Sunday, May 29, 2016

Predestined for adoption - Ephesians 1:5-6

"In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:5-6)
The original Greek text of the New Testament was written without punctuation and word capitalization. Therefore, in some places, it makes it hard for the translators to know where one sentence ends and another begins. Such is the case here. The opening words, "in love" could either be the ending of the previous verse indicating that we are to one day stand holy and without defect before Him in love, or with the present verse meaning that in love He predestined us to the adoption as sons. Either way, it does not change the underlying import or meaning of Paul's message.

It is my belief that predestination is not irresistible. We have all, as part of the human race, been predestined to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ. However, while many, that is all, are called, not all will embrace the call and not all will find the will of God productive in their lives in produce within them the adoption as sons. Jesus tells the story of a great wedding feast where those who were called we not found worthy. So the man send out his servants to go into the highways and byways and to compel others to come in so that his wedding feast might be full. However, while many were called, not all made themselves ready. "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:11-14) While we are all called to be sons and daughters to God, it is up to us to receive that calling and to let that calling transform our lives that we might be ready when the time comes. The calling is from God and predestined for our benefit. However, the choosing depends on us; on what we do with the call. Will we accept the call? Will we receive Christ? Or will we render the call powerless and empty in our lives?

The calling of God is not that we would merely be holy and without defect, for He could have secured that through His holy might and the limitless power of His will. After all, are there not myriads of angles already around the thrown who are holy and perfect? But God desired something even greater than this. God did not create us that we would be but holy and perfect creatures, He created us that one day we might become sons and daughters, just like our elder brother Jesus. "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30) God did not create us merely to be good, He created us to be His! In our transformation from men and women into sons and daughters of God, we need the instruction, help, support, and agency of Jesus. Even had Adam and Even not sinned, we would have needed Jesus to teach us and to help us to become something we have never been before, sons and daughters of God. It is through Jesus that we learn of the Father. It is through Him that we learn of a life that is worthy of our calling in God. And it is through Jesus that we find our resurrection from this lowly life we have been born in and unto the the new life we shall have eternally with God. Jesus Himself said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." (John 11:25-26) There can be no adoption as sons without the resurrection and there can be no resurrection without the only begotten Son of the Father, Jesus Christ.

In understanding God's plan for us, we are drawn to see that God's every will and purpose for our lives is kind and is good. God is not like those ancient Greek and Roman gods who were malevolent, irritable, and temperamental. God never has bad days, He is never angry without cause, and His every intent towards us is kind and good. No matter what we have done, or where we have been, we can always trust in the goodness and kindness of God.

It is from this benevolent disposition of God towards us that He bestows on us one of His greatest gifts, and that is the gift of His favor. Grace is the favor of God that is directed towards us irrespective of our merit or worthiness to receive such grace. Sometimes, we fall into the "But as for me!" crowd. "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped." (Psalms 73:1-2) We readily acknowledge God's goodness to others, but are often unsure of it when it comes to ourselves. We see God's favor all around us, but often doubt that God is, or can be, gracious towards us. The truth is God loves us and His favor is always shinning down upon us. Even when we don't think ourselves worthy of such favor, it is His over-abundant favor that shows us, and others, our true worth and acceptance in His sight. The Greek phrase "freely bestowed" can also be translated, "made accepted." God's favor is both that which changes us and that which marks us as accepted and loved by God.

All this is for one purpose and end. That God might receive the praise and glory due to Him and Him alone. Everything good we find in our live, or the lives of others, is a result of the grace and favor of God. While we can celebrate the works and ends that God's favor has caused in our life and others, we must reserve all true praise and glory for God. In the end, who and what we are are the results of His purpose, choosing, predestination, and favor. Our part in all this is to believe, receive, and yield to God's will and purpose. It is only in this way that we too might inherit the promises made to us by God.

David Robison

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