What I'm Not by Nature, I Am by Grace Part 2

 I want to focus on the reality of an important part of our Salvation--being adopted in Christ--and what it really means for you and me to be called the children of God.

Not all human beings are granted this privilege, even though you hear it tossed around quite frequently by unbelievers. All of mankind is His beloved creation--nurtured under grace; however, only those people who receive by faith the finished work of Christ as their redemption from sin and self are adopted by God and legally (in regards to inheritance) called His children.

This is Part 2 of the message  (Please Read Part I)

My father died in 1986. Mother sadly passed two years later. As the only child, I was the executrix of the estate. Immediately, I could pay bills and take care of what was left, simply by signing my name on mom's checks. Mom and Dad provided a good life for me while they were alive, but I did not get access to the full benefits of their inheritance until they passed.

"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.. (Hebrews 4:14 NAS)

God revealed Himself in history and worked first through the nation of Israel to bless humanity, but mankind did not have access to all the blessings and benefits of the Kingdom until the death of Jesus Christ.

Even now, only kids adopted into the family with legal evidence can be executors and executrices of His estate.

There are so many unclaimed inheritances around the world because beneficiaries have never showed up to make a declaration of ownership.

Some Christians aren't convinced of the goodness of their Heavenly Father and the bountiful blessings already designated for them LEGALLY in Christ. They don't even bother to check the will (His Word). If they do, they make up excuse after excuse as to why they can't have what is LEGALLY theirs.

I Peter 1:4 reminds us that we have an inheritance--incorruptible, undefiled and unfading--- kept by the power of God!

Other believers don't think they're good enough, assuming more godly siblings can access the benefits of the will. One must always remember that God's acceptance of us is not based on our religious performance, but on the performance of Christ. YOU unequivocally qualify as benefactor and executor of the Kingdom--all because of your faith in Christ and His finished work.

"See how much the Father has loved us! We are called God's children. It is true, we are God's children. People in this world did not know him and so they do not know us. My dear brothers, we are God's children NOW..." (John 3:1-2a NLT)

We have "two witnesses" to our adoption-one in Heaven and one in Earth.

1) Our names are recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life, written there when we exercised our FAITH to believe. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus... (Galatians 3:26)

2) Our following in baptism by OBEDIENCE, wherein we demonstrate on earth and before witnesses the reality of the Heavenly document.

In my process of earthly adoption (see Part I of this article), there had to be a legal release from one family before I could be adopted into the new.

(Jesus) ..."having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 TNIV)

I love this part from my actual adoption papers:

"By law, the said infant would have the same rights and privileges afforded to her that a child of the bodies of George O. Milford and Mary Ellen Milford would have under the law."

"It is furthered order that the name of the said infant child be, and the same hereby is changed from "Baby Girl Griffin" to Mary Diane Milford, and she shall hereafter be known as Mary Diane Milford.


Stop and consider that no matter what man has called or labeled you, God has given you a new name that defines you from His perspective; and your Heavenly Father has given you powerful permission to legally use power of attorney (the name of Jesus Christ) in all spiritual transactions and disputes.

Stop and think again: by God's decree, you have the same rights and privileges as His only begotten Son!

Most adoptions today are "open", meaning that the natural mother works out a legal arrangement with the adoptive parents to maintain contact with her child or receive information through the formative years. My adoption records were sealed. My birth mother and I didn't meet until twenty-eight years later, after I initiated a search.*

More adoption agencies are working with the birth mothers to involve them in every aspect of the process, including interviewing and even selecting the adoptive parents. Such cooperative methods respect the dignity and desires of both mothers and hopefully avoid heartaches and litigation down the road.

However, this was not the case years ago. Adoption records were--for the most part--always sealed. Many natural mothers later on agonized about the whereabouts and welfare of the children they released. Additionally, many of these hand-written records were not filed or stored properly, so both natural mothers and adoptees seeking later reunions were encountering innumerable frustrations and dead ends.

I'm thankful for the growing number of adoption search sites on the internet. It is my prayer that hundreds, even thousands of reunions can become a reality from these years of closed records.

However, God ALWAYS seals His adoption records! We are "in the Secret Place of the Most High" (Psalm 91:1) and "hidden in His pavilion (lair) " (Psalm 27:5).

