describes us as believers in this text?
• Means literally to know beforehand. Can be used in 2 ways
1. Knowing certain facts beforehand e.g. 2 Pet 3:17 we are told that day of the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly. Then comes the instruction: “17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. Knowing this fact, or having this information beforehand, that Christ will come suddenly – this is how you must behave.
2. Second way used – knowing people beforehand. How do you know a person beforehand? Used in 2 other places in the N.T in this way turn to
▪ NIV 1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. The word which has been translated chosen in the NIV is the word foreknown. The idea of selected, loved, known beforehand and destined for the purpose of becoming the sacrificial lamb.
▪ That idea fits well with our present context doesn't it. Chosen, selected beforehand for a purpose. The text goes on to explain the purpose – being predestined to be conformed to the image of His son.
The knowing here is the knowing of relationship, the knowing of a person, more than merely knowing facts or information about a person. This is the knowing which Gen 4:1 describes, “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived and bore Cain.” This is talking about knowing in an intimate, personal way.
Wrong understanding of foreknown
Some people really don't like this idea that God would choose to love certain people in a way He doesn't love all people. So try to argue that what this word foreknowledge really means is that God looked down the channels of time and saw who would believe in Christ and on that basis then He predestined them to be conformed to the image of His Son.
• That could be the meaning if the text said God foreknew certain facts, that He foreknew something about us.
• But what does the text say? Those whom God foreknew. God foreknew us – the object is not information or facts but people, this select group of people.
• They also encounter major problems when they come to the other place in the N.T where this word is used of people - Rom 11:2 (read to vs 6)
◦ God has not and will not reject His people, though they deserve it. Why not? Because He foreknew them, He had chosen them beforehand. Could not mean that He knew they would believe because in the present passage its God's foreknowledge that is the reason why a remnant is preserved – it is the cause of faith not the response to it.
◦ Cites God's Word's to Elijah who was complaining that Israel had been totally lost. God says never, I will never allow Israel to be totally lost, and have therefore chosen a remnant by grace.
◦ vs 6 Paul's point: chosen, selected, preserved – not because of anything they did but by grace, by the sovereign and free gift of God.
◦ If God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would be faithful to Him, or believe in Him - then his choice would be on the basis of something we had done – yet Paul's emphasis here is that it is by the sovereign and free gift of God.
◦ It is because of God's prior choice, because He foreknew them – that He ensures this remnant that He has chosen remains faithful.
There is another thing I must answer about this word foreknown.
When the object of foreknown is a person it carries the idea of chosen or selected – but the Greek language has a word for chosen – used in vs 33 who will bring any charge against God's elect – the ones God has chosen? If God meant simply chosen, then why didn't He use the Word chosen here?
There is a nuance in this word foreknown which is not in the word chosen. Chosen emphasizes the process, the selection – but tells you nothing of the motive.
The word foreknown has the idea: chosen to love, chosen to be devoted to, chosen to be committed to. Emphasizes that the one chosen is brought into special relationship to the one choosing. The idea would be choose to Himself.
Because God had a prior commitment to be devoted to these select individuals, to set His love on these select individuals – He purposes beforehand that they would be conformed to the image of His son.
When this foreknown?
One final thing this text doesn't tell us is when God foreknew us.
We know how we came to be God's elect, by grace, not by anything we did.
But when did God choose to set His love upon us?
• chosen by grace,
• chosen in love,
• chosen for the purpose that might be conformed to the image of Christ and adopted as God's children.
The love of adoption is specific and personal and it began before the foundation of the world, it began in the mind and purposes of God before those purposes even came to fruition, before the foundation of the world.
Could it have depended on you in anyway or on your faith or worth or anything good or bad that you did? No, you were chosen before the foundation of the world, before you even took your first breath...
Illustration: unfair adoption
Some would complain that this is unfair. And Paul is going to deal with this objection in the next chapter.
They would raise their fists in anger and say – what kind of love is this that is selective? Surely God must love all people universally and equally? But that’s not the love of adoption.
A number of years ago we were moved by the plight of orphans in this country and moved by this doctrine of adoption that we find here and so we decided that we want to adopt:
• We were under no obligation to adopt
• We went to the orphanage and there were a number of orphans we could have adopted, but we chose Stephen
• He had done nothing to deserve it, there was nothing in Him that we saw that made us want to adopt Him
• We simply said Stephen, we want you to become our Son, to come into this unique relationship with us, to have all the rights and privileges of a son so that you will not grow up an orphan but a Woolley.
• So we set about bringing that about, making preparations at home, getting the necessary paperwork sorted out so that finally going out one day to fetch him and bring him home....
• Nobody has ever accused us of being unjust and unfair because we chose Stephen....
• There is not a day of Stephen’s existence that is not shaped by our decision to adopt him…..
The love of adoption is personal, is selective, is specific. If you are a child of God, then you must understand that before the foundation of the world God determined to set his love upon you and everything that is taking place in your life, in the universe revolves around the realization and consummation of this love – that’s the right way to understand vs 28 – not just providence, but providential love at work in everything.
2nd defining feature of God’s adoptive love
2: God's Love is Effective (Rom 8:30)
Unbreakable chain presented here
Purpose is to show that the intent to love us in eternity past is certainly fulfilled in eternity future.
God's love toward us cannot and will not be thwarted – nothing can stop it.
The Word pre-destined means to determine beforehand, to purpose beforehand.
• When people determine something beforehand, it really is an indication of their intention. They intend to do something, but they may or may not be able to bring it about.
• When God predestined – it is a statement of the certain outcome because God is always able to bring His purposes to their intended goal.
