Adoption as a gift of the Gospel

March 31, 2013

Resurrection Sunday, Adoption as a Gift of the Gospel

First, there will be no guilt trip to get you to adopt children.

Second, there is an astounding lack of adoption theologically and, as a consequence, practically by the church.

In nearly 2,000 years of church history and thousands of creeds (some 150 creeds after the Reformation) only 6 have been found to contain a theology of adoption.

This lack of emphasis on the theology adoption, that is at the heart of the Gospel, has resulted in a lack of the practice of adoption on the part of the church as a missionally strategic practice.

Third, the primary mission of this morning is to revel in the “vertical” reality of adoption as a glorious work of the Gospel completed in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Fourth, the long-term mission of this morning is that the vertical truth of Father’s adoption of his people would lead to a culture of adoption where we have adopters and facilitators with none doing nothing.

1. The Gospel

A. Creation

B. Fall

C. Redemption

1. Coming

2. Living

3. Dying

4. Rising

5. Ascending

D. Restoration

2. Our adoption was costly for the Father

Galatians 4:4-5; Galatians 3:13

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7)

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” (Galatians 3:13)

3. Our adoption involves our status change from “not children” to “children”

Galatians 4:4-6

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!””

A. Because of Jesus’ work we are, by faith, children of God

1. Creator of us

2. Lover of us

3. Caring for us

4. Always doing good to us

5. Always providing for us

4. Our adoption involves the reception of  the Spirit of sonship

Galatians 4:6

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!””

A. Adoption is not less than biological succession. Adoption is equal to biological succession.

(Father does not look at Gentiles included in the Kingdom as less than, rather, he hardened Israel until a full number of Gentiles would be adopted into the Kingdom, then all Israel will be saved….see Romans 11:25ff)

B. In Christ we are adopted as children.

5. Our adoption involves the transformation of our behaviors so that they begin to match the behaviors of the Father (Do you ever just get sick of how you act and would do anything to stop acting like that…?)

Romans 8:12-15

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit (who is kind of like your new birth certificate)

 of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’

A. The Spirit of adoption helps us put to death all the things that are contrary to the family of God

6. Our adoption involves becoming an heir of the Father

Galatians 4:6-7

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

7. Our adoption was planned

Ephesians 1:4-6

“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

“Adoption was not Plan B in God’s mind. There was no Plan A with lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. God predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.

A. The fall has affected all men

B. God, being rich in mercy, chose us to redeem us from the fall to show us the immeasurable riches of his kindness to rescue us from a deserved and eternal hell.

C. So, our adoption is not least rather it is a lavish gift

8. Our adoption comes with short-term suffering in overcoming the rubble of the fall but it also comes with long-term glory

Romans 8:22-23

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

This passage says we are waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons.

Are we not, upon belief in the Gospel, adopted already? Yes.

When we believe the Gospel we are legally and permanently in the family of God. But God’s work in adoption is not to leave any of us who believe in a state of suffering from the fall.

Father raised Jesus from the dead with a new body and he promises us that part of our adoption will be a new body in the resurrection with no more disabilities and no more groaning.

So, we wait for the full experience of our adoption…..the full blown resurrection of our bodies with all the brokeness from the fall removed!

A. Death is not our enemy, rather death is our ally, through the resurrection of Jesus, to bring our full experience of adoption to us.

9. Our adoption was from a terrible state

Ephesians 2:3

“…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

A. Father adopted us from a path that ended in eternal punishment for the rebellion

B. Because of our adoption we….

1. Love Father, Son and Spirit

2. Submit to Father, Son and Spirit in joy

3. Follow Father, Son and Spirit

4. Worship Father, Son and Spirit

5. Serve fellow adopted children by Father, Son and Spirit

6. Invite as many as will come and receive adoption to come by the help of Father, Son

and Spirit

The Responsibility in Fellowship: Humble Oneself

The responsibility in fellowship: Humble Oneself

Luke 9:46-48; Luke 18:9-14

Today, as we talk about “The Responsibility in Fellowship: Humble Oneself” we come to two passages of Scripture that speak to a responsibility we have to God and to one another.

In Luke 9:46-48 and Luke 18:9-14 the Lord addresses, perhaps, our root sin from the fall and that is self-exaltation.

Two key words are found in Luke 9:46:

1. Argument

2. Greatest

Jesus identifies the source of this problem among his disciples:

1. The heart

Jesus identifies the solution to the fallen heart exalting itself to be the greatest and thus creating division and arguments:

1. Each person should make it their aim to be the least, to humble themselves

In Luke 18:9-14 the Lord again addresses the issue of self-exaltation.

Two men are found in Luke 18:9-14:

1. The Pharisee who exalted himself by comparing himself to other men and then trumpeting how much greater he was compared to other men.

