We had a surprise last night when we were invited out to our Bible study hosts’ home for an evening dessert. They had just adopted a seven-week old Pomeranian puppy named “Shatzi” (German for “sweetie,” or “sweetheart”) and wanted us to meet her. They had previously owned a very cute male Pomeranian named “Woodrow,” that recently passed away. Kathy and I are both dog lovers but for some reason “Woodrow” thought my wife was the most special of all the folks who attend the Bible study and would excitedly wait for us to show up on Bible study night and want to sit on Kathy’s lap for a few minutes as we began. He didn’t do that with anyone else in our group. If I came to Bible study without my wife, Woodrow would come and stand in front of my as if asking, “Where is she? She is supposed to be with you!” Woodrow, though very “privileged,” was very well behaved and just a cute little “Teddy Bear.” On several occasions we got to dog sit when his owners had to be gone. We really missed seeing him the last couple weeks after his death. He would always be at the door to greet each of us as we’d arrive for Bible study.
Our Bible study hosts both grew up on ranches and around animals and are very good at training animals to be obedient. Although Pomeranians are typically “barkers,” they had trained Woodrow to keep quiet except for his little welcoming barks when Bible study night came each week. When our hosts arrived at the home where they adopted “Shatzi” several hours from Libby, they knew they would have their work cut out for them, as it didn’t appear that any discipline or training had gone on! “Shatzi” is a bundle of fur and energy, has very sharp baby teeth and looks upon any object, be it a chair leg, shoe or finger as fair game. Just in the day our hosts had her before we met her, she heard “no” many, many times and got a little swat on the nose. But she is already starting to get the picture and I know before long—though very active—will be a well-mannered “sweetheart.” “Shatzi” is very privileged to have been adopted into our hosts’ home, and our Bible study members will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive for Bible study this Wednesday night.
I can’t help but think of how privileged we are for being “adopted” into the family of God. Several times in the Apostle Paul’s letters he mentions “adoption,” referring to the act of God which places the believer in His family as an adult son with all the privileges that go with the position. In Rom. 8:15, Paul writes: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out ‘Abba Father’.” And, to the churches in Galatia (Asia Minor), Paul wrote: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:4-6). To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:5).
When we are “born again,” (Jn. 3:3), i.e., regenerated by the Holy Spirit by trusting Christ as Savior, we are born into the family of God as a child (cf Jn. 1:12) who needs to grow and develop and be trained. Peter said, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that you may grow in respect to salvation” (I Pet. 2:2). And because God loves us as a father loves his children, He “disciplines (trains) us for our good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:10,11). But, the whole time we are growing and being trained, our position is one of full privilege as an adult son. As believers our position will never change. From the moment of salvation, we are “seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). But practically, we are a babe in Christ and have lots of “room for growth.” In fact, we should continue to grow during our whole lifetime here on earth as we get to know God better and better and learn to obey and serve Him (II Pet. 3:18).
The Greek word for “adoption” literally means “the placing of a son,” and not “the making of a son.” Spiritual adoption takes a child who is God’s own through faith in Christ, and places him as an adult son with all the privileges and responsibilities. In Roman culture a son was not declared an adult son with all its privileges and responsibilities until he was age 14. We don’t have to be a Christian for 14 years to become an “adopted son.” We are one at the moment of rebirth. It is our unchanging position in Christ, as an “heir of God and fellow heir with Christ” (Ro. 8:17). What an amazing privilege!
Forever His adopted Son,