The Gospel as Adoption

God is very big. And I don’t mean big in the sense of large, but big as in larger-than-life big. He is imposing in his grandeur (in fact, whom else would you use the word “grandeur” for?); He is magnificent, imposing, and overwhelming. As I was listening through the Old Testament again, I was reminded about how very small we humans are. With no effort at all, he creates the star-filled universe and us (Gen 1; he thinks it up and then makes it!) and then wrecks havoc on the entire planet and destroys almost all life on it (Gen 6–8 cf. 2 Pet 2:5; what horrific justice and how awful his judgment!). But he is not just upper-level management. He rescues one helpless boy from his hateful family in the most extraordinary way (Gen 37–47) and he rescues one defenseless people from the might of Ancient Egypt (Ex 1–143). He’s the type of person you might want to meet one day and whom you might think is very good and rich and powerful and not a little scary, but by whom you have no real hope of being noticed. He is God and we are just . . . us.tumblr_mqm49oj3g71rnqouso1_1280-001

And if it was only God’s “bigness” which kept us from him we might have had some hope. But when Adam sinned we were estranged from God. We were not on speaking terms and we were guilty of Adam’s guilt. To make matters worse, when we were born all those years later we ratified Adam’s disobedience with our own hate-filled sins against this magnanimous and inescapably just and glorious ruler (Rom 3:23). Having found ourselves full of guilt and in love with self and sin, we sought out an ally in our hate. We took him as a surrogate father (John 8:44) and though he abused us greatly we agreed to follow this despicable fallen prince into the sins of our particular ages and cultures (Eph 2:2). We followed him blindly acting out against our enemy, Almighty God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love for us (Eph 2:4; did I mention he is very big?), looked down at our rage and hate and pitied us. The God who creates universes and destroys planets sent his Son, and his Son agreed to become flesh and blood like the rest of us (Heb 2:14) in order to take all of the guilt, both Adam’s and our own, on himself. God’s justice is inescapable, and since our sins deserve death—separation from God forever—Jesus died. He died so that we might live if we put our faith in him and his rescue plan—the gospel.

And what of this big God? Our guilt killed the Son, his Son. Will he hold a grudge against us? Will he lay down the law and treat us as slaves—saved from death, but in a strained relationship? No, God’s way is a magnificent way! He for whom and by whom all things exist decided to bring you to live with him in glory as his sons and daughters (Heb 2:10). You see, when Jesus tasted death for us all (Heb 2:9), he did not stay dead—he lives—and because of his death and resurrection he is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters (Heb 2:11–13). In fact, one of the points of adoption is that God gave us to Christ as his brothers and sisters (Heb 2:13) and in doing so, he doomed our ill-fated stand-in father (a father no more!) who reveled in our pain, misery and deaths (Heb 2:14).

It’s been years now for me, having the God of the universe as my Father. In all of them he has been faithful to me. He never gives me a stone when I ask for bread (Matt 7:9–11), and, in fact, he has given me daily bread 12,000 and some odd times in my life (Matt 6:11). He’s rescued me from sins that I thought would crush me, starting with his ever-ready fatherly forgiveness (1 John 1:3, 9). He’s led me to repentance with painful and sorrowful discipline (Heb 12:5–6), but has always overflowed with compassion and comfort when I needed it (2 Cor 1:3–4). He gives me all good gifts (James 1:17; if only I could see that my good gifts as from him!). And all of this, because of the gospel, because the God of history, no, the God above history took notice of me and adopted me from the squalor of my sin and the muck of its consequences. Let us consider and treasure the gospel of adoption.

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