How does our conception of adoption differ from God's?
[Darris McNeely] A question came to me from a viewer recently about the matter of adoption, predestination, and what exactly is the Bible talking about? And so I put him to a question, to a scripture, in Ephesians 1:5 Ephesians 1:5Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
American King James Version×to help understand a very important topic. Let’s read it. It says here that “God has chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blame before Him” – verse 5 of Ephesians chapter 1 – “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
“Predestined to adoption.” What exactly does that mean? And what exactly is predestination all about? Essentially, what Ephesians 1 is talking about is that God has predestined to choose a people to Him from before the foundation of the world, from before mankind was ever created. God’s purpose for mankind is to ultimately bring many sons to glory into His family, and it has always been His purpose, through Christ, to bring and to adopt sons into His family, fully aware, fully sharing in that sonship and that relationship with God as His children. This is different from the traditional concept that we have of adoption.
Adoption is a wonderful matter when a couple will adopt a child fathered by another family. It is an age-old custom. And it is a very good part of society. But there is a distinction there. The parents who adopt the child have not begotten that child. That child has been begotten from another parentage, and for whatever reason is up for adoption. As Paul addressed it here in the Roman world, it was a very common custom, and it was known. When someone was adopted into a Roman family, they became the full heirs of that parent, of that adopting parent. Probably the best example from history is that of Octavian, who was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar to be his full heir when Caesar was assassinated. Octavian, then, was elevated to the status of the heir of Caesar. He later, then, became known to history as Augustus. But he got his start as being adopted by Julius Caesar, into the Julian family, and then went on to become much greater. But he was not fathered by Julius Caesar.
When God says that we are going to be adopted into His family, there’s a distinction: we are going to be adopted as a full, begotten son of God, with the full rights to be a part of the family of God. On that spiritual level, there is a distinction then, and we begin to take on the divine nature of God as a result of that choosing and that adoption that God gives to us upon our calling, upon our faith, and our repentance, and our baptism and the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit. We then can take on the very nature of God and ultimately through the resurrection, be transformed and born into the family of God. That adoption is something completely different than anything that we could ever achieve on the human level of adoption between families and between human beings.
God knew what He was going to be doing long before He started that process, as He began it in the creation of human life, and what is told to us here in Ephesians 1:5 Ephesians 1:5Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
American King James Version×is a wonderful truth – understanding what God has in store for all of mankind.
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