Adoption, as used in the Bible, has reference to "placing as sons". Adoption is the process by which we are brought into the family of God, whereby God gives us the status and privileges of a biological son or daughter. We are not adopted because of any good works we have done, but simply by faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. When one first believes they become a child of God, and then they are adopted as full grown sons into the family of God. Theologically speaking, sinners (those disobedient to God) are brought into God's family by an act of God's grace.
The Roman custom of adoption, in effect at the time of the writings of the Apostle Paul. could be used as an illustration of what happens to those who accept Christ. The Roman custom of adoption required that the one being adopted had to agree to the adoption. After adoption, the one adopted became a new creature and was regarded as being born again into a new family. Those adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters become heirs of God through Christ, Galatians 4:4-8, Romans 8:14-15, Romans 8:23, Colossians 3:24, Galatians 4:7, Galatians 3:29, Romans 8:17.
One who has placed their faith in Christ has been born again. They are new creatures and a child in Christ. This is a relationship of father to son or daughter. Once we are born again, God adopts us into the family of God as sons and daughters, giving us the full privileges of grown sons and daughters. The adoption gives us our position in God's family.
Under the old Roman law, children received legal rights when seven years old. They did not come into possession of all that was theirs until they were 25 years old. Today when we receive Christ we are not only a child of God by the new birth (being born again), we are also adopted into the family of God as an adult son with full rights and privileges of an adult son. This position includes both privileges and responsibilities. It is the believers responsibility to live in a way befitting his new position in the family of God. The believer can now come directly into the presence of God and also claim the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit, John 1:12-13. Thus our position in God is as full sons and daughters, making us heirs of God through Christ, Galatians 4:1-5.
The Roman custom at the time of the Apostle Paul's writings were that the one being adopted lost all rights in his old family, and gained all the rights of a legitimate son or daughter in the new family. Old debts were cancelled as though they had never existed, and the one adopted was the absolute son or daughter of their new father. When God sent his Son to redeem those that were under the law it then became possible, for those who were willing to accept the finished work of Christ, to receive adoption into the family of God, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5-6.
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