The Father’s Plan

Did God really create humanity so he could adopt us as his children? After all, the word “adoption” only appears a few times in the New Testament.

This is a question I’ve received more than once in the last couple of years, and a question I also wondered about when I first started thinking of the gospel in terms of Ephesians 1:5, which says:  The Father predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ.

It does seem that the NT spends a lot more time talking about sin, atonement, our behavior, and our belief, than it does about the idea of adoption.

Then, one day, it hit me: how many times does my Father have to tell me what the plan is before I’ll believe it? In other words, why do I find it hard to believe that adoption was the plan just because that word is only used a couple of times in the NT? If the Father’s Spirit says “adoption is the Father’s plan” – as he does in Eph. 1:5 – then that’s the plan, whether the Spirit says it once or a thousand times.

Here’s an analogy:

Suppose you came to visit me in Nashville and after church I said “Meet me at Demos’ for lunch at 1:30” and then I spent 5 minutes giving you detailed directions on how to get downtown to the restaurant. I show up at 1:30 but you don’t show up, so I call your cell and you say “oh, well, you only said ‘let’s eat at Demos’ one time, but you spent five minutes telling me about the streets in downtown Nashville, so I’ve just been driving around downtown”.

That is definitely missing the forest for the trees isn’t it?!

It’s true that the NT spends a lot of time talking about how the plan of adoption was accomplished: how the Son became human as the man Jesus, how he crucified our sinful nature in his cross, how he raised us up to his Father’s right hand in his ascension, and how his Spirit is helping us come to believe the truth that we are adopted in Christ as children of the Father.

But just because the Spirit only tells us a couple of times what the plan was doesn’t mean that the details of the plan are more important than the plan itself. The end, the destiny, the purpose of human existence – that we have been adopted in Christ as children of the Father – is the most important fact we can know about ourselves and our Dad in heaven.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees! How we are adopted in Christ is important but it’s not as important as the fact that we are adopted.

~ by Jonathan Stepp

5 comments so far

  1. Ted Johnston on

    Though the term “adoption” is not used often in the NT, the related term/idea “sonship” is. We are adopted, in Christ unto sonship. Throug our adoption in Christ, we share in his own relationship with his Father. This idea of our sonship through adoption is, arguably, the core NT view of what constitutes the familiar term, salvation. In short, salvation is about sharing in the relationship that Jesus has in the Spirit with his Father. Seen in this way, salvation is about a relationship, not a mere transaction. The implications of this understanding are huge.

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Ted, that is an excellent point: the theme is present even when different words are used. I’ll find it very helpful to keep that in mind as I keep thinking about this issue.

  3. tjbrassell on

    Thanks for this post, Jonathan, helping us to see that the Father’s plan is as “plain as the nose on our faces”. So up close and personal that we keep bypassing it! 🙂

    This post was also helpful in reminding me of the necessary emphasis that T.F. Torrance, James Torrance, Baxter Kruger and others have placed on seeing the Truth of the Gospel in the literal Divine/Humanity of the Son. For, even without words, to see the Word made flesh, and to see Him rise from the dead and ascending to His Father in flesh, is to see Creation adopted into the Triune relationship. For this not to be so is for us not to take the humanity of the Son, the scriptures, or the Christian creeds as seriously as we ought to!

    Keep up the great posts!

  4. Linda C Baron on

    To all my Brothers at The Adopted Life, You’ve been used again to help me understand more and grow even deeper in Love with Our Triune God, Your Teaching, Speaking, and Writing, are Great Gifts.Thanks for being such Willing Servants to so many…
    At the same time, may I be so bold to tell you how much Dirt is Loved, by my husband Mike, and all his buddies, and me too! We’re Landscapers, Grass Cutters, and Dirt Racers,him and them not me. I’m on Pit Patrol; We actually make our living in dirt and most of our play is in and on dirt.We even bought vacant land butted up to protected land to have a private place to go play in the dirt on our bikes, I have a Quad, 4 wheels are needed under me less I fall into the dirt.This Dirty place is a quiet tree filled piece of open land inhabited by all of the best of God’s creation. Wild Hogs, Deer, Florida Panthers,Snakes, Scrub Jays, Owls, Hawaks, ,ect.ect…I go there some times just to be away from my home office and all that goes with owning your own business… I bring my Bible sometimes, and sometimes I just go for the smell of the dirt in the woods, to be still and just listen to the wind in the trees.I go there and just be quiet with God and just “Shout out loud” Thanks and Praise, for all He’s Loaned us to use while we’re here.Because we sure Love Everything about His Dirt…Love Sincerely Linda C. Baron Women’s Ministry Coordinator Melbourne Fl. WCG A DIRT PLAYER God Bless You

  5. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Linda, for the encouragement! Any of our readers who haven’t read the March issue of “The Adopted Life” and Tim’s article “A Dirty Resurrection Story” will want to check it out and then read Linda’s comment with a new appreciation!

    You’ll find it at:

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