The doctrine of adoption

Thanks to Peter Cockrell who recently posted an excerpt from a C.J. Mahaney sermon on the doctrine of adoption. At the end of the quote Mahaney says:

If you are a Christian and you are not convinced of God’s love for you then I would recommend you confine yourself to this topic. Confine yourself to your study to this passage and other passages that reference adoption. Confine yourself for a season of time to the study of the doctrine of adoption.

I recently borrowed a book from Wolverhampton Central Library by Mark Stibbe, Vicar of St Andrew’s, Chorleywood. Mark was adopted as a child and has authored a book on the doctrine of adoption, From Orphans to Heirs. The title of the book itself nicely highlights the change of status of the believer. I don’t agree with everything Mark writes, one of his conclusions is that adoption leads to antinomianism. On p126, however, he wonderfully captures something of the nature of God’s grace expressed in the doctrine adoption:

Our acceptance by the Father is therefore the foundation of our Christian lives. Before we do anything for God, we know that we are beloved by God. By grace, we have brand new identities as sons and daughters, and we are brand new creatures. Being loved by the Father becomes the very core of our existence. This is both our legal and actual status before God.

From this time on, our sense of acceptance needs to be sustained in the right way or we will go back to the old life of striving to earn God’s acceptance through our achievements…

From now on, our sense of significance derives not from our performance but our position in Christ. Who we are, and indeed what we are, derives from the fact that we are adopted by grace. From this knowledge flows our sense of value. No longer are we preoccupied with the way others see us. We are wholly taken up with the way the Father sees us. No longer are we seeking the approval of others, we seek a deeper revelation of the Father’s exquisite perspective of us. When the devil tries to exasperate us with what was true about the old self, we respond by reasserting the truth about our new self:

I have been given the right to be [called] a child of God (John 1:12).
I am no longer a slave but a friend of Christ (John 15:15).
I have been bought for adoption through Christ’s blood (I Corinthians 6:20).
I was predestined for adoption (Ephesians 1:5).
I am a child of Abba by adoption (Romans 8:15).
I am God’s work of art (Ephesians 2:10).
I am no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1).
I cannot be separated from the Father’s love (Romans 8:35).
I am loved by the Father himself (John 16:27).
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14).
I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
I have not been given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1: 7).
I am no longer a slave but a son (Galatians 4:7).
I am seated with the Son in heaven (Ephesians 2:6).
I am of the same family as Jesus (Hebrews 2:11).
I am a brother of the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 2:11).
I can approach the Father with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).
I am a brand new person in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If our sense of significance derives from sonship not slavery, then we will be able to achieve God’s purpose for our lives. The reason for this is because we will be ministering for the Lord out of a sense of gratitude rather than a need for God’s approval.

See also The 12 rare privileges of the children of God and 25 benefits of faith union with Christ.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in The nature of grace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The doctrine of adoption

  1. Dan Cruver says:


    Thank you for blogging about God’s gracious provision of adoption as sons. Loved the quotations.


  2. Henry Smithen says:

    Hi, Thank you for making this teaching of the doctrine of adoption so wonderful. I love it. It inspired me.

    God bless you

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