This is the beginning of a series in which I address key elements of theology I have aligned myself with based upon several key elements:
- Ongoing encounter with the Father by His Spirit
- Original language of scripture
- Historical context of scripture
- Being a husband and father
In this first installment, two verses from Ephesians 1 give us a chest full of treasures. I begin to address the nature of man, predestination and our identity as children of God.
…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. (Eph 1:4-5)
There are several important points here.
Firstly, God the Father chose us before He created anything. That us is ALL of us. Every human He would ever create was chosen to be holy and blameless before Him. It was His desire, His longing, His choosing. The word choose used here means to select out. Many historical theologians used that definition as meaning that God would select certain ones out of the human race to be holy and blameless. That would make sense if the context was humanity. But the context here is the foundation of the world. Out of all that He would create and man would later create, God chooses man to be special.
Secondly, He predestines us. To predestine means to set up a limit ahead of time. He decided, before He made us, that we would be sons. Not God, but sons of God. Not Him cloned, but those who would carry His image and likeness. Unique, created children of a loving Father. That’s the limit. Fully His but not fully Him. Later on in verse 23, Paul calls us the fullness of Him who fills all in all. That means we complete Him much like a wife completes her husband. To be predestined means He thought ahead, imagined that we would look and act like Him and then created us for relationship with Him as a family.
Thirdly, He predestines us to adoption as sons. This term adoption is very different than our western understanding. To a Jew, adoption was the placing of a mature son by his father in front of all those who did life and business with the father. In the ceremony, the father would state to all something to this effect, “This is my son. Do business with him. When he speaks, it’s as if I have spoken. When he makes a contract with you, so have I.” It was a second, lesser-known, Jewish “coming of age” celebration. A statement of maturity, of the nature of the father fully manifested in the son. Interestingly, it happened when the son was 30 years old, reminiscent of a same-aged Jesus coming up and out of the Jordan river after being baptized by John. Remember what the Father said from heaven? God the Father, before He did anything, did everything so sons who walked like Him had a place to manifest Him.
Without this understanding of biblical adoption, it makes sense why so many believe we are not His until we believe in Jesus. From the Father’s perspective, all of humanity is His family, His children. This defies fundamental Christianity which espouses that we cannot be children until we believe. John 1:12 To those who believe He gave them the right to become children of God is used as a hinge scripture for this doctrine. The word “right” here is privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, delegated influence. It gives verse 12 the tenor of awakening or freeing someone. It can literally be translated as To those who believe He gives them everything they need to be who they really are.
Us believing does not change God’s perspective of us. Our belief is the result of the Light – Jesus – illuminating our hearts and then the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). This is the result of the spirit of adoption released into our hearts so we can cry out Abba! Father! Adam was called God’s son without any choice on Adam’s part. Our identity as His children has everything to do with the Father’s choice concerning us, not our choice concerning Him.
This does not mean all will enjoy eternity with the Father. Through Jesus all are forgiven. And we each must accept His love. Love does not manipulate or control. It does not force its own way. It loves fervently and then allows its object to choose. And this is the heartbreak of hell. Beloved children He fathered and woos daily choosing their darkness rather than His light. The world is full of your brothers and sisters who are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God in their own minds. Love them as you are loved so light floods their darkness.
Much more to come….