What is your destiny? It is a question of the ages. This is a question that comes to fortune tellers to Chinese cookies. People want to know if they have a destiny and, if so, what that destiny is.
In our first couple of lessons we learned that our new identity in Christ is that we are saints, full of faith, and chosen by God. Paul continues to describe for us some of the spiritual blessings from the heavenly places that we have received in Christ now. The next identity that Paul lays on our lives is that we are predestined.
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4–6 ESV)
The word “predestined” means what it sounds like — “to decide beforehand, mark out beforehand, to determine beforehand.” God decided in advance. We noted in our last lesson that God chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Before the world was ever created, God decided that he was going to have a people for himself. Verse 5 explains this idea with a little more detail. Election shows God’s free will to decide that he was going to have a people. Predestination focuses on the fact that God determined to adopt us into his family through Jesus.
I want us to stop and think about this statement for a minute. People want to know the purpose of their lives. People want to know what we are supposed to be doing. Why are we here? God has a purpose for you and every human being before you were ever created. That purpose is to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ. Our destiny is to enter the family of God so that we might become children of God. God created you to belong to the family in Christ. It is interesting to me that we seemed to be wired this way. There is something within us that wants to belong to something. We want to belong to family. We look to belong in school. We look to belong at work. We want to be incorporated with a group. I believe God gave us the local church so that we could belong spiritually now to something that will build us up and strengthen us. We were predestined to belong to Jesus. That is what you have been called to. God chose us to be in Christ and decided to bring us into relationship with himself through adoption. To state this another way: God determined in advance that those who are in Christ would be his people.
Paul says that we were predestined for adoption as his children. Consider the powerful image of adoption. Adoption carries so many significant truths. First, the one adopting pays a great price. I know of many Christian families who have adopted in this country and the cost was around $10,000 after all the paperwork and legal fees. Adoption is not free. Adoption comes at a cost. The cost for our adoption to become children of God was the blood of Jesus. His blood is the means that secured our adoption. The highest price that could ever be conceived, the death of the Son of God, was what was necessary to adopted us. Second, the one being adopted cannot will the adoption to happen. There are thousands of children who desire to be adopted. But just because they desire to be adopted does not mean they can be adopted. Children in orphanages can want to have parents, but that does not do anything. In the same way, we can desire to be children of God all that we want to, but it does not do anything. If God did not want to adopt us sinners as his children, then we could not have been adopted. Third, adoption means you are part of a new, permanent family. There is nothing temporary about adoption. You are given all the rights and privileges of the family. It is as if you are born into the family by blood once you are adopted. God signed the adoption papers for you with the blood of Christ. Your identity is secured in this new family. Before we could do anything, before we even existed, God chosen to adopt us.
The Basis of Adoption
Why did God do this for us? Why would God choose to take sinners and adopt them to become his children? Notice the beginning of the sentence which is found at the end of verse 4: “In love he predestined us for adoption.” The basis of our adoption is his own love for us. Can we begin to see and try to understand the depths of God’s love for us? Can we try to get our minds around the idea that God is acting for us like a parent on the basis of love? God’s love for you is deeper than you have for your own children. Oh, how I wish we could see the love of God for us so that we would be holy and blameless before him, turning away from sin. Can you imagine an adopted child to the adopted parent, “You don’t love me!” But the parent chose you! The parent decided before you were met that he was going to adopt a child and the parent selected you! How can anyone ever think that you are not loved for God has chosen you to adoption. I think we sin because we forget the great amount that God has for us. Listen to how the apostle John proclaimed this desire for our hearts.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1 NIV) Do we see this love?
The second reason God predestined us for adoption was because of “the purpose of his will.” I think the NKJV has a good reading, “according to the good pleasure of his will.” Our adoption was the plan of God and that plan came from his own good pleasure. This is what God desired to do and God accomplished that will. Salvation is not some accident or afterthought on the part of God. His purpose and desire always was to draw humanity to himself. God wanted you to be his child.
To The Praise of his Glorious Grace
Now, what is this all about? What is God’s purpose in doing all of this? Why has God chosen us to be holy and blameless? Why has God predestined us for adoption? Verse 6 contains the ultimate reason. All of this was done “to the praise of his glorious grace.” God did this to cause believers to praise the Father who is full of glory for his grace which he bestowed on us in Christ. This is all for the glory of God. Paul said it this way to the Thessalonians:
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 ESV)
I want you to notice how strongly Paul wants us to understand that this is our purpose. Not only does verse 6 say that God did this to the praise of his glorious grace, but notice verse 12. Notice that God acted so that we “might be to the praise of his glory.” Notice verse 14, “to the praise of his glory.” What are all of these spiritual blessings for? They are for the praise of his glory. What does God want you to do? God wants you to praise his glory that is seen through his grace. Being chosen and predestined before we were created shows the grace of God. His grace is to cause us to praise him. God chose you so that you would praise his glory. God predestined you to adoption so you would praise his glory. God did all of this before the creation of the world so that you would not praise yourself, but would praise his glory. God did this so that you would love him, seek him, honor him, and be filled with zeal for him.
Now think about why this should bring about our praise. We stand outside of a relationship with Christ. We are not in his family and we have no reason to belong to his family. We do not deserve to be in his family because we have broken the Father’s laws. We have no portion and no access to God. But through Christ we now have full legal ownership and rights to the family.
9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:9–11 NIV)
Can you believe that Jesus calls us family, brothers and sisters, and is not ashamed to do so? Have you had family members that you were ashamed of because of their actions? What have you done that you are ashamed of? What have you done that you think God is ashamed of you? Through Jesus he is not ashamed to be in the same family as you! What a great privilege adoption provides for us. God had predetermined that he would bring humans into his family, call them his sons and daughters, which Jesus as our brother. Oh, the depths of God’s love that are displayed so that we would praise his glory because of his grace toward us. This privilege is only found in the Beloved, that is, in Christ.
Why are you here? What is your destiny? You are to be to the praise of his glory. God elected you and predestined you to adoption so that you would bring praise and honor to him. All that we do is to be for the praise of his glory. His grace is poured into our lives to display his glory. It was God’s purpose to decide beforehand that he would adopt humans to be his children.
In our last lesson we made the connection to Israel’s election in the Old Testament scriptures. God elected Israel to be his people. But the people to not obtain the promise because they lacked the faith that is required to belong to his elect people. God also adopted Israel. The apostle Paul in Romans 9:4 says that Israel was adopted. Paul is showing us that we are the new Israel. We are the new people of God. We are the fulfillment of God’s promises that he will have a people to praise of his glory. What will you do today to the praise of his glory? What will you say to the praise of his glory? You’ve been adopted. How will you praise him now?