Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
I can’t believe that I’m in the final week of my holiday! Luckily when I do start back at work on Tuesday it is only four and a half weeks until my next holiday. Mind you, I’ve been so busy this holiday that I feel like I’ll be going back to work for a bit of a break! I’ve published my new book (The Shepherd God: Finding Peace, Worth and Happiness in a Busy World, available from Amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle, and also from Amazon.co.uk in paperback and for Kindle), and also been hard at work preparing resources for a busy term of teaching history. Often people think that we teachers just turn up in our classrooms and make stuff up, but actually for most of us a great deal of preparation goes into our lessons. I have already determined in advance of term starting exactly what I’m going to teach, and when, to whomever happens to turn up in my classroom.
The verses we’re considering today, from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, have proven problematic for many Christians (and non-Christians) over the years. Paul tells us that God ‘predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ’. Surely, some say, if God has already chosen who will follow him he has already consigned many to hell. How can this be fair? How can this be the mark of a loving God? How can this concept of predestination possibly sit alongside the idea of freewill? These are difficult questions, but my personal belief, with regard to this particular passage, is that God predestined people to adoption in a similar way to how I have already determined the content of next term’s lessons. My lessons are planned, and whoever turns up to them has in a sense been predestined to benefit from my knowledge and teaching. Perhaps God has predestined that all of those who follow Christ will be adopted as sonship without specifically predestining us by name. Maybe this is an inclusive predestination, in the sense that God has already decided that all those who follow Christ will be adopted by him as his sons and daughters through the work that Jesus has done for us all on the cross. This is in contrast to an exclusive predestination whereby God has already decided before their births that Robert, William, Sarah and Amy will be adopted as his children, whereas James, Brian, Rachel and Louise have not been predestined and therefore will not ever find Christ in their lifetimes.
Whatever the answer to the difficult idea of predestination might be, we have much to be thankful to God for, which is the overarching point that Paul is trying to make in this passage. Through Christ God has showered spiritual blessings on us and opened the way to heaven. He has done this out of love for all of his people. He has shown us all grace and ensured that we are saved because of his love for us, not as a consequence of anything that we do or do not do. Let’s all resolve to thank God today for his many blessings, and pray for his continued guidance as we strive to understand his word in the Bible.