That we might be glorified as a son with His Son.
That Christ might be firstborn in other words, pre-eminnent among many brothers.
Those whose ultimate, eternal destiny He had determined beforehand – those He called.
• This word can refer to a general call or invitation
• But it is also used as a synonymn for salvation, being called to God, being drawn to God through faith
• That is the meaning intended here – because speaks again of those whom He called. These select individuals whom He called to himself in Christ.
• Eph 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called
• SV 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
• AS 2 Thessalonians 2:14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
• This is not a general invitation but an effectual drawing.
• How do we know that – because of the unbreakable links in this chain
• Those he foreknew....these predestined, these called, these justified.
• Call in such a way that they would come, would believe and would be justified through faith in Jesus Christ.
This explains something that people often get hung up on. It is not that He calls us apart from our wills. That he forces us to be saved. He calls us through the gospel as the above vs said, He calls us to believe.
In other words, He calls us through our wills. He draws us in such a way that we will to come and we will come.
This is most clearly seen Jn 6:35-40 (turn there)
• There is the will of man and the will of Christ.
• There are certain people who willingly come to Christ and Christ will not to drive them away but raise them up on the last day.
• Behind the will of Christ – is the will of the Father who has given certain people to Christ so that He will certainly save them.
• Behind the will of man – is the will of the Father who calls certain people to Christ so that they will certainly come – vs 44!! Because of the sinfulness of humankind, none will come – except those the Father draws, calls to come
• God's ultimate will that none whom He has chosen be lost – is accomplished through the will of Christ who dies that He might provide forgiveness and new life for them and through the will of the individuals who come to Christ for forgiveness and new life.
The love of adoption doesn’t move us against our will, it doesn’t purpose and plan without regard to our will and desire. The love of adoption effectually calls, it woo’s us until we come.
Illustration: Gospel ballad
In the gospel, God has composed a ballad about His love and day after day He sings this ballad to us until eventually our hearts melt and our resistance is removed and we run to the embrace of our saviour.
Illustration: parents command children
As parents we instruct our children – please pick up your toys. Might listen first time, might need it said in a more authoritative voice, might need some more direct forms of persuasion - but they will ultimately obey. Does our authoritative instruction to them nullify their will? Of course not, would be absurd to think so, they are choosing to obey. You can tell by how reluctantly they obey sometimes.
As parents we can be fairly sure of our children's ultimate compliance – especially if the instruction is more like – children, come and eat your ice-cream please...
How much more effectively can our Sovereign Father call, becon, woo, invite, plead, motivate and move our wills into conformity with His?...
Should not need to explain this term – Made right with God
1. Just as if I had never sinned and
2. Just as if I had lived the righteous life of Christ.
Takes our sin and recons it to Christ as if He had committed it and that is why Christ bore God's wrath on the cross. Takes Christ's perfect righteousness and credits it to our account and then treats us accordingly – with the favour and love and mercy and blessing that Christ gained on our behalf.
This is where we stand as believers – ¾ of the way through this unbreakable chain. 5 links, on link 4. What awaits us is the final link, the consummation, glorified.
Final consummation in eternity future, when we will receive our resurrection bodies and we will be gloried with Christ and reign together with Him as co-heirs.
Think about it – that is God's eternal purpose toward us – that we should be co-heirs with Christ and inherit all the eternal blessings which are rightfully Christ's....
Our future glory is so certain – that God puts it here in the past tense as if we have already received it in full.
From beginning to end, God's love toward us prevails, it is soverign in it invincible and unstoppable. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. This is the love of adoption.
· It is selective, it is specific, it is personal – it is directed toward you
· It is effective, it is irresistible, indefaticable, unconquerable, irrevocable, unquenchable.
How do you know if this love is yours?....
Do you love God? That is how this text began. For those who love God all things are working together for good. If you are a child of God, then you find yourself in the middle of this unbreakable chain of divine love which stretches from eternity past to eternity future. The present link is this chain, the one that links God’s loving purposes in eternity past to His loving purposes in eternity future is simply this – God has called you into a love relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. He has justified you and poured His love out into your hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to you and therefore you love Him.
God has sung His gospel song sweetly in your ear and you have said – Thank you O my father, for giving us your Son and leaving your Spirit here until the work on earth is done.
When your back is up against the wall and the world is crashing in around you and you don’t know what is going on or how you will carry on - except when Jesus says, Do you love me? You can say with Peter, despite the denials and fear and failure – Lord, you know I love you. Or when Jesus says, “Do you want to abandon me like the rest of them? And you say with the disciples “Lord where else will we go, you have the words of eternal life.”
How do you know that this love is yours? Because you find yourself unable and unwilling to resist God’s love for you, because you find yourself drawn by His love, lifted up and sustained by His love and carried along by His love.
Illustration: Chain of events – find yourself in
You find yourself in the third link of 5 in the third chapter of a 5 chapter book. You ask yourself how did I get here?
Ultimately because God set His love upon you in eternity past and His loving purposes toward you are being realized. You can know with certainty – that glory is yours, as certain as death. You can know with equal certainty that in the present – everything is working together for good, that God’s loving purpsoes for you might be realized – and nothing and no-one can change or thwart that.
The love of adoption loves beforehand, before we ever loved God He loved us. The love of adoption predestines us for adoption. The love of adoption effectively calls us into a loving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. The love of adoption justifies and saves and sanctifies and carries us along to glory. The love of adoption cannot be broken or changed or overcome. The love of adoption causes you to rise and conquer. God’s adoptive love defines and shapes every moment and every detail of your life and secures you in God’s love today and forever, no matter what!