January 27, 2010
I’ve been given another assignment, to give a one-hour session on the topic of, “the significance at a ongregational and personal level of being adopted by God.” This is for the upcoming Former Adventist
Fellowship weekend in February and I’m excited to prepare the session and then to spend time with these wonderful people.
The Bible uses adoption language to help us understand who God is, who we are and what we have been given through faith in Jesus Christ. Understanding these three things on a personal level is crucial to the believer’s ability to experience God’s personal love and to “continue to live in him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV), as Paul commands all of us who have received Christ Jesus as Lord. Understanding these things on a corporate level leads us to experience the true community of the faith, the church as the family of God where our faith is nurtured, where we grow to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13 NIV), and where we contribute to that growth in others. There is no greater emphasis on adoption in the Bible than the opening to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I’d like to spend the bulk of our time uncovering and rejoicing in the wonderful truths that are there.
As we move through this hour together, I’d to encourage you to think from two perspectives. First, put yourselves in the shoes of the one who is adopted – if you are in Christ, you are! I’d like to think about the formerly and the but now aspects of being adopted. Second, put yourselves into the context of a huge family of adopted kids – the corporate setting. As we grow understand the Father’s love and purposes, while always a recipient, we develop our Father’s heart and join him in his passion to adopt. We also realize the intense value that our Father places on having a family that is healthy, where love and humility is the operating principle.
Here is a basic outline of what I’d like to present. First of all, I’d like to pause here, and show the Us Forever video. This demonstrates the heart of the issue of adoption and I think will soften our hearts to understand and receive the truth of what God has revealed in the Scriptures.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV)
[Before proceeding, I will pray using some of the very words that come next. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for these precious people you have gathered here this weekend – for their faith, for their desires to seek you through this weekend. I keep asking that you, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, our glorious Father, may give each one here the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know you better. I pray also that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which you have called us, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and your incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of your mighty strength, which you exerted in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (from Ephesians 1:16-23 NIV) May our focus be on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and may we experience more of that fullness as a result of our time together. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.]
Let’s uncover some of the powerful phrasing in the Ephesians passage above. The rest of the Scripture contained in Ephesians is spoken by God to us within the context of our identity as a child, dearly loved and adopted by God the Father, through Jesus the Son. This is so important to grasp! I love the truth that God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I love it that he chose us in him before the creation of the world! I love it that he predestined us to be adopted according to his pleasure and will. I love the purpose of our adoption: to the praise of his glorious grace in Christ. And then what follows is a beautiful telling of the gospel, namely:
- Redemption through his blood
- The forgiveness of sins (through grace that he lavished on us!)
- We were chosen, predestined according to the purpose of his will
- Having believed, we were marked in him with a seal, the Holy Spirit
- We are guaranteed an inheritance
- We are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory!
Wow! It doesn’t get any better than that! And that is only the first chapter! Next, having stated these phrases, I need to do a little uncovering. But for now, I must head into the office. Stay tuned for more…