At the time of our conversion, God does a great and marvellous work in our lives. In saving us, God is very detailed with how He brings us into a living relationship with Himself. He is not only concerned with us carrying around the tag ‘Christian’ but how we come to be called Christians and how we are to live as Christians. He is also interested in revealing to us the privileges that come with experiencing His saving power. It must be further said that God does not want our Christian faith to be a secret religion but a living faith. He wants us to have an evidence-based faith; A faith that shows that Christians have a father-son relationship with God. It is for that reason that we are looking at the proof of adoption for Christians as sons (‘children’) of God.

As already indicated, when we become Christians it is because God has done His work in us. Having dealt with us by His grace we become His children. The process of making us children of God is a full package though it is done simultaneously. It is in this package were our adoption comes through. It is however of importance that we look at some of the things that God does as He brings us into being adopted:

  1. It is He who awakens us from a life of sin to a life of righteousness so that we may call upon Him in repentance (Eph. 2:5). The awakening of one from a life of sin to a life of righteousness is what is called regeneration. What this means is that one cannot be saved unless God brings such a one to a realisation that He is a sinner. The scriptures use the word ‘born again’ to define regeneration (John 3:3-8).
  2. It is He who judicially declares us as innocent/not guilty, having dealt with our sin. The act of dealing with our sin so that we stand before God as not guilty is what is called justification (Rom. 5:1). A justified sinner in the eyes of God is one from whom God has removed the condemnation that leads to eternal punishment (Rom. 8:1). Justification is not dependant on the acts of works of man but by the grace of God through Christ (Gal. 2:16).
  3. It is He who draws us to Himself so that we may be called the children of God. When He has drawn us to Himself He gives us an eternal inheritance that spurs us to live as children of God (1 Pet. 1:3-4, 14). The act by which God draws us to Himself so that we may be called children of God or sons of God is what is called adoption. We must remember that before we got saved the scriptures called us not a people (Eph. 2:11-13). But having been saved we are now called a people of God. In the scriptures, the people of God are also called children of God. We are His children because He has adopted us to be His.

It is this adoption that we will spend the rest of our time discussing. The main area of our discussion will be to show the proof of our adoption from the scriptures.

It is of great importance that in here we establish from the onset that the people that are adopted as sons of God are the people that have experienced the saving knowledge of God. These will include the men and the women that are born again. It is for that reason that we should make clear that being adopted into the family of God has nothing to do with the work of man or the good reputation of one. The book of John does help us to see who the children of God are. Those who are and will be adopted as God’s sons and daughters: “But all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

This passage of scripture is very clear on who the children of God are. It is those that have received Jesus Christ as Lord and believed in Him as one who has accomplished the redeeming work of God so that sinful men and women can be adopted as sons of God.

The biggest question that needs our asking and answering is: What is the evidence or proof of this adoption?

  1. When we read from the book of Eph. 2:8, we read that we come to a living relationship with God as a result of responding by faith. Interestingly this passage goes further to clarify that the faith that we respond with for our salvation is from God. In other words the faith that brings us to the redemption of God does not originate from man but from God. In this case it should make a lot of sense for us to say that the evidence of our adoption as sons of God is through the faith that we have received from God. For without faith we cannot talk of being regenerated or justified and being sanctified by God. Paul in the book of Galatians does point out that we are in a relationship with God due to the faith that we have received from Him.

It is through this faith that we are ultimately adopted as sons of God: “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are all sons of God through faith” (Galatians 3:23-25).

  1. The evidence of our adoption as sons of God is further evidenced by those that are saved in the receiving of the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. The people that are not saved or those that are not of the adopted cannot receive the Holy Spirit because they have no relationship with God. They have not experienced His redeeming power. As a result they cannot share in the things of God which are exclusively meant for the adopted children of God. The Lord Jesus Christ taught to this effect as well when He said the non believers cannot receive the Holy Spirit: “…even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

This truth can be further reinforced when we read of the first converts of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. When the people had heard the gospel that Peter preached they asked as to what they should do having been convicted of sin. The response of Peter is of particular interest in reference to the Holy Spirit. He said: “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off…” (Acts 2:37-39).

