Adoption, Assurance, and the Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit -- By: David A. Gundersen

Journal: Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry
Volume: JDFM 02:1 (Fall 2011)
Article: Adoption, Assurance, and the Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit
Author: David A. Gundersen

Adoption, Assurance, and the Internal Testimony of the Holy Spirit

David A. Gundersen

David A. “Gunner” Gundersen (M.Div., Th.M., The Master’s Seminary; Ph.D. cand., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Director of Student Life at Boyce College. He previously served as Dean of Men at The Master’s College in Southern California. He and his wife Cindi have adopted four children from East Africa: Judah, Ember, Isaiah, and Brooklyn. Gunner blogs at He enjoys family, sports, words, and fall weather.

They were so different just a few months ago when we first met. At four-and-a-half years old, Noella had already seen dozens of her orphan friends leave Home of Hope united with new families. She immediately and playfully connected, yearning for long-awaited love and lasting attention. At four years old, our round and deep-eyed Nathanael had just been transferred from another orphanage. He was far more interested in each passing “motorcar” than his new parents. Sophia, our youngest at three-and-a-half, was petrified for the first week, turning her head, arching her back, and welling up in tears at every affectionate approach. So she latched onto the familiar—the tall Rwandan driver operating our rented Land Cruiser, a stout ex-military man who had launched heavy ordnance against the murderous majority during the infamous Rwandan genocide of 1994. Our new children were loved and were being adopted, but they remained uncertain, insecure, and apprehensive.

How would they come to know that they are our children? How would they become convinced of their new heritage and inheritance ? What would be the sign of their sonship, the affirmation of their adoption? For now, perhaps we could employ a trilingual lawyer fluent in Kinyarwanda, French, and English to translate for them the raft of documents testifying to their new status. In the future, we could point to family resemblances, developed over years of absorbing aspects of our familial personality. Or both now and in days to come, we could trust that the earth-turning transformation between the midnight of fatherlessness and the dawn of sonship is proven by the brilliantly underestimated testimony: “Daddy!”

Revisiting Assurance

How do Christians know that we are God’s children? What assures us of his love? How do we become convinced of our new heritage and inheritance? What is the sign of our sonship, the affirmation of our adoption? Conservative evangelical theology has typically portrayed biblical teaching on such assurance as objective, rational, almost empirical. Believing and doing the right things provides sufficient evidence of our reconciled


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