Community Group Study “Romans 8:14-17 Adopted by God”
Read Romans 8:14-17
If you were to be asked “What makes you a Christian?” many of us would talk about how we’ve been forgiven of our sin. But, do you know that there is more to the story than that? If you were to think of your salvation in Christ as a coin, one side would be your forgiveness and being made right in God’s eyes but the other side would be your adoption into God’s family. Romans 8:14-17 teaches us about the benefits and blessings of being brought into God’s family through adoption.
What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father. (J.I. Packer , Knowing God, 199).
In the ancient world adoption was not like we see it today. Typically in 1st century Rome one would be adopted to be established as an heir to a political position or family wealth. Probably, most famous adoption in the ancient world would have been Julius Caesar adopting Augustus to be his heir as the Emperor of Rome. Paul takes this image of adoption and expands on it and shows us God’s motive in bringing people into his family as sons and daughters. Paul uses it to show us how adoption leads to access to God and assurance of love and salvation. Passages like Romans 8:14-17 could show us why the early church participated in adoption of of compassion and love. The early church was known for loving these who were vulnerable even going as far as taking in kids who were left in garbage dumps at early ages to die. Since the beginning of the church, followers of Jesus have been known for their sacrifice and love towards children without a home because of the image of God, the dignity of all life and this descriptor of our relationship with God as “adoption”.
Romans 8:14-15 teach us that the Spirit of Life (who we learned about in Romans 8:1-13) is also the Spirit of Adoption that brings us into God’s family. These are not two different spirits we’re given by God, but they are different titles used to show us who the Holy Spirit is and what he does. The Holy Spirit brings people into the family of God. Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to his disciples in John 14:15-18 telling them the Spirit would leave them into truth, would be their helper and that they’d not be left as “orphans”. This means that you and I were meant for relationship with God and to know him as Father. What was God’s motive for this? Love. Ephesians 1:5 tells us that “in love we were predestined for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.”
Paul continues to expand the idea to show us that adoption is important because it leads to access to God. Unlike adoption in the Roman world, Christians are brought into a family so they can know and follow God. Paul tells us that all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. We learned last week that the Holy Spirit desires to guide you into life and peace, this leading from the Spirit is God teaching us truth, changing our desires to match his and helping us to know him in a fuller and deeper way. We see this access declared strongly when Paul tells us that the Spirit of Adoption enables us to cry out “Abba Father!” The term “Abba” is similar to our word “papa” today, but more than that, Abba is how Jesus referred to God the father in his prayer life. The work of the cross removes our debt of sin and it allows you to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). You have access to God as his son and daughter. As you experience things that bring joy to your heart you can give God praise, as are overwhelmed by fear you can go to his throne and as you feel helpless you can cry out “Abba Father”.
Finally, Adoption leads to assurance. Primarily, assurance of his love and our salvation. Romans 8:16 tells us that the Holy Spirit bears witness without our Spirit that we are children of God. On the surface we can read this and think of it as merely a feeling in our chest. While this certainly can and does happen, but what we want to avoid is limiting it to just that kind of feeling. There will be many times when your feelings do not match with what is true or that your feelings lead you away from God. The reality here is that you can experience the “spirit testifying to your spirit” in many ways including if you’re led by the Spirit and are experiencing these changed desires and a deeper love of God. Do you find yourself crying out to God? Do you find yourself being convicted by the Word of God? Are you trying to put into practice what you are learning? These are all ways the Spirit testifies to our spirit in Romans 8. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit will not lead you to do anything that is expressly forbidden in scripture, he will only lead you towards truth and away from sin.
Main idea: Adoption leads to access and assurance. The Salvation that God works for his people includes forgiveness of sins and restored relationships. God’s people are brought into relationship with God as Father and each one is given the status of first born son, who is an heir to God.
Read and Observe:
Take 10-15 minutes and write down observations you have from the passage.
Which term for God are you most comfortable with: “King, Lord, Creator or Father” and why?
What would it be like if God was only King and not Father? What about if he was only Father and not King?
Read Romans 8:14-15. What makes us “sons of God”? What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? Look at Romans 8:1-11, Galatians 5:16-24 and John 16:12-15 to help answer this question.
The Spirit of Adoption gives us access to God. Romans 8:15 pictures this as being able to cry out “Abba Father”. How can followers of Jesus benefit practically from being able to have access to God?
How does this passage speak to assurance of God’s love and salvation? Why is assurance during times of uncertainty so valuable to God’s people?
Questions for Elementary Age Kids:
The Bible describes that our relationship with God is like being in a family. Describe what it would be like to have a really good time with one of your parents.
Read Romans 8:14-15. This passage compares the image of being just a servant (slave) vs being a child. How is being a child in a family better than being a servant in a house? Try to think of 2 or 3 ways.
(Remember children still serve and help in their homes, but being a child is very different than just being a helper).
Read Romans 8:15 again. The word “Abba” is similar to our word “Papa”. Paul is trying to help you see that God is always with you and you can go to him for help whenever. Can you think of a few times this week that you went to God for help?
Question for Jr High and High School Students:
Paul, who wrote Romans, tells us that all who are led by the Spirit are “sons of God”. Read Romans 8:2-4 and Galatians 5:16-24. What does it mean to be “led by the Spirit” based on these verses?
Why does the Bible God use all this family language? What’s the big difference between being someone who just serves God vs. someone who thinks of themselves as a child of God?
One of the great blessings of being adopted into God’s family is that we have access to God. Romans 8:15 tells us we can cry out “Abba Father!” Think about how limited your access to people, places and things have been over the last few weeks. What would it be like to not have access to God all the time? What are some ways you can take advantage of the access God has given you to him today?