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Included: Being Adopted into God's Family (2010)
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Series: Ephesians: Being a Christian Is Like Buying a Car (Week 1 of 2)
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
March 1, 2010

Woodrow Kroll: Did you know that salvation is a package deal?

Tami Weissert: Everything is included and the price has already been paid.

Woodrow Kroll: We'll give all the details of our salvation in today's study from the Book of Ephesians. Hi, I'm Woodrow Kroll.

Tami Weissert: I'm Tami Weissert.

Woodrow Kroll: And this is Back to the Bible.

Tami Weissert: Welcome, everyone. Today, we start a brand new two-week series from the Book of Ephesians. And Wood, we're talking about salvation as a package deal.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, and it's an amazing package deal. Lots of standard equipment included.

Tami Weissert: That kinda sounds like a car dealership.

Woodrow Kroll: Well, being a Christian is a lot like buying a car.

Tami Weissert: All right, Wood, how about you explain that?

Woodrow Kroll: Well, you know, there was a day when a car came with a basic sticker price and that base price gave you . . . well, pretty much a stripped-down model of the car.

Tami Weissert: OK so you mean no power windows, no aid conditioning, things like that?

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, nothing. Even power steering was considered to be additional.

Tami Weissert: So anything more than the absolute basic engine and four wheels was considered extra.

Woodrow Kroll: Absolutely right. And of course, you always paid for the extras.

Tami Weissert: Well, things have definitely changed because I just bought a car a few months ago and that sticker price--it included air conditioning, power steering, power windows, even power door locks as standard.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, nowadays standard equipment includes things like intermittent wipers, rear window defroster, often remote key entrance or even keyless entrance--a lot of the so-called extras that are included in package price.

That's why I say that being a Christian is like buying a car. There are just a whole lot of benefits that come standard with our salvation. They're a part of the package we call "being born again."

Tami Weissert: Well, I have a feeling that there are quite a few of those extras in this package and we either don't know about them or maybe we've just forgotten them over time.

Woodrow Kroll: Well, that's exactly why were taking time this week and next week as well to focus on all the benefits that come with the package of our salvation.

Tami Weissert: So what are we starting with today?

Woodrow Kroll: Today, we start with adoption. The minute you're saved, you are adopted into God's family and you enjoy wonderful privileges and responsibilities that come with being a part of God's own personal family.

Tami Weissert: All right, well we're starting at the beginning, Ephesians 1.

Woodrow Kroll: Well, we're going to look at the Book of Ephesians. Let me begin at Ephesians 1 and verse 3. Today we want to see that one of the standard features of being born again, is being adopted into the family of God.

Paul says this, Ephesians 1:3‑6, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."

Now, one of the problems we encounter in the twenty-first century is that we understand what adoption means for us today. The process of adopting a child in the twenty-first century is very different from what the Bible calls adoption. So, we, we got to get a handle on what the Bible means when it says that we were predestined to the adoption as sons by Jesus Christ.

What are some of the questions we should ask with regard to a biblical understanding of adoption? Well, I guess the first question would be, "What is adoption?"

And the answer to that is, Ephesians 1:5 says that in God's boundless love, motivated by nothing outside of Himself, God set us apart to be his adult sons. He surrounds us by His love and He cements us in His eternal will. That's what predestination is all about.

In fact, Psalm 125:2, "As the hills round about Jerusalem, so Jehovah is round about His people" (paraphrased). See, adoption simply means that we become members of God's own family.

Paul says in Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father.'" Now that's, that's a family relationship.

We can legitimately call God our Father once we're in his family, once we're adopted as a adult sons. And in Galatians 4:5-6, the apostle comments that God sent Jesus to become a human being, born of a woman, born under the requirements of the law, for this reason--"to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'"

So, what is adoption? Adoption is a legal transaction where God the Father places you and me as newborn babes in Christ into His family, but He places us there, not as infants, He places us there as adult children, with all the rights and responsibilities of adulthood.

