Matt Carter speaks on Ephesians 1:3-5
This is the beginning of a three part series called Adopted. We need to fully comprehend and walk in our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God.
There are three things to learn from this series:
• The glorious truth that those of us who are in Christ Jesus have been adopted into the family of God.
• Our response to this glorious truth.
• The great cost in reflecting this adoptive love of God.
First, we must know the glorious truth of our adoption as sons and daughters into the Kingdom of God.
God as Father
Because of the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross, you and I are now children of God. We are now able to call Him our Daddy. The weight of this doesn’t usually hit us as hard as it should. We tend to take it for granted.
In the time the Old Testament was written, God’s people didn’t think about God in this way. This wasn’t a part of how they interacted with Him.
God has a personal name. It’s not just a title or a way to describe His character: His name is Yahweh. The Israelites so revered this name they wouldn’t even say it out aloud. They would never have presumed they could be so personal with God.
This was the God who created the heavens and the earth in six days with just the sound of His voice. This was the God who parted the Red Sea and delivered their forefathers from slavery in Egypt. They never would have casually called Him Yahweh. Instead, they would call Him Adonai, which means Lord. They would never act toward Him as if He were their Daddy. Not even King David, who was described as a man after God’s own heart, called our God Yahweh.
David’s relationship with God was intimate and intense. Besides the relationship between God and His Son, there is probably not another relationship in the Bible that would parallel the intimacy David had with God. But even David, in his most intimate interactions and prayers with God, didn’t think about Him as His Father. He called Him Lord also.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:1–4 ESV)
Imagine the shock the people on the Mount of Beatitudes had when Jesus was explaining to them how to pray and said to address God as Father.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9 ESV).
That is a radical statement by Jesus. The crowds’ jaws would have dropped, whispers rumbling through the audience, questioning what He just said to them. Jesus wanted them to call their Lord, Abba. Abba means daddy.
He was setting the stage for something that would have been unthinkable at the time, an event that would allow us to relate to God in a way that was unheard of up to that point. Through the cross and resurrection, God would no longer be this transcendent, unknowable, untouchable Lord. This Adonai, or Yahweh. He would become our Father.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Ephesians 1:3–5 ESV)
Verse 4 is teaching us that God set His love upon us before He even created the earth.
God is omniscient, which means He knows everything. He knows the past, the present and the future. Because He knows everything, He knew you were going to sin. Your sin didn’t take Him by surprise. But even before you sinned He was already at work undoing the effects of your sin. He had already set His love upon you and was undoing the work of your sin in your life.
God Himself came to this earth, took every sin, put them upon Himself and then willingly died, paying the penalty for those sins, once and for all. The work He began in you before the foundation of the world was finished. That is why Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished.”
If you’re in Christ Jesus today, this is your position before a just and righteous God. You are holy and blameless. That is the work He began in you.
This is called Justification. It’s a legal term meaning the righteous judge of the universe looked at you and found you not guilty, because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Praise God.
We could close the Bible right there. That is good news. But He doesn’t stop pouring out His love there.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:45 ESV emphasis added)
He doesn’t just declare you not guilty. He then walks up to you, puts His arms around you and adopts you into His family. He’s not just the judge to you, but now He’s also your daddy and you are His son.
J.I. Packer said this:
Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel offers, arguably higher than salvation. Adoption is higher because of the relationship it involves with God. Salvation is wonderful, but it does not imply necessarily an intimate relationship. But in adoption, God doesn’t just save us, but He takes us into his family as children and heirs.
Our adoption as sons and daughters is just as amazing as our salvation.
God didn’t just redeem you from your sin. He adopted you into His family as His child. Many of us really struggle to feel God’s love for us. We hear and sing about it, but don’t really feel it. We don’t understand or feel the fullness of His love. Some of you don’t even think that God likes you, let alone love you. Our view of God is that He walks around frustrated with us and tolerates us. Or that He just uses us for His purposes.
You will never fully feel the fullness and depth of God’s love until you understand the kind of love in which He loves you. It’s more than just a general love. It’s the kind of love that a dad has for his child.
If someone were to ask you, “How do you know that God loves you?” You would respond by quoting John 3:16 (ESV):
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
You would argue that God loves the whole world, and I’m in the world. Therefore He must love me. If that is the fullness of your understanding of how God loves you, then you do not fully understand the depth of how much He truly loves you.
The disciple John was talking about this kind of love. At first, he was just a disciple, but then something happened during the resurrection. He became a son. That truth blew his mind. He wasn’t just an apostle, someone God was using to expand the kingdom, but he was now a child of the Living God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; (1 John 3:1a ESV)
When my first son was born, it was amazing. I was feeling a depth of love that I had never felt before. An intensity of affection I didn’t know I was capable of. It was so intense it physically hurt. My father was standing there beside me. I looked up to him, crying, and said, “Daddy, I love him so much that it hurts.” He responded, “Now you know how I feel about you.”
That is how good daddies feel about their children. That is how your Heavenly Daddy feels about you.
A lot of us need to let that sink in.
We think God has all these rules. When we mess up, He’s mad at us. He took away your sin on the cross. You are holy and blameless to him. He doesn’t walk around obsessing over your sin. You are His son, His daughter. He doesn’t just tolerate you.
He absolutely delights in you.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ... (Romans 8:15–17 ESV)
This is how we should now relate to God. We no longer walk around in fear. We’re not going to just be let into the kingdom of God. We are heirs; we will be given the kingdom of God.
The older I get and the more I walk with Jesus, the more I realize how sinful I am. I sometimes think I want God to let us into heaven. I’ll sweep the streets and take care of the mansion if He’ll just let me in. But that is horrible theology. That is not how fathers treat their sons and daughters. We see this in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32).
After the younger son had spent all his inheritance on prostitutes and wild parties, he wanted to come home. He thought if his father would just let him back in, he could become a hired hand. At least he’ll let him be that. While he was still a long way off, his father saw him. He took off running toward his son, grabbed him and welcomed him home. He wrapped him in the family robe and put his ring on his son’s hand. He told the hired hands to prepare for a party to celebrate that his son had finally come home.
Because of what Jesus, your brother and co-heir, has done, that is the way your Father looks at you today. He is your Daddy. Let’s run to Him and embrace that kind of love.