Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | December 12, 2008

Adoption Includes Everyone

Through Jesus the Father has adopted all of humanity as his children.

This is the most difficult of the three key points of the Neo-Reformation which I wrote about last week. Point one (The Trinity is the Gospel) and point two (The Plan of God is Adoption) are relatively easy for most Christians to wrap their minds around since they aren’t as challenging to our firmly established worldview. But when I say that adoption includes everyone, a lot of Christians start heading for the exits. Interestingly, many non-Christians actually perk up and start to listen a little more closely.

Here’s the fundamental issue as I see it:

We 21st century Christians have adopted a non-Biblical worldview that sees each individual as an isolated entity, who is disconnected from Christ unless he connects himself to Christ.

This is the exact opposite of the Biblical description of creation and humanity. The Bible says that all things, including all people, exist in Christ (Jhn. 1:3, Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:3) and that Christ has filled all things everywhere with himself (Eph. 4:10). In Christ we all live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

We are not isolated entities. We each have existence and life because we are in Christ and Christ is in us. Therefore, wherever Christ goes, and whatever happens to him, humanity must also go and must also experience what happens to Christ.

Since we are all in Christ, the Bible says that all have been made right with God in him – Rom. 5:18 – and all have been reconciled to the Father in him (Col. 1:19-20).

Here’s how Atahanasius of Alexandria phrased it:

The solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word’s indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. (On the Incarnation, 2.9).

Notice what this Church Father, who was so instrumental in assembling the Bible, understood that we do not: the solidarity of mankind. Because we are all sustained in Christ and have our being in him, we are all included in Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.

In fact, this is exactly what the Bible says: when Christ died, everyone died (2 Cor. 5:14) and when Christ was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father’s right hand we were raised in him and ascended in him (Eph. 2:6).

So, what’s our problem? The problem is not that we are excluded from the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The problem is not that humanity is not adopted and reconciled – in Christ, we are all included, adopted, and reconciled.

The problem is that we do not believe this truth about Christ and ourselves.

That’s why the Bible puts so much emphasis on belief. The Father of Jesus is your Father! You are adopted and included! To not believe this truth about your real identity is hell and to believe it is heaven.

I think this third of the three key points of the Neo-Reformation has the greatest potential to change the Church and the World because it represents the full goodness of the good news of the Father who loves his creation in the Son and with the Spirit.

But this third point is dependent on the first two. First, we must repent and correct our image of God. We must see him as Jesus has revealed him, fully relational as the Father, Son, and Spirit who live not only with each other but in each other.

Secondly, when we have this relational understanding of God, we can understand that we were created not only to live with the Trinity but in the Trinity (Jhn. 14:20). The Father’s purpose for us is adoption into his life in the Son and the Spirit.

Then we can finally see the full goodness of the good news of Jesus. It is the good news that we have always existed in Jesus and always will exist in him because there is no other place to exist. There is no God but the Father, Son, and Spirit, and there is no Jesus except the Jesus who is the union of Divinity and humanity, and there is no person who is not included in this everlasting Triune Life.

If there is, indeed, a Neo-Reformation beginning in the Church along the lines that I have outlined in these four blog posts then the world really is about to change.

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