Just for a moment picture an orphaned child in need of adoption. This child before being adopted lives in an incredibly helpless estate. They are in need of aid and care. As they live in their current place, they really exist without hope for the future and no real purpose in the present. He or she lacks the provision necessary to live fully in a healthy manner and to be productive in their future endeavors.
Now, picture this child discovering the beauty of being adopted. A family chooses to seek him or her out. They choose to rescue this child from their current condition. They choose to fully give and display their love to this child. They choose to provide care for this little one. That family has now given this precious life a place to grow in the present and a hope for the future. Certainly this new existence is also a new identity for the child…and this new identity comes with an expectation.
We must take notice that the child is not adopted because they are the ones who seek the new parents or because they able to first meet a certain criteria or expectation. They are sought and adopted purely on the choice of the parent. And the are provided for with the hopes that the child will know love and have a hope for the future in light of this love and provision.
When we try to bring an understanding of our identity in Christ…we must come to grips with our adoption story. Last week, I wrote about Life in Christ as declared in the Scriptures. They certainly speak of this life better than I could ever write…but they proclaim that Life in Christ is found in the gracious identity from God and they lead to a glorious outcome through God.
Today it is my hope that we discover what our adoption story reveals about this Life in Christ…this gracious identity and glorious outcome…from and through God Himself.
The Letter to the Ephesians from the Bible states this in 1:5-12 [nasb]…
In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Now to gain understanding from the Scriptures in their context which brings the greatest applications and the relevance of God’s Word to our lives…I encourage people to ask 4 major questions…
- What do the Scriptures specifically say? This is important so that we don’t lose the details of each intentionally inspired word.
- What were the results of this revelation in their specific time and place? God specifically chose the time and place in which He revealed His Word for a reason…if we are going to understand the relevance of His Word today…we can’t skip what it meant then because these are inseparable.
- What applications are carried forward from then to now? This is where the living and active nature of God’s Word gets planted in us not for mere entertainment, enlightenment, or encouragement…but to change our lives in every arena.
- What am I willing to do about what God reveals? This means responding to who God is, what God says, and what God does. Worship is the responding of man to God. We have not truly worshipped until we have responded to Him as He is.
We can take note of a few things here. The letter was written most likely as a circuit letter between 60-63 A.D. while the apostle Paul was in his 2nd (and final) imprisonment in Rome under the reign of Nero. He is writing to a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in the city of Ephesus. He is trying to help the readers (listeners) understand their identity in Christ and the expected outcome of a disciple through Christ.
So…What does our adoption story have to reveal about our Life in Christ?
I. Adoption reveals a Picture…
- This picture is centered on the person, character, nature, & attributes of God Himself.
- God, the Author & Perfector of our faith and of all history is the central person of this story.
- We have been granted grace by God because He Himself provides to revelation of Himself so that man could know God Himself.
We notice God’s choice of love…Paul writes that the acts of God flow from His holiness. That it is the very nature of God to be holy and loving. Every act displays the eternal attributes of God’s love. This is a love that the Bible declares
In love God chose you and me. In love God chose the cross to demonstrate this love even though we weren’t deserving (Romans 5:8). God didn’t have to love us and His choice is precisely why it is true love. God also didn’t limit His love to mere words…His choice of love had action reinforcing it. God also didn’t put limitations or a temporary and fleeting status on His love. His love is eternal, unending, and relentless. That’s because the love of God that is gifted to us is just as eternal as God Himself because the source of this love is God Himself.
We also see revealed in this picture is God’s Ultimate Foreknowledge. The topic of election, foreknowledge, predestination, and the sovereignty of God are always difficult for finite minds to ultimately wrap our heads around them. But, this biblical mystery presents the divine sovereignty and the human responsibility. Both are taught in the Bible, both are true, and both are essential (Wiersbe).
Salvation & grace begin with and belong to God and not with man. Jesus said “You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you (John 15:16). If the lost man or woman were left to their (our) own devices, they would not seek God… (Romans 3:10-11). It is the revelation of God made know to man that draws us in. We see in the Bible that it is God in His love that seeks after the sinner (Luke 19:10).
The human responsibility to God’s divine & sovereign invitation of grace is to receive in faith what only He can and willing provides through Jesus.
We see the whole nature and trinitarian personhood at work in this picture of salvation from God to man. According to Warren Wiersbe…
“As far as God the Father is concerned, you were saved when He chose you in Christ in eternity past. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Son is concerned, you were saved when He died for your on the cross. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior.”
What began in eternity past, was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity future. And this has never in all of eternity escaped the mind of the infinite, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (ever-present) God. His foreknowledge and predestination speaks as to what God does for His children. There are places throughout Scripture where this is taught. We are, however, never taught in the Bible that people are predestined to hell. Predestination is only used in the context of God’s purposes for God’s people.
This provision of God’s foreknowledge (what He knows to be true from eternity) is our adoption through Him.
When the Bible speaks of this adoption though…it doesn’t mean we get into God’s family by just adoption as we are. The Bible says we must be born again or become a new creation through Christ. This is theologically known as regeneration. The adoption however means that God provides the very status of being His legitimate child and all the spiritual benefits of such a status (identity).
Why and how does God do this? Well, the Adoption of God reveals the Picture of God’s Gracious Acceptance.
He accepts us “according to the kind intention of His will”. We cannot by our own skills, talents, resources, and abilities make ourselves acceptable to God; but He chooses by His grace to make us so in Christ. This status of acceptance is an eternal position that will never change because it is dependent on Him and not us. It is the position of grace which is the unmerited and undeserved favor from God to man.
This is the beauty and generosity of Jesus Christ that is the Gospel (good news).
- God created us in love.
- Our sins have separated us from Him, but we were not abandoned by Him.
- Sins cannot be removed or paid for by our own attempts at good deeds
- Paying the price we couldn’t Jesus came to live perfectly, die willingly, and rise again victoriously.
- Everyone who places their trust in Jesus will be saved.
- Life eternal begins the moment one places their trust in Jesus Christ.
The God of the Scriptures makes known to us that He understands us, accepts us, and He now invites us into the immensity of His grace that brings life, love, and, transformation.
“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved,”
We will continue to discover more and be more effective in Christ when we seek God through His Word and in times of prayer.
By His Grace. Through His Gospel. For His Glory.
#FollowJesus #BeHis #LifeInChrist
These blogs are from the sermons at Eastgate Baptist.
Listen To Sermon Audio Online Here.
Continuing “An Adoption Story” Next Week…