2. The tax-collector who rightly compared himself to God and found himself lacking and repenting of his lack.

Jesus identifies the solution to the issues of self-exaltation:

1. Each person should make it their aim to humble themselves

So we find that the key issue in these two accounts given by the Lord himself that brought arguments and division to people was that of self-exaltation and the solution to self-exaltation was to be the least or to humble oneself.

1. In fellowship a primary responsibility must be to humble ourselves

How are we to seek to humble ourselves?

A. We can humble ourselves by holding our tongue

“Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words.” – Bonhoeffer

“Isolated thoughts of judgment (sinful judgment) can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them the right to be uttered, except in a confession of sin….He who holds his tongue in check controls both mind and body (James 3:2). Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” – Bonhoeffer

“…to speak about a brother covertly is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and good will; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers always creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.” – Bonhoeffer

Ephesians 4:29-30

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

James 4:11-12

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor.”

1. Seek to build up not corrupt with the tongue

2. Other people’s walk with the Lord is affected by what we say (sin is atmospheric)

3. Corrupting talk grieves Holy Spirit / quenches Holy Spirit

4. Don’t speak evil and thus wrongly judge a brother/sister

a. This is not speaking of Matthew 7 accountability in rightly judging without

hypocrisy. This is speaking of projecting false things onto a brother and

thus speaking evil about them.

When tempted to crucify a brother with our tongue remember this:

“God did not make this person as I would have made him. He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator.” – Bonhoeffer

B. We can humble ourselves by seeking to be meek

Romans 12:3

Meekness – fearing God, righteous, humble, teachable, patient, controlled strength

“Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself.” – Bonhoeffer

1. Recognize that we are all expendable

2. Use whatever gift you have been graced with in control for the better of others

3. Boast in your weaknesses

a. 2 Corinthians 11:30-12:10

b. Do a weaknesses assessment and then give God the glory that he can speak

even through donkeys!

C. We can humble ourselves by bearing with each other

Galatians 6:2

Having presented a lofty picture of the Christian life, Paul now addresses the very real possibility of sin (1). Although the principle of living by the Spirit is no mere idealism, the apostle knew perfectly well that believers will falter, and he may have feared that the Galatians would respond harshly to one of their own if he or she failed to meet the high standards just described. Accordingly, he points out that if they are spiritual (that is, having and being led by the Holy Spirit), they ought to respond gently (‘with a spirit of gentleness’), always conscious that each of us is susceptible to temptation.

In vs 2–3 Paul continues the thought but generalizes somewhat. Restoring a believer who has sinned is but an example of the broader obligation that we have to bear each other’s burdens. Anyone who balks at this obligation, thinking that he is above such weaknesses, only deceives himself. In a striking and ironic allusion to the Galatians’ concern with the Jewish laws, Paul describes burden-bearing as a fulfilment of the law of Christ. Most likely, this notion is to be related to 5:14, the love commandment. Clearly, the wonderful freedom for which Paul had fought during his ministry and especially in this letter does not entail an abandonment of moral obligations.

Paul’s concern that the Galatians should be conscious of the burdens and weaknesses of others, however, could lead to a sense of superiority and thus to sinful boasting. So in vs 4–5 he calls to mind the need and propriety of looking only at oneself for evaluation, i.e. one should look at the weakness of others only for purposes of compassion, not of comparison (2 Cor. 10:12–18). In that sense, each must bear his or her own burden.

We might paraphrase: ‘If you are intent on boasting just look at yourself; don’t be like the Pharisee who compares himself to the publican, but rather use God’s standard, and then you will find that boasting can only be in God’ (v 14; 1 Cor. 1:26–31).

D. We can humble ourselves by serving

Matthew 20:20-28

“…even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

This was Jesus’ response to James’ and John’s mom coming with the boys and asking Jesus to let them be on top.

Serving is, perhaps, the easiest activity to do and do it with the wrong attitude and the service be worse than if it was not done at all.

Not all service is good.

I’m not talking about serving in frustrated anger because you are obviously better than others and no one else is going to do it….Rather serving because serving makes one happy and it is a delight to serve….This kind of serving comes from a desire deep in a transformed heart to be like Jesus….The other kind of serving comes from the flesh and has a shelf life that will expire and that service becomes a bitter cancer done to goad at others rather than to give life….That kind of service, fleshly and self-exalting service, smells bad and infects with a virus of death…..Desire filled, Jesus imitating, joy prompted service for the good of others and infects with a virus of life.

