The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker
ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED
- Tonight we will continue
in our series in the book of Ephesians.
- Last week we saw that
God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”
(Eph. 1:3). I want to focus again
tonight on some of those blessings, and want to particularly draw your attention
to the phrase “in Christ” (1:3).
- Last week we saw that we
have been chosen “in Him” (1:4). As
we saw, this concept of the Christian being “in Christ” is taught all throughout
the epistle (cf. 1:1, 10, 12, 15, 20, etc.). There are similar phrases, such as “in
the beloved” (1:6), which we will also look at tonight.
- Last week, we looked at
the doctrine of election (1:4). The
time of our election was “before the foundation of the world.”
- The purpose of our
election was “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”
- Tonight, we will look at
three other doctrines from this passage: predestination (1:5), adoption (1:5),
and our acceptance in the beloved (1:6).
GOD HAS PREDESTINATED US
- Because this doctrine
has been so badly abused and misunderstood, many Christians avoid it and that is
- The word “predestine”
simply means “marked out beforehand.”
- Webster’s Dictionary
says predestine means “predetermine or foreordain.”
- Spurgeon said: “Mark
then, with care, that our conformity to Christ is the sacred object of
predestination” (cf. Rom. 8:29).
- In other words, God has
a plan and everything is going along according to God’s plan. That should encourage us – knowing that
God has already marked everything out for us.
- Before a building is put
up, an architect has to draw up plans.
Before Michelangelo ever struck his chisel against a heavy piece of
marble, he had to have a plan.
- And that is the way it
is with God – He has a plan for everything and His plans include you and me (cf.
- Predestination is never
used in reference to unsaved people.
God never predestinated anyone to hell. If a sinner goes to hell, it is because
he refused to repent and believe in Christ.
- Suppose a dying man sees
a doctor, and the doctor says to him: “If you take this medicine, you will get
better and live.” And then the sick
man looks at the doctor and says: “I do not believe you and I do not want your
- Then the man dies. The official cause of death was a deadly
disease, but he really died because he refused the medicine.
- Consider the story
of the Israelites in the wilderness, recorded in Numbers 21:5-9. Did the Israelites die of poisonous
snake bites or did they die of unbelief?
- They died of unbelief –
the remedy was provided but they refused to take it. They would not look at the brass serpent
- Here is another
definition: “Predestination is that effective exercise of the will of God by
which things before determined by Him are brought to pass” (Scofield
- And one of the things
determined beforehand by God was our adoption (1:5). Adoption means “son-placing” (see
Scofield notes, p. 1250). This word is found five times in the Bible.
- “For ye have not
received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit
of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
- “And not only they, but
ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves
groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of our body” (Romans 8:23).
- “Who are Israelites;
to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and
the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Rom.
- “To redeem them that
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”
- Those of us who have
trusted Christ have been adopted “according to the good pleasure of His will”
GOD HAS PREDESTINATED US “UNTO THE
- The word “adoption” is
used in the Bible only by the apostle Paul.
- It does not mean
“son-made,” but “son-placed.”
Christians are made sons the moment they receive Christ (cf. John
- Regeneration is a
change of nature. Adoption
is a change of relationship.
- There is a distinction
between “child” and “son.” The word
“child” has to do with our membership in the family of God.
- The word “son” has to do
with maturity. It refers to the
position we occupy in God’s family as adult sons.
- John Phillips gives this
illustration: “If we see a sign on a business that reads Henry Brown and
Sons, we know that Henry Brown’s sons are partners in their father’s
business. They have grown up and
assumed positions of authority and responsibility in their father’s
business. We never see a sign that
reads Henry Brown and Children!”
- In the early days of the
Roman Empire, when a boy was born into the family, he was cared for by his
parents until he was 21 years old.
At the age of 21, they took him and placed him in the market place before
the public. He was
“son-placed.” From that time on he
could sign his own name to legal documents, and went forward with the full
authority of a man. This act at the
market place did not make him a son; he was a son when he was born into his
parents’ family. Now he was
- Adoption does not mean
son-making, but “son-placing.” In eternity we shall be sons no more than
we are right now. First John 3:2 says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of
God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he
shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
- William Evans wrote:
“Regeneration has to do with our change in nature; adoption, with our change
in position…the full realization of sonship awaits the coming of
Christ. It is at that time that the
adoption will be fully consummated.”
- That is why the
apostle Paul says in Rom. 8:23 that we are “waiting for the adoption, to
wit, the redemption of our body.”
- This is all “according
to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).
- God’s presence in
us (the indwelling Holy Spirit) is the seal, or guarantee of our adoption (cf.
Eph. 1:13, 14).
- “And because ye are
sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba,
Father” (Gal. 4:6).
- Note the Trinity:
God (the Father) sent forth the Holy Spirit of His
- We see this in Ephesians
(1) God the Father chose us and
predestinated us before the foundation of the world (1:4, 5). “He hath made us accepted in the
(2) God the Son redeemed us by His blood
(3) God the Holy Spirit regenerates us,
quickens us, seals us, indwells us, etc. (1:13, 14, 17; cf. 2:18, 22; 3:5, 16;
4:4, 30; 5:9, 18; 6:17, 18).
GOD HATH MADE US ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED
- These words are yet
another link in a golden chain starting in verse 3:
God hath blessed us (vs.
God hath chosen us (vs.
God has predestinated us (vs.
God has predestinated us “unto the
adoption of children by Jesus Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of
His will” (vs. 5).
God “hath made us accepted in the
beloved” (vs. 6).
- Who is the beloved? It is the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Matt.
- God sees the believer in
Christ and He accepts the believer just as He receives His own Son. In John 17:23, Jesus prayed to God the
Father, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and
that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou
hast loved me.”
- When God sees us, He
does not see us the way we truly are – wicked sinners who deserve to go to hell,
but rather He sees us in Christ (1:1, 3, 10; 2:6) – “accepted in
the beloved” (1:6).
- Therefore, we are
accepted, not on our own merits, but only because God “hath made us
accepted…” We are only accepted in
God’s presence because we are in Christ.
Spurgeon wrote this poem:
What the hand is to the lute,
What the breath is to the flute,
What fragrance is to the smell,
What the spring is to the well,
What the flower is to the bee,
That is Jesus Christ to me.
What’s the mother to the child,
What’s the guide in pathless wild,
What is oil to troubled wave,
What is ransom to the slave,
What is water to the sea,
That is Jesus Christ to me.