We often fall back into Adamic behavior because taking on the characteristics and behaviors of our new family is, after all, a learning process; nevertheless, you need never fear the devil coming to claim you. He would have to break the Blood seal and such a feat is impossible!

"You also became believers in Christ. That happened when you heard the message of truth. It was the good news about how you could be saved. When you believed, he marked you with a seal. The seal is the Holy Spirit that he promised.

"The Spirit marks us as God's own. We can now be sure that someday we will receive all that God has promised. That will happen after God sets all of his people completely free. All of those things will bring praise to his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 TNIV)

Here's the Message translation:

"It's in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free-signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.

This signet from God is the first installment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life."

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30 NAS)

I like how the Amplified Bible brings out the meaning of the same verse:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God's own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).

I didn't need a legal document as proof of my adoptive parents' love and commitment, but if anyone outside the family ever questioned the validity of the adoption, the earthly document was undeniably clear.

What is the believer's earthly proof of adoption? Baptism!

Here's a great word from Rick Warren in The Purpose Drive Life:

"Baptism is not some optional ritual, to be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God's family. It publicly announces to the world, "I am not ashamed to be a part of God's family." Jesus commanded this beautiful act for all in his family:

"For years I wondered why Jesus' Great Commission gives the same prominence to baptism as it does to the great tasks of evangelism and edification.

"Why is baptism so important? Because it symbolizes one of the purposes of your life: incorporation into the fellowship of God's eternal family. "

Have you been baptized? Do you have a record of that day? If so, pull it out and keep it close to your Bible so that you (and the devil) may be reminded of it often.

If you are a believer but haven't been baptized, don't delay having earthly evidence of your Heavenly status.

A pastor told me years ago that baptized members of his congregation, who fully understood its importance and meaning, had a tendency to become more stable and fruitful in their Christian walk.

As a child, I was teased a time or two about being adopted. But Mom explained that what made me different was that I was wanted--personally chosen by my parents. Her positive spin helped me silence most kids when I said, "Yeah? Well, your mom had to take what she got!"

But guess what? We've got to "take" who we get in our spiritual family.  We are indeed stuck with each other.

Although I don't have any brothers or sisters in my earthly, adoptive family, I have millions in Christ. Understanding God's heart of adoption changes how I relate to them.

I must never forget:

1) My Father wanted them or they wouldn't be here; therefore, my siblings are of immeasurable value to Him (and as a result, equally as valuable to me).

2) They are extravagantly, eternally loved by the Father--even when they act unlovable. (Just like me!)

3) They chose to love Him back...and for this shameless confession, they are worthy of my respect.

4) They live in the same house with me--a house Christ is building and deems holy.

5) They have something important to do for the Father, and their ability to serve Him depends a great deal on me.

And...I will be chastised for mistreating my family!

"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, "My child, don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

"As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all." (Hebrews 12:5-9 NLT)

Our growing into the image of Christ is the progressive, ongoing part of our Salvation called SANCTIFICATION. The Holy Spirit helps me in this process by often using others in the family.

This growth is not without pain, but the Bible says that Christ's gift to me was Salvation. What I do with it--and what I become because of it--is my gift to Him.

Our "works" (The word in the Greek also denotes "moral conduct"), will pass through His holy fire.Those things that are not of God will burn as wood, hay, and stubble. What remains is the reward I get to lay at the feet of Jesus, my Elder Brother.

"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

"If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 ASB)

So often we speak to each other out of our own injuries, ignorance, or immaturity. I've learned to ask the Father to redeem something out of every encounter--whether highly encouraging, strongly corrective or plain bad--that will make me more like Christ and add to my rewards for Him.

Like me, were you naturally adopted? If you're also a Christian, then you're "doubly blessed" to have been chosen twice! Yet, whenever the topic of adoption comes up, every believer has a great conversation starter that can shake out a little salt.

You can casually mention, "Oh, I'm adopted."

Your friends and co-workers, a little startled, will probably respond, "Really? We didn't know that about you!"

You smile. "Well, let me tell you my story!"

* Cotton Butterflies tells the story of my teen birth mom's pregnancy, her resulting adoption, and how we  met 28 years later.

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