He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will… (Eph. 1:5 ESV)
From before the creation of the world, God predestined us to be adopted as his sons; i.e., as his redeemed and holy children. Predestination, however, is not based on God’s foreknowledge or foresight of a person’s faith in Christ, but rather on his own sovereign will and pleasure, and according to his grace alone.
No sinner can exercise faith in Christ of his own free will. Even if he had the will to believe, a sinner does not posses the ability to exercise saving faith in Christ. While we are still in our sins, we remain spiritually dead—dead in trespasses and sins—and under the just wrath and condemnation of God. (John 3:36; Eph. 2:1,5; Col. 1:21; 2:13; 3:6)
In this condition, therefore, we cannot exercise saving faith, which essentially is a spiritual exercise, unless God first makes us alive to spiritual truths or realities. To be made alive spiritually, however, is the work of God’s Holy Spirit in effectual calling and regeneration.
Therefore, if a spiritually dead sinner is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit must call and regenerate him—according to God’s purposes in election. By his grace, God must grant to that person new spiritual desires. These spiritual desires include a deep awareness of God’s judgment on sin and on unrepentant sinners. They also include a real conviction of sin and the true desire for repentance, and for that forgiveness and cleansing which the Lord Jesus alone can provide.
Only under these conditions, can a person call on the name of the Lord for salvation. Thus, our salvation is dependent entirely on God’s grace, and it is bestowed upon all those whom God has predestined to be adopted as his sons and daughters. Everyone, however, who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved: for no-one can express genuine repentance or call on the Lord for salvation unless God’s Holy Spirit has drawn him or her to Christ.
From eternity, therefore, God predestined a holy people for himself. (1 Pet. 1:20; 2:9-10) God, however, not only called and redeemed these people, but he also made them his own children. Thus, we are the children of God on two counts: we are his children by the grace and blessing of regeneration (the new birth) and we are God’s children by the grace and blessing of adoption into his family. As such, God has made us heirs of his glorious inheritance and joint-heirs with his own Son. (Rom. 8:17)
[Excerpt from Expository Notes: Ephesians (chapter 1 verse 5). To read or download the full version of these Notes, see under the NT Commentaries menu above.]Follow @gordon_lyons