Adopted as Children of God
Explore the Bible Series
November 20, 2005
Lesson Passage: Romans 8:15-27
Introduction: Paul continued his treatment of assurance (begun in Romans 8:1f)† in the lesson passage for this week.† The materials from the last lesson highlighted the work of the Holy Spirit, and that theme continues this week as well.† The apostle discussed the glorious work of the Spirit: guidance, aid in prayer, filial grace, and assurance (Romans 8:15-27).† Moreover, Paul anticipated that some believers might question his teachings on the blessings of the Holy Spirit.† These poor believers may have experienced severe suffering.† Perhaps the pains of persecution had touched some of these people.† Others endured seasons of illness, loss, abandonment, or disillusionment.† The misery they endured may have caused some to doubt their salvation.† The dear Apostle Paul opened his pastoral heart in this text.† He faithfully addressed the truths that would sustain believers in times of anguish.
I. The Blessings of the Holy Spirit (8: 14-17):† This outline includes verse fourteen with this analysis of Paulís teachings on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.† Three great blessings belong to the sons of God, through the work of the Spirit.
A. The leadership of the Holy Spirit (v. 14): Paul employed a present tense (denotes ongoing action) to describe the leadership of the Holy Spirit.† This is the consistent work of the Third Person of the Trinity.† He provides a sure and confident guidance for all of Godís children.† His guiding work is not piecemeal, intermittent, or sporadic.† He leads Godís people carefully, lovingly, and consistently.†
B. The work of the Holy Spirit on the affections (v. 15): The Spirit has banished the bondage fear from the hearts of Godís children, and he has replaced this bondage with loving, tender confidence in the childrenís approach to their Heavenly Father. Once, the sinner learned the fear of God, a cringing terror that centered on the dread of impending judgment.† For the sinner, the thought of God produced repulsion; now, however, the Holy Spirit has produced a new heart in the believer.† The humble Christian now delights in the presence of God as a child finds gladness in the embrace of his father. Adoption, for the children of God, is not merely a legal transaction that transfers a sinner into the family of God; rather, the Holy Spirit produces a warm delight, love, and pleasure in the childís fellowship with God.
C. The witness of the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-17): The filial warmth that the child experiences in the relationship to his Father provides a confident assurance that the believer is indeed a child of God.† The gracious affection between Father and child brings great assurance and tender confidence to the Lordís people.† Lost men, in the bondage of the fear of God, do not revel in the approach of God.† He has not pledged to be a father to unregenerate men.
Application: Paul drew a vital conclusion from his reflections on the adoption of the sons of God. If they are sons, then they are also heirs of the Fatherís riches and joint heirs with Christ.† All the riches that belong to the Elder Brother, also belong to the sons of adoption.† Jesus, of course, holds a unique place in the household of grace.† He alone is the Only Begotten of the Father; nevertheless, the adopted children possess the same privileges, in a sense, as joint heirs with the Fatherís Beloved Son.† This truth staggers the imagination!† This remarkable promise, however, carries a sobering consequence.† If the sons of God will inherit the riches of the Father, they must also share in the sufferings of the Elder Brother. The hour of suffering often causes the children to question their standing in Godís household.† Godís children should take consolation in suffering for it stands as a surety of their future inheritance.
II. The Sufferings of the Sons of God (8:18-27)
A. The present suffering dwarfed by the glory to come (v. 18): Lest his readers stagger under the weight of the prospect of suffering, Paul offered a word of encouragement before his discussion of the difficulties that would beset the Roman believers.
B. The sufferings of the whole creation (vv. 19-22): In some sense, the entire creation presently groans under the weight of sin.† Paul did not mean that creation participated in manís sin (v. 20); rather, the ripple effects of sin have affected the whole world since the time of the Fall (v. 22). Someday, at the consummation of the believerís redemption, Godís grace will set creation free from the bondage of corruption† (v. 21).†
C. The hope of redemption from the redemption of the body (vv. 23-27): Like the rest of creation, believers groan under the weight of the presence of sin in this world.† Though Christians grieve for the corruptive and disabling effects of sin, they also hopefully anticipate the coming day when the Lord will redeem both the created order and the bodies of his precious people (v. 23). Paulís doctrine of hope needs greater attention from Bible students.† By ďhopeĒ the apostle did not mean that the believer has a groundless, naÔve optimism about the future.† This important doctrine calls Christians to confident expectancy about the Lordís future goodness to his children. In the meantime, as believers await the redemption of creation, they should persevere in eager hope (v. 25) and continue to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 26-27). Not only this, but this text assures believers that the Holy Spirit intercedes according to the will of God for the children of the Lord (v. 27).
Questions for Consideration:
1. How did Paul describe the relationship between God and believers in verse fifteen?† What are the major features of Paulís observations about this relationship?† Why, in your judgment, did Paul use the analogy of adoption?
2. In what ways does the Holy Spirit bear witness that believers are children of God?† Does the text give helpful indications about Paulís meaning?
3. What did Paul mean by ďthe glory that is to be revealed to usĒ in verse 18? How will this glory give believers a new perspective on their present sufferings?
4. What insight does the apostle give concerning the intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit (vv. 26-27)?