The Glory of Our Adoption, pt. 2 – a sermon by Tim Melton

Romans 8:10-17, John 14:18 – A sermon preached by Tim Melton, November 11, 2012 at Surfside PCA, Myrtle Beach, SC

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1.  Our Adoption is Legal
We belong to our Father.  Satan cannot touch us

Romans 8:3-4 – For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

2. Our Adoption is Vital
It is living. A new DNA is taking place within us that was brought about by the Holy Spirit who bought us to life. 

Romans 8:14 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to Sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

3. Our Adoption is Relational
God’s Spirit is attached to and in continuous communion with our spirit. 

The Spirit speaks to us continuously.  He knows the language of our hearts.  And He constantly whispers – “You are God’s child.  You are a child of the Father.”  This is what empowers us to believe that we are God’s children.  The Spirit sings beautiful lullabies to us.  Not like fleshly, slave-woman lullabies – “Rock-a-bye baby..?”

Romans 8:16 – The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

4. Our Adoption is Sealed with a Divine Inheritance
We have not been adopted into a curse, like Jesus was.  No, we have been adopted into blessing.

Romans 8:17 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

5.  Our Adoption is Organically Under Pressure
We are not static.  We are in the throes of travail…    in the struggle of labor pains.

That is to say, we are not static.  We are not standing still in the womb.  We are not now what we will be. The Spirit’s work in us causes us to grow and mature and develop, becoming more and more and more like the God’s Son.  This change causes pain, because as we grow in this way, we are becoming less and less fit for this present world.  We are being made for another.

This causes pain.  The process of change causes pain.  The results of the change causes pain.  And so there is this groaning that takes places.  Paul says that it is like “travail”.  Like a woman in labor pains.

So then, creation is like a helpless illegitimate mother.  She carries the child, but it is not hers. The child is the church, bought by the blood of Christ.  Her child does not belong to the slave woman, but it belongs to the Father who has adopted it.  He has all legal rights to the child.  The Holy Spirit is like a mid-wife.  Yet, more so, for He is able to enter the womb to guarantee the birth of this child.  He constantly works to assure it’s full delivery.  Now, as this process moves forward it causes labor pain.  Travail.  Suffering.

The woman (creation) groans. 
Romans 8:22 – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

The child within her (the church) groans.
Romans 8:23 – Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

The mid-wife (the Holy Spirit) groans.
Romans 8:26-27 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

6.  Our Adoption is Incomplete but Expectant
It will eventually experience a full completion.  In that moment, our travail will seem as nothing.

Romans 8:18 – I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:23 – “we wait eagerly for our adoption to Sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

7.  Our Adoption is Hopeful
It is presently rooted in a future reality. 

Romans 8:24-25 – For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

4 thoughts on “The Glory of Our Adoption, pt. 2 – a sermon by Tim Melton

  1. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing your sermon. I’m thankful for you friendship this Thanksgiving day. You have expounded on Paul’s teaching in Romans 8 with excellence, I believe, excepting one point. I have to disagree with the first premise.

    Our adoption is by no means legal. Our adoption is begotten of the Father’s love for the His only-begotten Son and our union with his hypostatic humanity through the womb of the Virgin of the Mother earth and His coeternal deity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. God is under no obligation to do anything, but as He is essentially love, He is above all law as the Lawgiver. Legally weak, the law is powerless to do anything for our salvation, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, relational life (koinonia/communion), hope or glory. But God is able. God sent His Son. We are united with Emmanuel through the sacrament of baptism and participation in his true flesh and blood. Our sonship is neither legal nor illegal; it is but alegal, apart from the law. I believe the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant reformers (particularly Luther) are completely wrong about merit and law on this matter. And that affect is seen in the misunderstanding of grace (God’s energy) and works (our energy united with His), not to mention the disconnect Western peoples have concerning God’s union in all of life and all things through Christ. I believe it accounts for a great deal of mental illness among Christians who think God does not love them but holds them over the fires of hell (Jonathan Edwards), as even Luther struggled with all his life. For if I have to fear legal ramifications for my sonship, I would not want to be a son of that legalistic father at all. Our Father loves us, and Jesus has shown us how to love one another.

    I believe that succinctly summarizes the teachings of St. Paul and the rest of the New Testament on this matter of legality. The rest of your message is great!



    • Andy, Thanks for listening in and also for your thoughtful response. I would, as you might have guessed, humbly disagree with your perspectives denouncing the “legality” of Adoption. I would not hold to the New Perspective on Paul or the Federal Vision, especially in those areas that depart from Christ’s fulfillment of the legal aspects of the Gospel. I certainly think that the “righteous requirements of the law” were fulfilled by the obedience of Christ. I believe that Christ’s works was both passive – that He lived a life that perfectly kept the law, and active – in that He endured the penalty for our disobedience through His death on the Cross. So then, His sacrifice is both penal and substitutionary. I also do not think that scripture puts a “foundational” justifying emphasis on the sacraments of baptism and communion. While I do believe that these sacraments are a huge means of grace in the life of the believer, I would not see them as providing or “vitally” signifying a union with Christ that has any efficacy in regard to our justification. By this, I simply mean that a person can take communion and be baptized and still be unsaved.

      On the other hand, I do very much cherish the Biblical emphasis on our union with Christ through election. I think many reformed Christians ignore this. In so doing, they would regard “faith” as the foundation of justification rather than our union with Christ. I believe that the Bible teaches that saving faith is the gift that is given as a result of our union with Christ, not the other way round. So then, in that sense, I would say that our justification/adoption is legal, but it is also much more than legal. At the end of the day, our standing before God is not secured because it is legally accomplished, it is secured because Christ says “I know you. You are mine!” We are enlivened and secure because Christ puts His arms around us and says, “These are with me!” In their efforts to affirm the legal implications of justification, I feel that many reformers disregard this truth. In doing so, they tend to place more emphasis on the faith-experience of the believer than on our eternal union with Christ. I think that this is what causes the “mental illness” that you referred to.

      So, to put it succinctly:
      I don’t believe that our covenant identity as signified by the sacraments of baptism and communion are foundational or efficacious to justification.
      I don’t believe that our faith as signified by a radical experience is foundational or efficacious to justification.
      I believe that our union with Christ as signified by a vital (living) faith in Christ is foundational and efficacious to justification.
      Therefore, our adoption is legal, vital, relational, and so forth.

      I hope that makes sense. Of course, I admit that I am still in the process of learning and so I am incredibly humbled and enriched by men like you who help me to think through these issues. Love you much Andy!


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