You belong to God, and that will never change.
Paul in the letter to the Ephesians defines our relationship with God in permanent terms. It says that we have been adopted.
“…he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…“ Ephesians 1:5
The citizens of Ephesus understood the significance of adoption because it was common in their society. However, for them adoption was very different than our modern day understanding of adoption. In that ancient culture adoption wasn’t just a case of childless parents choosing to provide a home for a parentless child. There was so much more. That was only one form of adoption. Adoptions also occurred with some frequency for business or political reasons, and it wasn’t at all uncommon for one grown man to adopt another grown man to ensure that his wealth and power were passed on in the way that he intended it to be. For example, this occurred when the Roman emperor Claudius adopted Nero, whom he wanted to be his successor.
Most importantly, adoptions were irrevocable. In fact, a man could disown his birth son, but could not disown his adopted son. It was a permanent relationship. Paul said, “You’ve been adopted into the family of God. Get comfortable; you’re here to stay.”
Another symbol of permanence that Paul uses is that of our freedom being purchased.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7
Redemption is a term taken from the marketplace. It refers to buying back an item—or more specifically, a person—that would otherwise be lost, captured, or destroyed. The word means, literally, “ransom.” It is used to describe the purchasing of freedom for a slave, a prisoner of war, or even one condemned to die. When the ransom is paid, the prisoner is set free.
Another symbol of permanence is that the Holy Spirit is given as our guarantee.
“…who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:14
“Guarantee” is a business term that refers to pledge money or earnest money paid up front to ensure that full payment is made later. It’s like a deposit. For example, a man might pay pledge money on a piece of land to give the seller assurance that he intends to come back later and pay in full. Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit is that deposit, that guarantee.
You know the work that the Holy Spirit does in your life. The conviction that you have about sin—that’s the Holy Spirit’s work. The desire to live a holy life—that’s the Holy Spirit’s work. That part of you that is deeper than a feeling and deeper than an emotion that is drawing you into a relationship with God—that’s the Holy Spirit’s work. It is the Holy Spirit that drives you to seek a deeper relationship with God. God gave you the Holy Spirit as a deposit, as a pledge, to guarantee that the work he is beginning to do in your life will be seen to completion. As he said in Philippians…
“I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.” Philippians 1:6
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