In addition to Eva’s December birthday, our family observes May 21 as Eva’s “gotcha day.” On May 21, 1997, two years of frustrating paperwork and waiting ended, and our family of three finally became four. That’s also when I began paying much more attention to what the Bible says about God adopting us. Theologians write whole books about this—allow me a few paragraphs.
In Greek, adoption is huiothesia (child + make), to make someone your child. The word appears just three times in the New Testament, but this crucial concept underlies each mention of God as our Father and us as His children. God could have just rescued us from sin and death, but He went much further when He adopted us. Salvation gets us out of Hell; adoption makes Heaven our home, and Heaven’s King our Daddy ! Justification is sort of legal; adoption is goes way beyond legal to intimately personal.
My wife endured eight hours of labor for our first child, and I endured two years of labor (legal red tape and waiting in countless long lines) for our second. Children enter families by birth or by adoption, but Jesus experienced both: Mary bore Him and Joseph adopted Him. While likely not a complex legal adoption, it clearly was a practical one, for in Luke 3:22-23, the Son of God is called the ‘son of Joseph.’ Christians are also spiritually born and adopted, for when we surrender our lives to the lordship of Jesus, we’re both born again of the Spirit (John 3:3-8) and adopted into God’s family (John 1:12-13).
Parents often initiate adoptions partly or largely out of need—a deep longing for a child—but God lacks nothing. Like many couples or families, Beth and I (and our first daughter) felt incomplete before Eva arrived. God, though, is perfectly complete. Each Person of the Trinity loves the other Persons flawlessly and infinitely, so creating and adopting us met no need in Him. God has never needed us in any way; if He were to need us, His salvation would not be motivated by grace.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit draw us into the intimate fellowship they enjoy. "Because you are sons [children], God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father'” (Gal. 4:6). In that one verse, and in Rom. 8:15-17, all three Persons of the Godhead enable us to call Him 'Abba' (Aramaic for Daddy or Papa)—exactly what Jesus called the Father in Mark 14:36.
In John 20:17, Jesus calls believers ‘brothers’ while distinguishing our relationship with the Father from His relationship with the Father. We’re not divine, so we expect such differences; still, "how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1)
In Heaven, we’ll find the implications of this literally endless! Here and now, though, as in human adoptions, there are benefits and obligations when becoming someone’s child. The Bible says we must know, love, obey, and imitate our Father—and love and serve other people. We may also have to suffer.
Our obligations, though, pale in comparison to our myriad benefits. Morally and legally, Eva can expect her parents to care for her throughout her childhood and (because of her special needs) even into her adulthood, but God promises to care for His children forever! Even better is our home. Before Eva arrived, Beth and I prepared a room for her. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven, so that God can make His home with us (John 14:2-3, 23). And there we will enjoy perfect fellowship with countless siblings! Best of all though, is the One adopting us, because ultimately, God is what makes the Good News good—infinitely good. We will see Him as He is (I John 3:2, Rev. 22:4), we will know that we are perfectly loved, and finally, all will be well.
Aren’t you glad that you’re adopted?