Ephesians 1:5-6 (ESV) he predestined us for adoption 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.
Adopted as Sons | Ephesians 1:5-6
A young man was convicted of murder and sentenced to spend many years in prison. But the next thing that happened surprised everyone. The judge asked his own son to step forward out of the audience, they nodded at one another, and the son was taken into custody while the young man’s chains were removed. The young man realized what was happening and prepared to leave the courtroom a free man, acquitted of all charges while the judge’s son headed to prison.
But the next thing surprised everyone even more. The judge announced that the young man was not only free to go, but that he – the judge – was legally adopting the young man into his family. The young man would immediately move into the judge’s home, take the judge’s name, receive the judge’s provision, protection, preservation, and one day, along with his only son, even receive the judge’s inheritance.
The judge could have upheld justice for the young man convicted of murder and sent him to pay for his crime in prison. But he didn’t. Out of mercy for the young man he sent his son to pay for the crime instead. But the judge went further.
The judge could have simply sent the young back into the streets, to provide for himself out of his own resources, to protect himself from whatever enemies he had made over the years, and to receive whatever inheritance his criminal parents might leave him – likely, nothing at all. Instead, out of even greater mercy and love, he adopted the young man into his own family and promised to provide for all his needs.
Imagine, adopting a convicted felon into your own family and household, calling him your son and promising him your inheritance! Sounds dangerous.
Essentially, that is what God has done for us. He could have left us in our sin to pay its penalty, but he didn’t. In his mercy and through the death of his Son Jesus, he acquitted us of our sin and gave us a new life, even an eternal life.
But that’s not all. Because of his love and mercy he took it one step further. He loved us enough to adopt us into his own family with all its privileges and promised us an everlasting inheritance out of his own riches.
So let’s look at the process, the purpose and some of the privileges of our adoption in Christ.
- The PROCESS of our adoption
It began with the Father’s plan
Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV) he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ…
God’s plan was to choose us before the foundation of the world and to adopt us as his sons through Jesus Christ.
God had a master plan all worked out before the earth was formed. We have friends who have chosen to adopt children from multiple continents over the course of many years. They developed a plan somewhere along the line what they intended to do. The adoption of our children was not so intentional on our part. We were still involved in dealing with infertility when the opportunity to adopt Stephen came along. It was a surprise to us.
Your adoption into God’s family is not a surprise to him. He has no late in life surprises added to his family. Each one has been carefully planned before the world began. You may have been a surprise to your parents, but you are not a surprise to God.
God had a plan, but as in our story earlier of the judge and his son, God’s plan includes
The redeeming work of the Son
Galatians 4:4-6 (ESV) …when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons…
The Son’s work was to free us from the power and penalty of the law which we had broken. By being born into a law-breaking family – Adam’s family – and by breaking the law ourselves, we had come under the power and penalty of the law. The Son’s willing obedience to take our place and to pay our penalty in full to satisfy God’s justice, was a necessary step in the adoption process.
This process also includes
The Spirit’s witness
Romans 8:15-16 (ESV)
… you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
As Jesus promised his disciples before and after his death and resurrection, the Son sent the Spirit to give us internal assurance that we are God’s sons. The Spirit enables us to know God as our heavenly Father and to trust that he will fulfill all the promises he has made. His presence inside is our guarantee that God will fulfill all his promises. He is the down-payment, so to speak, of what God intends to complete in each of his children.
The Spirit of adoption is the Holy Spirit. He provides the subjective experience of God’s objective act of adoption. When your natural father is around you sense his presence because it is a physical presence. When the spirit of adoption is given to you at the new birth, he enables you to sense the Father’s presence from within because it is a spiritual presence.
Some have said that Abba, Father can be translated Daddy, a term of endearment, but a better translation is O Father, which seems to be more of a term of entreaty – one we use to call out to him in time of need.
The final step in the process is
The believer’s waiting
By faith we wait for our Father’s promises to be finally fulfilled when Christ returns. As his children in this life, we receive many of the blessings, but for some of them we must wait.
Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV) …our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
The entire process of our adoption is a long one – beginning before the world began and concluding when Christ returns – includes the Father’s plan, the Son’s work, the Spirit’s witness, and the believer’s waiting.
Now let’s look at
- The PURPOSE of our adoption
Why did God adopt us as sons into his family? There are several reasons found in our text today.
One reason God adopted us into his family is so that we might take on the family likeness, that we might become conformed to the image of his Son Jesus.
V4 God chose us in Christ, that we should be holy and blameless before him
When a person is adopted into a human family, the parents intend and purpose that the child will take on the same values and character qualities as the parents and the other children. The child may have grown up in an orphanage or in a broken home or an evil home.
Human parents who wish to adopt a child must go through a process of evaluation, usually by the dept of social services for a year or more, to ensure they are fit parents who will meet not only the child’s physical needs, but also his emotional needs and will be able to instill their own character qualities into the child.
God’s purpose in bringing us into his family is to conform us to himself and his son. “You shall be holy for I am holy.” Are you willing to cooperate with his plan to change your character over the course of your life? Are you willing to become a humble and obedient child like his one and only son?
