Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Adoption and the Beauty of the Gospel, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Here's Dr. Russell Moore. 

Dr. Russell Moore: The family of God is not determined by the flesh; it's determined by the Spirit; it's determined by the promise. You have to understand who you are now in Christ. Everything has changed for you, and it didn't change for you because of who you are by birth. It changed for you because of the adopting power of God, through the Holy Spirit.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, April 18, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: According to God's Word, when you were adopted into God's family, it changed your entire identity. You are now a child of the King. Throughout Scripture we see the value that God places on adoption.

Dr. Russell Moore has a personal life message about adoption. He and his wife, Maria, are adoptive parents, and this has given him unique insights into what it means for us to be adopted into God's family.

Dr. Moore is the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptists. He's also an author. He's written an important new book called Onward. It's about engaging the culture without losing the gospel.

And he's written a book called Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. We'll hear from Dr. Moore on this important topic of adoption today.

And before we begin, let me remind you that Russell Moore will be joining us for True Woman '16, September 22–24 in Indianapolis. He'll be speaking along with Mary Kassian, Janet Parshall, Steven Kendrick (producer of the move War Room) and others.

We're anticipating that the seating will sell out quickly, and the discounted price for early registration ends May 2. So I'll help you'll get all the details at, and make plans to join us for True Woman '16 on September 22–24.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Here's Part 1 of today's message from Dr. Russell Moore.

Dr. Moore: Will you please turn in your Bibles to Galatians chapter 3, verse 27, and let's read on down through chapter 4, verse 9. Would you please stand for the reading of the words of our God? Now brothers, the Apostle Paul writes these words to the churches in Galatia (what is now Turkey), through the Holy Spirit, a couple thousand years ago, and this is what he said: 

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, and heirs according to promise.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way, we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Let's pray. Holy Father, we pray and ask that You would have mercy upon us, as sinners, and Father, we pray that You would give within us a heart that cries out with gratitude, and hearts also that groan in order to be with You on your mission to reclaim orphans as beloved children. And we ask all of these things to the glory of our Lord Jesus, in whose Name we pray, amen.

You may be seated.

It didn't happen the way that we always thought it would. My wife, Maria, and I had already been to Russia on the first of two trips, where we introduced to these two little one-year-old boys. We were able to be with them for one week, and then we had to turn around and come back to the United States and wait to get the call that would say, "Your paperwork is all done. You can come and receive your children, and you can legally become their parents."

That call did come, and we made the trip back to Russia. We waited there for three-and-a-half weeks for all of the court documents to be finished. Then the day was finally set where we could go and receive these two little boys, little Maxim Rosterlotzky and Sergei Gorbunkov and officially change their names to Benjamin Jacob Moore and Timothy Russell Moore.

We walked up to that hulking old, haunted-house-looking orphanage. We walked in through those front doors one more time and smelled the awful, gut-wrenching smell. We looked around at those cracking, falling-apart walls.

We walked into that room one last time, where those two boys were lying there in their own waste in little cribs that they never left for more than a few minutes at a time. We had all of the clothes that our parents had made for them and sent for them.

We changed them into these new clothes, and we took them out of the orphanage to go home. But I had kind of imagined it, in my mind, as a different kind of a scene. I had kind of a gauzy, sentimental, Hallmark kind of a moment. The one where you walk in and there's a soft music soundtrack in the background, and the boys are reaching out for us, or maybe coming to us in slow motion, as we throw them up into the air, and then we walk out into the car and into the sunlight! But that's not how it happened.

When we walked out of the orphanage doors, my two new sons screamed in terror. They'd never been outside before, and the sun terrified them. The wind blowing into their faces scared them. The shadows that started showing up on their bodies, they were trying to wipe them away.

And they were looking into our faces as if to say, "Who are you and where are you taking us?!" And when we got into a car—the first car they'd ever been in—and when they heard their first slamming of a car door, they both screamed in terror and were reaching back toward the orphanage as we sped away.

I leaned over and tried to whisper (knowing they couldn't understand a word of English). I said, "Listen. That place is a pit. It stinks; it's awful; it's decrepit! You have no idea what is waiting for you. You have a mommy and a daddy and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and Happy Meals and Legos and air-conditioning—and everything is waiting for you. You just can't imagine what it is like!"

