But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Galatians 4:4-6
You know, when St. Paul wrote to the Galatians about being adopted, he was referring to a Roman legal action. Although Roman adoption was familiar to Paul's original audience, there are some things you might want to know.
For example, you should know there were three things which happened at that formal ceremony.
First, the person being adopted left his old family and became part of a new one. That also happens to us when we are given faith in the Savior. Those who believe in Jesus Christ, who recognize His sacrifice, rejoice that the Spirit leads sinners from Satan's family of damnation and brings them into a new relationship with their Creator. By God's grace they become children in God's household of salvation.
Second, in the Roman world, an adopted son became a legitimate heir to the estate.
Nobody could take away the benefits which had been given to him. That's exactly what St. Paul says happens to us. In the book of Romans he writes, "For I am convinced ... (not) anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (see Romans 8:38-39).
In other words, once you had nothing to look forward to but death and the grave; but now, because of Jesus' sacrifice, you have become an heir of heaven.
Third, according to Roman law, when you were given a new life in a new family, your old life was wiped out. Your past debts were cancelled. You became a new person.
Because of Jesus' substitution, we who have been adopted also find our sins are gone. The debt demanded by the Law has been paid in full. We have been welcomed into a new life, a life filled with forgiveness and hope.
That's what St. Paul meant when he said to the Corinthian church, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
To make it possible for you to be adopted is why Jesus was willing to leave His throne in heaven. Now, all who have been given faith are adopted as children of God and have become inheritors of eternal life. The door to God's family has been opened, and for this we must give thanks.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I rejoice that You, without any redeeming qualities in me, have adopted me. Now, by the power of Jesus' life-giving substitution I have been given a new and better life. Keep my heart always grateful for this gift, which will never end. This I pray in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries