Ephesians 1:1-8

A first grader brought in a family picture for show and tell. One of the more astute first graders noticed that one of the little boys in the picture had different color hair than the other family members. Another child suggested that he was probably adopted. A little girl said, “I know all about adoptions because I was adopted.”
“What does it mean to be adopted?” asked the teacher.

“It means,” said the little girl, “that you grew in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.”

The Apostle Paul used many different kinds of images and metaphors to express the blessings of knowing Christ. He searched both the Old Testament and 1st century culture to find words that would create a new theological grammar for the fledgling church. Some of the words he chose to describe what we refer to as ‘salvation’ are “atonement,” “justification,” “reconciliation,” “redemption.”

And as you have already guessed from today’s scripture reading and message title, one of them was “adoption.” The Greek word literally means, “to make [someone] a son”.  Paul used the word “adoption” five times in his letters: once in Galatians, (4:5); three times in Romans (8:14, 23; 9:4) and in today’s text in Ephesians (1:5).  In each case it refers to God’s adoption of us as His children.

Today, I want to cover 3 things Paul lets us know about the adoption process in his letter to the Ephesians. And next week, we’ll discuss the blessings of being adopted into God’s family.

First I note this process of adoption was planned long ago.

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes” (Ephesians 1:4).

It was His plan from the beginning, “even before He made the world.” This tells us that God was not surprised when Adam and Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit after God expressly told them not to. He knew full well they would they would do what they wanted to do. He had given them free will and knew they would use it to get their own way.

Why didn’t the One who created them male and female also create them perfect? And the answer is: Because God didn’t want puppets on a string His great desire was for His children to choose Him; to love Him.

Therefore; God’s adoption process was not Plan B. Plan A for Adam and Eve was not that they would be perfect. The plan from the very beginning was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by His adopted children. Our adoption was planned from the beginning.

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5).

‘We stand in awe at the way that You love us.’ You better believe it, baby . . . that’s why we worship.

Secondly, we were adopted despite the fact that from a human point of view, we were seemingly unadoptable and yet Paul says, “God chose us” (vs. 4).

God did not find us like an abandoned innocent baby, bundled in a basket and dropped on the front step, irresistibly cute. According to Paul, He found us if I might borrow a phrase as a ‘basket of deplorables.’

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil; the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Now if you had been God would you have initiated the adoption process? We would have taken one look and said to ourselves, Oh-oh, going to have trouble with that one; sorry, we would say to the adoption agency, I’ll pass.

And yet these un-adoptables are the very ones God pursued in adoption! He said, “I’ll take ‘em; from now on, they’re mine.”

In January of 2015, Auschwitz commemorated the 70th anniversary of its liberation by the Allies. In attendance was Rainer Hoess, grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the commandant responsible for the murder of some 1.1 million Jews. Rainer speaks regularly at schools and events, decrying the evils of anti-Semitism and educating the public on the Holocaust and issues of human rights. Also, there was Eva Kor, is an Auschwitz survivor who lost her parents, two sisters, grandparents, and several aunts and uncles at the hands of Rainer’s grandfather. Like Rainer Hoess, Eva does public speaking about the horrors of the Holocaust and the need for Jews to forgive. They met a few years before and became fast friends. While at this commemoration, Rainer Hoess actually asked Eva Kor to become his “adoptive” grandmother. She said, “I’ll take him, from now on he’s mine.”

What an act of grace. ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch . . . like me.’

Thirdly, the process of our adoption was very costly.

If you were paying attention, I just mentioned that the plan from the very beginning was creation, fall, redemption, adoption. In Galatians 4:4-5 Paul writes,

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

The key word here is ‘redeem.’ ‘Redemption’ leads to ‘adoption.’ To redeem means ‘to set free by paying a price.’

What was the price that God paid so that He could adopt us?

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.  God chose him as your ransom long before the world began. (I Peter 1:18-20a)

Why did God have to go to such extremes to adopt us? Because His own justice and law demand that sin be paid for. “The wages of sin is death,” Paul informs the Romans (6:23). Someone has to pay the price and die for sin.

Now here’s where we can exercise our free will for the good, our good. We can pay the price for sin if we choose to . . . and die forever. Or we can choose Christ to die on our behalf. And when we do, the Bible assures us His death will pay the full price for our redemption and we will be set free from having to pay the price ourselves.

So God satisfies the requirements of His justice and His law through the precious blood of Christ in order to adopt sinners like you and me into his family.

The process of our adoption was very costly; the very precious blood of Christ.

In 2013, the world, in tears, watched the viral video of Davion Only, an orphaned teenager, who stood at the front of a church and pleaded for someone to adopt him. Dressed in his best suit, he stood at the podium saying that he wasn’t picky. “They could be black or white, rich or poor, old or young. He just wanted someone to love him “until I die,” he pleaded. He said he was growing impatient, but he wouldn’t lose hope.
“I know God hasn’t given up on me, so I’m not giving up either.”

In response to his plea, his foster agency received thousands of inquiries from people interested in giving Davion a home. Over the next year, he lived in a succession of four more temporary placements.

Throughout his journey to find a “forever” home, Davion leaned heavily on his caseworker, Connie Going. She had two biological daughters, as well as a son whom she had already adopted. But when Davion asked her if she would adopt him, she knew he had a temper, that he struggles with interpersonal relationships, that he struggles with depression and self-esteem issues. But even so, she said she would. She later wrote, “When he called me to ask, in that moment, I just knew. My heart felt this ache and I just knew he was my son.” I wanted him to know he is unconditionally loved for who he is.”

On April 22, 2015, Davion officially became her adopted son.

Have you been searching for unconditional love and acceptance from the world, only to be turned away time and time again? Are you still searching for the moment when you will be “claimed” by someone who promises to love you no matter what?

As Connie Going suggested, “In every adoption, there is a ‘claiming’ moment.” In the case of the seeker, that’s the moment when we turn our search for perfect love and acceptance to the only One who can fulfill it; to the One who has been there all along. It is in that moment, when we call upon God to become our adoptive parent, that the heart that has ached for us, claims us as His own.

We are His children . . . part of God’s family and like all families, we have something in common that is much more significant than sharing the last name something more significant even than sharing the same blood. And that is sharing in the blood of Christ.

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.  Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. (Luke 22:14-20)