In this episode John and Gregg discuss listener feedback from Joanne, on Episode 31. Joanne commented on relating to God as “father” and “abba.” Joanne explained this with reference to Romans 8:15, which refers to people being adopted into God’s family contrasted with earlier parts of Romans that also touches on slavery–a topic Kyle Idleman hit hard in Not a Fan.
Gregg identifies similarities in both Joanne’s and, earlier, Melinda’s comments and in his responses to both, where Gregg distinguished ‘how’ something takes place versus ‘why’ it takes place. While John wonders about the significance of adoption in contrast to slavery, Gregg clarifies the context and purpose of the book of Romans. In brief, Romans argues for the legitimacy of Jesus as the messiah who fulfills the covenant and bears the consequences for Israel’s failure, in Israel’s place. In this way, the promise to Abraham is also fulfilled and as such non-Jews are now invited to enter into right relationship with God. Hence “adoption.”
Yet adoption explains ‘how‘ this invitation was made possible. And while the Christian’s relationship with God comes about through salvation and results in adoption, Gregg argues that Christians are mistaken if they understand their relationship with God to be about salvation. Instead, Gregg believes that relationship with God is better understood on the basis of ‘why‘, in two senses. First, ‘why’ (from what motivation) did God promise to invite non-Jews into relationship with God-self, and ‘why’ (for what purpose) does God seek this relationship?
So Gregg notes that understanding our child-parent relationship with God because we have been adopted (as a result of salvation) amounts to proving our rights or validating our claim to such, but instead we should be focusing on the relationship with God itself. Yet John notes, with Easter approaching people will be focusing on Jesus’ sacrifice as all the more important because we were undeserving of what he did on our behalf.
Gregg contests this notion: while the servants of a sovereign are not deserving of the sovereign’s sacrifice–children, when faced with a parent’s act of sacrifice, would never consider themselves undeserving. So Gregg argues that me must understand all of these notions by seeing God dually as parent and sovereign and ourselves as children and servants.