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TEXT: John 1:12
SUBJECT: Watson on Redemption Applied #4: Adoption
Tonight, with God's help, we'll continue our study of Thomas Watson on the Application of Redemption. The term is unfamiliar to many Christians, but the meaning of it isn't. It simply means "the experience of salvation". The Lord's People are chosen in eternity to be saved; at the cross, Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation; in time, we experience salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls.
Thus far, we've looked at three items on the list: faith, effectual calling, and justification. The last of these-Martin Luther thought-was the greatest blessing a man could enjoy on earth. To be justified-pardoned, and made as acceptable to God as Jesus Christ is a very great blessing.
But the one we'll look at tonight is even greater. It is adoption. In justification, we are criminals, pardoned by the King, and put into His service. But in adoption, we are strangers, adopted by the King, and put into His family. Would you rather be a royal servant-or a Prince or Princess? If you'd rather be in the King's family, then praise God for your adoption!
WHAT IS ADOPTION?
Watson begins the chapter by briefly defining the term. Adoption-he says-
"Is taking a stranger into the relation
of a son and heir, as Moses was the
adopted son of Pharaoh".
You know the story of Moses, of course. We was a Hebrew; his people, at the time, were slaves in Egypt. Fearing the rise in their population, the king issued a decree that all the Jewish boys must be drowned in the Nile River. But, instead of obeying Pharaoh, a couple hid their baby boy there-in a little boat, made of reeds. Before long, the king's daughter came down to bathe in the river and, hearing the baby's cry, she felt compassion, and adopted him into the royal family. The child, born a slave, was brought up as a son of the king.
That is precisely what God does for believers. We, too, are born enslaved to sin, but by His grace, He pities us, and makes us His children.
To the definition, Watson adds three qualifications:
"Though all men are children of God by
creation, spiritually, many have
Satan as father".
"A first adoption was confined to the Jews,
who alone had the dignity. But now, in
the Gospel, the charter is enlarged, and
Gentiles are within the family line, and
Have the same privileges of sonship".
"I have read that, in some countries, females are
excluded from the supreme dignity-that no female
can inherit a crown. But every gracious soul lays
claim to adoption, and has an interest in God as
a Father. You shall be My sons and daughters,
says the LORD Almighty".
When you think of all the orphans in the world, it breaks your heart. Especially when you know that many are pretty much un-adoptable. They're the wrong age, the wrong color, the wrong sex; or maybe they're retarded, deformed, or sick. Not every orphan will be adopted by human parents. But God is kinder and more generous than we are. He adopts every kind of person into His family-young, old, dark, light, healthy, sick-no one excluded.
Except by unbelief.
WHAT ARE WE ADOPTED FROM?
To be adopted means you leave one family for another. You were born to the Smiths, but they didn't want you, but the Taylor's do, and you leave the Smith family for the Taylor family.
In the same way, when Christians are adopted by God, they leave their previous family-and good riddance!
"From what does God take us when he adopts
us? He takes us from a state of sin and misery".
Watson is right, of course. Our natural parents are sin and misery. The Bible teaches that we are born in sin and that, in time, sin produces misery. A little in this world and a whole lot of misery in the world to come.
We've all known-or heard of-children taken away from wicked parents-crackhead moms, molesting fathers, people who beat or neglect them, and so on-and brought up in good homes. Though we feel for the bad parents, we have to rejoice for the kids! They're saved from a dangerous and evil family and put into one that loves them and will take good care of them.
No parents are as bad as Sin and Misery. God saves us from them. And not only them, but from a wicked Grandfather as well-the devil!
When adopted kids grow up, they often want to find out who their real parents were. Believers know that only too well. And we want no part of them! Sin and Misery have enough kids already-we're not going to rejoin the family.
Adoption is not kidnapping-God taking us away from a loving father! No, it is salvation! God snatching us out of hell to know all the joys of heaven.
There is no better way to appreciate your adoption than to remember where you came from. The chapter is long, but I urge you to go home tonight and read it, Ezekiel 16. Or, Colossians 1:13, God
"Has delivered us from the power of darkness and
translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son".
WHAT ARE WE ADOPTED TO?
If the Lord takes us out of Satan's family, where does He put us? Into His own, of course! That's what adoption is-a positive thing-not only taking a kid from a bad place, but putting him into a good one.
"The children of the Kingdom are God's
favorites and heirs of glory".
