When I was in high school, I would often go with my parents to a small, rural Baptist church. I wasn’t too interested in the traditional, country style of the worship service. My least favorite part of the service was the “fellowship time.” Every week, the song leader would sing the same chorus as people walked around the room shaking hands with everyone. You may have heard the familiar saying, “Familiarity brings contempt.” That’s what happened for me with the song we would always sing during the fellowship time. It didn’t take long to get on my nerves.
But as I began to reflect recently on the topic of our adoption into God’s family, the song popped into my head. It’s called “The Family of God.” Here’s the chorus:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod
For I’m part of the family, the family of God
As a teenager, I ignored the meaning of the words I sang mindlessly and repetitively while shaking hands with people I barely knew. But there’s a powerful truth in the lyrics: believers are welcomed into the family of God based on the blood of Christ alone. Check out the second verse (which we never sang):
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!
What wonderful news! If you belong to Christ, this is your story. You were an orphan, spiritually homeless and eternally hopeless. But God, based on the life, death, and resurrection of our older brother, Jesus, welcomed you into His home, gave you His name, and has set up for you an eternal inheritance!
Don’t just take my word for it, or even the word of a popular songwriter. God declared these truths in His Word in multiple places. Let’s look at Ephesians 1. This chapter is home to some of the deepest and most profound truths in all the Scriptures. Take a moment to read verses 3–14 and look for the Good News.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3 that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (emphasis mine). Some of those blessings include:
- Being chosen in Him before the world began (v. 4)
- Becoming holy through Christ (v. 4)
- Being welcomed into God’s family through adoption (v. 5)
- Having redemption and forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus (v. 7)
- Knowing the truth of God’s Word (v. 9)
- Being united in Christ (v. 10)
- Obtaining an eternal inheritance (v. 11)
- Possessing unwavering hope by the guarantee of the Spirit (vv. 12–13)
What could possibly be missing from this text? What could we want that we don’t already have through faith in Christ?
My wife and I adopted our son on the day he was born. We brought him home from the hospital and he has been our pride and joy ever since. Becoming a father through adoption has taught me so much about the doctrine of adoption. Three reflections come to mind.
The adopted son is a legitimate heir.
I will confess that before our boy was born, I hoped that adopting a child would be an acceptable substitute for having a baby biologically. Wow, I was way off. I’ve learned since what a ridiculous notion that was. I discovered the moment I held my son that there was no possible way I could love him more, regardless of genes. He was (and is) mine in every way. I gave him my last name. I took him in to live in my home. I provide for him with my own financial resources. One day, when I die, I will leave whatever assets I will (hopefully) have by then to him. He is my legitimate heir.
In a far greater way, every believer is the legitimate heir to their heavenly Father. Because of the works of our older brother, Jesus, we belong completely to the heavenly family. One day, we will inherit eternal life and glory in the presence of the Father with the Son.
The adopted son is a delight to his father.
My son makes me smile. Every night, when I tuck him in, my heart almost aches with love for my son. I had no idea I could feel this way.
In Luke 11, Jesus talks about the father that cares for the needs of his child. In verse 13, He makes it clear that God is a better Father than any human can be: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke reminds us that God is the perfect Father and the gift He offers (the Holy Spirit) to His children FAR outshines any earthly gift even the best fathers want to give their kids. If you have trusted in Jesus, the heavenly Father delights in you.
The adopted son did nothing to earn his place in the family.
My son did not choose to become a part of my family. He had nothing to do with the process whatsoever. His mother and I chose him. We completed the legal paperwork. We paid the fees. We named him. We fed him. We clothed him. We committed to him long before he ever committed to us. Such is the case for those who belong to Jesus.
Did you see this in Ephesians 1:4? If you have trusted Christ to save you, it’s because God chose you to belong to Him “before the foundation of the world.” Look at this marvelous truth at the end of verse 4 and in all of verse 5: “In love he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Did you choose to follow Jesus? Of course, you did. But you chose because He chose a long time ago. The Bible says, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). You committed to Him because He committed to you before the foundation of the world. What a blessing to belong to the sovereign and merciful God!
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!
You might be asking, “How do I know if I’m part of the family of God?” Let’s look back at the hymn and then at the Scriptures.
The hymn says you need to be “washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.” That’s how you know. If you have repented and asked Jesus to forgive your sin, He has promised to cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
The Scripture says we can have real assurance that we belong to God. Meditate on Romans 8:14–17:
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.
How do you know if you belong to God? Go ahead and ask Him. If you do, the Bible tells us He will give you assurance by His Spirit that will testify to your spirit. If you don’t, ask Him and He will take you in. And when He takes you in, you will receive “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!