The Spirit of Adoption

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” 

Romans 8:15, 16

Not the spirit of bondage!

But the Spirit of adoption, you have received!

And concerning the certainty of His reception there can be no doubt, for the apostle produces the evidence as it becomes manifest in us—that Spirit in us cries, “Abba, Father”; and He bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. 

Oh, indeed, there is another spirit that was manifest, also on the day of Pentecost, the spirit of bondage again to fear. That spirit was operative in the hearts of those who were busy in the temple with their sacrifices, which could never take away sins, which left the worshippers bound in the shackles of the law with its ordinances. 

Not that spirit have you received! 

For you have been delivered from the bondage of the law, through the sacrifice of Christ. The law and its bondage has no more dominion over you. You stand now in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free. 

But you have received the Spirit of adoption! 

The Spirit of freedom of sons! 

Such is the thought which the apostle develops in our text and its immediate context, which is but a delineation of the main thought in this chapter—the victory song of faith!

You are the living children of God, who have received the Spirit of Life. You have been freed from the law of sin and death. And though the body must still enter death, the Spirit of Him Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies; and with body and soul we shall live with Christ. God is for us. Nothing can be against us. Yea, nothing shall separate us from the love of God. We shall live! 

As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God! 

Children of adoption! 

Not natural children of God are ye! 

God has but one natural Child—His Only Begotten! Eternally generated of the Father, and His express image! In Whom the Father beholds eternally His likeness. In Whom all the fulness of the Father dwells. Expressing all the infinite perfections of the Godhead. In Whom the Father eternally finds His delight. No more natural children does the Father have than His Only Begotten Son. 

Yet it pleased the Father that He should have other children! 

And these He purposed to obtain through the legal and spiritual process of adoption!

Natural children ye were of your natural father, Adam; and with your first father and through his fall into sin, you became children of darkness, children of wrath. Children ye were, naturally, of your first father, who was created originally in the image and likeness of God; but who lost that image through his disobedience, and was converted into the image of the prince of darkness. Children, ye were, who were conceived and born in sin, with natures totally depraved, incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all evil. Hopelessly bound you were in the shackles of sin and death. 

But now you have received the Spirit of adoption! 

Not because you have opened your hearts to receive Him! Nor was it so that you received Him because you fulfilled certain conditions necessary to make your salvation possible!

God forbid! How could that ever be? How could children of darkness and of wrath ever do that? That is utterly impossible! Fact of the matter is, that when you received Him, your natural, your Arminian god, perished with the act. No, rather did that mighty Spirit of the risen and exalted Lord, that Spirit of Pentecost come into your heart which He first regenerated and renewed. He laid hold on you whom the Father had adopted, for whom the Father had already made out the adoption papers and signed them with the pen of blood, the blood of His Only Begotten Son. And with that regenerating grace, whereby you were given a new heart, you were also given a true, a saving faith, whereby you subjectively, with all the other children He adopted, were enabled consciously to embrace Him as the Spirit of adoption. 

This is the wonder of Pentecost! 

For then the Spirit was poured out over the church of Christ and into the hearts of believers; and He abides in the church and dwells in the believers whom it pleased the Father to adopt. He is the Spirit of adoption, that is, the Spirit Who works out the adoption in us. That Spirit you have received only after He first came into your heart.

Children of adoption ye are, and therefore children of God! 

Heirs of God, and with Christ, His Only Begotten! Christ is become our elder brother, and with Him we are given all the rights and privileges of sons! 

But that is not all. There is much more that is implied in our adoption. In natural and legal adoption of children, children come into our homes who were born of other parents. These children partake of the nature and characteristics of their natural parents, not of the nature and characteristics of the parents who adopt them. As much as adopting parents may desire that their adopted children would look like them and reflect their likeness, they cannot change these children. But wonder of wonders! When God adopts us He transforms us into His image, by conforming us to the image of His Son, so that spiritually we begin to reflect the very image of our heavenly Father. 

Marvelous grace! 

God adopts children who show forth His likeness! 

All this is the fruit of the reception of the Spirit of adoption! 

And that is what that Spirit witnesses in us! 

He beareth witness with our spirits! That is especially His work, namely, to witness. He has nothing to say of Himself; but what He heareth the Father and the Son speak, thereof only He speaks. For He searches out the deep things of God. And these things God, reveals, unto us by His Spirit. (I Cor. 2:10). No man knoweth the things of God, but by the Spirit of God. 

And what does the Spirit say? 

Oh, blessed Spirit! Listen to Him speak! 

This is what He says. He witnesses that we are children, the children of God! Mystically He testifies in us to our spirits. Not, you understand, with a false mysticism. Not with some spiritual mutterings which no man can understand. Not with some vain gibberish which gets hold of you so that you get all excited with some emotional vanity you cannot at all explain. Those who make this claim talk of another spirit than the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of adoption. Nay, rather, always the language of the Spirit is the testimony of the Bible, of which He also is the infallible Author. Never apart from the Scriptures does the Holy Spirit speak! 

But what is His testimony? 

That God has loved us from before the foundation of the world; that He has chosen us in Christ Jesus to be His people; that He has redeemed us through the blood and sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son; that the raised and exalted Son in our nature has received the Holy Spirit without measure at God’s right hand; that the Son poured out His Spirit into the church on Pentecost; that that Spirit abides with us as the true Comforter Who will also lead us into all the truth; and that it is that Spirit Who testifies with our spirits that we are now become the children of God and co heirs with Christ of all things. Moreover, He reveals to us that when His work shall be finished in us, we shall appear before God, and we shall see Him as He is. In body and soul we shall be completely transformed into His perfect image. Such is the testimony of the Spirit as He witnesses within our spirits.

And that testimony within us causes our spirits also to witness!

And what may that witness be?

Abba, loving Father!

It makes no difference from whence these children come naturally; whether they come from the Jew or the Gentile, they both speak the same language, when it comes to acknowledging their adopting Father. For such is evidently the significance of this sacred designation, mentioned first in the Hebrew, and then in the Greek.

All together their spirits respond to the witness of the Spirit within their spirits; with ecstatic wonderment they all cry out: Father!

Understand well, also the children of God have nothing to say of themselves. What they have to say is by inspiration of the Spirit within them. Note how the text emphatically expresses this: whereby we cry namely, by the Spirit Who works in us the adoption we cry, “Abba, Father!” And the reason for this must be that when these children of adoption respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in them, that response also must be entirely the work of God in them.

Then, it also follows, that the cry, “Abba, Father,” is not merely an acknowledgment that God is our Father; but at the same time the expression is intended as praise and adoration of Father.

In that light, how meaningful becomes the cry!

Wonderful, loving Father!

How great Thou art, that Thou couldest have had such infinite inclinations of love and mercy so as to incorporate us into Thy family, and to make us to become Thy sons and daughters!

And when we look at ourselves, our Father, how could it ever be that of such unfit material we should be made to reflect Thy perfect image? All we will ever be able to say in response to Thy eternal love towards us is:

“Father, we love Thee, only because Thou hast first loved us!”

“Abba, loving Father!”