November 11, 2009
A few weeks ago Trinity Church released a short film where Julie and I had the privilege to share our story about adopting Maria. Our purpose for the video was to highlight God’s incredible love for us – to share the gospel using some of the Scriptures that use adoption language. I was deeply inspired by a series of articles written on C.J. Mahaney’s blog.
Mahaney did a series of 9 blogs on the topic. The most moving part was this quote by author J.I. Packer that stood alone as his 5th entry entitled, “Justification or Adoption? Which is greater?” Do you understand the Father’s love and your salvation this way? I think it is revolutionary!
That justification–by which we mean God’s forgiveness of the past together with his acceptance for the future–is the primary and fundamental blessing of the gospel is not in question. Justification is the primary blessing, because it meets our primary spiritual need. We all stand by nature under God’s judgment; his law condemns us; guilt gnaws at us, making us restless, miserable, and in our lucid moments afraid; we have no peace in ourselves because we have no peace with our Maker. So we need the forgiveness of our sins, and assurance of a restored relationship with God, more than we need anything else in the world; and this the gospel offers us before it offers us anything else…
But contrast this, now, with adoption. Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship–he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with the God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.*
* J.I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP, 1993), pp. 206-207.
It was extremely rewarding spending the time preparing the script for the end of the Us Forever video. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to take the time to think about how you would personally share the gospel. What part of it resonates most deeply with you? Writing it out is a great way to fully engage your heart and to own that the gospel is for you. There are so many wonderful verses in the Bible that highlight the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ that it was hard to choose just four! If you read through the book of Acts you will find that the way that the apostles shared the gospel was varied, depending on their audience. I’ve often harbored a fear of sharing the gospel, thinking that I have to do it just right. That fear has often kept me from sharing it at all. I arrogantly and erroneously thought it was my smooth ability to share the gospel that produces faith! Here’s something important that I am learning. The Bible compares our role as a witness simply to a person sowing seeds and a person watering. Paul says this, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV) God is the one who produces the growth. The growth is not our responsibility. The pressure is off! I’m not a businessman trying to seal a deal. Instead, I am a reporter sharing the good news. More than that, I am an adopted child who thinks that there is nothing in the world greater than my Father and my Father’s love, and that everyone should know this and know that they have been invited in! The translation of the Greek word for gospel; is “the good message.” Our prayer for the “Us Forever” project is that it plants or waters the seeds of faith in Christ through hearing the good message. We rejoice in God who causes the growth and we look forward to celebrating whatever he chooses to do with this film.
You can check it out here. I have also attached the script of the last part below if you prefer to read it. The first half of the film is Julie and I sharing our story of adopting our middle daughter, Maria. It is a wonderful story and Maria is a precious gift to us from the Lord.
Us Forever Script
Have you understood the love of your Creator? Do you even realize how much he loves you and wants you to be with him? I’m going to tell you something that really blows my mind. The Bible uses adoption language to describe the love that God has for you and me. It says this: “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV) God’s pleasure and will was for me to become his son! I had never grasped the significance of that word “pleasure” until I felt a similar pleasure and will to adopt my daughter. To think that God feels that way about me is almost too much to comprehend.
Think about adoption for a minute. Every adoption begins with a need that cannot be met by the child in need – a need for stability, protection, provision … family. And then along comes a couple or family who is willing and able to meet that need. What a wonderful moment when that great need is met with an even greater provision. In the same way we have a need that we cannot meet ourselves. The need that we have is that our sin has broken our relationship with God. It’s easy to classify sin according to the big things like theft, murder, addictions, and the like. But sin is the subtle stuff too, like selfishness, greed, lust and pride. Let’s face it, we’re all rebels to some extent and God can’t accept sin no matter how big or small it may be in our own eyes. Here’s the amazing thing that you can’t afford to miss: God loves us and he stepped in and made the provision to bring us into his family. Forgiveness. And that’s where Jesus comes in.
Maybe you’ve wondered before why Christians are so obsessed with the death of Jesus on the cross. It’s because it was the price that was paid to settle the problem of sin once-for-all. Listen to how simply the Bible lays it out: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV) The language “to bring you to God” is adoption language. Christ’s death was the means by which we get to become adopted by God.
Now here’s the craziest thing about it all. God doesn’t force anyone into his family. He gives us a choice. The Bible simply states is like this: “…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV) We either receive or we reject what Jesus did for us – the offer from God to become his son or daughter. We all have a choice. My daughter, Maria didn’t have a choice. She was too young to understand our love for her and our deep desire to call her our own. But now she does. Could you imagine her rejecting our love, denying us and herself the pleasure of family?
There was a time in my life where I wanted the forgiveness and love of God. I chose to receive Christ and to believe that what he did on the cross was for me. As a result I’ve been adopted into God’s family and I call him, Father. The Bible states it this way, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV) And so now I’m inviting you to join the family.