But they kept reaching back for the orphanage. It was horrible, but it was all they'd ever known. It was home. That's been six years ago, nearly seven, and they are thoroughly Americanized now. They can recognize the ding of a microwave from thirty yards away.

But I still remember those hands reaching backward; and I remember it, not because of what it tells me about them, but what it tells me about me. This is precisely what the apostle Paul is about when he is writing to a church that is in crisis here.

He speaks to them about the fact that they have all received the adoption as the sons of God. You see, the problem with this congregation is that they couldn't figure out who they were, and they couldn't figure out where they were going.

You have a group of people in that congregation who were coming out of a very different background, and they were wondering, Do I really fit here? Do I really belong here? Can I really call God my Father? Can I really call that Jerusalem that's above my mother?

"Can I really do this? Do I really fit here? Do I really belong here? All these promises about the future that are being made to the children of God in my Bible, do they really apply to me?" And Paul says, "What I want you to understand is that, if you are in Christ, things have changed for you. You have received an adoption, all of you."

He furthermore writes and says to the church there—and to the church here—that if you have received something from God, if you have been brought into the household of God, that means that you must join with Christ in the mission of Christ, a mission that has a heart breaking for orphans, a mission that receives children.

The way that this congregation understands the gospel will be seen, the Scripture says, in the way that we receive fatherless children. And the way that this congregation receives fatherless children will remind us constantly of the gospel that has received us.

I want you to notice two things in this text: Paul writes and talks about the freedom of a new belonging, and he talks about the freedom of a new future.

Notice first of all what Paul does. He writes here and he says, "Everybody who has been baptized into Christ, everybody who has come to know Christ, everybody who is hidden in Christ is now a son of God. He says, "You are now Abraham's offspring." He says, "You now are part of the family of God; you are now part of the household of Christ; you now have a new identity that is found in Christ. Every single one of you, you belong here!"

And notice what the apostle does: he writes and he says, "Your identity is not found in the flesh anymore. It isn't found in whether or not you are Jew or Greek or male or female or slave or free. It doesn't matter what kind of economic background or what kind of genetic background you have.

He says, "God has adopted you. He has brought you into this family, and that means this is really and truly now your family." And he writes and he says, "Those people in the congregation who are saying "No, no, no, no before you can become received as of the brothers, you have to become like us in the flesh, marking out the flesh."

Paul says, "They are wrong, because the family of God is not determined by the flesh. It's determined by the Spirit; it's determined by the promise. You have to understand who you are now in Christ. Everything has changed for you, and it didn't change for you because of who you are by birth. It changed for you because of the adopting power of God through the Holy Spirit."

That is the case for every single person in this room who knows Jesus Christ. You are here through the adopting power of God. And notice what he does. He says, "You've got some people in that congregation who are willing to say, 'We're Jewish people. We come from a long line of people who have believed in God'"

He points out and shows to them Abraham himself: "The one who you so easily want to claim as your father, he was adopted by God. He was called out of paganism; he was brought into the fellowship of God through the mercy and the promise of Christ."

All of us, no matter who we are, if we are standing in right fellowship with God, we are here through adoption and not through the work of the flesh. People will always come up and ask me, if they found out that we've received two of our children by adoption, "So, are they brothers?"

My response is, "Yes, they sure are."

"But are they really brothers?"

"Yes, they're really brothers!"

"Yes, but you know what I mean . . ." And what they mean is, do they share the same bloodline, and do they share the same DNA. do they share all of these kinds of things? Do they share the things that really matter?

That is exactly the kind of mindset the apostle Paul is blowing away when he comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ: "You are not here because of who you are genetically, and you don't have to be whatever it is that you are, genetically.

Some of you have a predisposition toward flying into a rage, and there may be some genetic basis to that. And you say, "My mother was the most temper-tantrum-throwing woman you've ever seen in your life. And so was my grandmother and my great-grandmother. My great-great-grandmother could rip through a door and throw a man forty feet away!"

Okay, maybe so. That is not who you have to be. You are not genetically determined to be who you are; you, instead, have been brought into a new reality. You have a new identity. He says, "And all of you, no matter what your background is, you now have a new place at the table of God, and it is a real family that is there."

Paul says, "It is not by Jew or Gentile or male or female or slave or free." He says, "You have received here a Spirit of Christ. And how do you know that you have received the Spirit of Christ? Because you are crying out, with Christ, 'Abba, Father.' That is how you know that you are the child of God."

