He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Paul gives us another two verses packed with spiritual content. Predestination, adoption, the will of God and his glorious grace, all vast topics. So, let’s take them one at a time and give a brief comment on each.
“He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ”. What is predestination? If you fly on an airline it is predestined to arrive at a specific airport. If you send an email it is predestined to arrive in the correct inbox. We try to determine what will happen in our lives in some way every day. But, for God it is different.
In Christian theology predestination is summed up as: God is sovereign, all-powerful and all-knowing and therefore controls and predetermines all that comes to pass in the universe. This relates to the issue of sovereignty and free will we began to explore in the previous blog. We will look at this subject in more detail when Paul mentions this again in Ephesians 1:11.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Paul highlights believers’ adoption as sons by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus pays the price for you to become adopted (Galatians 4:4-5). If you are adopted you can relate to God the Father as your “Abba Father” (Galatians 4:6). All who believe in Christ become sons (or daughters) of God (John 1:12) and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
In Roman culture, an adopted child leaves all they were before behind and becomes a new person accepted in the new family as equal to a son (or daughter). There is an earlier blog on the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15) outlining what Roman adoption was all about in a bit more detail.
The Will of God
There is a bit about the will of God in the first blog of this series. Here let’s consider what the purpose of His will is towards us. Why did he create us? Why did He allow us to fall? These are big questions about God’s purposes. He created us to reveal His glory (Psalm 19:1, John 17:10). He wants to have a meaningful relationship with us (John 17:21). But, we went our way turning from Him to do our own thing! By disobeying God we fell into sin. God gave us the chance to choose and we chose to reject Him.
The Lord wants us to turn back from our sinful ways to Him (Isaiah 45:22). He wants us to change our direction from going our way to following Him (Matthew 16:24). In the Bible, this is called repentance (Matthew 4:17). It means to turn from the way you are going and to travel in another direction, Turn from going your way and follow Christ. Therefore, it involves actions as well as mental agreement. As well as believing in your heart you have to confess to other people that Jesus is your Lord (Romans 10:9).
Time and time again in the Old Testament the Lord asked his people to turn to Him and repent (Jeremiah 25:4-6, Ezekiel 18:30-32. Isaiah 55:7). He does not want any to be lost (Ezekiel 18:23, John 18:9). Jesus gave the same message, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It is the will of God that we turn to Him and be saved.
His Glorious Grace
Paul introduces one of the most important subjects that he taught about – grace. Paul wrote, “to the praise of his glorious grace”. Adoption as sons gives glory to the grace of God, in the beloved Christ Jesus.
Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve. God showing us His steadfast love, His mercy and His compassion by sending His only Son to die for us. The most precious gift we did not deserve. His glorious grace revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord. He gave up his life that we might live (John 10:17). People define grace in different ways (see Got Questions or Bible Study Tools for example). Paul uses the word grace 12 times in this letter so we will keep looking at it from different angles. I think we have a lot to learn about what God’s grace is like and it may take us the whole of eternity to begin to comprehend the grace extended to us through Christ Jesus.
As we work our way through the letter to the Ephesians we will look in much more detail at these and other topics.