1. Check your heart in service and repent if necessary

a. Stop serving if service can’t be in the Spirit

b. Start serving in the right attitude

2. Offer service to the Lord in worship this morning

a. The fruit of lips that bless his name

3. Offer service to the Lord’s people this morning

b. Outdo one another in showing honor

The Danger to Fellowship: Sin

The Danger to Fellowship: Sin

Genesis 2:15-3:24

When talking about sin as a danger to fellowship the mission is not to talk about specific “sins”. They can be too varied and appear that my motives are not right.

What I am going to talk about is “sin”.

The fallen nature from the fall.

The nature left in the fallen flesh that is at war with the transformed heart of a follower of Jesus.

The nature that when given in to can manifest itself in multitudes of indigenous (unique to the person) “sins” that can and will wreak havoc on fellowship.

“Sins” root is “sin”. In other words, my unique manifestations of the flesh is the fallen nature inherited from the fall still present in my body that has not been fully redeemed yet and won’t be until the resurrection.

We could say that the mission today is to reveal “sin” as devastating to fellowship and application of today’s message would be to put a sword to “sin” (Romans 8:13) and preserve fellowship.

1. Sin’s devastation is seen in the fall

The devastation of the fall was so far sweeping that even after salvation our flesh is “tainted” with the effects of the fall and only will be repaired when we are raised from the dead as Jesus was raised from the dead.

Spurgeon says, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”

Christian clichés won’t so easily dismiss the devastation of sin either.

“The cliche, ‘God hates the sin but loves the sinner’, is false on the face of it and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty Psalms alone, we are told that God hates the sinner, his wrath is on the liar, ans so forth. In the Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Romans 1:18ff) and on the sinner (John 3:36).”

Sin is not something to be toyed with or clichéd about. Sin is devastating.

2. What is sin?

“The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it – both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God.”

“The heart of all evil is idolatry itself. It is the de-godding of God. It is the creature swinging his puny fist in the face of his Maker and saying, in effect, ‘If you do not see things my way, I’ll make my own gods! I’ll be my own god!’ Small wonder that the sin most frequently said to arouse God’s wrath is not murder, say, or pillage, or any other ‘horizontal’ barbarism, but idolatry – that which dethrones God. That is also why, in every sin, it is God who is the most offended party, as David himself well understood: ‘Against you, only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge’ (Psalm 51:4).

3. Images the bible uses to explain sin

A. Rebellion, folly, madness, treason, death, hatred, spiritual adultery, missing

the mark, wandering from the path, idolatry, insanity, irrationality, pride,

selfishness, blindness, deafness, a hard heart, a stiff neck, delusion,

unreasonableness, and self-worship

4. Sin breaks fellowship

Genesis 3

A. Sin breaks fellowship with God 3:8

1. Sin separates men from God salvifically

2. Sin quenches the Spirit when lived in after salvation

B. Sin breaks fellowship with each other 3:12, 16

1. Sin causes broken fellowship in the home

2. Sin causes broken fellowship between homes

When sin breaks fellowship the unraveling of society is the obvious next phase of sin’s destruction.

5. Sin breaks society

Genesis 4-11

A. Sin destroys fellowship in society

1. Cain kills Abel

2. Increasing rebellion brings God’s judgement in the flood

3. The people continue to rebel at Babel and are scattered

6. Sin breaks the covenant and creates idols

Exodus 32

A. Sin ultimately is the exaltation of oneself as sovereign and determiner

of what is best.

1. A fellowship cannot be ruled by Trinity and by little sovereigns

who worship themselves

7. Sin results in uncleanness for sinner and the victim of one’s sin; sin affects subsequent generations

Genesis 34:5 (Shechem’s assault of Dinah); Lev 19:31(not turning to mediums); 21:14; 1 Chron 5:1(Reuben’s defiling of his father’s “couch” led to his firstborn status being given to Joseph: that is Reuben’s sin and the defilement of who he sinned against); Ps 106:39-40 (all the people suffered due to the sin of some in their idolatry and sacrificing of their children to demonic idols)

Genesis 15:16 (the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete); Deuteronomy 9:4-8 (the land was given to Israel because they were good but because of the wickedness of the nations who had piled it up for centuries and the Lord’s promise to Abraham);

A. Sin is never isolated to the sinner

B. Sin is always a fellowship destroyer

How do we stop sin and the danger sin poses to fellowship and the created order?

1. Be in fellowship

It’s hard to sin against people you serve and defend.

If people are sinning against others then correct them in love and call them to repentance.

2. Don’t possess any rights

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

You are not your own. You have been bought with a price.

James 4:1-2

“Worldly” passions produce quarreling and sinning against others.

If one does not have rights and thus seeks to put a sword to their sin then they preserve fellowship.

