Adoption in God’s Family

child-of-god-hands“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption…” (Romans 8:15).

Whereas Jesus speaks of our being born into the family of God (John 3:3), Paul uses the term adoption. Both are pictures of the same spiritual reality. The emphasis is on a relationship – Father and child. God’s ultimate goal in our salvation is the relationship made available to us through our adoption as His children.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God does not intend for you to consider Him a stern Judge peering over the bench at the accused. Yet, many believers have this perception of Him. I’ve actually talked with Christians who fear the gavel may strike again – this time with a guilty verdict. For some reason, they never get out of the courtroom and into the family room. To them, God is always a Judge and never a Father. This view is so unfortunate, but even worse, it is a precursor to doubt basic doctrines of the faith.

The good news is after the Judge pronounces us not guilty, He welcomes us into His family. That is apparent from Jesus’ words in John’s gospel: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life” (5:24). As believers, we will never be judged for our sins. That is a settled issue. It is so settled in the mind of God that at the moment of our salvation, knowing all the sins we were yet to commit, God adopted us as His children anyway. I have heard of many unwanted pregnancies, but I have never heard of an unwanted adoption. Couples adopt children because they want children. God adopted us for the same reason. He knew our shortcomings. He knew our inconsistencies. He knew all about us. But He wanted us just the same.

The concept of adoption is a strong argument for the doctrine of eternal security. To lose our salvation, we would have to be unadopted. The very idea sounds ludicrous. If the logistics of such a belief system are not enough to make you wonder, consider the relational problems. Can you really put your total trust in a heavenly Father who may unadopt you? Let me put it another way: can you pledge unconditional loyalty to a God who promises only conditional loyalty in return? It is unrealistic to think we could ever grow comfortable with God as our Dad when we know if we drift away and fall into sin, our relationship would be severed. I can remember one of the very first sermons I preached. I asked the congregation if they thought a father would stop loving his child if he fell while learning how to walk. “Of course not,” was the unanimous response. The same is true with us as God’s children: He will never stop loving us even when we stumble.

Persons holding to a view that allows for someone to be unadopted must confront another major theological hurdle. Why would an omnipotent God choose before the foundation of the world to adopt someone He knew would eventually be dismissed from His family? To believe you can be unadopted is to believe you are able to thwart the predestined will of God and this is impossible.

The permanency of our adoption is best illustrated by the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32): “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate” (v. 11-12). With those words, Jesus had His audiences’ undivided attention. In first century Jewish culture, no son with any respect for his father would make this sort of demand from him. To make matters worse, it was the younger son who was making the demand. What he did was unthinkable!

Jesus continued, “So he divided to them his livelihood. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living” (v. 12-13). Not only did the son demand his inheritance, but he left town with it and squandered his gift. Apparently, he had no concern for his father’s welfare. He was concerned only about himself. No doubt Jesus’ listeners were rehearsing in their minds what they thought the disrespectful brat deserved. How dare he take such a large portion of his father’s hard-earned estate and throw it away!

But then the story took a surprising turn: “But when he had spent it all, there arose a severe famine in the land, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed swine. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, but no one gave him anything” (v. 14-16). The crowd must have become almost nauseous as Jesus described the condition in which the son found himself. The Pharisees would not go near swine, much less feed them. By definition the boy was ceremonially unclean.

The crowd listened carefully as Jesus continued: “When the son came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father” (v. 17-20).

I imagine everyone who heard Jesus that day had an opinion about what the father should say or do when the son began his speech. I doubt any of them would have ended the parable the way Jesus did: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (v. 20).

The Pharisees must have cringed at the thought of embracing someone who had spent time feeding pigs. Jesus then added:  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate and were merry” (v. 21-24).

Culturally speaking, what Jesus described in this parable was a worst-case scenario. The son could not have been more disrespectful. He could not have been more insensitive. And he certainly could not have been a greater embarrassment to the family.

No one would have blamed the father if he had refused to allow the son to work for him as a menial servant. The son didn’t deserve a second chance and he knew it. He recognized how foolish it would be to return as a member of the family. In his mind, he had forfeited all the rights to sonship. He was of the conviction that by abandoning his father and wasting his inheritance, he had relinquished his position in the family.

His father, however, had a different perspective. In his mind, once a son, always a son. The father’s first emotion as he saw his son returning wasn’t anger. It wasn’t disappointment. He felt compassion for him. Why? Because the boy was his son. The father said, “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again.” He did not say, “This was my son, and now he is my son again.” On the contrary, there is no hint that the relationship was ever broken, only the fellowship.