See, there are lots of things a baby can't do. A baby can't eat solid food, but you can as a newborn believer because you are adopted. A baby can't walk. A baby can't speak intelligently, can't understand basic truth, can't respond to questions about his or her birth. A baby can't make wise decisions. A baby can't write checks on the family account. A baby can't contemplate the future. But you see, all those things you can do, not because you are born into God's family, but because you're adopted into His family. And one of the standard features of our salvation is adoption.

Now, a second question. How does biblical adoption take place? What happens when we are adopted into the family of God? Well, I think the best explanation I've ever seen of this is from William Barclay who is a historian, a commentator.

He has a book entitled Letter to the Romans and this is what he says. This is a bit lengthy but I think it's so good that you're going to want to hear this. Barclay says, "It is only when we understand how serious and complicated a step Roman adoption was that we really understand the depth of the meaning of this passage." He's talking about Romans 8:15, the same thing is true of our passage here, Ephesians 1:5.

Barclay says, "Roman adoption was always rendered more serious and more difficult by the Roman patria potestas. This was the father's power over his family; it was the power of absolute disposal and control, and in the early days was actually the power of life and death.

"In regard to his father, a Roman son never came of age. No matter how old he was, he was still under the patria potestas, in the absolute possession and under the absolute control of his father. Obviously this made adoption into another family a very difficult and serious step. In adoption a person had to pass from one patria potestas to another.

"There were two steps. The first was known as mancipatio, and was carried out by a symbolic sale, in which copper and scales were symbolically used. Three times the symbolism of sale was carried out. Twice the father symbolically sold his son, and twice he bought him back; but the third time he did not buy him back and thus the patria potestas was held to be broken.

"There followed a ceremony called vindicatio. The adopting father went to the praetor, one of the Roman magistrates, and presented a legal case for the transference of the person to be adopted into his patria potestas. When all this was completed, the adoption was complete. Clearly this was a serious and an impressive step."

Now Barclay says these are the consequences of going through this process of Roman adoption. "But it is the consequences of adoption which are most significant for the picture that is in Paul's mind. There were four main ones:

"1) The adopted person lost all right in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. In the most binding legal way, he got a new father.

"2) It followed that he became heir to his new father's estate. Even if other sons were afterwards born, it did not affect his right. He was inalienably co-heir with them.

"3) In law, the old life of the adopted person was completely wiped out; for instance, all debts were cancelled. He was regarded as a new person entering into a new life with which the past had nothing to do."

And finally, number 4) and I think this is very interesting,

"In the eyes of the law he was absolutely the son of his new father.

Roman history provides an outstanding case of how completely this was held to be true. The Emperor Claudius adopted Nero in order that he might succeed him on the throne; they were not in any sense blood relations. Claudius already had a daughter Octavia. To cement the alliance, Nero wished to marry her. Nero and Octavia were in no sense blood relatives; yet, in the eyes of the law, they were brother and sister; and before they could marry, the Roman senate had to pass special legislation."

Now, can you make the application to your case and mine today? When we are adopted into God's family, our old father, the devil, is no longer our father. When we're adopted into God's family, all the rights and privileges including the inheritance that comes from God, becomes ours.

It is a legal transaction, friends. Even though it has great spiritual benefit, it's one of those things that's not an add‑on to our salvation, it's all standard. It's kind of like buying a new car. It's all there, friends, including your adoption into God's family. Aren't you glad about that?

Tami Weissert: Our studies this week are based on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. And it's here that Paul basically lays out the plan for life in God's family. So when Dr. Kroll wrote a study guide for Ephesians, he called it Life in God's Family. Right now, it's featured on our Web site at backtothebible.org.

This study guide includes the entire text of Ephesians which can come in pretty handy. Just throw it in your purse or briefcase and you have everything you need. So along with a selected passage for each of the thirteen studies, you'll also get devotional insights, study questions, even prayer and application suggestions. I mean we really mean it when we say it's a complete study.

So if you want to find out more about where you fit within God's family, then order the study. Again, it's called Ephesians: Life in God's Family by Woodrow Kroll and it's available online at backtothebible.org. Or pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-800-759-2425.

