Adopted - Romans 8:14-17 02/02/2020

Adopted – Romans 8:14-17 02/02/2020

I have to wonder… when we talk about being a child of God, as we ponder the implications of being adopted into God’s family, I have to wonder if we’ve truly wrapped our minds around just how astounding this statement is. Our passage today is Romans 8:14-17 which I encourage you to look over. What’s going on here is that, in contrast to the death caused by defying God, turning from our sin results in life, both spiritual life now and an eschatological expectation of life through the power of the Spirit in the future.[1] But our passage indicates that there’s what we could call, in statistical process control, a key process indicator. The test we face is our willingness to obey the Spirit’s guidance.[2] Romans 8:14 ~

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.[3]

Being “led by the Spirit” expresses the reality of God taking the initiative to guide His children in Christian living.[4] How does this happen? First, the Spirit activates each Christian, making us children of God,[5] which we examined while studying regeneration. Then, we’re converted (that is, changed) and what was once impossible now becomes possible.

Notice that it seems Paul understood the Christian life as an integrated balance between our cooperation through moral effort and a yielding to the inward work of the Spirit of God. This included the expectation that we would be directly guided through compulsions prompted by the Holy Spirit.[6] But there’s something else that takes place, and it is this that I find so remarkable. The life of the individual, living under the leading of the Spirit, is adopted as a child of God.[7]

It is at this point that we need to come to terms with the historic context of a very specific word. It is “adoption” (υἱοθεσία). It was a technical term in the Greco-Roman world[8] that expressed the legal assumption of a person into the status of son-ship in a family not their own natural family.[9] The adopted child enters the family as a stranger, and is declared to be a member of the family.[10]

The Roman practice of adoption resulted in a number of things for the “adoptee.” First, the adopted person lost all rights to their previous family and assumed the standing of the new family.[11] All the individual’s previous obligations, debts, legal charges, and any other aspect of the former life was cancelled.[12] The adopted person entered the new family as a new person with their former identity permanently blotted out.[13] Once this happened, they became a new person and had conferred on them were all the legal rights and privileges that would normally go to a natural child of the family.[14]

I think its application to the Christian is probably fairly obvious. But what I find even more astounding is that we’re able to directly approach the Father without fear.[15] We, with Jesus, are able to call our Creator our Father.[16] But not just the formal reference, “Father.” The Spirit of God wells up in us, crying out, “Abba,” Father.[17] “Abba” is the untranslated Aramaic word generally equivalent to “Daddy.”[18]

The Spirit is not only involved in making us God’s children, He also makes us aware of this fact.[19] This is the affirmation of the Christian awareness of their relation to God as His child.[20] Many have looked at these verses and doubted the reality of their salvation because they “feel” nothing. So… how do we know we’ve been saved? Not based on how good we’re doing, how “holy” our lives may be, or not. Neither is it based on how God is richly blessing us, or not. None of these externals is a reliable assurance of salvation.[21] In fact, sometimes the struggle and hardship we experience is the maturing force that God, as Father, uses to conform us to His image.[22]

So, we can assume that the awareness of being a child of God may well not be accompanied with any outward indicators.[23] That leaves two alternatives, one is that it’s a matter of raw faith, we simply choose to trust God based on His faithfulness. There’s a lot to be said for that, but honestly, knowing we’re saved is more than a mental commitment to being a child of God.[24] The danger of this view is that it tempts us to ignore the indwelling Spirit who is actively transforming our lives.[25] We make Christianity a “head” religion and neglect the heart.

The second option is that we rely on what we feel, we feel blessed, we cry during worship, we’re happy. The problem with this is we make our salvations all about our heart, our feelings. Honestly, if this is your approach you’re in for a roller coaster experience.

Christianity cannot be reduced to the head or the heart. It impacts the entire person. One aspect of the transformation the Spirit brings about in us is the restoration of direct communication with God.[26] Now, normally, this communication is not audible, it may not be accompanied by any feelings, but in the supernatural dimension of our lives, we are made aware that we are God’s child.[27] Most of us have experienced this at one time or another.

So… why is it that there are Christians without this knowledge? The Spirit does not guide us to cry out, “I am God’s child!”[28] The focus is not on us. Instead, He leads us to call upon God as our Father.[29] It is by God’s grace that we’re saved, but it is appropriated into our lives by a conscious act of faith.[30] And yet, it seems clear that Paul is not basing this “witness” on some external testimony. This is a truth that’s experienced subjectively, internally.[31] God waits to affirm our salvations, but we have to be listening, living according to the Spirit.[32] This passage suggests we will express a deep consciousness of belonging to God.[33] But… it qualifies that with the need to be willing to be led by the Spirit.

As I stated when we started this series on Christian living, the Christian life is fundamentally a life lived in relationship with God. The assurance of salvation will never be experienced outside of that relationship.

Think about what we’ve discovered so far in our study of the Christian life. This life is characterized by a relationship with God… one that we enter into by faith. God makes this possible because our conversions, which include being regenerated and progressively renewed, made us able to enter into that relationship. All of this makes possible the astounding reality that we be adopted into the family of God Himself. Our lives are now lived in the very presence of God. In the face of loss, pain, and sorrow, all an inevitable part of life in this fallen world, we live in the certainty of glory and redemption.

Our lives are characterized by joy, not because our circumstances are so good, but because we know those circumstances are only temporary. Live, right now, in the reality that you are God’s cherished child.

If you think about the implications of this, it will change the way you see EVERYTHING!

[1] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 498.


[2] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 143.


[3] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ro 8:14.


[4] Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 33, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 499.


[5] Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 33, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 499.


[6] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, vol. 38A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1988), 450.


[7] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 499.


[8] Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 33, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 500.


[9] Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 33, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 500.


[10] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 144.


[11] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 145.


[12] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 145.


[13] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 145.


[14] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 501.


[15] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 145.


[16] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 145.


[17] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 701.


[18] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume IV, Matthew – Romans, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 701.


[19] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 503.


[20] Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 33, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 501.


[21] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 146.


[22] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 146.


[23] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 147.


[24] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 147.


[25] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 147.


[26] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 147.


[27] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 147.


[28] Everett Harrison, Romans, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 10, Romans – Galatians, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 93.


[29] Everett Harrison, Romans, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 10, Romans – Galatians, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Richard Polcyn, (Regency Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 93.


[30] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 148.


[31] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 502.


[32] Clarence Bence, Romans: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, ed., David Higle, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 1996), 148.


[33] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 502.

1 view