The imagery of adoption is a powerful one. It is powerful because it is volitional on the part of God; He chose to adopt us. It is also powerful because it is permanent: once a child, always a child. At the moment you trust Christ as Savior, you are justified (declared not guilty) and adopted into the family of God.

The truth is, once saved, always saved. Once a family member, always a family member. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove us from God’s hand (John 10:28-29). God is both willing and able to guarantee and maintain the salvation He has given us (Jude 24)!

Read more here: Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living.


    1. Thanks, my brother! God’s grace is sufficient! I need to remind myself of this once and a while.

  1. I sent this post to my husband. I believe he about to accept the truth in Jesus Christ. He is angry that God says he is a sinner. He has been reading some of my posts. This was right on at the right time. Amen

    1. I am so happy to hear about your husband! I am praying for you and him at this very moment. It is difficult to confess sins. Both Satan and our prideful nature fight against any kind of admission to wrongdoing. But when we confess our sin, we allow ourselves to experience the forgiving and empowering grace of Christ! “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Responding to the gospel by faith and accepting Jesus Christ completely reverses the penalty of sin for us. We cross over from death to life. Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned (Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). It is freely given by the grace of God. Please let me know if your husband makes a decision for Christ, so I can rejoice with you!

  2. Love the story of the prodigal son. Everybody can make a mistake and we all learn by mistakes. We all deserve to be loved. And God loves us regardless. And I like the the fact that Iam an adopted child of God. We have adopted children. And it warms my heart to think that our relationship with our children and our relationship with God can be tied similarly. I hope I said that right. God loves his adopted children and we do so love ours. Love is the most impotant thing in my life. Thank you Joe. C

  3. This is excellently exposited and well written. The imagery of adoption is truly powerful. I wish more Christians could grasp it. BTW thanks for stopping by my blog.

    1. Thanks. It seems many Christians live with the thought that they are just not sure how God sees them.

  4. I too am that son who left home and was welcome back. A thousand times I have heard that story and a thousand time the tears flow.A song says it best, “How Great is Our God? Sing with me How Great is Our God!” Coming soon my story of an adopted son coming home. God bless you!

  5. Great article indeed Joe, praise God for that. We have to be really attentive and make it clear though that it is not “once saved always saved”. We can still loose our salvation if we fail to live a life striving to do God’s will in our lives. No salvation prayer alone will save us unless it is backed up by a life which will glorify the Lord. Not a perfect life of course but with the right heart condition to give honour and glory to God our father through His son Jesus Christ. Blessings bro

    1. Thank you, my friend! You are right, no prayer alone will save us. We cannot earn our salvation through good deeds, but such actions show that our commitment to God is real. I’m working on a new article of a similar theme. It will be up in a few days. I think you will like it!

  6. “I have heard of many unwanted pregnancies, but I have never heard of an unwanted adoption. Couples adopt children because they want children. God adopted us for the same reason. He knew our shortcomings. He knew our inconsistencies. He knew all about us. But He wanted us just the same.”

    BEAUTIFUL!!! Also, thank you very much for taking the time to read and “Like” and I pray the peace of our Lord Jesus upon you and your lovely family.
    Be Blessed!
    Rev. Corliss Acosta, ‘The Lightkeeper’
    (just call me Corliss)

  7. Thanks Joe for this teaching. Many out there are afraid that they will lose or have lost their salvation, but it that is true, salvation can be lost, then we are like every other Religion of the world. We too would be working our way to heaven without any assurance of the outcome. I’ve always said that GOD does not have a big eraser and that every time we mess up HE takes our names out of the Lambs Book of Life, then when we do good HE puts it back in. It is GOD who hangs on to us and has forgiven ALL our sin. We have already been judged and found Not Guilty. It is appointed once unto man to die and then comes the judgement. When we die with Christ we are judged and the verdict is Not Guilty! I hope your readers have received assurance through what you have written. thanks again!

    1. Amen! If we take God at His Word, we will not wonder if we were bad enough to lose our salvation (or good enough to keep it, for that matter!).

  8. Thank you for this testament, or sermon, or, more to the point, this conversation, both to you, and all the repliers. I am told and believe we are the body of Christ, the church, but, I gotta say, I see, hear, feel in this piece more than I do in the building I go to on Sunday.

    Some of my friends don’t trust the words/blogs I follow, they question the validity and other stuff. It’s like, ‘your just feeing you taste buds, is the food really nourishing and living’? So I’m just an old simple man and I don’t debate. That’s why I left the Social Networking arena. To me your words are back’d up by your research in The Word. And yes, men have served evil using the word, that’s what those who fear always throw in my face. Faith, that’s what I want to stand on, not a soap box and make dumb mistakes ’cause I don’t know enough.

