Blessings from God the Father: Chosen for Adoption
“4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Two kids get selected as team captains, and then all the other kids line up in front of them. Next those two captains take turns choosing who they want on their team. Did you ever get chosen last? Do you remember how bad that felt? “Ok, fine. I guess Danny is on our team.”
Everything we have as Christians, we have because we are in Christ. But how did we get in Christ? God chose us to be in Him.
God Chose Those in Christ
▸ Subject of God’s Choice: just as He chose us
The term “chose” is from the Greek eklegomai meaning “to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one’s self.” It is used of God choosing the elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21); Christ (1 Peter. 2:6); the Apostles (John 15:16) etc. In the Old Testament God chose the tribe of Levi to be His servants and priests. The term “us” refers to those who are already Christians. “He chose us in Him” not “He chose us to be in Him.” Because the Ephesians saints were already in Christ, they were chosen.
▸ Location of God’s Choice: in Him
Calvinism teaches that this choice is God deciding which unsaved sinners He wants for Himself. Black Muslim extremists have argued that the Jews are not God’s chosen people, but that blacks are. White supremacists have argued that it is not Jews, but whites who are God’s chosen race.
However, election in Christ is primarily corporate rather than personal and individual. God instead chose to save the faithful in Christ. A corporate term focusing collectively on those who are in Christ. People become elect only in the Elect One – Christ. Election takes place in Him and through Him. Individuals are not elected and then put in Christ. They are in Christ and therefore elect.
▸ Time of God’s Choice: before the Foundation of the World
The laying of the foundation of the building came to represent the beginning of the of a thing. Before the world was ever created the Creator determined to chose those who were in Christ. God always has planned for people to come to Him through Christ. Election of those in Christ is not a mere after-thought. God is not reckless in His planning salvation for man. God made His decision in advance of the creation of man and before man ever sinned and was in need of salvation.
▸ Purpose of God’s Choice: That we should be holy and without blame before Him
There is nothing in the verse which claims these were specifically chosen for eternal life. Judas was chosen (John 6:70). He did not have eternal life. Jesus called him the son of perdition and warned him.
Since choosing is always for or unto something, what is it? God chooses for a task or a responsibility, namely, to live holy an blameless lives before him. First, “holy” means to be set apart for a special purpose. We are separate from the wicked World. And set apart from sin to be holy as God is holy. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Second, and closely akin to Holy, is saints in Christ are set apart to be “without blame.” The term is used in the Old Testament to describe the unblemished animals set apart for sacrifices to God (Ex. 29:37-38). Sin is a disgrace and shameful blemish on the soul. Christians are not to have any stains on their character or conduct. The Church is to be “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). Those who are to practice pure religion must keep themselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). God has not sent His Son to die so man could remain in sin but to become holy and “to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col. 1:22).
God Predestined Us to Adoption
▸ Motive of Adoption: in love
The phrase “In love” is either for verse 4 or 5. Both the expressions “election” and “adoption” imply God’s love. Here it represents God’s desire for you to be His child. Adoption implies a choice. Like a mother explaining adoption to her child: “You grew in my heart, not in my womb.” God wants all those in Christ be to a part of His family. You were not a mistake or an accident. God has included all those who have been saved in Christ as sons and daughters out of love.
▸ Subjects: having predestined us
Warren Wiersbe wrote “election seems to refer to people, while predestination refers to purposes”(The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 2, p. 11). The destination of the saint as part of God’s family was decided previously. The boundaries have been marked out as to who God is going to adopted to full sonship. Predestination refers to saints and not to sinners. Sinners are not predestined to hell, but saints to adoption
▸ Goal of Adoption: to adoption as sons
Under Roman Law, a Roman could even adopt an adult son to be his heir and perpetuate his name. This adopted son could be a former slave. Caesar Augustus even adopted Tiberius to be his heir and thus future Caesar. When adopted the man’s previous debts were cancelled. All former relationships were abolished as well.
Adoption shows that the purpose of election is relational. Adoption means becoming God’s sons and daughters with all the privileges implied. “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17). Of course, a change in relationship necessitates a change in behavior. Sons of God are to act a certain way because we have been adopted into God’s household. A Christian’s conduct must reflect the fact he represents God’s name before the world.
▸ Means of Adoption: by Jesus Christ
The method of adoption is “by Jesus Christ.” Adoption is not free. Adoption comes at a cost. The one adopting pays a great price. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). God signed the adoption papers for you with the blood of Christ.
▸ Objective of Adoption: to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will
“To the praise of his glorious grace” is repeated in verses twelve and fourteen. God’s choice to adopt us by Jesus Christ was not done under compulsion. God was willing and joyous in this adoption. The reasons for God’s choosing were only in Himself. The adopting is for the honor, applause or commendation of God. Adoption was not just for our benefit. God benefits in giving us the gift of adoption. His grace is to cause us to praise Him.
God Made Us Accepted
▸ Means: by which
Chosen for adoption makes us acceptable in Christ.
▸ Purpose: He made us accepted
The term “accepted” is the verb from for grace. God graced us when He chose us for adoption.
▸ Location: in the Beloved
The source of this acceptance of us is Jesus Christ. “Beloved” is a common term of endearment used by writers of the New Testament to refer to those who are greatly loved either by them or God. Jesus is God’s beloved. God stated such at Christ’s baptism and the transfiguration referring to Him as his (Mark 1:11; 9:7).
Calvinist use this passage to teach that God’s arbitrarily chose which souls will be saved and which will be damned. But these verses teach that God does not predestine certain people to go to Hell and others to go to Heaven. While God chooses those in Christ, people still have choice and are responsible for their decisions. No one should worry whether he or she is elect. If you have chosen to be in Christ, God will elect you to adoption.
– Daniel R. Vess