Adoption – Chapter 37

By Brandon Clay / April 22, 2020

Reading Systematic Theology with Wayne Grudem – What are the benefits of being a member of God’s family?

This post is part of a 50+ post series from the classic work by Wayne Grudem (PhD, Cambridge), Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. The aim of each post is to provide an overview of each chapter in the book and related resources for each topic.

Synopsis of Chapter

In his chapter on adoption, Wayne Grudem covers what it means to be adopted into God’s family. Adoption is “an act of God whereby he makes us members of his family.” Adoption does not happen to everyone, but only those who are saved as seen in the previous order of salvation. There are Scriptural reasons to believe in adoption, which is a unique and separate experience from conversion or justification. In addition, certain privileges are conferred upon a child of God in adoption.    

Scriptural Evidence for Adoption. 

There are several reasons to believe in adoption from the Bible. Here are a few of the verses with emphasis added

  • But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12). 
  • For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)
  • But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (Galatians 3:25-26)
  • See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)

In these and other passages, we can see God has given to his redeemed people the benefit of membership in his family. He didn’t just save people, he gave believers a place at the family table.  

The Privileges of Adoption 

There are several distinct privileges given to believers in their adoption. One of those privileges is being able to relate to God as a good and loving Father. When Jesus taught his followers to pray, he told us to pray, “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). God is not a distant or angry god, but rather a God who has compassion on his children (Psalm 103:13). And the blessings of heaven are laid up for the children of the God of Heaven. As Christians, we are sons and daughters of God, our Father.    

A second privilege we enjoy as adopted children of God is being led by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” We are no longer tossed about in the world with no rudder to guide us. Instead, we have a sure course and personal guide in the Holy Spirit as a child of God.

A third privilege we have relates to God’s discipline. The author of Hebrews wrote, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7). So God disciplines us because we are his children. If we weren’t his, he wouldn’t care about us. But he does.   

A fourth privilege, though it may not seem like a privilege, is that we can suffer as Christ did as a child of God. Paul wrote, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17). In this passage, we can see suffering and the adoptive relationship tied together. As Jesus suffered, we too have the privilege of suffering like him.

A fifth privilege is being a member of God’s family. There are many families, groups, parties, affiliations, clubs, and other organizations, but no other family is eternal. God’s family is forever, which makes it unique. On many occasions, fellow Christians are referred to as “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ (Romans 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:10, James 1:2, etc.). Our family in Christ is a tremendous blessing to us as individuals as we are a blessing to others in the family. This was made possible through our adoption.     

Application: God Didn’t Have to Adopt Us

In salvation, there are many things that God did for us as believers. He chose us, forgave us, justified us, and gave us the hope of eternal life when he saved us. But it should be remembered that God did not have to adopt us. For example, angels were not adopted. But Christians were. And we enjoy a host of benefits and privileges through God’s gracious act of adoption. 

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)

Special Terms

  • adoption

Resources: Wayne Grudem

Related Resources

Brandon Clay is a Christian (Reformed Baptist) and an apologist. He earned a BA in history from the University of Texas and an MA in theological studies from Southern Seminary. Brandon is married and has 4 children, one of whom (Knox) is now with the Lord.

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