Here we will need to further say that the Holy Spirit that is given to those who come to faith in Christ is the Spirit that gives confidence to approach God as His children. It is this Spirit who is referred to as the Spirit of adoption. In this case when the saved of God relate with Him they do so as with their Father, as is recorded in the book of Romans: “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 you we cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15).

  1. The Holy Spirit, we may need to add, bearers witness with our spirit that we are children of God. This bearing of witness does give the Christians the confidence to relate with God as His adopted children. This confidence is so special because it is from it, having read the scriptures, that we develop the assurance of our salvation. If the Holy Spirit in His special way does not bring about the assurance that we are God’s children then we would have been the most pitied of men. Our lives would have been the most miserable of lives ever to be lived. But thanks be to our God, who has given us His Spirit so that in all situations we may live to depend on Him as the Spirit bears witness with us. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Rom. 8:16).
  2. An adopted child of God who has received the Spirit of adoption will desire to live a life that honours and glorifies God. For this to be a reality, an adopted child will live a life that is led by the Spirit of God. The leading of the Spirit is one such evidence that shows that one is an adopted child of God. A child of God will leave to distinguish self from being led by the Spirit as opposed to being led by the flesh: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

This however does not mean that the adopted sons of God do not go through temptations and trials. But even though they may go through temptations and falter many are the times, their hearts and mind are set on God. The Holy Spirit Himself will continue to help them in all their Christian endeavours. Their victory over the conflicts that they go through is testimony that the Spirit of God is in them: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5:17-18).

  1. When God adopts His children into His fold He brings them into a family. In this family, all His children have an equal salvation such that no one can claim to have a special and unique salvation from all other: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” (Gal. 3:26-28).

If the adopted are one family then it should go that they love one another. For if they do not love one another the bonds of a family will be broken. That will definitely not be consistent with the spirit of adoption as sons of God. The God that has brought the adopted into one family expects them to love one another. For how can a family say we are one if it has no family bonds? “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

  1. The adopted children of God are born out of the righteousness of God. God Himself is righteous and as a result those that come to Him are called to His righteousness. It is because of this righteousness that those God calls are converted from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. The righteousness of God being what it is does declare repentant sinners as justified. All this comes about because of the sufficient work of Jesus Christ at the cross. It met the righteous demands of God’s righteousness.

For that reason the adopted children of God have their lives evidenced with the righteousness of God. This is so because they are born of God and should produce that which is in them. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in Him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Any-one who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:9-10 NIV).

We must state here that our relationship with God does not begin and end with the tag, Christian. But when we say we are Christians do our lives exhibit the righteousness that God expects from us?

  1. Last but not the least, the finality of the adoption of Christians as sons and daughters of God will be actualised when we will be given new bodies. God will give the new bodies to His children because of the effect that sin has had on our earthly bodies due to the sin of Adam. The sin of Adam we read that it has brought many untold miseries. It is for that reason that God will give new bodies to those that He has called to Himself in salvation: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

The giving us of the new bodies as His adopted children will be a distinct evidence that we are not like that rest of the people whose lives were affected by sin but did not cry for help-salvation from God. But God will give these new bodies to His adopted children because He has justified and sanctified them from a life of sin. He will also give them the new bodies because they are His adopted children. He has seen that they were ready for His eternal inheritance.

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enable him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21)

The one question that we may all need to ask ourselves is: Will I qualify to be clothed by God with the new body because I He has saved me from a life of sin or is it just a wish?

As we come to the close of this discussion, we must bear in mind that when we are saved we come into a family of God. We do so not because of our own abilities but because God is gracious and it pleases Him to hear us call Him Father. To this end we are to live our lives in His righteousness as His Spirit works in us actively. We must also remember that peradventure we lose out on the fervency of living our lives to please Him, we should know then that we are out of step from His leading. Our Christianity must not be by lips only but must be evidenced by our lives practically as His sons and daughters.

Bibliography

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1994