If you're just joining us, this is Back to the Bible and Dr. Kroll is talking about being adopted into God's family. Now, there are some wonderful benefits to adoption so let's return to our study and find out just what they are.

Woodrow Kroll: Well, let me ask another question about adoption. What happens when we're adopted into God's family? Well, from this passage in Ephesians 1:5‑6 and from other passages of Scripture, it's evident that adoption brings five benefits to us as believers. Let me just tell you what they are. I'm not going to comment on them, just so you know what happens when you're adopted into God's family.

Number 1: You get a new name. (he chuckles) There's a new name written down in glory and it's mine, friends, it's mine. You get a new name.

Number 2: You get a new legal standing.

Number 3: You get a new family relationship.

Number 4: You get a new image. Now you're a part of the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

And number 5: You get a new spirit, the Spirit of adoption. You know who that Spirit is? That's the Holy Spirit of God. All of this is yours when you're adopted into God's family. An adoption is a part of God's package we call "Salvation." It's not an add‑on, friends, it's not an extra cost. It's yours because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for you.

Well, here's my fourth question: What do you suppose it was that motivated God to adopt us as His adult children? You know, that's an important question.

Verse 5 says, "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ" and here's the motivation, "according to the good pleasure of His will."

See, there's nothing in us that warrants being adopted into God's family. We're all here, friends, because of God's amazing grace. And that's an outgrowth of His divine, eternal, sovereign will. When the Father chose a people for Himself, when He decided to adopt them as His own children, He was motivated by love, and by love alone.

Bible commentator, William Hendrickson, says this about the passage: "What God did was a result not of sheer determination but of supreme delight. A person may be fully determined to submit to a very serious operation. Again, he may be just as fully determined to plant a beautiful rose garden. Both are matters of the will. However, the latter alone is a matter of delight, that is of His good pleasure. Thus God does not afflict from the heart. We know that from Lamentations 3:33. He delights in the salvation of sinners."

What is it that motivated God to adopt you as His adult son or adult daughter? It was His good pleasure that is mapped out after His will. God loves you, friends. And the only thing that you have going for you to become an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ--the only thing you have going for you to become a member adopted into the family of God is the fact that God loves you.

Well, let me ask one final question in our study today. We're thinking about adoption as not an add‑on to our salvation, but a part of it. What we get, because like buying a new car, it's in there, friends, it's all included.

Here's the fifth and final question. What is the ultimate goal of our adoption as God's adult children? Now that's something you have to wrestle with. Why did God do this? What is His ultimate goal in adopting you in His family? Well, verse 6 gives the answer: "to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved."

God's goal is two-fold, in fact. It's near-term and it's far-term. Near-term, God adopts us as His adult children. He creates new life in us so that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Now I found that in verse 4. That's what Paul says. That's why God adopts you. The near-term goal, His immediate goal for us in salvation has absolutely nothing to do with our future home. It has nothing to do with our ultimate destiny. Friends, this is not a heaven or hell issue. God's immediate goal for our salvation is for us to be holy and faultless before Him, to live our lives as the life of His Son was lived.

Now, let me say this carefully, let me say it lovingly, let me say it absolutely directly, my friend. If you're not living a life that is holy, a life that is blameless before God, you're a disappointing son or daughter to your Heavenly Father.

You've been adopted into God's family, you've been graciously adopted, lovingly adopted. But you aren't living up to the terms of or the purpose for your salvation, your adoption. You're a disappointment to your Heavenly Father who loved you so much, He adopted you when you didn't deserve it.

Now, what you need to do is take a hard look at your life. Take a look at your life in light of what we've learned today. Confess your sin. Renounce your sin. Start living in a way that shows that you're a grateful child, not a spoiled kid.

But you know what? There's a long-term goal for our adoption as well. It's found right here in verse 6. God's ultimate goal, His long-term goal is for us as His children to recognize His grace and praise Him for it throughout eternity. The praise of the glory of His grace.

Now, that simply means that we recognize that it was by God's grace alone that He saved us, and that grace manifests itself in His excellent glory, the quality of who He is. He's just that kind of a God. He made us accepted in the Beloved when we weren't naturally acceptable. And, my friends, that's made all the difference in the world--both now and the short-term, and in heaven in the long-term.

