This article continues an ongoing blog series, called “Identity Matters” which is taking us expositionally through the book of Ephesians.
Kids often get their picture of God the Father from how they view their earthly fathers. Dads, I don’t know about you, but that terrifies me, because I know my own flaws and sins and tendencies to NOT correctly image God’s perfect Fatherhood. For that reason I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy and patience with imperfect dads as He is conforming us to the image of Christ.
With that said, as a pastor, it saddens me when I see Christians gripped with depression and despair and hopelessness because of a wrong view of God. A view that sometimes projects the image of their own imperfect fathers onto our perfect Father in heaven.
There are Christians who feel like God’s attitude towards them is exactly like that of their sinful earthly father’s attitudes. They see God as irritable, unapproachable, harsh, distant, or cruel. I’ve known of believers who sincerely think that God is constantly disapproving of them, shaking His head in profound, stern dissatisfaction and anger.
In my last post on Ephesians chapter 1, I noted the amazing truth that we believers have actually been adopted by God into His family. God has really become our Father and we have really become His children. We should feel great about that. But that begs the question, “How does God feel about this arrangement? How does God feel about you?”
In Ephesians chapter 1 the Apostle Paul reveals to us an astounding truth. Are you ready? You may want to sit down for this.
You are delighted in by God the Father.
Look at what Paul writes in verses 4-6.
In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
In the ESV translation, that word “purpose” is translated from the Greek word, Eudokia. I actually like the King James translation here because I think it captures the essence of that word a little better. King James says,
according to the good pleasure of his will…
Peter O’Brien in his commentary on Ephesians says that this word, Eudokia, signifies
“…not simply the purpose of God but also the delight that he takes in his plans. It has warm and personal connotations, and draws attention to God’s willingness and joy to do good.…the preposition ‘according to’ indicates the norm or standard, showing that his choosing many to come into a special relationship with himself was in keeping with what he delighted to do and with his saving plan….He enjoys parting riches to many children.”
Now if I like how the KJV renders verse 5, I love how the NLT really captures the point.
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.
Don’t let this thought just pass you by.
God is not what some of you may think He is. Some people have this picture of God as some old crusty curmudgeon. Some stingy old man. And if you call on Him, maybe He’ll respond if you just happen to catch Him in a good mood.
In Ephesians 1, we don’t see here a God who is reluctant to save. God’s not like, “Well, I guess since I’m supposed to be a good God, I suppose I’ll save a few of those wretches even though I’d rather just squash them all right now! But since I’m supposed to be a God of mercy I guess I’ll do it, but I don’t have to like it!”That kind of God has more in common with Greek mythology than the Bible! That kind of God is more like the fake mythological god Zeus who was irritable and short tempered and who would just rather toss lightning bolts at people who got on his bad side.
The true God revealed in Scripture is not a grumpy old man who is dispassionately saving some out of duty. Instead, it gives God great pleasure, great overflowing and abundant joy to extend mercy to you and me! God is not just someone who is saving you. He’s someone who is joyfully and abundantly loving and delighting in you.
I remember once when I was laying on the couch, my son Elijah ran over to me, crawled on me and snuggled up against me. I remember in that moment just quietly rejoicing over him. My son is not perfect, and I don’t always respond to my kids perfectly. But in that moment I realized I was imaging something about God the Father. Knowing those flaws and imperfections didn’t stop me from enjoying him in that moment. I didn’t turn him away. I just laid there thinking, “This is my son and I am so pleased with him.” It didn’t matter that he wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t matter that he was adopted. I love him as I love my biological children and he has full status as a “Webb” in our family.
God has one natural Son from eternity past. Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ was baptized the Scriptures record the voice of God booming from the heavens with great delight in His Son. God the Father cried out, “This is my son, in Him I am well pleased!”
And for those of us who are adopted by God the Father, we are clothed with Christ’s clothing, with Christ’s righteousness, and because we are found in Christ, God looks at you and He says with delight, “This is my child in whom I am well pleased!”
The Lord’s love for His own is beautifully illustrated by the prophet Zephaniah who said,
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I’ve often wondered what the singing of God sounds like. Regardless, this isn’t angry, irritable Zeus. It is a perfectly loving and happy Father, delighting in His people. The God described in the book of Zephaniah is the same God who is your Father right now. And you have full status in the family of God. The inheritance of your Elder Brother Jesus is the inheritance you will receive.
Jesus stunningly says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
“Good pleasure.” There’s that phrase popping up yet again. God isn’t begrudgingly offering you the kingdom. Instead, He is with great pleasure and delight promising you a glorious inheritance. An inheritance which includes the entire Cosmos in the next age where we will rule and reign with Jesus and be with our Father in unbreakable, joyful fellowship forever and ever!
This is your identity! You were chosen by God the Father to be holy and blameless. (Eph 1:4) You were adopted by God the Father to receive the status of sonship in His family. (Eph 1:5a) You are a child of God whom the Father takes great delight in! (Eph 1:5b)
So if your identity is anchored in these glorious realities, how does this change how you live? How is it going to alter how you live in about 15 minutes when you walk away from this computer screen? How’s it going to affect how you do marriage? How you do parenting? How you do your job? How you deal with depression and discouragement and anger and addiction?
I’m not going to give you a long list of answers right now. I’m going to let you wrestle with that and figure that out in the days to come. I actually don’t think it’s that complicated. I just think a lot of times we don’t spend time thinking about how we are to live life in light of our true identity. And as we go through the book of Ephesians in future articles, I promise that we’ll eventually get to some application right in the book itself to help us so stay tuned.
Regardless if you’ve been a Christian for 50 years or if you just received Christ 5 seconds ago, if you missed everything else written today or in my previous Ephesians articles, don’t miss this:
You are chosen. You are adopted. You are delighted in. Praise God for His glorious grace.
Grace and Peace,