The Order of Salvation: Adoption

The Order of Salvation: Adoption

Adoption is an accomplishment of redemption. It is not an accomplishment of creation. The very act of adoption assumes we were previously in a state of alienation. Being born did not somehow put us in better standing with God. The scripture says: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5); and, “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3).

Justification is not the gospel in its entirety. It was not enough for God to only justify us in Christ. He has also insisted on adopting us in Christ: “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ,…” (Eph. 1:5). The final purpose of divine election has always been relational not merely judicial.

Think of it this way. In justification God comes to us as Judge. He removes our criminal status before Him by declaring us not guilty in Christ. But in adoption God comes to us not as Judge but as Father.

What then is adoption? “Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.” (Q. 74, Westminster Larger Catechism)

If justification is the act of God’s free grace which removes our condemnation, then adoption is the act of God’s free grace which removes our alienation.

In justification we receive the donation of righteousness. In adoption we receive the donation of family love: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

As David Garner wisely said, a not guilty verdict by the Almighty Judge does not make a criminal a son. But adoption does. Adoption legally puts us in the bonds of the family where God obligates himself to be our forever Father. He will pity us, protect us, provide for us, even chasten us, indulge us, and keep a glorious inheritance for us, bringing us to it without fail.

Read More

Scroll to top