    I am 64, I am a baby in the Lord, approaching. slipping, hiding, crying, looking up, walking again toward the Cross>it is vital that I keep my eyes open as well as my heart.
    Joe, you got Soul Food. Today I’m fed. GBY

    1. Thank you for commenting, Joe! I am happy to hear you are a new child of the King’s. I always like to say don’t trust my words, trust the Lord’s. I am glad to hear the Lord is speaking to you through my bolg. Keep in touch, my friend!

  9. thankful that I am a child of the King…may we all have the same love, grace, and mercy toward others that god has toward us. glad that we never gives up on me!

  10. I really appreciate you liking my article “Leave All and Follow Me” and I also want to say how much I enjoyed reading this article! “I have heard of many unwanted pregnancies, but I have never heard of an unwanted adoption.” This is it in a nutshell – what a tremendous feeling it is to know that out of all of creation, God chose us for salvation! What an honor, what a gift! I am so very blessed to know Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to fellowship with Him and like-minded souls such as yourself. Keep up the good work. God Bless you!
    Rebecca ~

  11. A good read, my favourite lines were these;
    “I have heard of many unwanted pregnancies, but I have never heard of an unwanted adoption. Couples adopt children because they want children. God adopted us for the same reason. He knew our shortcomings. He knew our inconsistencies. He knew all about us. But He wanted us just the same.”

  12. A great article! Something many people do not properly understand and you explain it so well. I have also heard it said that we are not only adopted but we become”blood” children because of the blood He shed for us on Calvary. His Blood sancifies and justifies us for all eternity.

  13. Amen! “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

  14. Repentance is such a wonderful and miraculous option. Our Lord taught that only a relative few would enter the narrow gate that leads to life, which means the majority of humanity will choose the wide gate that leads to destruction. The loss of so many is tragic when a perfect way of salvation is ever before us. The prodigal chose the wide gate, then came to his senses and repented of his decision and the result. The Lord always accepts the repentant in heart and quickly forgives. Thanks for the post, Joe. Very good.

  15. This is an excellent post, Joe! I am fascinated by the doctrine of adoption. If we really consider the act of redmption, justification, and sanctification, God could have done all of these things but left us as second class citizens. But well over and beyond our salvation experience, God chose to make us His own… His children! Awesome… absolutely awesome! God bless, good friend.

    1. Thanks, Mike! The doctrine of adoption is amazing! It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation.

  16. The illustration of the Prodigal Son story is the perfect example of God’s mercy, love and compassion. God is not up there with a big stick ready to beat us up or hit us. Sometimes Christians bring God down to our level when we need to step up to His level. He knows that we are fallible and imperfect. We will make mistakes and as the song by Donnie McClurkin says, “We Fall Down but We Get Up”. I see God’s hand extended towards me to help me get up!

    1. 011. The privilege of walking in the light–1 John 1:7

      012. Forgiveness when sin is confessed–1 John 1:9

      013. Christ in us, the hope of glory–Col 1:27

      014. The Spirit of adoption–Rom 8:15

      015. Being taught by God to love one another–1 Thess 4:9

      016. Being taught of the Father by Jesus–Matt 11:27-28

      017. Christ manifesting Himself to us–John 14:21

      018. The Father and the Son making their abode in us–John 14:23

      019. Strength in the inner man–Eph 3:16

      020. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation–Eph 1:17

      021. The opening of the eyes of our understanding–Eph 1:18-19

      022. The full assurance of hope–Heb 6:11

      023. The full assurance of understanding–Col 2:2

      024. The full assurance of faith–Heb 10:22

      025. Being married to Christ–Rom 7:4

      026. Bringing forth fruit to God–Rom 7:4
      100 THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION [Unknown Author] 2

