“[God] destined us for adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).
In this verse, the Apostle Paul once more emphasizes the predestination of Christians. The doctrine of election or predestination is very important for the reasons I have already mentioned in previous posts: it assures that God’s love for us and intention to save us is not something that has only lately come into existence, as if He were not always so disposed towards us, but rather is from eternity. If we should ever have doubts as to “where we stand” with God, so to speak, we need only to read the Apostle’s words to be reminded: from before the foundation of the world, the good and merciful God wishes us to be saved and has given us everything necessary to that end in Jesus Christ, who is the revelation of God’s love towards us.
He goes further, proposing a very interesting metaphor by which we can understand the outcome of our election. Here he says that God destines us not only to holy blamelessness before Him in love, but also “for adoption as His children.” In other words, God destines us to become a part of His family, to take up a very special relationship to Him. Our election places us in a certain connection with our Creator.
Paul emphasizes that this adoption takes place “through Jesus Christ.” This is a detail that is worth meditating on for a bit. Our election takes place through what Christ does for us. If we are destined to adoption, that is because we are united to Christ, who is the only-begotten Son of God. Christ bears a special relationship to the Father which is not true of every human being in the “default” state. In other words, we become God’s children through adoption and do not begin our existence as such. The metaphor of “adoption” makes clear both that our election or salvation lifts us up to a “level” or “rank” which we do not occupy by nature, as well as that our salvation only takes place through Christ and our union with Him, because Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, the only one who is God’s Son by nature.
(This naturally raises the question of how this adoption takes place, of how we are united to Christ. The answer I would give to this question is: through faith and baptism. But this matter must be addressed in greater detail at another time.)
This is what is wonderful about the salvation God secured for us: it is an inclusion of orphans into a family, into a greater communion of children of God, a family which lives by the principles of holiness, blamelessness, and most importantly love, a family which is bound together by the fact that all of its members are adopted, included, as a matter of the free, incomprehensible grace of God. All those who are united to Christ are brothers and sisters because God has made them to be such, because God saw that they were alone and without hope in the world, “like sheep without a shepherd” (cf. 2 Chr. 18:16; Matt. 9:36), and so decided to give them a place to be, a family to which to belong.
And in a mysterious way, there is a kind of perceptible, familial bond between those who belong to God in Christ. Anyone who loves God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit is dear to me, is somehow immediately my friend, and I sense a kind of closeness to this person that arises apart from any prior history, in virtue of the fact that we both love the same God and are His children.