The Elect and Redeemed Family of God
The Elect and Redeemed Family of God
Adopted (chosen) into the family (Eph. 1: 3 – 6)
One of the most mysterious doctrines that a professing Christian will come to encounter at some point of their walk with Christ will be the Biblical doctrine of election. The Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms defines election as "a Biblical word used to speak of God's choosing of individuals or people to bring about God's good purposes. In general terms, election can refer to God's choosing of persons for a type of service. Meanwhile, in a more particular sense, election refers to God's choosing of persons to inherit salvation through Jesus Christ."
The latter part of the definition (in which some are chosen to inherit salvation through Jesus Christ) is part of what the apostle Paul is bringing to our attention in Ephesians 1:3 – 14. Paul begins with a glorious description of the work of the triune God in adopting, redeeming, and saving a people to call His own. Let us consider a few of the "spiritual blessings" which Paul references in Ephesians and their implications for God's adopted family today.
Paul uses adoption, a word that many of us can comprehend and understand what God is doing to sinners who are well deserving of damnation. God, in His sovereign love and wisdom, has adopted a people for Himself through the redeeming work of Christ. Typically, in the process of child adoption, it is the family that chooses the person that is being adopted into the family and not the other way around. More specifically, in the context of the letter to the Ephesians (a Greco-Roman culture), adoption refers directly to children who were not related by birth to the family that is adopting. How does this relate to us who have been adopted by God into his family?
In eternity past, before the foundation of the world, God the Father chose in Christ a people for himself that they should be holy and blameless. God had determined to adopt into his family an alienated people whom through the work of Christ, now, forever-bear the family name. Which means those of us who have genuinely trusted Christ as Lord and Savior; are no longer children of wrath. Now, because we are in Christ, we receive the full benefits of being adopted into the family of God. Or as Dr. Redmond said it, "we are chosen in Christ based on what God the Father did, will do, and is doing in the person of the Son of God and the work of salvation accomplished by the Son of God."
Redeemed and forgiven (Eph. 1:7 – 10)
Redemption and forgiveness are part of the benefits that come with being chosen into the family of God. Redemption means 'deliverance by payment of a price'; it was particularly applied to the ransoming of slaves." In the letter of Ephesians, Paul associates redemption with forgiveness. In Christ, we are forgiven for our sins against a Holy God and the payment that secures and grants us such forgiveness was the precious blood of Christ.
Don't miss this! The redemption and forgiveness of our sin is entirely a work of God on our behalf. Not only did God choose us in Christ, but He is also responsible for our redemption and forgiveness. Our adoption and redemption is wholly a work of grace from a Holy God to hell-deserving sinners. This means that [in Christ] you and I today are beneficiaries of the redeeming and forgiving love of God. Knowing this should always drive us to present ourselves before God with hearts of gratitude and awe.
Secured (sealed) with the Holy Spirit
In Christ, God has not only chosen us to belong to Him, but he has also sealed us with the Holy Spirit. I appreciate what Peter Thomas O'Brien [a Biblical commentator] writes in regards to this, "in speaking of the Holy Spirit as a seal the notions of ownership and protection are in view. Cattle and even slaves were branded with a seal by their masters to indicate to whom they belonged. Owners thus guarded their property against theft; in this sense, the seal was a protecting sign or a guarantee."
Now, do you see what that means for you and me who are in Christ? We are marked [with the Holy Spirit] as if God were shouting to the whole universe that we belong to Him. The beauty of this is that we are secure in Christ by the Holy Spirit as sons and daughters of the one and only true God. The triune God is at work from beginning to end in our salvation; the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit keeps us for the glory of God!
How does understanding the doctrine of election help the believer follow Jesus today? I appreciate how John Stott answered that question when he wrote, " [the doctrine of election is] a divine revelation, not human speculation; an incentive to holiness, not an excuse for sin; a stimulus to humility, not a ground for boasting." For this reason, Christians, can praise God because of the precious gifts that we have received in being chosen by God the Father, in Christ the Son, and secured by the Spirit. For our joy and the praise of His glory and grace.
Soli Deo Gloria,