      027. Being heirs of God–Rom 8:17

      028. Being joint heirs with Christ–Rom 8:17

      029. Partaking of the Divine Nature–2 Pet 1:4

      030. Being joined to the Lord–1 Cor 6:17

      031. Our names written in heaven–Luke 10:20; Heb 12:23

      032. An incorruptible inheritance, reserved for us in heaven–1 Pet 1:4

      033. Being kept by the power of God–1 Pet 1:5

      034. God keeping us from falling–Jude 24

      035. The peace of God keeping our hearts and minds–Phil 4:7; Col 3:15

      036. Knowing Whom we have believed–2 Tim 1:12

      037. Being suitable for the Master’s use–2 Tim 2:21

      038. Receiving grace upon grace–John 1:16

      039. Discern the extent of salvation–Eph 3:18

      040. Knowing the love of Christ that transcends knowledge–Eph 3:19

      041. Being filled with all the fullness of God–Eph 3:19

      042. Having the mind of Christ–1 Cor 2;16

      043. An anointing that teaches us to abide–1 John 2:20-27

      044. Righteousness by imputation because of faith–Rom 4:6-8

      045. A purged conscience–Heb 9:14

      046. Powerful spiritual weaponry–2 Cor 10:4-5

      047. The whole armor of God–Eph 6:11-18

      048. All spiritual blessings in heavenly places–Eph 1:3

      049. All things pertaining to life and godliness–2 Pet 1:3

      050. The spirit of power, love, and a sound mind–2 Tim 1:7

      051. Everlasting consolation and good hope–2 Thess 2:16

      052. The Holy Spirit–1 John 3:24; 4:13

      053. An understanding ministered by Jesus Himself–1 John 5:20

      100 THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION [Unknown Author] 3
      054. The love of the truth–2 Thess 2:10

      055. A kingdom which cannot be moved–Heb 12:28

      056. Spiritual nourishment by God Himself–2 Cor 6:2

      057. Knowing the things God has freely given to us–1 Cor 2:12

      058. A heavenly treasure in an earthen vessel–2 Cor 4:7

      059. A building of God, in the heavens–2 Cor 5:1

      060. A great High Priest–Heb 8:1

      061. Illumination–Heb 10:32

      062. Enlightenment–Heb 6:4

      063. Tasting the heavenly gift–Heb 6:4

      064. Partaking of the Holy Spirit–Heb 6:4

      065. Tasting of the Word of God–Heb 6:5

      066. Tasting of the powers of the world to come–Heb 6:5

      067. Deliverance from the power of darkness–Col.1:13

      068. Translation into Christ’s Kingdom–Col 1:13

      069. All things becoming possible–Mark 9:23; Eph 1:20; 3:20

      070. The ministry of holy angels–Heb 1:13-14

      071. Everything working together for our good–Rom 8:28

      072. The Lord being our Helper–Heb 13:6

      073. Pure minds–2 Pet 3:1

      074. God being “for us”–Rom 8:31

      075. A better hope–Heb 7:19

      076. Blood that speaks better things than that of Abel–Heb 12:24

      077. No condemnation–Rom 8:1

      078. Peace with God–Rom 5:1

      079. Eternal life–1 John 5:11

      080. Abundant life–John 10:10

      081. Exceeding great and precious promises–2 Pet 1:4
      100 THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION [Unknown Author] 4

      082. Being raised up to sit together with Christ–Eph 2:6

      083. The Word of God building us up and giving us an inheritance–Acts 20:32

      084. Being established by God–2 Cor 1:21

      085. The sealing of the Holy Spirit–2 Cor 1:22

      086. Having sufficiency from God–2 Cor 3:5

      087. A power within through which God can work transcendently–Eph 3:20

      088. Having all sufficiency in all things–2 Cor 9:8

      089. The work of God performed in us until the day of Christ–Phil 1:6

      090. All of our need supplied according to God’s glory–Phil 4:19

      091. Made qualified to partake of the saint’s inheritance–Col 1:11-12

      092. Being sanctified wholly, spirit, soul, and body–1 Thess 5:23-24

      093. Partaking of God’s holiness through chastening–Heb 12:10

      094. The victory of overcoming the world–1 John 5:4-5

      095. Satan being bruised under our feet–Rom 16:20

      096. Being called into liberty–Gal 5:1, 13

      097. Learning Christ–Eph 4:20

      098. Purity of soul–1 Pet 1:22

      099. Tasting of the Lord–1 Pet 2:3

      100. Christ has received us–Rom 15:7

      101. Salvation to all of Israel–Rom 11:26

      102. Justification unto life for all mankind–Rom 5:18

  17. As a child, there were a number of radio serials where a person found out he/she was adopted and it was the worst possible news. I couldn’t understand that. My life story had been one of extreme abuse by three ‘fathers’ and others, and my song was “No one loves me: no one cares”. I so often longed to find out that I had been adopted, because that would mean that at some stage of my life, someone had wanted me.

    Through an amazing set of ‘circumstances’ (read God’s plans) I came to know the Lord Jesus as my Saviour. A few days later, in my very first Bible study with a group, I was asked to read the next verses, which happened to be Romans 8:14-17. My exclamation startled the group. I was adopted! I was adopted by the omnipotent, creator, Father – the PERFECT Father – into His own family as His blood-bought child! What joy!

    Now, nearly 54 years later, I still praise my God for being a Father to me in every way.

    What an amazing God!

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