Another purpose for our adoption was
God adopted us to be his sons simply because it was his will. It was,
V5 According to the purpose of his will.
God, as our sovereign creator and adopted Father has the right to do with us whatever he wishes. The potter can utilize the pot for any purpose he desires. Are you willing for God to use you in any way he wishes? He will never abuse you, but, like a good father, I suggest that his purpose for your life will challenge you to stretch and grow into areas you never dreamed of.
A final purpose for our adoption was
V6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
His mercy, love and grace are demonstrated in our adoption in his family, that others might give him praise when they see what he has done for us and in us, and that we might give him praise ourselves. Have you taken the time to praise him for his grace in adopting you as his son or daughter and making you a member of his family? That is part of his purpose in adopting you – that you might give him praise – the fruit of your lips, and the fruit of your life.
Finally, let’s look at the
- The PRIVILEGES of our adoption
When God adopts us into his family, it is a legal action with eternal consequences. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says it this way: Adoption is the act of God’s free grace by which we become his sons with all the rights and privileges of being his.
God has freely chosen to adopt us into his family out of his mercy and grace. Eph 1 says, “In love he predestined us to adoption as sons…”
1 John 3:1 says, See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…. or as the song goes, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us…that we should be called the sons”
And because he has chosen us to become his sons, we have received and will receive all the rights and privileges of being a member of his family.
John 1:12 (ESV) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
So what are the rights and privileges – the blessings – of adoption? They’re not all found in one place, but are scattered throughout the Scriptures. We’ll see how many we can get through today. We may have to continue next time.
Let’s begin by looking at the four P’s.
Because he is our father, he shows his compassion toward us.
Psalm 103:13 (ESV) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
A true father hurts when his children hurt. He can’t walk away from a child in pain.
As a father, he protects his children. There is safety when he is around.
Proverbs 14:26 (ESV) In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
A father makes sure all the doors are locked at night. If there’s a loud noise, he’s the one who gets up, gets out his flashlight and checks it out, because he is the protector of the family.
As our Father, he is also the provider of the family.
Matthew 6:32 (ESV) For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Our Father knows what we need, and makes sure that we have provision of all our needs.
His presence (rather than preservation)
Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) be content with what you have, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I will dwell among you…you will be my people and I will be your God. ???
A good father never leaves his family. Someone has said that in marriage the most important thing is not to leave. I suggest perhaps the most important thing in a family is that neither of the parents, and perhaps especially the father, is not to leave.
I know a person whose father left the home when she was around 13 or 14 – probably out of shame because he has lost his job during the Great Depression. It was a devastating blow to the family – emotionally (they felt abandoned), financially (their mother had to go to work and sometimes more than one job), and probably other ways. Often, the children have to step into adult roles before they are ready. However, God promises never to abandon or desert us, he will never relinquish his role as our father. We will never have to step into his role. He will always be there for us as our Father.
A few more of the privileges of our adoption…
Hebrews 12:6 (ESV) For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
This one may not seem like a privilege, but it is definitely a benefit of our adoption. When God receives us as his sons, because he loves us he takes on the responsibility to discipline us. A good father disciplines his sons – he teaches them how to work, he teaches them right from wrong and enforces painful consequences when they fail to keep them straight – so they can function in the real world.
Sometimes we seem to get away with things, especially as young Christians, but because God loves us, over time “your sins will find you out.” And we should learn not only from what we suffer but even from what others suffer.
Another privilege is that we enter into a new family
Romans 8:17 (ESV) and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
As God’s adopted children we become brothers and sisters of Christ our elder brother, and family members with one another.
We don’t mind being Jesus’ brother or sister. He’s cool. He is our elder brother whom we can look up to, depend on, and model our lives after. He’s the one who paid the debt we owed so that we could become members of God’s family in the first place. But we are reminded in this passage that we may have to suffer with him in order to be glorified with him.
But then there’s the rest of the family, who sometimes – many times – we don’t like being in the family with. We’re not so cool. You and I have lots of flaws just like your natural brothers and sisters. They’re the ones who drive you the craziest.
They take your stuff, they get into your business, they pick on you if they’re older and they irritate you if they’re younger. And you have huge fights with them. But they’re also the ones with whom you have the best times and create the best memories. We’ll work on this one as we proceed through Ephesians.
Another privilege of our adoption is access to
In adoption, we are given access to our father’s throne.
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This is like entering into our earthly father’s den or office or workshop or wherever he spends much of his time. We can boldly come into his private chamber to ask for and receive the things we need.
And the final privilege we’ll cover today is
As God’s adopted children, we have a share in the promised inheritance that is being kept for us
1 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
We are promised that our Father’s inheritance is being kept in heaven for us. Our earthly fathers cannot guarantee we will receive an inheritance. What our parents intend to leave us can be used up through ill health in hospital and care facilities, it can be taxed out of existence, it can be stolen by other relatives, or it can burn down.
But God promises an inheritance that is imperishable and unfading, kept securely until that day when you will receive all your adopted Father has stored up for you when Christ returns.