Biblical Definition Of
A number of different words are used in the Bible to picture God’s gracious act of saving repentant sinners and giving them a new and living relationship with him. For example, it is an act of regeneration (new birth), for it gives spiritual life to those who are dead in sins . It is an act of justification, for it makes sinners right with God on account of Christ’s atoning death on their behalf . It is also an act of adoption, for it makes believers children of God.
The picture of adoption comes from a practice that was well known to people of Bible times. If a wealthy man had no descendants, he could carefully choose some trustworthy person to be his son. This adopted person then had the status of a responsible adult son, who would become the next head of the family, receive the family inheritance and carry on the family name (Gen 15:2-3). When the Bible uses adoption as a picture of what God has done, the emphasis is on the status and dignity he places on those whom he brings into this close relationship with himself. Old Testament Israel is a good example of this gracious act of God; for he chose Israel from among all the peoples of the world and made the nation his son (Exod 4:22; Deut 14:1; Hosea 11:1; Rom 9:4).
Christians as God’s sons
The New Testament develops the idea of adoption more fully, showing that God makes repentant sinners his sons. He brings them into such a close relationship with himself that they can speak to him as sons to a Father (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). There is no conflict between the pictures of new birth and adoption. New birth shows that God gives life to those who are spiritually dead; adoption shows that God makes believers his special possession and gives them the full status of mature adult sons (Rom 8:15; Gal 3:23-26; 4:1-7; Eph 1:5; 1 John 3:1). This is possible only through the death of Jesus Christ, and it is true only of those who have faith in him (Gal 3:26; 4:4-5).
As sons of God, believers enjoy the spiritual privilege of access to God (Rom 8:15-16) and inherit here and now his spiritual blessings (Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7). They can look forward to the full and unhindered enjoyment of these blessings at the return of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:23; 1 John 3:2).