This is exactly what the Bible teaches. It says that believers are
"Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ".
At this point, we have to take a short detour. Because of the general ignorance of the Bible and theology, along with the rise of the cults and the New Age Movement, I need to say something about our sonship and the Sonship of Christ. The two are related, of course, but they're not the same. We are children of God-but not in the same way that Christ is! Watson says,
"Our sonship differs from Christ's.
He was the Son of God by eternal
Generation; but our sonship is by
Adoption--`to them He gave the
Right to be the sons of God'".
Jesus Christ is the Son of God by nature; we are His sons only by grace. The Lord has always been the Son, while we only become sons in time. And, finally, He is always the Elder Brother and God's Favored Heir.
By adoption we become something like Christ, but we don't become christs.
But don't get me wrong, being something less than Christ is still a very high honor!
"God adopts us into a state of dignity.
The adopted are God's treasure; His
Jewels; they have angels to guard them;
They are the blood of royal heaven".
Few stories in the Bible are more touching than the one about David and Mephibosheth. Before he became the king, David befriended the royal prince, Jonathan. They made a pledge that when he came to the throne, David would be kind to Jonathan and his family. But before this occurred, Jonathan was slain by the Philitines. David became king and remembered his promise. He inquired if anyone in Jonathan's family could still be found to honor. Only one person-he was told-but he was crippled. And those people never got into the royal court. But David loved the poor man, and brought him to the King's Table, where he lived the rest of his life.
This is a moving story of adoption, you might say. Mephibosheth, grandson of David's enemy, deformed by an accident in childhood, enjoying the king's favor. All by grace.
But what is being a guest at David's table compared to being a son at God's banquet? Yet that's what believers are-not servants or friends or even stepchildren-but members of the family and loved by our Father.
We are adopted into the family of God with all its privileges!
HOW ARE WE ADOPTED?
The source of our adoption is God. The cause of our of our adoption is grace. The end of our adoption is glory. But how do we come to possess the blessing? How are we changed from the children of Satan to the sons and daughters of God?
The answer is one word: faith.
"Faith gives us the privilege of adoption. `You are
all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ', Gal.
3:26. Before faith is wrought, we are spiritually.
.illegitimate, we have no relation to God
as Father. An unbeliever may call God
his judge, but not his Father. Faith confers
on us the title of sonship, and gives us the
right to inherit".
Why is adoption by faith alone-and not by works or a combination of faith and works? It's very simple: Because adoption is all of grace. If it were had by works, then it would not be by grace-not entirely by grace, at least. But it is by Grace alone, and therefore, has to be by faith alone.
Why? Because faith is not a work, but an anti-work! It is not offering God anything for salvation, but merely taking salvation as a beggar takes a hand-out.
We become children of God through faith alone in Christ alone.
"As many as received Him, to them He gave
the right to be called the sons of God, even
to those who believe on His Name".
WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE GOOD FOR?
What is the doctrine good for? A lot can be said here, but let me name two things in particular.
First of all, the doctrine is good for adoration!
Nothing will make us adore the love and mercy of God more than knowing that He has adopted us into His family.
"See the amazing love of God in adopting us for
His sons. The wonder of God's love will.
Appear the more if we consider these six things: (1)
That He already had a Son of His own, (2)
What we were before He adopted us, (3)
The cost incurred in adopting us, (4) that
God should adopt His enemies, (5) the great
Number of children He adopted, and (6) the
Great honor we receive as His adopted sons".
Meditate on the greatness of God's love in adopting you, and you'll praise Him more than you do. That's the first use. Here's the second,
The doctrine is good for self-examination,
"Let us put ourselves on trial. It is no sign
that we are adopted because we are the sons
of godly parents. The first sign of adoption is
obedience. The second sign is love for our
Father's presence. The third sign of adoption
Is to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit".
Watson has a lot more to say here. But this is enough for now. God's children are not perfect; we do bad things and leave good things undone; we have times of coldness and sloth. But overall, despite our inconsistencies, we obey the Lord, we love His company, and we are led by His Spirit.
If you can say "yes" to these things-not perfectly, but honestly, "yes", then you are a child of God and an heir of heaven. But if not, you need to seek the mercy of God offered in the Gospel. When you seek it from the heart, you'll find it. And you'll become the little brother or sister of Jesus Christ and the newest additions to God's big, loving family.
God bless you, everyone. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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