Brittany Salmon – More Than a Political Stance: Adoption and the Pro-Life Cause

Our family stands out.

We can’t go to a grocery store without someone stopping and asking us questions about each of our children. For starters, we have identical twin daughters with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Like typical four year olds, they are feisty and sweet with a touch of sass. The amount of commentary we receive on them alone is enough to write a whole other blogpost, but to add to the excitement we also have a son who doesn’t look anything like us at all.

You see, our son joined our family through the blessing of adoption. He is a beautiful, strong black boy. He is smart and kind and loves to laugh loudly at his sisters. Put that combo together in a grocery store and we’re magnets for conversation starters. Some people stare. Some people are kind. But our diverse family draws attention in a homogenous world in which we tend to surround ourselves with people who think, look and act like us.

One day while standing in the checkout line, a well-intended fellow believer approached our family and commended us on the pro-life stance we took by adopting. I smiled and said, “Yes, we are pro-life, but our son’s birth mom is the true hero; she’s the one who should be commended for her pro-life choice. We really are the lucky beneficiaries of her brave love.”

To continue reading Brittany Salmon’s article, click here.

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Joel Littlefield – Three Adoption Misconceptions

I’m not an adoption expert by any means. I’m just a man who loves Jesus. I’m married to a woman who loves Jesus. Both of us have been deeply affected by God and His Fatherly heart for the orphan. For us, that specifically meant pursuing a domestic adoption, a process that is just now coming to a close after a year of paperwork, lawyers, background checks and a ton of hurry up and wait.

But this blog is not about our journey as much as it’s about you and what God may be calling you to do. It’s for those who need some encouragement and a nudge in the right direction. It’s for the one who has been lied to or is lying to themselves. It’s to remind you of a few key things that may help you sort out what your involvement in the world of adoption should be. Again, I’m no expert. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned with those who sense a call towards adoption.

To continue reading Joel Littlefield’s article, click here.

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James Williams – How Foster Care and Adoption Shine the Light of the Gospel

It was 2:30 a.m. when we received the call. After months of training, house inspections, CPR certifications, and background checks, we were finally approved to be foster parents. Half asleep, my wife answered the phone. A five-year-old girl had been rescued from the hospital and was in need of a home, so we agreed to take her.

About an hour later, a little girl with pink pajamas and a teddy bear was fast asleep in our living room. My wife and I gazed with a nervous excitement at this child who was now in our care. Had we made the right choice? Were we really qualified? All we knew was this little soul had been through a lot. She was exhausted. She missed her mom. She needed to be loved. She needed Jesus.

Oftentimes, the most meaningful things in life are also the most difficult, and caring for children in need is no exception. There are long and challenging days. Sometimes I’m tempted to quit and just go back to “normal.” Not having this child might make the day somewhat easier, but what a great opportunity to show the love of Christ to a family in need.

To continue reading James Williams’ article, click here.

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Micah and Tracy Fries – Adoption: The Good and Hard Lessons

We recently marked several months of being home with our son who was adopted from the tiny south African country of Lesotho. He is full of life and has a huge personality. He laughs uncontrollably sometimes at things around our house, like when we told him our dog was being a “pill” and the way his dad calls his sisters “chick-a-dee” and “sweet pea.” Watching him figure out how things work and seeing him do things that are very much African (you should see him eat an orange) makes our hearts smile. After having lived and worked as missionaries in Africa, we love having a little African son in our house.

While he has brought much joy and energy to our house, our short time as adoptive parents has brought on a number of other emotional responses—many of which we were unprepared for. Adoption has become a popular topic in Evangelical circles in recent years, and praise God for that. While there are many implications in Scripture that we take seriously, orphan care is an explicit expectation for the Christian, and it’s often been ignored by the church. Unfortunately, however, with the rise of popularity has come a parallel rise in romanticism regarding adoption. Like marriage, often portrayed in media as the meeting of two perfectly suited individuals who spend the rest of their days in wedded bliss, adoption can take on mythical proportions among some Christians, and if they are not careful, they can enter or support it without fully taking stock of how difficult it can be.

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James Montgomery Boice – A New Family

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In the opening pages of A Place for You, the noted Swiss psychologist Paul Tournier tells of a young man he once counseled. He grew up in a religious home, but it was unhappy. Eventually there was a divorce. This produced unfortunate psychological symptoms in the young man’s life. He developed an acute sense of failure, first in not reconciling his parents, then in his studies, then in an inability to settle down and achieve in any area of life. At last he came to see Tournier. They talked, and on one occasion, as if summing up his thought, the young man explained, “Basically, I’m always looking for a place—for somewhere to be.” The need for a place is virtually universal. On the human level the principle is easy to discern. “The child who has been able to grow up harmoniously in a healthy home finds a welcome everywhere. In infancy all he needs is a stick placed across two chairs to make himself a house, in which he feels quite at home. Later on, wherever he goes, he will be able to make any place his own, without any effort on his part. For him it will not be a matter of seeking, but of choosing.” On the other hand, “when the family is such that the child cannot fit himself into it properly, he looks everywhere for some other place, leading a wandering existence, incapable of settling down anywhere. His tragedy is that he carries about within himself this fundamental incapacity for any real attachment.” On the spiritual level, the problem is detected in the alienation from God we feel as a result of the Fall and of our own deliberate sins. Saint Augustine once wrote, “Thou hast formed us for thyself….” That is our true place. But he added in frank recognition of our dilemma and sin, “And our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”

