Romans 8:15-17. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
America and Japan have the two highest rates of adoption in the world. But there is a major difference. In Japan, over 90% of the adoptions are of adult men. In American adoption we imagine a beautiful picture of the happy young couple caring for a little baby or toddler with complete unconditional love.
But in Japan the picture is a bit more self-serving. Often families with no male heir (or incompetent sons) will have their daughters marry a man that can take over the family business after the patriarch dies. These sons-in-law are then adopted in order to keep the business in the family. Basically bosses are adopting their employees in the name of family honor and status. The adoption is not rooted in unconditional love. It’s actually rooted in performance.
It may be tempting for us to see God’s adoption of us this same way. Why did God adopt us? Did he just adopt the person who could keep his family business running? Did he adopt us to make us slaves? Did he adopt for self-serving reasons? Did he only adopt the best and brightest?
No. He adopted slaves (really really low slaves) to make us sons.
Now let’s consider two others ideas concerning our sonship from Romans 8:17.
First, Paul has suddenly added a new word to his explanation of our sonship- children. Do you see it? At the end of verse 16 and the beginning of verse 17?
This word children is a very unique word (tekna). It means “offspring” or “born ones.” It’s not the usual word for a baby or toddler or the word for an adult son. Paul is specifically calling us the ones born of God. Yes, we are adopted. But we are also BORN. God didn’t just adopt an adult son who could perform well in the company. He adopted a slave and made you an adult son with all the rights and privileges that brings. AND, at the same time, he gave birth to you as a son or daughter. That’s double love.
Second, notice this amazing phrase in verse 17 – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.
GOD ALREADY HAD AN HEIR!
He didn’t need you or me. He’s not in the same position as Mr. Suzuki (yes, the Suzuki corporation is run by adopted sons). He’s not desperate for someone to run his universe for him. He’s got Jesus. And Jesus is eternal and really good at running the family business.
So why did he adopt us and birth us? So we could be his heirs. So he could share his life with us and pour out his love on us.
And it gets better. We aren’t just heirs. We are co-heirs with Christ.
This is one of the greatest realities of our union with Christ. We get everything he gets. We get the universe to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17; 1 Cor. 3:22).
Romans 4:13. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
The world. That’s pretty much everything. All will be ours. Everything will be for our good. For our enjoyment.
We not only get everything Jesus gets. We get Jesus! We get God. We get a redeemed body so that we can be with him forever and enjoy the pleasure of his presence forever. We get it all. God the Trinity, and all of his creation at our disposal for our happiness and his glory. Now that’s “to live is Christ.”