Adoption

THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION

(Romans 8:14-17)  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 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.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Paul is describing how we experience the phileo love of God through these manifestations/impartations:

1) We experience adoption (huio-thesia), which means we have been placed as a son in the presence of a father.  Our adoption is based solely on redemption (Galatians 4:4-6).  James Dunn comments on adoption like this: The metaphor of adoption occurs only in the Pauline literature (Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4: Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) in the New Testament  and is drawn from his experience of Greco-Roman law and custom, since it is not a Jewish practice as such.

2) We experience Holy Spirit as He testifies (summartureo/gives strong evidence) to our spirit that we are children (tekna), born ones of God.   Martin Lloyd Jones speaks about the experiential nature of Romans 8:15, as he points out that the: nature or character of the proof that is provided by the Spirit, in this way is our sonship.  It is important that we should be clear about the nature of the character of this proof; and I am emphasizing this particular point because I find that many of the commentaries really miss it altogether.  Many of them interpret this in terms of what we have already dealt with in verse 14, where we were told that, as many are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  They teach that the spirit of adoption is but the result of our being led by the Spirit, a kind of deduction we draw by applying the test to ourselves.  But this would be mere tautology {(rhetoric), a self-reinforcing pretense of significant truth; (grammar), the use of redundant words (logic)}.  There would be no advancement in the thought, and we should not be given a yet stronger reason or proof for knowing our sonship.  But as we have seen, there is a graduation and progress here, leading to a climax.

In other words, this a subjective, experiential event.  It involves our emotions and it resides deeper than our intellect.  It lives in our emotions.  Paul is telling us that we have been adopted into the family of God and it by a Spirit of adoption.   We are to be aware of it, feeling it and enjoying its benefits.   Paul is emphasizing that we are to not only believe this doctrine, we are to experience it as something that goes beyond intellectual ascent.   Paul is telling us that we are to feel, with the emphasis on feeling, in the same way Jesus our LORD felt accepted by Father God.  In Galatians 4:6 he tells us that because you are sons, says the apostle, God has sent forth – note he doesn’t say ‘the Holy Spirit’- he says, the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.  This distinction is important as it points out the result of our adoption process.  We have standing in the sight of God that is comparable to God’s Son Jesus.

The Spirit we have within us, this Spirit of adoption, is the Spirit of God’s own Son.  The feelings Jesus had as our mediator to the Father are supposed to be the feelings we have that move us toward acting like Gods children.  This is the Spirit of adoption.  We feel, we know in the depth of our being that we have been put alongside our LORD in this matter of sonship.

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