Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). He further explained that Nicodemus, although a natural-born Jew, was required to be baptized in order to join the newly established kingdom of God on earth. This injunction still stands today. Not many people on earth are literal descendants of Abraham, but we are all adopted into the House of Israel as we make and keep covenants with God.
In a family unit, there are two ways children join: biological birth and legal adoption. The family of God works the same way. Either you are ethnically and genealogically Jewish (biological birth) or you have joined the church through baptism (legal adoption). Most of us fall under the latter category. Several ancient prophets offer further teaching about this idea.
When God made his three-fold promise to Abraham, he said, “as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name” (Abraham 2:10). In other words, whoever joins the church of Jesus Christ is adopted into the family of Abraham. That is why with your patriarchal blessing, you received a declaration of lineage: you literally belong to a particular tribe of Israel, and all of the blessings and responsibilities associated with that tribe apply to you.
King Benjamin taught this same doctrine to the early American people. “Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you” (Mosiah 5:7). When you made covenants with God, beginning with baptism, your spiritual adoption was finalized. You left your old life and identity and united with Christ. He promised to meet your needs, and you promised to obey his commandments.
One striking example of this principle is Alma the younger. He says this about his conversion experience: “All mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters” (Mosiah 27:25). We who feel passionate about adoption want every child to find a forever family. Similarly, Jesus wants all people to be a part of his eternal covenant family. Like a child’s identity changes when he or she joins an adoptive family, our spiritual identity shifts when we join the family of God.
In the New Testament, Paul explains, “ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15)—that is to say, our spiritual adoption allows us to have a more intimate relationship with the Father. He goes on to say that even people who “have the firstfruits of the Spirit,” literal, genetic descendants of Abraham, still spend all the time between their physical birth and their baptism “waiting for the adoption” that comes from joining oneself to Jesus (verse 23). Spiritual adoption changes everyone it touches.
Paul also taught this doctrine to the Galatians. He writes that Jesus was sent to earth “that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5). Part of the purpose of the condescension of a member of the godhead was to bring us into his family! It makes anything we sacrifice in order to adopt seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it? Further, because of our spiritual adoption, “thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (verse 7). Your familial relationship with God entitles you to certain blessings. Just like an adopted child is included in the parents’ will equally to a biological child, each of us inherits the same as Christ because God has adopted us.
The Apostle John also provides insight into the doctrine of spiritual adoption. He lists several blessings that come as a result:
- We become righteous (1 John 2:29; 3:9)
- We learn to love (1 John 4:7; 5:1)
- We overcome the world through faith (1 John 5:4)
John would know about these things from personal experience because Mary adopted him after the death of the Savior (John 19:26-27). He likely had a unique relationship to adoption, which explains why he discusses it so frequently in 1 John.
Ultimately, adoption touches all people, both physically and spiritually. As members of the church, we all receive its associated blessings, “For we,” like all adoptees, “are saved by hope” (Romans 8:24).
Do you feel there is a hole in your heart that can only be filled by a child? We’ve helped complete 32,000+ adoptions. We would love to help you through your adoption journey. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.