Adoption, to some, is considered second-class. We often see comedic situations where one tells another, “You’re adopted”, much to the dismay of the addressee. Or in the real world, we see people adopt children more as a last resort or an afterthought. But adoption is actually a beautiful concept in Scripture. Far from being second-class, it is an incomparable expression of love.
Take for example Ephesians 1:5:
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, – Ephesians 1:5
What’s cut out of this verse is crucial. It’s the end of verse 4, which says, “in love“. So, that is the nature in which what follows occurred.
It’s in love that God predestined us. That is to say that He chose this, decided this beforehand. One of the reasons He predestined us, if not the supreme reason, is His love. It’s important that we don’t separate the two. What God has done for us is not something we should merely accept in our minds. We should cherish it in our hearts that He was motivated by love for sinners such as we.
In the following words, we’ll see that He predestined us 1) for adoption and that 2) it was according to His sovereign will.
And those are the exact words. He predestined us for adoption as sons. Adoption was a well-known concept, both for the Roman and the Jew. Adoption was when one decided to take a non-family-member and, from then on, legally bestow familial rights and belonging and legacy. This was done through Jesus Christ. This is in part what He accomplished on the cross. Not only were our sins forgiven, but we were then received as children.
This is beautiful! It would have been grace enough to be welcomed in as merely a servant, as the prodigal son expected when he returned. But instead, God has put His robe on us, put the family ring on our finger and called us His children! Don’t miss that. We were predestined, in love, for adoption. Let that sink in. Meditate on that. Cherish it. We were predestined for adoption, and
It was according to His sovereign will
The verse says that it was according to the purpose of His will. We might ask whether this is referring to His desire or His decision, and the words tend to lean toward His desire, but either way, we have a God who does all that He pleases. So, it was according to His desire, and if He chooses to do it, it is done. There is no possibility that what God sets out to do will not be accomplished.
So, in love, He chose us beforehand to be His adopted children, and it was ultimately not because of our choice, but His. It was according not to the purpose of our will, primarily, but His. The fact that we desire to be His children is a result of His sovereign desire that He would be our Father. Praise God for His electing love. For if it were not for His sovereign will, I would still be His enemy.