God has dealt with this great problem of alienation through adoption, taking a person from one family (or no family) and placing him or her in a new family — the family of God. Sometimes adoption has been thought of merely as one aspect of justification or as only another way of stating what happens in regeneration. But adoption is nevertheless much more than either of these other acts of grace. “Justification means our acceptance with God as righteous and the bestowal of the title to everlasting life. Regeneration is the renewing of our hearts after the image of God. But these blessings in themselves, however precious they are, do not indicate what is conferred by the act of adoption. By adoption the redeemed become sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty; they are introduced into and given the privileges of God’s family.”

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John Murray – The Marvel of Adoption

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When God adopts men and women into his family he insures that not only may they have the rights and privileges of his sons and daughters but also the nature or disposition consonant with such a status. This he does by regeneration — he renews them after his image in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. God never has in his family those who are alien to its atmosphere and spirit and station. Regeneration is the prerequisite of adoption. It is the same Holy Spirit who regenerates who is also sent into the hearts of the adopted, crying ‘Abba Father’. But adoption itself is not simply regeneration, nor is it the Spirit of adoption — the one is prerequisite, the other is consequent.

Adoption, as the term clearly implies, is an act of transfer from an alien family into the family of God himself. This is surely the apex of grace and privilege. We would not dare to conceive of such grace far less to claim it apart from God’s own revelation and assurance. It staggers imagination because of its amazing condescension and love. The Spirit alone could be the seal of it in our hearts.

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:9, 10).
It is only as there is the conjunction of the witness of revelation and the inward witness of the Spirit in our hearts that we are able to scale this pinnacle of faith and say with filial confidence and love, ‘Abba Father’.

The great truth of God’s fatherhood and of the sonship which God bestows upon men is one that belongs to the application of redemption. It is true in respect of all men no more than are effectual calling, regeneration, and justification. God becomes the Father of his own people by the act of adoption. It is the marvel of such grace that constrained the Apostle John to exclaim, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God’ (1 John 3:1). And to assure his readers of this privilege as a present possession and not simply a hope for the future he adds immediately, ‘and we are.’ To indicate the cleavage which this status institutes among men he continues, ‘On this account the world does not know us, because it did not know him.’ Lest there should be any doubt regarding the reality of the sonship bestowed he insists, ‘Beloved, now are we the children of God’ (verse 2). John had pondered and learned well the words of the Lord himself when he said, ‘He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father…If a man love me he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him’ (John 14:21, 23). And now in writing his first epistle his heart overflows with wonderment at this donation of the Father’s love, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us.’ It is specifically the Father’s act of grace. John could not get over it and he never will. Eternity will not exhaust its marvel.

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John Gerstner – Adoption: Belonging to God’s Family

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The first problem we have with being adopted into God’s family is that we are born into another family, and we are not up for adoption. As a matter of fact, our father is very much opposed to our adoption and does everything he possibly can to keep us where we were born and see to it that nobody takes us from him.

You might think it strange, especially if this is a change for the better, as it is, that our father would not be more than willing for this transaction to take place and would do everything he could to facilitate it instead of being adamantly opposed to it. But it happens that the family into which we are born has a father who is very determined that we should not leave him under any circumstances and, most of all, that we should not better our condition by actually being adopted into the family of God. Who is our father? I remind you that our father is the devil. For Jesus makes it plain that those who do not believe in him and do not come to him, do so because the devil rather than God is their father (John 8:43, 44). If some of you are shocked to know that you are children of the devil and members of his household and that he has a very formidable grip on you and will by no means let you go if he can possibly prevent it, it is just as well that you should know the worst from the start.

But it is worse than that, for you are not even being held against your will. Jesus says, not only that your father is the devil, but that you want to do his desires which, being translated, means that you are chips off the old satanic block. So in spite of the horror and indignation you feel when you are told your true parentage, you really, inwardly, like it. You don’t like some of the things that go with it, but being chips off the old block you really are little devils yourselves.

The Devil’s Family

If you think I am exaggerating this, I assure you that it is impossible to exaggerate the depravity with which we come into this world. It is impossible to exaggerate the way in which we resemble our hellish father who so completely dominates us that we actually come to like it. Some may say at this point, “Well, yes, I could see how something like that might happen in terms of our sensuality, especially in an age like this. We are indeed rather devilish in that area.” We fancy that there is another aspect to our being, our spiritual nature, and hope that we are not devilish in it. But we are not only devilish in that area; this is the only area in which we really can be devilish.

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Donny Friederichsen – All in the Family

One area in which the Westminster Standards are somewhat unique from other Reformed documents is their inclusion of the doctrine of Adoption. Adoption stands as its own chapter in the Confession (Ch. 12). By giving it a full chapter the WCF emphasizes what is routinely an under-appreciated doctrine in other Reformed works.