There may be some of you in this room today who say, "You know what? I come from a background that has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. I couldn't find Romans in my Bible with a thumb tab. I don't understand what people are talking about when they say, 'I'm blessed.' I just don't get it. Maybe I wouldn't fit in the household of God." No, no, no. Paul says the issue is not where you have been; the issue is that God is bringing people who are far away and transforming them into His children. 

How do you know whether or not you are the child of God? It is not whether or not you look a certain way; it is not whether or not you talk a certain way; it is not whether or not you have all of these little practices down or this long family heritage down. It is that the Spirit within you is provoking you. 

It's just like Jesus, when He's in the Garden of Gethsemane and He is groaning out to His Father, "Abba, Father, deliver me!" That's what the Holy Spirit does. And anyone who is grieving over this bondage to sin, and anyone who is alarmed by the condemnation that is coming, and anyone who is willing to scream out to a Father, "Father, please receive me in Jesus Christ!"—you are the child of God.

The Spirit that brings that repentance and brings that groaning, it comes about through God recognizing you as His child through the Spirit, not on the basis of what you can see according to the flesh. As a matter of fact, Paul says, "Notice this. Now that you have come to know God," (and then he stops and he says), "Or rather, you have been known by God."

The point of God's adopting purpose is exactly that—it didn't have anything to do with you. God is looking for you. God is offering to you. God is inviting you. And there is nobody in this room who is here, the Scripture says, by accident.

There is nobody who is hearing these words, who is hearing them by accident. God has seen to it that you are here today. And God has seen to it that you are hearing the words that invite you to become His son or His daughter—to have a new story, a new household, a new identity.

Paul says, "This is who you are!" And that's complicated, as it always is, through adoption or in any other way. I had a teenager that I heard say, one time, who had been adopted when she was a child, "You just don't understand what it's like when you start having a kind of identity crisis, when you start wondering 'who I am.' You just don't know what it's like to sit at a table and to look around and to say, 'Who are these people? They are so different than me.'"

My response was, "Oh, yes I do. It's called 'Christmas.' And it's called 'Thanksgiving!'" Every human being has had that reaction when you sit around a table from other people, even if they are blood-related to you.

There is always a time in which you say, "I just am not sure if I fit in here." Everybody knows what that is. There is always a conflict of identity, and that is certainly the case in the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, when God brings us from so many different backgrounds and from so many different places. 

He says, "You have nothing, necessarily, in common except for the Holy Spirit. These are your brothers and sisters. Love one another, because this is who you are." That's the gospel. That means that there is no such thing as an adopted child in the kingdom of God, and there is no such thing as an adopted child in a family.

Notice the way that Paul speaks about our adoption: it is past tense. "You have received—all of you have received—the adoption as sons." It is not that you have some natural-born children, and some adopted children. You have children who have been adopted into the family of God.

Leslie: That's Dr. Russell Moore, with part 1 of the message we're calling "Adoption and the Beauty of the Gospel." We'll hear part 2 from Dr. Moore tomorrow. He'll be one of the speakers joining us in Indianapolis in September for True Woman '16.

Nancy, I know a lot of listeners are excited to hear him.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie, and along with Dr. Moore we'll be joined by Janet Parshall and Mary Kassian. And a recent addition to the program is Steven Kendrick, who produced and co-wrote the film War Room.

Keith and Kristyn Getty will be leading us in worship, and then Blair Linne, who is a spoken-word artist and who was such a blessing to us at the last True Woman conference—will be back with us again.

Early registration ends May 2, so now is the time to get the best price on your registration. You can get more details by visiting We anticipate that this conference will sell out quickly, so don't delay in making your plans.

I hope you'll join us in Indianapolis, September 22–24, for Cry Out! True Woman '16.

Leslie: Tomorrow, Dr. Moore will be back to help us understand the wonder that we've been adopted into God's family.

Dr. Moore: If you are in Christ, whether male or female, you are all sons of God. This means that God has a future for you. God has something prepared for you. God is granting that to you and He is giving it to you as His first-born child, because you receive it and you have it in Christ.

Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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About the Teacher

Russell Moore

Russell Moore

Dr. Moore is a frequent cultural commentator, an ethicist, and theologian. He is the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.