Ephesians 1:5,6: “He predestined us…through Jesus Christ.”
Predestination was never meant to be a doctrinal club used to batter people’s acknowledgements of God’s sovereignty. Rather, the message of God’s love preceding our accomplishments and outlasting our failures was meant to give us a profound sense of confidence and security in God’s love so that we will not despair in situations of great difficulty, pain, and shame.
We have a king who has suffered. Hebrews 2:10 says, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” This does not mean Jesus was flawed and had to be purged or put right. It means that He needed to be equipped or qualified to be our Savior. He needed to know what it was like to be human. He needed to be one of us.
Jesus didn’t go straight to being crowned. To be our Savior, He could not even go straight from His baptism to the cross. He had to experience problems and pain so that He could sympathize with us in our problems and pain.
We worship Jesus. Rightly so! He is our King and God! But there is a danger that we can end up thinking of Him as something other than human, or as super-human, as though He floated through His years on earth, impervious to the kinds of tensions and issues that we face each day. No! Jesus is as human as we are.
What does this mean? It means we can approach a God who knows, who understands, who listens, and who helps. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” You are not coming to a king who knows nothing of your life. You can talk to God about your problems and pain because He knows what it is like to have problems and pain.
Surveys have shown that most Christians think of their faith only in terms of “Jesus and me.” Love for the lost, concerns for the evils of society, the plight of the poor, the pervasive trap of illiteracy for 2/3 of all people, the injustices of racism and materialism are all too often deemed the social causes of “bleeding heart” liberals.
Yet to know Christ as God intends, I must realize that without concern for the plight of all persons, my heart deadens to the Word of God for me. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of his people, we do for him (Matthew 25:40). I cannot dishonor him by shunning or disregarding any of his people, and at the same time believe that my heart will still fully experience his.
To paraphrase Ephesians 1:5, “We’ve been adopted as God’s children.”
Adoption is a legal procedure which secures a child’s identity in a new family. God didn’t choose to be our FOSTER parent. We don’t get kicked out of the family because of our behavior. In His infinite kindness, God made us a permanent part of His family. Nothing can undo the legal procedure that binds me to Christ. He died to redeem me. He signed the adoption papers with His blood!
When we face temptation we are called to follow the example of Christ. We are to respond with faith. But our ultimate hope is not in our ability to follow the example of Jesus. Only Jesus is consistently faithful. First and foremost we do not follow Jesus as our example. Rather we trust Him as our Savior. He is the faithful One, and we are faithful in Him.
When temptation comes, we seek to resist like Jesus. But when we succumb (and we will), we can look to Jesus. We can remind ourselves that God considers us faithful because we are in Christ, the faithful One.