John Owen, the Puritan divine, called the biblical doctrine of adoption “our fountain privilege.” J. I. Packer calls it the highest privilege the gospel affords to those who believe.
The London Baptist 1689 Confession of Faith defines adoption this way:
FOR the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ, God has been pleased to make all justified persons sharers in the grace of adoption, by means of which they are numbered with, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of children of God. Furthermore, God’s name is put upon them, they receive the spirit of adoption, and they are enabled to come boldly to the throne of grace and to cry ‘Abba, Father’. They are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by God as by a Father.He never casts them off, but, as they remain sealed to the day of redemption, they inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation (Chap. 12).
In Packer’s book Knowing God, he writes of what he calls deep insights from the Epistles of the New Testament that adoption gives us. First on the list is that our adoption shows us the greatness of God’s love. Indeed, the apostle John declares in 1 John 3:1, See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
The implications of this are staggering. More from Packer:
God receives us as sons, and loves us with the same steadfast affection with which he eternally loves his beloved only-begotten. There are no distinctions of affection in the divine family. We are all loved just as fully as Jesus is loved. It is like a fairy story–the reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them. But, praise God, it is not a fairy story: it is hard and solid fact, founded on the bedrock of free and sovereign grace. This, and nothing less than this, is what adoption means. No wonder John cries, “Behold what manner of love!” When once you understand adoption, your heart will cry the same (IVP, 1993, p. 216).
Men, do you want to understand adoption better? This Saturday at 7 AM at the church office Oxford Club meets. Bring your own breakfast and join in the discussion of chapter nineteen, Sons of God, in J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. May we all understand this precious doctrine better and actually believe that this is true: We are all loved just as fully as Jesus is loved!