In my first blog entry I commented on the dispensation of the fullness of times. The same passage in Ephesians also speaks of the adoption of sons. And several times in recent weeks I have seen members of the LDS Church make the claim that we are adopted by and to Jesus Christ as his sons and daughters.
According to the Church website,the scriptures speak of two types of adoption:
(1) A person who is of non-Israelite lineage becomes a member of the family of Abraham and the house of Israel by having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized by immersion, and receiving the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:17–18; D&C 84:73–74; Abr. 2:6, 11).
(2) All who have received the saving ordinances of the gospel become sons and daughters of Jesus Christ by continued obedience to his commandments (Rom. 8:15–17; Gal. 3:24–29; 4:5–7; Mosiah 5:7–8).
I want to focus on number 2, above, by looking at the scripture references given:
I’ll start with the verse from the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 5:7-8 reads::
“And now, 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; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.”
But is that what the Bible verses say? Let’s look at Rom 8:15-17 first:
“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.”
I get that Jesus is God, but when scripture speaks of the sons of God it is speaking of either Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God or it is speaking of those who have been born again (or been begotten from above, begotten by God), who are also called the sons of God because they are being led by the spirit of God. And this passage in Rom is talking about just that. Those who have been quickened by the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
What about Gal 3:24-29?
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
This says that we become the children “of God” by faith “in Christ Jesus.” We do not become the children of Jesus, we become the children of God through Christ. We becomes “sons” through “the only begotten Son.” That’s why we are called “joint-heirs with Christ.”
Further, in Gal 4:5-7, we read:
“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
I’m not sure why the reference given starts at verse 5, instead of 1, but let’s look at verses 1-4, as well…
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”
Here, Paul is pointing out the difference between “a child” and “a son.” This is a distinction that I believe is very important, but one that seems to have been lost in translation.
Paul is saying that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant. But he is also pointing out how the “child” becomes a “son.” And it by receiving “the Spirit of His Son.” For when we receive “the Spirit of Christ” we, too, cry “Abba, Father.” We are not crying Abba, Father to the Son, however; we are crying Abba, Father to the Father by the Spirit of His Son.
Here is Eph 1:3-12, which we discussed last time (emphasis mine):
“Blessed be THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: HAVING PREDESTINATED US UNTO THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY JESUS CHRIST TO HIMSELF, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein HE HATH MADE US ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: IN WHOM also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
We receive “the adoption of sons” (uihothesia = placement) through the Son, through the beloved. But we are not “adopted” in the same sense that we understand adoption today, where the one adopted is actually the biological child of someone else but, due to a legal transaction, is able to call one who is not their father their father (and one who is not the son their son). That is not the way I understand the term to be used in scripture. Scripture clearly tells us that we are “begotten by God” that we are “His offspring.” But we are begotten by God through Jesus Christ, which is why Paul said the mystery that was hid from ages and generations, that was being revealed to the saints, was “Christ IN YOU, the HOPE OF GLORY.”
We becomes “sons of God” though the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said, in John 20:17 (emphasis mine):
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto MY FATHER, AND YOUR FATHER; and to MY GOD, AND YOUR GOD.”
Now, I am certainly not denying that the scriptures tell us that we become “children [sons] of the resurrection” and Jesus Christ said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus made many “I am” statements, statement that (to me) are intended to clearly demonstrate that He and the Father are “one,” that He is God manifest in the flesh and that it truly was the Father that was in Him doing the work – through Him reconciling the world to Himself. The significance of which is completely lost by those who separate the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit into three separate and distinct being who are each God, one only in purpose but separate in being.
This is another example of how and where Mormon doctrine fails.