Week 8: The New Testament and Adoption
Day 4: Spirit of Adoption – Romans 8:14-16
During the years that I lived in Russia, it seemed with every spring came Victory Day and with every fall came some very unwelcomed terrorist attack: Subway bombings, bus bombings, apartment building bombings, a theater siege, a school siege. Events such as these kept everyone one their toes. Possession of personal documents was very important. A couple of events in particular taught me the importance of having proof of who I was.
One event took place in the home of my “Russian grandmother” – Iza. I visited her a couple of times each week and helped with her housework, laundry, cooking and grocery shopping. One day, as an American friend and I were helping around the apartment, a knock came to the door. I opened it and was surprised to be met by two plainclothes detectives. They informed us that the police suspected someone in the apartment building of involvement in some rather despicable activity.
They questioned us, but it seemed none of our answers satisfied them. They wanted to know who my friend and I were. Why were two foreigners visiting the home? We explained that we were simply helping with the housework, but that answer didn’t suit them. My friend, Hannah, was dark complected and could have easily passed as Central Asian. One of the detectives insisted repeatedly that she was not an American. Her name didn’t sound American. Finally, I told the man who seemed to be the lead detective that both our names came from the Bible and if he wanted I would show him where. That didn’t appeal to him. He gave up his questioning with the warning that they would be back.
Some time later, came an incident I will never forget. I had been to visit Iza again. That particular day, I had two other American girls with me. We were all dressed in our usual apparel, which included long skirts and backpacks.
While we were there, Iza determined she was going to give me a large (24”) plate that hung on her kitchen wall (which is a story all in itself, and well worth the posting at another time. 😉 ). In addition to this, she found a large box of beads that she wanted to send back to the orphanage with us for the children. We already had a huge trash bag of cleaning supplies and very smelly sheets that had to be carried home (about a mile) in our backpacks. We were quite the sight as we made our way back to the orphanage!
(It would probably be appropriate to mention at this point that the previous week a group of Chechen women, terrorists, had attempted to bomb a hotel in downtown Moscow. Guess how they dressed!)
It was nearly dark by the time we headed home. We were within two minutes of the orphanage when a car suddenly swung into a side street just as we were about to cross it. Two badge-brandishing officers rushed out at us, gruffly telling us to stop and demanding to see our papers. They wanted to know who we were, what we were doing, and where we were going. I knew from the moment the car stopped, before the men had even gotten out of the car what the problem was. They saw our bags and our skirts and immediately suspected us of terrible, terrible things.
The document debate went on for about ten minutes. My friends had not been in the country long enough for their passports to have been registered. When I told the officers this, they wanted to see their airline tickets. I explained that they did not have them on their person, and that we each only had a copy of our passports and visas with us. (Having the real ones stolen is not something we regularly risked.) This was unacceptable. After all, Moscow was a “city under a regime.” They examined the copy I was carrying, and insisted that it had not been registered. I explained that the new registration stamp was hidden under the migration card that had been stapled into the passport as I came into the country. They were skeptical. I gave several suggestions of how we could either get to the originals or have the originals brought to us, but their captain, a rather disinterested fellow who never left the warmth and comfort behind the wheel of the car, seemed to hesitate at all my ideas. Finally, they agreed to let us go, but not with out first asking, “What is in the box?”
“Beads.” I answered matter-of-factly, knowing this had been the real issue all along.
“Beads? Not a bomb?”
“Here, I’ll show you.” I’ve always wondered if that was the best answer, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time. Why they didn’t pull their guns and tell me to put the box down slowly, I will never know, but they didn’t. I opened the box and pulled out a huge handful of red and blue plastic beads. They grunted, rolled their eyes, admonished us to make sure our papers were correct and waved us away. I thanked them for doing their job, and we were on our way…hearts racing.
As I have been looking at the various passages in the New Testament that mention our adoption, I have been amazed at the role the Holy Spirit plays. He’s a little like my passport, His presence in my life identifies me as an adopted child of God. It says, She is who she says she is. Romans 8 lays this out clearly for us.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) If someone is allowing the spirit of God to lead them rather than walking in the flesh, they are a child of God. His presence is the proof of our sonship.
Verse fifteen says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Notice that the second “spirit” in this verse is capitalized. This means that it is specifically referring to the Holy Spirit. In receiving Him, we have put off the bondage that we once knew.
Verse sixteen builds on this, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” I have always thought of this verse as the Holy Spirit confirming to my spirit that I belong to Christ, but it goes beyond that really. You see, the phrase “beareth witness” paints a very interesting picture. It literally means, “to testify jointly, i.e. to corroborate by (concurrent) evidence.” As soon as I read this, I thought of witnesses matching up their testimonies for a trial. One needs to confirm the other as they stand before the judge.
If I had not known where my name came from that day at Iza’s home, the questioning could have gone on for hours. If I had not had proof of who I was that day on the streets of Moscow, those officers could have hauled my friends and I off to the militia station and held us until, in their minds, the situation had been resolved. They could have, in a sense, taken us into bondage. But I did have proof. My passport was my corroborating witness, it confirmed: Rachel Miller is who she says she is. That is what the Holy Spirit does for us. He stands beside us, as the earnest (the down payment or seal) of our salvation and says, “She is who she says she is. He is who he says he is. They are children of God. I am their witness. I am the proof…There is therefore now no condemnation.” (See 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthian 5:5; Ephesians 1:14 and Romans 8:1.)
Our adoption is a beautiful thing, and we have only just begun to scratch the surface. None of us deserve it, but God offers it freely at great expense to Himself. What a joy, when an adoptive family receives that final document that says, “This child is yours.” That child never has to return the oppression and bondage they once knew, for, as we will see in the next couple of blogs, they have been set free – they belong.
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