All of the teachings I have heard on adoption focused on the benefits of being God’s adopted child but not the true maturity level where we are adopted, and the responsibilities that come with being adopted by God.
‘There are five verses in the NASB New Testament that speak to the vitally important truth on adoption, and all of them are in Paul’s epistles. Three of them are in Romans [8:15,23; 9:4], one of them is in Galatians [4:5], and one of them is in Ephesians [1:5].
It is important to note that Paul never says God adopts anyone as a child [Greek – brephos, nepios, paidion, teknon], or that once adopted the adopted person can live in immaturity and irresponsibility [Romans 11:21,22; many others]. Every reference on adoption is to the person who grows up into sonship [huiós]. No one can legally claim the benefits of adoption as sons if they have not matured into sons, and live responsibly as God’s sons.
The passage in Romans 9:4 is in reference to natural Israel who lost their inheritance [Matthew 21:43; Matthew 23:37,38] by continually rebelling against God and rejecting the One Person He sent to save them and bring them into all He saved them to inherit. In other words, God predestined them to grow up into sonship but they chose to remain immature and irresponsible so that they could behave in a way that was not congruent with the salvation the Savior brought to them. Natural Israel chose compromise over Christ and a covenant commitment to Him. We must not follow in their footsteps [See 1 Corinthians 10:1-15; Hebrews 2:1-3a].
All five of Paul’s references have the same phrase, “adoption as sons”, which is the Greek word, huiothesía [hwee-oth-es-ee’-ah]. This word is made up of two Greek words, huiós [hwee-os’ ], and títhēmi [tith’-ay-mee].
According to Thayer’s Expanded Definition of New Testament Words a huiós is: “A person who reveres God as their Father, is a pious worshiper of God, someone whose character and life resemble God, a person who is governed by the Spirit of God.”
Paul, in Romans, defined a huiós this way, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” [Romans 8:14].
In Hebrews Paul defines huiós as a person who submits to God the Father’s discipline, including His scourging them for the removal of their carnal nature that always resists the Holy Spirit.
“6 ‘For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’ 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children [not a genuine and legal child] and not sons.
9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Paul states scourging is so we will share in God’s holiness. To share means to participate in, to accept and use. In other words, God’s discipline is to mature us in to sonship so that we will live and look like God’s Son, Jesus Christ. [See Thayer’s on huiós above]
Of course, Jesus is the Perfect Son who wholly honored the Father, worshiped Him, perfectly re-presented Him and was always led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus who modeled for us all what true Christianity is and how it is to be lived. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered and He had to grow in favor with God the Father [Hebrews 5:8; Luke 2:52] – from childhood to a son!
Títhēmi, according to Thayer’s, is defined as: “To set or put in [its rightful] place, to ordain, to fix and to establish. God never sets, or puts someone in place, or in a position for them to be immature and irresponsible. This precedent was started in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day.
“8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
Verse 8 reveals access and verse 15 reveals the responsibility that comes with the access. Adam was to cultivate [work to grow] and keep [protect and promote] the Garden as God’s representative overseer of the Garden God placed him in, and the planet God placed him on.
“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.” [1 Corinthians 12:18]
And in Ephesians 4 Paul writes the following, “11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children [nḗpios], tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Children may be born but it is the sons who can be given the responsibility to govern – “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders.” [Isaiah 9:6]
It is possible to be granted access to the kingdom and all of its benefits and end up not inheriting the kingdom you were granted access to at your new birth. [See Matthew 5:3; Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 6:9,10; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27]
Have you allowed God to place you in a place of responsibility?
Are you being responsible with all of the responsibilities that place possesses?
Are you sure you are adopted by God?
Are you benefiting from benefits without the legal right to those benefits?
Receive and steward God’s passion, power, presence, priority, process, promises, protection, provision, pruning, purging, purity and purpose!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin
A radical spiritual revolutionary