Part of the package we call salvation includes a legal process, the process of adoption. God takes people like me, who were estranged from Him because of my sin, and He adopts me as His own son.

He doesn't take me into His family as a newborn baby but as an adult son, with all the rights and privileges of sonship. And you know what, friends? There's no extra charge for that; it's something God does out of His love to give me a future in the family of God.

Tami Weissert: Well, that's certainly something to look forward to. Being adopted as adult sons--what a privilege! OK, Wood, let's get back to this idea of God taking me into His family as an adult. I mean, that really empowers us to live for God immediately.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, it really does, and you know, Tami, I think that's one of the great things about our salvation. While we grow from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood, we can enjoy all the rights and privileges of being an adult right from the very beginning. We don't have to wait to grow up spiritually for God to treat us as an adult.

Tami Weissert: OK and here's the question I have: What about signs that maybe we're not living as adults?

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, sometimes in our lives there are way too many of these. I think a dead giveaway is when we don't appropriate all the rights of an adult. Let me give you an example. Our salvation makes it possible for us to come into God's presence in prayer through Jesus Christ our advocate. We don't have to pay to pray. We don't have to pray to someone or through someone. An adult speaks directly to his or her father. But if we fail to avail ourselves of that privilege, we really aren't acting like an adult.

Tami Weissert: Well, if someone didn't hear this message, they may not realize they are to be treated as an adult. How do we deal with that?

Woodrow Kroll: Well, I think we all have to come to appreciate that when we are adopted as adult sons, we need to act like grown up people. Now, emotionally, spiritually, we may not have all the benefits of being grown up but let's at least acknowledge that we have all the rights of being grown up and we'll grow into those rights but let's not wait 10 or 15 or 20 years in our salvation in order to live as adult children.

Tami Weissert: This is Back to the Bible with Bible teacher, Woodrow Kroll. Hi, I'm Tami Weissert.

Now, Wood, our current series is based on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. And it's here in Ephesians 5:15-16 that we're encouraged by these words: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil." What an impact that verse has for us.

Woodrow Kroll: Yes, it certainly does, Tami, because we do live in evil days. And that's why I want to talk with you, our listening family today, because more than ever, we need to seize every opportunity to share God's Word with a dying world. We take that very seriously here at Back to the Bible and I know that you take it seriously as well. So here's a special opportunity that you need to know about. You see, Back to the Bible has some generous ministry partners who have pledged $100,000 to match every gift that Back to the Bible receives up to that amount. Yes, every gift up to a total of $100,000.

Now as you can tell, we're pretty excited about this because it means that when you call in to give $25, your gift will have the impact of $50. Or if you send a check for $50, the impact will be $100. Now that kind of giving is something we can all appreciate in today's economy. But there is a limited time for this gift match. It ends March 31st or when we reach our $100,000 goal. So think about it. What better opportunity to share God's Word with a dying world. To take advantage of this opportunity, call us today.

Tami Weissert: Now, our phone number here is 1-800-759-2425.

Woodrow Kroll: Or send your check to Back to the Bible, Box 82808, Lincoln, NE 68501.

Tami Weissert: Well, today we talked about adoption--one of the extras that comes standard in the package of salvation. But that's definitely not the only extra.

Woodrow Kroll: Not at all. In fact, we're going to spend this week and all of next week talking about ten different benefits that are included in this package we call salvation.

Tami Weissert: OK, one down today; what's tomorrow?

Woodrow Kroll: Well, tomorrow we're going to see that part of the package includes being named as God's heir. I always like to think about being heirs but what about being the heir of God? We're not just in the will, folks; we are the actual heir of God and we can begin to enjoy the benefits of being an heir right now. We'll check all of that out tomorrow here on Back to the Bible.

Well, thanks so much for joining us today. Please plan to be with us again tomorrow when we think about being the heir of God, all part of the package plan we call salvation. I'm Woodrow Kroll. My prayer for you every day is the same at this time--that you would have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it's not also a godly day?

Scripture used in today's study was taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

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