The Spirit of Adoption - RR272B4
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With true hearts and full assurance of faith, my voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up. Let us pray. Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, in Whom we live and move and have our being, we come to Thee, Thy creatures, Whom Thou hast made for Thy sovereign purpose, to cast our every care upon Thee, Who carest for us. We know that our times are in Thy hands, that Thy purposes and ways are altogether righteousness. Give us grace, therefore, so to walk day by day, that we may ever be mindful that, because Jesus Christ is our Lord, we are more than conquerors in Him. Grant us this, we beseech Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Our scripture lesson is from Romans 8:14-17, and our subject, as we continue our studies in the doctrine of authority, is the spirit of adoption—the spirit of adoption. Romans 8:14-17, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 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. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 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.” [00:02:22]
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 aspect 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, and 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 Abel, and then Seth. Isaac was supplanted by Ishmael. Jacob prevailed over Esau, and Joseph over Reuben, 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 first tyranny would be the last tyranny, also.
The fact of judgment in history makes very clear that the time-developed and time-honored authorities of men are set aside. There are many reasons for this, but, first of all, we can cite that, given man’s sin, the natural order and any authority derived purely from the natural order would only further man’s depravity. It would only further man’s 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.” [00:05:35]
Then, second, even without the Fall, the natural order...
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 4:22, Numbers verse 27 and following, and many, many other verses. God says that “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 harken, O Israel. This day, thou art become the people of the Lord, Thy God.” Paul makes clear in Romans 9 that the original adoption was of Israel. [00:07:12]
Now, in our text, Romans ...
Now, in our text, Romans 8:14-17, 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 not 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 barrenness 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 prophecy in Isaiah 54:1-5, “Sing, 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. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not: lengthen they chords and strengthen thy stakes. 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. 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 shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 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.” [00:09:35]
This is an amazing prophecy...
This is an amazing prophecy. God is here speaking to individuals, as well as to groups, but He makes it very specific: “Sing, O barren”; and He includes also the widowed 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 are widowed and every hope you’ve had has been shattered.” But what is the Word of God: “Sing, O 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 am 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 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.” 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.” [00:12:01]
The imagery of the Bible is not accidental...
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 and inheriting the Gentiles, the children of faith and not of blood. This is a setting aside of the natural order. Sing, O 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 and natural authority does have a God-derived character. We live in 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. Can a church, for example, which approves of abortion command us? Say what you will about the authority of the church! How can a church, which goes clearly against God’s Law and God’s order, ever command us? Can a church which denies the authority of Jesus Christ command us? A church which denies that He is the incarnate Son of God, that His atonement is our salvation, can we even call it any longer a church? [00:14:28]
Paul, in Romans ...
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 too 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 for 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 ensuring freedom, because we are saying man’s word can never be totally binding upon other men; there’s always the 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. [00:17:45]
In Paris, in the thirteenth century at the university...
In Paris, in the thirteenth century at the university, many Dominicans were teaching the radical concepts of Aristotle and Averroes. Pope John XXI asked Stephen Tempier, the Bishop of Paris, to investigate it and deal with it; and the Bishop of Paris condemned 219 propositions that these Dominicans at the university, who were supposedly defenders of the faith, were teaching. The whole of it is an interesting instance of academic arrogance. But let me cite two, which are relevant to what we are discussing; all of them are, but these two, in particular: Proposition 48, which was condemned by the Bishop, said, and I quote, “God cannot be the cause of a new creation, nor can He be the cause of anything new.” They had reduced God to an Aristotelian-limiting concept: the idea of a first cause, but only an idea, because they had posited a beginning, not a reality; and, therefore, He could not create, nor could He govern, in any sense. Hence, in Proposition 175, we read, and I quote, “The Christian law impedes learning.” The Christian law impedes learning. Why? Well, if God has a “thou shalt not,” as given in the Bible, then where is man’s freedom to make his own law and determine for himself what constitutes good and evil? [00:19:59]
Now, the interference of the Bishop of Paris with the...
Now, the interference of the Bishop of Paris with the University of Paris is cited in some textbooks as an example of authoritarianism and repressiveness; but, I submit, it ensured freedom. And the sad fact is that these heretics finally prevailed and destroyed Christendom, because their ideas said “there is no God, and there is no law beyond man and the state.” Is it any wonder that this thinking led to the tyrants of the age of the Renaissance: men whose word was absolute law; men who said, “My will be done and who can question that it is right?” The only one who could question it was the man who killed him and said, “It is my will which is right.” And it led to the brute force which prevailed in Renaissance tyranny. And, of course, this is what happened as the thinkers of the last century, step by step, undercut the Biblical faith as they developed a legal positivism, and said there is no right, nor wrong, above what the state decrees. [00:21:41]
John Hallowell, in a study written over ...
