December 13th ….  12 NIGHTS TIL CHRISTMAS

How to know for sure you’ve been Adopted:



Yesterday we talked about how the shepherds were led to the new-born baby Jesus by spectacular means. But if you’re waiting for similar spectacular events to happen in your own life, to convince you that God is real, you need to factor in a little-known aspect of God’s economy. God holds each of us responsible to explore  the truth that  is out there already, and if we do not avail ourselves of the normal methods God has designed for us to follow, he isn’t duty-bound to send us spectacular supernatural fireworks.

He sent the angels to the shepherds  because shepherds were in those days mostly impoverished, uneducated, illiterate peasants. These guys had no theological training. The theologians and philosophers were all back in King Herod’s court either chumming up to the king or discussing religion with the priests and scribes in the temple.

It was very much like in our day. Imagine God wanting to share a message of high importance— do you suppose he would announce it first to the Vatican? The White House?

Why do you suppose God “forgot” to send angelic messengers to the High Priest in the Temple at Jerusalem? Could it be that the people in these high and noble institutions were not privileged to be part of the secret birth because they were not part of the family? God did not reveal Himself to these people because although they were “officially” part of the religious establishment, they were not part of the family of God. They did not yet have an intimate relationship with God the Father.  Just because a man is a priest or a theologian or the president of a Christian seminary, doesn’t mean that man has a deep intimate relationship with God.

Did you know this? Did you know that being religious or acting religious or being a member of a church or synagogue does not guarantee that a person is a legitimate child of God? Knowledge is not enough. Knowing everything about God doesn’t mean you know God. Worshipping God or serving him in some capacity within the church— as a preacher, teacher, or even leader of a large Christian organization— doesn’t guarantee that a person is an adopted son or daughter of God. That’s why so many of these blogs have tried to focus on one particular topic— “how to know for sure you’ve been adopted.”  By focusing on adoption I’m trying to point out that knowing God intimately, having an intimate relationship with him, comes only when you are part of his family.

As a child, I can invite a friend over to my house and have him sit with us at dinner and enjoy the food and the fellowship and the laughter…I can even have my friend talking and laughing with my father…but at the end of the day, my friend may know a little bit more about my father, but my friend will still not be family. The only way a friend can become family is by adoption. The only way you can become family is to either be born into the family, or adopted into the family.

What is adoption from a purely literal, practical, legal sense of the word? Interestingly enough, the word adopt actually means to take for your own, or as your own choiceas in “I liked your idea, and adopted it.” In the Biblical sense, it involves God taking you by his choice into his family as a son, because of your choice to willingly come to him on his terms. I stress ‘on his terms’ because of the common attitude people have, that we can come to God any way we choose, for example the idea that all religions lead to God.  No religion can lead to God unless it requires us to do what God has set out as his terms, and only when we genuinely come on his terms— the terms of adoption— do we enter into a relationship with God.

What are these terms? We must come admitting our need.  We must genuinely need God— his blessing, his favour, and most of all his forgiveness. Why forgiveness? Because we are all  born sinners, and we have spent much of our lives disobeying His laws, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of disobedience,  and sometimes out of rebelliousness— and we are all stained with sin.  And we cannot enter into a relationship with a holy God stained with sin. So we must come humbly, asking for his forgiveness and cleansing. The Bible tells us God only dwells with the contrite and humble:

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”    [Isaiah 57:15]

Notice it says if we come humbly, God will revive us. Revive means to make alive again. Apart from God, we are like the walking dead. We are like orphans who have no hope of ever being adopted. We have no present joy, and no real hope for the future.

But when we come on his terms, he adopts us into his family, the family of God. That adoption is done spiritually, silently, invisibly— and it is permanent.

What are the advantages of adoption? There are too many to list here today— I’ll leave that to the next few blogs. But I can begin by saying that there are only two kinds of people in this world— those who are in the family of God, and those who are not— and those who are in the family have privileges which those who are not in the family don’t.

For one, when you are part of the family, you have intimate fellowship with your father, and he tells you things he doesn’t tell others. He lets you in on secrets he doesn’t share with everybody else.

It’s this privilege, given to those that are adopted, that is illustrated in the Christmas Story in Luke.  Notice God secretly alerts members of his family to the birth of his Son, while keeping the secret from others— others that you would in fact have thought should have been the first to know. Right under the noses of the entire religious establishment in Jerusalem, right under the noses of the king and all his royal entourage, God announces the birth of his Son to the family first.


For instance an old man, Simeon, was led by the Holy Spirit into the temple on the very day and hour the child was dedicated:

“And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”  [Luke 2:27=32]


And in the same passage (Luke 2:38) we also read of  Anna, of whom it is said  “and she coming in [at] that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

       Notice it says “in that instant.”

The only way Simeon and Anna could have had that close guidance, is because they were in intimate fellowship with the Father. Others in the Temple who knew the Scriptures but had never followed through— followed the light to the source— who  knew about God, but did not know God personally and intimately, missed the opportunity.  Because they were still outside the family, they  simply could not tell what the Father was doing in their very midst.

Only when you have been adopted into His family, when you are family, are you are privy to the Father’s plans.