3. Do fellowship Romans 12 style

A. Judge yourself rightly 12:3

B. Use your gifts 12:4-8

C. Love 12:9-13

D. Bless those who deserve justice 12:14

E. Minister as the need requires 12:15

F. Keep peace 12:16-18

G. Do good to all 12:19-21

The Symbol of Fellowship: The Lord’s Supper

The Symbol of Fellowship: The Lord’s Supper

1 Corinthians 11:25

Jeremiah 31:31-34



Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26


Ignorance is not appropriate. Educated conjectures are also equally inappropriate. When we come to the Lord’s Supper, both extremes have a tendency to grab attention.


1. Nothing confusing in the Gospel accounts and Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11


From my reading of the accounts of Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper and Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians I find nothing confusing about the Lord’s Supper.


2. The Lord’s Supper is instituted from the Passover meal


As we observe the flow of the feasts of the Old Testament (particularly Passover, Unleavened Bread and First-fruits that happen all within a span of 8 days), we are able to see a complete picture of what Jesus did for us.


He came as our 1) Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the Sin of the world. 2) He broke the cycle of sin that was inherent in Adam thereby giving freedom from sin and new life for all who   believe and repent, and he becomes our unleavened bread of life. 3) Finally, when Jesus was raised from the dead, he became the first-fruits from among the dead, according to 1 Corinthians 15:20. 


3. The elements, having been taken from the already instituted Passover meal, are obviously intended to remind them of God’s plan of salvation in the punishing of his Son and in the death of his Son to save fallen mankind from the rebellion


4. Jesus’ death and spilled blood, like that of the Passover lamb for entry into covenant relationship with God in the Exodus, instituted the New Covenant. Consequently, the Lord’s Supper (along with baptism) is the symbol of the New Covenant


5. The Lord’s Supper, therefore, is a means of grace (grace – God’s goodness toward those who deserve only punishment) from God to remind us, as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, of his pursuit of lost man and the price he paid to save us (remembering that work and celebrating is a grace from God, no doubt).


– Bread is the body: As the unleavened bread in Exodus was a symbol/reminder for the haste of their salvation and the sinlessness of a set apart life so now Jesus re-interprets the bread and cup from the Passover to the new age of the New Covenant.


The broken and un-leavened bread reminds us of what our rebellion did to the perfect unleavened (sinless) bread (Son) of life”, Jesus.


The curtain keeping God’s people back from judgement due to their sin and his holiness was torn in two from top to bottom and access was now granted for all who believe.


Jesus’ body was broken and by his stripes we are healed. By the broken body of Jesus all those who believe are granted access.


– The cup is the New Covenant: The cup now represents Jesus’ perfect blood that purchases our access into the covenant community of the church.


Father put a constant reminder of the penalty for sin in the law by demanding death for sin. The job of a Levite was bloody.


All Scripture prepares for Christ’s person and work, my Old Testament students would say…


Father wants us to hate sin. 


With the constant stream of bloody sacrifices offered by the priests, people were confronted continually with the seriousness of Father’s holiness and their sin. 


Every time they sinned something had to die. 


This system was constructed by the Lord to cause the people to look for a savior whose sacrifice would be complete and perfect.


So, Jesus takes from the meal that reminded the people of God’s salvation for them from slavery in Egypt (purchased by death, in a slain body and spilled blood) and he reinterprets the meal to remind his people of God’s salvation for them from their slavery to the rebellion.


6. Key phrase(s) : “…my blood of the covenant…” “…this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood…”


Jesus says that this meal is the symbol of the new covenant. What is that?


7. Jeremiah 31:31-34


Savoring the New Covenant in fellowship


1. In the New Covenant God’s laws are written on our hearts (put within us)

A. Obedience to the Lord would become a delight rather than duty alone…

duty becomes our delight in the New Covenant

B. Our collective delight is to walk with Father in obedience


2. In the New Covenant the Lord is our God and we are his people

A. Relationship with God is initiated, established and kept by God alone

B. We are in relationship with God together….life together under the word


3. In the New Covenant all of us know the Lord (there is equal access and priesthood for each one together as the people of God)

A. All of us have equal access to Father and can know Father equally well

B. All of us can minister to one another as he has gifted us to do


4. In the New Covenant our sin is forgiven and we are justified

A. All us, having repented and believed, are adopted children of Father


If the Supper is the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood, then it is, among other things, a declaration all of us make as often as we eat it. 


What are we declaring as a fellowship? 


We are declaring these following truths:


1. Father, Son and Spirit’s laws written on our hearts in the fellowship


A. we know the truth together and are obeying the truth together


2. Father, Son and Spirit is our God and we are his people in the fellowship


A. we worship together as one family


3. We are all priests of Father, Son and Spirit in the fellowship


A. we minister to each other as priests


4. Our sin is not counted against us in the fellowship


A. we declare each other as justified through encouragement to continue in the faith and exhortation to continue in the faith through repentance