I remember being struck by the beauty of this doctrine the very first time I read through the Confession of Faith. That God would take an orphan and put his name upon the orphan, give him access to the throne of grace, love him as his own child, and make him an heir of heaven astounded me. Who would do that? The demonstration of grace in this doctrine is captivating and breathtaking. It made me want learn more about the theological doctrine of adoption. And Thomas Watson’s chapter on adoption in his book A Body of Divinity has been extremely helpful.

Before Watson begins to define what Adoption is, he makes a few more preliminary remarks. He notes that adoption is not based on birth. It does not matter the country in which one was born. It does not matter what sex one is born. Both male and female are made sons and daughters. Watson notes that though some civil rights were denied women by nature of their sex, “of spiritual privileges, females are as capable as males.”1 Finally, this highlights that adoption is purely of God’s grace. It is “according to his good pleasure” (Eph 1:5). None have a right to this gift. All are strangers and aliens. The orphan has no right to demand adoption.

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Michael Boling – The Glorious Blessing of Adoption (Ephesians 1:3-6)

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(This was my contribution to the Servants of Grace series on Ephesians).

Ephesians 1:3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 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.”

I remember as a child the ordeal that was waiting to be chosen for the kickball team. Since I was pretty good at this particular playground activity, I was typically one of the first few chosen for a team. With that said, there were always those not particularly athletic who because of their lack of skill, were chosen last to participate.

Why mention such a memory? It reminds me of a certain reality when reading a passage such as Ephesians 1:3-6. In this pericope, the Apostle Paul speaks of God the Father through His Son, choosing and adopting us into His family in accordance with His divine will. Notice one thing that is absent from this passage in relation to my trip down memory lane? It is the important fact that while it was my ability to kick the playground ball that granted me access and belonging to a team during recess, there is no such notion involved with being adopted by God into His family. Let’s explore this concept a bit further.

Paul begins by praising God for a particular blessing. What God has given His people is beyond comprehension. The very idea the God of the universe, the Creator of all things would even consider adopting us into His family is an amazing act of grace. What did I do to deserve such a gift? Nothing. Being chosen is counted by Paul as a wondrous blessing bestowed on undeserving wretched sinners.

Theologians call this the doctrine of Election. It is the belief that God before the foundation of the world chose us to be His through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. Being chosen to be the people of God is not a Pauline only notion. Conversely, it has its roots in the Old Testament. Peter O’Brien saliently notes, “Her (Israel’s) election was due solely to God’s gracious decision; it had nothing to do with Israel’s choice or righteous behavior. It was because the Lord loved her and kept the oath he had sworn to her forefathers that he chose her for himself.” [1]

Being chosen by God to Himself has connected with it an action on the part of the one being chosen. Paul declares the very substance of the spiritual blessings he discusses “include election to holiness, a statement as God’s sons and daughters, redemption, and forgiveness, the gift of the Spirit, and the hope of glory.” [2] We are chosen by a holy God. The only proper response to this wonderful blessing is to be holy and blameless.

Trevor Burke reminds us, “Just as in the ancient world all sons, including those who had been adopted, were expected to behave in a manner that would not discredit their father or besmirch the family name, so it is the responsibility for spiritually adopted sons belonging to the divine household to live scrupulously and blamelessly by bringing glory to their holy, heavenly Father.” [3]

To be in a relationship with God has at its core the necessity to be holy and blameless, to be children who bring glory and honor to their Father in heaven. When we are obedient children of God, following His precepts provided in Scripture, we bring glory and honor to God’s holy name. We also declare to the world that we are in love with our heavenly Father.

As obedient children, we must desire to live by the rules of our Father has outlined to us in His Word. Scripture repeatedly declares that if we love God, we will keep His commands, His “House Rules”. If we say we love the Father, as His children we will be obedient to that which He has declared are the boundaries by which we are to live our lives. We will do so because we truly understand the Father “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”.

As noted by theologian G. C. Berkouwer, “when the church of Christ understands her election, not as a fatum or a dominium absolutum, but as a sovereign, gracious, undeserved election, then she also understands her service to the Lord in the world, a service which is indissolubly connected with her election.” [4]

A true biblical doctrine of election is centered on the necessity of living in service to the One who elected us. Out of thankfulness to God who before the foundation of the world has unconditionally chosen His elect to fulfill His divine purpose, the body of Christ must be a light to the world, proclaiming the day of redemption is nigh.

If we boil Ephesians 1:3-6 to its basic fundamental message, Paul is reminding us that God chose us as His children through His Son for a purpose. That purpose is to have a relationship with us. This is really what adoption and election are all about. God chose us. He did not just choose us because He had nothing better to do with His time. Before the foundation of the world He chose us to be in a relationship with Him, to be His children, to bear His name, and to declare this glorious gift to a hurting world.

References:

[1] Peter O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1999), 99.

[2] F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1984), 253.

[3] Trevor Burke, Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2006), 43.

[4] G. H. Berkouwer, Divine Election (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1979), 327.

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