Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #34

Doctrinal Standard #34

  • Q. What is adoption?
  • A. Adoption is the act of God’s free grace by which we become His sons with all the rights and privileges of being His.

Memory Verses

  • The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16–17, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Romans 8:12-17
  • Support Passages: Ephesians 1:3-6, II Corinthians 6:18, Hosea 1:10, Galatians 4:1-7, Psalm103:13, Hebrews 12:6
  • Bible Story: Exodus 2:1-10


  • Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology book provides insight into the benefits and privileges of being adopted into God’s family.
  • “One of the greatest privileges of our adoption is being able to speak to God and relate to him as a good and loving Father. We are to pray, ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ (Matt 6:9), and we are to realize that we are ‘no longer slaves, but sons’ (Gal. 4:7). Therefore, we now relate to God not as a slave relates to a slave master but as a child relates to his or her father. In fact, God gives us an internal witness from the Holy Spirit that causes us instinctively to call God our Father. ‘When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God’ (Rom. 8:15-16). This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life, and it becomes the primary way in which we relate to God. Certainly it is true that God is our Creator, our judge, our Lord and Master, our teacher, our provide and protector, and the one who by his providential care sustains our existence. But the role that is most intimate, and the role that conveys the highest privileges of fellowship with God for eternity, is his role as our heavenly Father” (pg. 739).
  • “The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption. Paul indicates that this is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to his will. He says, ‘all who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God’ (Rom. 8:14), and he gives this as the reason Christians should ‘put to death the deeds of the body’ by means of the Holy Spirit working within them (v.13; note ‘for’ at the beginning of v. 14). He sees the Holy Spirit as leading and guiding God’s children in paths of obedience to God” (Pg. 740).
  • “Another privilege of adoption into God’s family, though we do not always recognize it as a privilege, is the fact that God disciplines us as his children. ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves and chastises every son whom he receives’ (Heb 12:4-6, quoting Prov. 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains, ‘God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?… he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness’ (Heb 12:7, 10). Just as earthly children grow in obedience and righteousness when they disciplined properly by their earthly fathers, so we grow in righteousness and holiness when we are disciplined by our heavenly Father” (Pg. 740). [1]

Discussion Questions

  • What does it mean for someone to be adopted into a family here on earth?
  • How is this similar to Christians being adopted by God?
  • What are the benefits of being adopted into God’s family? Explain
  • How does God discipline His children?
  • How is being disciplined by God a sign of being in his family?

[1] Grudem, Wayne (1994). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Zondervan Publishing House.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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