Ephesians Meditations No.4
4. Adopted for Praise
Eph 1:5,6 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In the previous meditation we focused on the fact of us being ‘predestined’ by God but verse 5 also contains another word that is very important – adopted. See the parallelism with the previous verse: “he chose us…..to be holy and blameless in his sight…. he predestined us to be adopted as his sons.” (v.4,5) There we have two initiating acts of God in His choosing us and predestining us, and two outcomes – holy and blameless and adopted sons. Before we rush by, do you regularly praise and thank God for the wonder of these truths, that you are holy and blameless in God’s sight NOW, and you are an adopted son.
What does ‘adopted’ mean? It means that God has taken legal steps to declare you legally part of His family. Jesus is The Son of God by his very nature, he is God, but we are sons of God because God has declared us legally so. In case this is new to you, take it in. The ‘legal action’ that God took was first of all Jesus dying on the Cross to take your sin. Your ‘signing the legal document’ was you surrendering your life to Him, confessing your sin, seeking forgiveness and committing your whole future life into His hands for Him to be your Lord (which took place at what you call your conversion). God’s seal of the legal adopting agreement (as we’ll see later in this chapter) was Him putting His Holy Spirit into you so that you were ‘born again’ (Jn 3:3), but He did that so that you too are not only adopted by ‘legal action’ but are now a being who also is a son by nature, because you are a God-person, a person with God in you!
Those who are sensitive about gender might say, why a son? Why can’t I be a daughter? Well of course you are, but the imagery of being ‘sons’ goes back to the life of the Old Testament people where a ‘son’ was the one who inherited the property and, more importantly, took on the father’s business, together with all the responsibilities that went with it. Thus when we are adopted as ‘sons’ it indicates that we are not only part ‘part of the family’ but we are also inheritors of the Father’s business, which of course is to bless mankind!!!
Note also that here we have the sixth reference to Christ in these opening verses. We are what we are ONLY because of the work of Christ on the Cross, and thus we are “adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” Jesus made all this possible and without him it is not possible; that is how important he is in history.
But Paul adds a further rider to all this: “in accordance with his pleasure and will.” He is very much aware that this is all because of God, not us! It was because God initiated all this, even before He created anything. It was part of His plan right back then. Note that it wasn’t a hard thing. He didn’t say, “Oh dear, I suppose I’ll have to do this.” No it was a pleasure. He saw that with free will and with the presence of Satan, sin would come into the world with all of its consequences and that would mean that man was separated from Him, yet He had created mankind to enjoy them and have pleasure from them (us). Are you not sure about that?
Read Solomon’s revelation in Proverbs as he personifies wisdom, which was in reality Jesus, the Son, sharing in the creation work with his Father: “Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Prov 8:30,31) Isn’t that beautiful! Jesus was not only delighting in his Father’s presence but he also delighted in the wonder of the first man and woman that they had made. But all that was lost when sin separated us from them, and so the work to reinstate that relationship was a pleasure to the godhead.
Listen to what Jeremiah heard: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and …. I will rejoice in doing them good ….” (Jer 32:40,41) This is God’s plan for His redeemed people, this is His pleasure and His will. Similarly Zephaniah caught something of the Lord’s delight when His people return to Him: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph 3:17)
So God rejoices over us, takes pleasure in us. How wonderful! What is the other side of the coin, our part? Paul says it: “to the praise of his glorious grace.” Praise is the natural response to all of this. Remember we said earlier in a previous meditation that praise is the acknowledgment of achievement. Praise is a sign of relationship, of recognition of goodness. Paul had started this paragraph with praise: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.3) and the paragraph is all about what we have to praise God for. This is all about His grace, and when we ‘see’ it, we cannot but help praise Him for the wonder of it. If need be, read back over this paragraph in Paul’s letter and take in the wonder of what we have seen so far and then praise the Lord for it all. Don’t let it be academic, let it move your heart.