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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Adoption.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of Godís free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.


Q. 1. How many sorts of sons are there?
A. There is one by generation, and another by adoption; John 1:12-13. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Q. 2. What moves God to adopt any man?
A. Nothing but his free love; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father bath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.

Q. 3. Is this privilege common to all men?
A. No; it is peculiar to them that receive him; John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.

Q. 4. What is the first property of adoption?
A. It is a costly relation; Galatians 4:4. When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Q. 5. What is the second property of adoption?
A. It is an high and honourable relation; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.

Q. 6. What is the third property of adoption?
A. It is a free relation on Godís part; Ephesians 1:4-5. According as he bath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having pre~ destinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. And it makes us free; John 8:36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Q. 7. What is the fourth property of adoption?
A. It is a permanent relation; John 8:35. The Son abideth in the house for ever.

Q. 8. What is the first privilege of the adoption?
A. They have an interest in God, as children in a father; 2 Corinthians 6:18. And I will he a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Q. 9. What is the second privilege?
A. Being Godís sons, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; Romans 8:17. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.

Q. 10. What was the third privilege?
A. Seasonable and sanctified afflictions; Hebrews 12:6. He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Q. 11. What is the fourth privilege?
A. The attendance and ministry of angels; Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Q. 12. What is the fifth privilege?
A. The assistance of the Spirit in prayer; Romans 8:15. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And Godís audience of their prayers; 1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, That if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.

Q. 13. What use should we make of this?
A. It teacheth us to carry ourselves as children to our heavenly Father. First, In our imitation of him; Ephesians 5:1. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. Secondly, In our submission to him; Hebrews 12:9. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? Thirdly, In our dependence on him; Matthew 5:32. For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.

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