MEDITATIONS ON SPIRITUAL ADOPTION #5
THE GRACE OF GOD
December 30, 2009
: Ephesians 1:4-6 Reading
"… just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world … having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according … to the praise of the glory of His grace …" Ephesians 1:6.
Imagine receiving a birthday gift from God, which is not too much of an exaggeration, and the time has come for you to unwrap it. Written on the box in large letters are the words-MY BLESSINGS TO YOU. You open the box with great anticipation and out pours many smaller boxes the contents of which are identified by a single word written on it. One of the first boxes you see is identified by the word-ADOPTION.
In his letter to the believers at Ephesus Paul begins by listing the most wonderful blessings (gifts) given to "the faithful in Christ Jesus." At the top of the list is the sovereign act of election, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" vs 4. He continues to explain this wonderful gift by adding, "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself" vs 5. The source and purpose of this gift is identified as "the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace" vss 5-6.
Last week we saw from 1 John 3:1 that our adoption into God's family is an expression of His love, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" Both the love and grace of God are clearly expressed in our adoption into His family as His children, not randomly on His part nor by luck on ours but "according to the good pleasure of His will" vs5.
"Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" Romans 5:20.
Even though the depths and power and consequences of sin are extremely great, yet the grace of God is greater still. The word translated "abounded much more" in the Greek literally means to "super-abound" or "over abound." Satan's negatives are always "over-abounded" by God's positives. We were by nature children of the devil (1 John ) but now, by God's grace, we are children of God. The grace of God is super-abundant in its ability to overcome the ravages of sin.
"And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" John -17.
The grace of God is personified in His Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. The grace of God is an outworking of "His fullness" of which we participate because at our new birth and adoption we are made one with Jesus Christ. The word for adoption means 'the placing as a son'-showing us that our becoming sons of God is an active work of God not just the signing of a paper. When my wife and I adopted our eldest son I remember clearly when, for the first time, the worker placed him into our arms. His adoption was more than signatures on a piece of paper but the literal placing of this child into our arms. He immediately became our son, was given our name and was now as much a member of our family as his brother and sister who were born to us later. What a joyful day that was, a day we shall never forget and one for which we will always be thankful. Our son was the perfect gift from God.
Our text today states that this marvellous transaction called spiritual adoption is "to the praise of the glory of His grace." This tells us that our adoption into God's family is the result of His grace; we are His sons due to His grace. He has made us objects of His grace-by His choice, not because He could find anything in us to warrant His grace. He has taken one who was at enmity with Himself, one who constantly violated His holiness and whose rightful state stood him in line to endure the wrath and judgment of Almighty God, this one God has showered with His grace by giving him the gift of adoption and by so doing has forgiven him all of his sin and declared him faultless in His eyes, never to stand before the Judge of heaven and earth and hear the conclusive words "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" Matthew 25:41-42. I know this is not a popular doctrine in many churches today but even when considered as a slightest possibility it makes the grace of God in adoption a most glorious and incomprehensible act.
"Behold [stand back, consider with awe and amazement] what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" 1 John 3:1-2.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes spiritual adoption in the following manner: "Adoption is the act of God's free grace by which we become His sons with all the rights and privileges of being His." Straightforward yet profound; simple yet overwhelming. The definition of grace is "to freely receive that which we do not deserve." The definition of mercy is "to not receive that which we do deserve." As children of God we are recipients of God's mercy and grace both of which are illustrations or extensions of His love.
Adoption is like Justification-it is a once-and-for-all act, not a process like sanctification. At the very moment we are born again the act of adoption takes place. Adoption is not something God bestows on us later on. It is one of the three great manifestations of God's love with which we are endowed the very moment we are saved-the Holy Spirit, Justification and Adoption-all three are free gifts from God, all three acts of free grace.
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing"