Neighborhood Study Guide
We are walking slowly through the first chapter of the letter to the Ephesians as Paul recounts the spiritualblessings we have in the heavenly places
Two major ideas are now presented in verse 5. One idea,
, is difficult to get our minds around.The other idea,
, is easy to picture, since we see examples of adoption all the time in our society. Butthese two ideas are deeply connected. Predestination is God's sovereign choice to include us in his family bydeciding to pursue us and give us his name and inheritance. Adoption is really another way of saying that makesmore sense in our experience. Adoption is a parent or parents choosing to include a child in their family, giving hertheir name and their inheritance. When we call it predestination it seems like an affront to our freedom - making itseems as though everything has been decided ahead of time. Yet, when we call it adoption, we see how choosingand predetermining for someone else doesn't destroy their freedom, but grants it. An orphan lacks options. A childbrought into a family now has new freedom. Let's look at this idea and discover more of what it has to offer.
When you hear the word adoption, what images arise in your mind? Do you know someone who has been
adopted? What has it been like for them?
Read Ephesians 1:5-8
In love, 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight...
1.What changes for a person when they are adopted? What do they gain? What do they lose?
2.How does the idea of adoption (someone choosing to raise another in their family) help us understand this ideaof predestination?
3.Why is the little phrase 'in love' so important in this passage? What would change if that phrase wasn't there?
4.According to the passage, adoption happens through Jesus Christ. Why is Jesus necessary for our adoption? Whyis adoption used as the image, rather than just 'birth'?
It is hard to overstate the implications of adoption. When we adopted our girls, I was surprised to learn that the girlswould receive a new birth certificate, listing the adoption! And the other thing that surprised me was that our girls,even though they were very young, took the issue of adoption seriously. They felt different, becoming adopted!
There are so many riches in this image. God's adoption of his children is the guarantee of all the blessings of God -because it means that all the blessings of Christ are now their's by right, because they are now his legal offspring.Moreover, the idea of adoption helps us understand the nature of our redemption - we were not born naturallyinto God's family. But Jesus lived the life of a perfect son, and became one of our brothers, bringing us into God'sfamily - he gives us the freedom of new life in God's family.
Break into 4 groups, with each group reading one of the following passages: Romans 8:15-17,Romans 8:23-24, and Galatians 4:3-7, John 8:34-35.