John Hallowell, in a study written over 40 years ago, I think, entitled “The Decline of Liberalism as an Ideology,” traced the liberal thinkers, who wanted independence from God, to Hitler. Step by step, as they destroyed any authority, any law beyond man and in God, they made the state god walking on earth. The result was that when the Nazis proclaimed these doctrines publically, they had the university supports. The liberals, the positivists, at all the universities provided the rationale for Hitler. He did not control the universities. They welcomed him, because he was their product. 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. The natural order is under God. Thus, instead of being the lawless element in society because of our 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 makes 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. [00:24:13]
Today, this spirit of bondage by its rebellion against...
Today, this 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 conditional; only so, can we have a rebirth of freedom.
Let us pray. Thy word, O Lord, is truth, and Thy word is law. And Thou art the authority, and Thine is the power, the glory, and the dominion. Teach us, O Lord, day by day, to walk in terms of Thine authority and to reconstruct all things in terms of faithfulness to Thy law-word. Bless us for this purpose. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Are there any questions now? Yes, John? [00:25:48]
[Questioner] What year was that list of proposals or...
[Questioner] What year was that list of proposals or propositions published? Do you know?
[Rushdoony] In the thirteenth century, in Paris. I don’t recall the exact date at the moment.
[Questioner] All right, because, just the way the ones that you read there sound to me like that they really represent the modern arguments, as well.
[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. There’s nothing new about heresy. Its premises, from the Garden of Eden to the present, remain the same. No, it’s surprisingly modern—the entire list of 219 propositions. You would think you were listening to, in some instances, the student radicals of the 1960’s, or some of our philosophers of today.
[Questioner] Well, the parallel that you proved between Hitler and the universities, I think we’re seeing a great deal of that today, particularly with respect to Stanford’s attitude towards the Hoover Institute, because the current president is out of favor with the universities. Anything that’s associated with him at the university is being purged, and one of the things they’re trying to do is they’re trying to absolve all connections between the university and the Hoover Institute now. [00:27:26]
[Rushdoony] Yes, you see, this is something people...
[Rushdoony] Yes, you see, this is something people often forget. The university has so flooded us with propaganda to the effect that it is the champion of liberty, that we forget that throughout history, the intellectuals have most often been the champions of tyranny; and that no sooner did the Church create universities, than the universities began to assert a radical, totalitarianism; and they felt that the pope and the emperor had a duty to bow down and obey them. Well, this type of proposition has been nothing new in the history of the church. The remarkable thing is that, on this occasion, a bishop actually spoke out very plainly and courageously, and listed these propositions and condemned them. That was the unique thing. As a matter of fact, in one seminary, where there has been a great deal of trouble, the board finally stepped in; and it has severely limited faculty meetings, because they are so productive of tyranny. So, our intellectuals are too often, in their pride, ready to play God. Now, this should not be so; they should be leaders of the faith; but too often, because they have had alien presuppositions (they’ve been non-VanTilian, we might say), they’ve been ready to begin with premises that lead them into playing God.
Any other questions or comments? Yes?
[Questioner] Prayer meeting?
[Rushdoony] I announced it.
No other questions or comments? Yes?
[Questioner] In verse 18 in chapter 8 of Romans, where it says that, “I do not reckon that the sufferings of this present time are worthy of being compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us.” What does it mean, “the glory that shall be revealed in us”? [00:30:11]
[Rushdoony] Yes. Then Paul goes on to say in verse 19 and following, that the whole of creation and all the creatures wait for the manifestation, the full unveiling and revelation of us, the sons of God; and they are going to be delivered together with us into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And in verse 22, it says that the whole creation, everything in the universe, groans and travails in pain together until now, because they feel the effects of the Fall; waiting for the Second Coming and the new creation, when the fullness of the liberty, the total freedom from the limitations of sin and death, will be ours and theirs, also. Verse 24 is also a very important verse: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” So, Paul is saying that faith revolves and requires that we have hope; that God does have some greater good for us in time and eternity; and so, with patience, we wait for it.
Any other questions or comments?
Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer. Our Lord and our God, give us patience and hope, that we might wait on Thee for those things that Thou hast promised; that we might work in Thee and under Thee to accomplish Thy purpose; that we might know that being called to be more than conquerers in Christ, nothing in heaven above, nor in earth below, can frustrate Thy purpose for us. Bless us for this purpose. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:33:19]