Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ephesians 1:4-5

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. (verses 4-5)

The Greek word for destined (προορίζω, pro-o-re-zo) carries the idea of being predetermined or known beforehand. This “beforehand” knowledge should not surprise us. God, for whom time is not linear, and who lives outside of time and space – God knows all things from the beginning to the end of our life's timeline. And so, at this very moment, God is there when I was conceived; He is, at this very moment, with me as I type these words, and He is also, at this very moment, with me when I take my last breath. He is just waiting for me to arrive at that distant point in my life's timeline.

And He is, at this very moment, already in all your moments – beginning to end – as well.

So, before the world existed, God destined us for adoption as children into His family. That concept – we are His children – ought to give us great comfort . . . and it should give us great pause, for God always disciplines His children, sometimes severely -- but always in love and always with the view to conform us to the image of His Son.

It also is important to remember, especially during times of discipline, the words that surround the phrase “. . . destined us for adoption to Himself.” Those words, In Love and Favor, can help us better endure and acquiesce to whatever discipline falls to us because we know God's chastening is sandwiched between His love and His favor.

Finally (if there can ever be a final point about God’s love), the Father did not adopt us into His family through (or because of) our heritage, our position, wealth, looks or talent. Nor did He adopt us through a religious system such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or even Christianity.

He adopted us through Jesus Christ.


The Lord Jesus and the writers of the New Testament declared it quite unequivocally, for example, here, here, here, here and here. And so the Church teaches, "Jesus Christ himself is the definitive "Amen" of the Father's love for us."

If ever we begin to forget that, all we need do is meditate before a crucifix.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Who are we, that the Lord of all the earth should do as He did? Listen to this song, and reflect again on this question.

2. Read Psalm 23. What do you think the psalmist meant when he spoke of the rod and staff bringing him comfort? How might you better accept His rod and staff?


heidi said...

I consider this blog a true gift from God.It comes just as I've been searching for a way to dedicate part of each day to prayer. I needed a vehicle to guide me and I've bookmarked this site to do just that. Thank you Rich for all you do in helping those of us who lag behind you in this journey of life.

Anonymous said...

Does not this passage have a meaning of predestination? God already knows the outcome of all events given He is 'timeless'. Does that not strip free will from us? How is one to justify humanity in its current form of free will and thought yet know that He has already predetermined where our soul is to proceed in the afterlife?

Richard Maffeo said...

Anonymous asks a good question . . . the same question that has been asked for thousands of years. John Calvin articulated the position in his century . . . but in our day R. C. Sproul also takes the position of predestination to similar degree as Calvin.

Which, by the way, is one major reason I so appreciate the Lord Jesus having given the authority of authentic interpretation of Scripture to the Church through Peter (see Matthew 16:16-18 and 1 Timothy 3:15). So, when good questions such as this come up, questions about which godly theologians have debated for milennia, I go to the Church leadership in Rome -- Peter's successor and the Church Council (the Magisterium) for direction. In this case I find these paragraphs:

(599) Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: "This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.

(600) To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.

"He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures"

Hope that at least somewhat answers your question.