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Paul's fifth point about the salvation believers have in Jesus Christ is that God, in love, 'predestined us to be adoped as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and his will' [Ephesians 1:5].

There are several concepts in this statement that deserve our attention.

The first is that predestination is something that God does 'in love.' it is not an arbitrary, heartless action. It is, over and above all, a loving action. By his choice, by his will, God does this supremely loving thing: he decides, he determines, he wills, he chooses, to adopt us as his sons. The unloving thing, the unloving action, would have been to leave us to our own choice, our own will, our own decision: that decision that was first expressed by Adam in Genesis 3, and subsequently expressed by every human being -  the decision to live our lives independently of God and his word. Left to ourselves, without the intervention of God's decision, we would be forever alienated from him.

Connected with this is the final thought in the verse: that God's action in making us his sons is 'in accordance with his pleasure and his will'. It is something that God willed, but it is also something that God wanted, something that it pleased him to do, something that gave him joy. It pleased God to adopt us as his children.

The second concept is the concept of adoption. By nature we are not sons of God, by nature we are God's enemies, by nature we are everything that is contrary to God and opposed to God, by nature we deserve his just wrath and rejection, by nature we inherit not the blessing of God but his condemnation. Yet by this act of adoption God makes us his sons. Accepted. Reconciled. Acquitted. Blessed. Heirs.

Thus the Bible teaches that those who believe in Jesus Christ:

      • are 'members of God's household' [Ephesians 2:20]
      • are 'heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ' [Romans 8:17; see also Galatians 4:7]
      • receive 'the full rights of sons' [Galatians 4:5]
      • call God 'Abba, Father' [Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6] 
      • have been given the right to be called 'children of God' [John 1:12]
      • are 'children of God' right now, at this present moment [1John 3:1,2].

The third concept in Paul's statement in Ephesians 1:5 is that this adoption as the sons of God is 'through Jesus Christ'. Again we are prohibited from understanding God's action as either unloving or arbitrary. As John reminds us 'This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins' [1John 4:9,10].

'Through Jesus Christ' - the whole of the gospel pulsates in these words: the choice of God before the beginning of time [2Timothy 1:9], the incarnation, the perfect life, the substitutionary, sacrificial death, the resurrection and ascension. Our adoption as God's sons is a costly action, a painful action on God's part. Yet, as we have seen, it was 'in accordance with his pleasure'. It means so much to God that even the agony of Christ's cross did not deter him from it.

Thus we read in the scripture:

'In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God ... should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering' [Hebrews 2:10].

'Jesus ... for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame' [Hebrews 12:2].

'He will see the result of his suffering, and be satisfied' [Isaiah 53:11 - NIV footnote].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017