The Spirit of Adoption

From Systematic Theology – Authority
The Spirit of Adoption
Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.

[The bold in the quotes are mine.]

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Our scripture lesson is from Romans eight verses fourteen through seventeen, and our subject as we continue our studies in the doctrine of authority is the spirit of adoption, the spirit of adoption, Romans eight fourteen through seventeen. “14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

As we have seen the Bible grounds authority on God’s law, his grace and his covenant, not on the natural order. We have seen that the authority of parents is not a naturalistic fact but a supernatural one. The natural fact of generations of parents is a creation of God in an area of His law. God created all things as aspects of His law order. The family is one such area where His law order is expressed, but the priority always belongs to God. The authority comes from God, not from the order He created. The Bible gives an abundant evidence of the secondary nature of the natural order. After all the first Adam was supplanted by the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Cain the first born was supplanted by Able and then Seth. Isaac was supplanted by Ishmael, Jacob prevailed over Esau, and Joseph over Rueben, as did Judah also. The logic of the natural order of authority, its succession is regularly overturned by God in scripture and in all of history. His providence brings to pass His purposes, His authority, not the natural humanistic authority. If the humanistic concept of authority prevailed there would be no change in all of history. The fisrt tyranny would be the last tyranny also. 

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It is the supernatural Law of God that is the final authority. Not the law of nature. Not the will of powerful men.

The Law of God comes FIRST.

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The fact of judgment in history makes very clear that the time developed and time honored authorities are set aside. There are many reasons for this, but first of all we can site that given mans sin, the natural order and any authority derived purely from the natural order, would only further mans depravity. It would only further mans’ rebellion against God. Because all any parent or any civil authority or any religious authority would have to say is “we were the original authority and therefore no-one has a right to overturn us.” Then second, even without the fall the natural order cannot be the source of authority. In a God created world all authority comes from the triune God. Hence in scripture the doctrines of the covenant and of salvation alike rest on the fact of adoption. Adoption is an intrusion into the natural order. We are told that Israel was made the people of God, the children of God by adoption. This is made clear in Exodus four verse twenty, Numbers verse twenty-seven and following, and many, many other verses.

God says “and they shall put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” To put my name upon them means that I take them, I adopt them. And Moses says “Take heed and hearken O Israel, this day thou art become the people of the Lord, thy God.” Paul makes clear in Romans nine that the original adoption was of Israel. 

Now in our text Romans eight fourteen through seventeen we have a statement of this great reversal of the natural order. With man adoption is a last resort. When all else fails we turn to adoption. But no so with God, it is His essential means. God’s order gives adoption priority; it gives adoption the sole place in salvation. Now the people of antiquity did use adoption, but they saw bareness as a curse, and more than one woman in the Bible refers to it as such, but not so God. He declares it to be very often the prelude to blessing.

But Even more we have a remarkable prophesy in Isaiah fifty-four verses one through five.

“1Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

This is an amazing prophesy. God is here speaking to individuals, as well as to groups. But He makes it very specific, “Sing oh barren.” And he includes also the windowed and the bereaved, the desolate person. And what he says from the Humanistic point “you’ve been stripped of all your hope, you have no children or you’re widowed and every hope you had has been shattered.” But what is the word of God? Sing oh barren. One of the most amazing statements in the Bible, that precisely those who are barren or desolate or widowed are going to be blessed, and more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife. 

And then the command to enlarge their dwelling place, to make it bigger and bigger, to encompass the whole world. Why? Because God says I’m preparing you by all that you’ve experienced to be mighty and effectual in terms of my kingdom, and the blessings that shall go forth from you shall in time reach all nations and all peoples. For Thine maker is Thy husband, the Lord of hosts is His name and Thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel. The God of the whole earth shall He be called. And in terms of that reaching out and bringing the whole world by adoption into the kingdom, the barren, the widowed, the desolate, are going to be used by God and are being prepared by God for His purpose, which is the adoption of the whole world. And so God says “you are a part of this great purpose.” The imagery of the Bible is not accidental. God says to these, the widowed, the Barren, the desolate, that they are in a very different way to be instrumental in taking over the world in inheriting the Gentiles, the children of faith and not of blood. This is a setting aside of the natural order. Sing oh barren is a song that goes against the grain of the natural order. 

But in John 8:39 our Lord speaks the same way, He tells the Pharisees’ and scribes that their natural inherited authority is going to be set aside. Now it is true that all such inherited natural authority does has a God derived character. We live a network of authorities, of powers that be. But the real authorities, however real these natural ones are, are the ultimate ones. And if these authorities on the human scene are not faithful they violate the condition of their authority. Peter said we ought to obey God rather than men. 

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“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Our Betters hate Genesis 1-3 more than Acts 5:23, as Genesis 1-3 lays down God claim as Maker and Owner of heaven and earth, while Peter’s words is just the logical implication of the supremacy of God over wealthy and powerful Men.

But I’m pretty sure that Acts 5:23 is way up there, in the biblical verses that Our Betters most deeply detest.

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Paul in Romans 8:14-17 contrasts the spirit of bondage and the Holy Spirit of adoption. We have on the one hand depravity, man’s separation from God, his rebellion against God as against man’s redemption in Christ, and his adoption. The purely naturalistic doctrine of authority to often becomes the spirit of bondage. Where man’s sin leads to a denial of God’s authority no natural authority can lead to anything but bondage. Because where God’s authority is denied there is no supreme court to which man can appeal against man. When the courts say as our Supreme court has made clear that it is ultimate, and that it is the maker of law, and that there is no absolute, no God in effect, then right and wrong are what the courts say they are; and no man has the right to question the absoluteness of man’s courts, or the decrees or fiats of state. There is no right beyond the state. 

It is significant that this is precisely what has led to the crisis of modern man, to totalitarianism without Christian faith there is no escape from man. He is trapped in a world in which there is no right and wrong above and beyond man. Man determines it, man as his own God says “this is good and this is evil, and who are you to question it?” We have seen in our day, an extensive attack on Christianity as supposedly repressive authoritarianism because it asserts the authority of God. But in asserting the absolute authority of God we are insuring freedom because we are saying mans word can never be totally binding upon other men, there’s always a law above and beyond Man’s law to which we can appeal; a law which will judge all men. This has been the problem over and over again in history.


This is why God strikes at the natural order as any source of ultimate authority. It is the spirit of adoption which makes us heirs of God, it is God the Lord, God the King who says “He raises up one and sets aside another by His sovereign decree” Natural order is under God. Thus instead of being the lawless element in society because of are obedience to God’s higher authority, we become the law abiding element. And instead of our faith being authoritarianism it is the only faith that works for freedom, because it takes authority and places it beyond man and in God alone; and all human authorities under God and subject to His will. Today the Spirit of Bondage by its rebellion against God’s authority has undermined all true authority and is creating a totalitarian order. Only as we recognize the Biblical doctrine of authority, and how basic the concept of adoption is, how basic the fact is that authority on the human scene is always derivative and conditioned only so can we have a re-birth of freedom. Let us pray.

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Our Betters have always detested freedom.

Freedom of speech, the freedom to control our property, the freedom of movement, even the freedom to protect our very lives… all this liberty brings the shine of hate in their eyes.

“Masters should rule. Slaves should obey.”

And you know which category they place you and me.

But their day is already falling apart: the currents of history and technology, the economy and demographics, all of this is turned against Our Betters and their vision of the Unified Society.

Most importantly, they have gone far out of their way to make an enemy of God. And God is increasingly treating them as His enemy. Fools without a future.

Let’s not tremble before their crumbling control tools, and their endless thirst for a legitimacy that is rapidly disintegrating.

Instead, let’s build the future, a future shaped and directed by the Hand of God. Let us build a culture, a civilization that will bring down blessings on our heads, not curses like the Right Sort is receiving on their heads, more and more.


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