Dr. J.I. Packer once stated, “Adoption is the highest privilege of the gospel. The traitor is forgiven, brought in for supper, and given the family name.” With that sentence, we get right to the heart of the gospel. If there has been one doctrine that has been neglected in recent years, it arguably has been adoption. Recent years has also seen a renewed focus on talking about what adoption is from the Word of God and how important it is to the Church. This trend encourages me, because in this reviewer’s opinion, adoption is at the core of the gospel. Jesus takes rebels and turns them into His friends. At the heart of the doctrine of adoption is the truth of the grace of God. We get what we don’t deserve, namely pardon and forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus. Through the doctrine of adoption, we come to understand how Jesus takes rebels and makes them servants and sinners into saints, all for the praise of His name and for His glory. A new book on adoption has come out by J. Stephen Yuille called, A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God, which examines the doctrine of adoption from the Word of God and everyday life.
A Hope Deferred has fourteen chapters and comes in at 148 pages. The author begins his discussion of adoption in chapter one, with explaining what adoption is rooting his examination of adoption throughout the book in Romans 8 in order to help the reader understand the doctrine of adoption. One of the greatest strengths of this book (and there are many) is the manner in which the author illustrates biblical teaching through practical experience. It has been said that the best books are lived and this book is definitely one the author has lived. The author pens this book out of considerable experience with adopting a child, a story he weaves throughout the book to point out the depths of our adoption through the finished work of Jesus Christ. By being biblical and utilizing lessons from personal experience with adoption, the author helps us understand what adoption is from the Word of God.
Ours is an age where many children are without fathers. Many people grow up despising their fathers because their fathers abandon them. Growing up, I was a child who had a neglectful father and it was the doctrine of adoption that strengthened my faith in God. While many people run away from God during these times, I ran to God, understanding that He is my heavenly Father who cares for me. God is not distant; He is near to His people. He promises to be a Father to the fatherless. We see this outlined in the doctrine of adoption, namely that the Father sent the Son to take those who were His enemies and turn them into His friends, by transferring them from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. It is precisely at this point where the author assists us through his teaching on adoption by helping those like me, who had an absent father, understand that our Father in heaven is different than our earthly fathers. This is no small point for many people like myself. Furthermore, this truth is near and dear to the heart of God, who longs to redeem, reconcile, and restore those broken by absentee fathers and broken homes, by drawing them to Himself. God is a Father who is near to them and who makes broken people whole through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Yuille enables us to understand our adoption as children of God by first explaining to us how we were ransomed, redeemed, and reconciled. He aptly states:
“The term ransom means to purchase the freedom of a salve. And so, Christ is saying that he gives his life for us to free us. Our bondage is immeasurable in magnitude. Therefore, the ransom must be infinite in measure—the very Son of God. When Christ died on the cross as our substitute, he actually accomplished two things for us. First, he paid our debt. We’re guilty of disobeying God, and we’re guilty of breaking his covenant. As a result, we’re debtors to him—under the curse. But Christ paid our debt upon the cross. That’s called redemption. Second, Christ purchased our inheritance. At the time of Adam’s fall, we lost everything. Most importantly, we fell into a state of alienation from God. But Christ purchased our inheritance (membership into God’s family) upon the cross. That’s called adoption. In Christ, we possess a new name, new position and new identity. And Christ passes on this inheritance in perpetuity to all his people. It’s important to note that the link between redemption and adoption is reconciliation: a change in our legal status before God. By Christ’s death, redemption effects reconciliation (i.e., peace with God, and reconciliation becomes the basis of God’s adoption of us” (16-17).
A Hope Deferred by J. Stephen Yuille will help those who have absent fathers, regardless for the reason behind their absence. In an age where many children go without a father, the Church should celebrate the abundance of resources emphasizing the doctrine of adoption. Furthermore, the Church should continue to reach out to those children who don’t have parents so that they might not be stuck in orphanages and foster homes, but may instead be raised in homes by parents that ground their lives in the Word of God.
Yuille’s excellent treatise on adoption ably probes the doctrine of adoption, while interweaving the author’s personal testimony in order to help his readers understand the essential relationship between adoption, affliction, and the fatherhood of God over His people. The best books are grounded in the Word of God, in personal example, and contain a good story of how God has worked a particular doctrine into their own life-experience. This book combines all three of these traits and thus is a must-read, as well as a resource I highly recommend for those who were raised in broken homes or are interested in adopting a child.