What Does it Really Mean to Be a Daughter of Christ?
- Stephanie Englehart stephaniemenglehart.com
- 2021 2 Jul
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself 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. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)
Have you ever seen a newborn baby and secretly thought they resembled an alien life form? Maybe you were sent pictures of your new niece upon her arrival, and your first thought was, whoa, that's one scary-looking baby. Only to reply to said pictures with, "Congratulations, she's SO cute!"
I get it. Not all babies are cute at birth. In fact, when both of my daughters were born, I had similar thoughts. They came out covered in goo, with squishy faces and scrawny little bodies. What made them so desirable in my eyes was not their external cuteness. It was the way in which they were mine. They were created out of love, my body's sacrifice, and were now a product of my joy. This view more closely aligns with God's adoption of us as daughters. He doesn't call us daughters of Christ because of our cuteness. He calls us daughter because He predestined us to be so in love, "according to the purpose of His will, and to the praise of His glorious grace." (Ephesians 1:5-6)
Although this idea of being a daughter of Christ—or children of God—is sprinkled throughout the New and Old Testament, I believe the thought is clearly articulated in Ephesians 1:3-14. The apostle Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus about Christ's redemptive and unifying work on the cross and how it impacts every aspect of our daily living. He begins his letter by outlining the spiritual blessings we receive in Christ as we are adopted into His family and redeemed for the praise of His glory. According to Paul, being a daughter of Christ means we are chosen (v 4-5), redeemed (v 7), blessed (v 3), and empowered for a holy and blameless living (v 4, 13-14).
Who Is a Daughter of Christ?
A daughter of Christ is anyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and seeks to live according to His will outlined for us in the Bible. There is a sense in which all people were created in God's image to reflect and glorify His name. However, there is a difference between being made in God's image and being a chosen and adopted daughter of Christ. Jesus died for all people made in His image, but only those who put their faith and trust in His gospel of grace will be adopted into the family of God and be given the title daughter of Christ.
A Daughter of Christ Is Chosen
When I was trying to get pregnant with my first daughter, we struggled with infertility. Rather than doing infertility treatments, my husband and I began the process of adoption. We knew we wanted to bring a child into our family, whether biologically or not. We wanted to share our name, our home, and our love. And yet, whatever baby we would have ended up adopting wouldn't have been chosen based on merit, cuteness, or moral standing.
Similarly, God does not choose His adopted daughters in Christ based on their merit, cuteness, or good standing. He chooses us in spite of it. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Not one of us is good and righteous on our own, but all are rebels running around living in hostility against God (Romans 8:7).
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Being a daughter of Christ means we were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined in love despite the sin that is so prevalent in us (v 1:4-5). God initiated our adoption and chose to bless us in and through the redemptive blood of Christ.
A Daughter of Christ Is Redeemed
For it is only through faith in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that we receive the forgiveness of sins and lavish grace that God provides (v 6-9). Our adoption is from God because of His initiation in choosing us and sending Jesus. Without Jesus' perfect life, sacrificial death, and joyful resurrection, we would not be welcomed into the family of God. As sinful beings, we deserved the wrath of God, but Jesus sacrificially took our place so that we may be redeemed (v 7). This is what leads to the spiritual blessings we receive in Christ.
A Daughter of Christ Is Blessed
Not only do we receive the forgiveness of our sin and the removal of shame and condemnation, but we are also given the utmost joy in Christ and heavenly inheritance upon adoption into His family. The joy of our adoption comes as we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing (v 3). This means that through belief in Jesus, we will receive a heavenly inheritance and the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance (v 11-14). The Holy Spirit, which is obtained through faith in Jesus, points us towards the praise of His glory and empowers our obedience to live in our newfound family—the family of God.
What Does it Mean to Live as a Daughter of Christ?
Living as an adopted daughter of Christ means we live within the family of God. Our adoption provides a new identity and name. No longer are we called sinner, but beloved and chosen heir (Romans 8:17). We live with the reality that we have a new family—the church. Our lives now include selflessly sharing and serving the diverse family of God with our gifts, talents, and abilities. We embrace our new identity by praising God's glorious grace and striving to live holy and blameless lives. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:4, "God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." We are chosen by God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as a holy and blameless daughter.
A Daughter of Christ Strives for Holiness
Repeatedly throughout the Old and New Testaments, God calls His chosen family to be holy as He is holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16, Leviticus 11:44-45, Hebrews 12:14-15, and Ephesians 1:4 all have a specific exhortation for us to strive towards holiness. This means that we are not only set apart by God to be part of His family, but we are to devote ourselves to His service and seek obedience to His commands. Part of striving for holiness goes hand-in-hand with proclaiming and exemplifying God's grace so that others may see Christ in us (Hebrews 12:14). We praise His glory (v 14) and proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us (1 Peter 2:9-10) as we seek to live out the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) each and every day.
We do this not because we are seeking to earn our acceptance into the family of God but because we are already accepted by God and want to obey joyfully. Our acceptance by God leads us to be marked by joy, humility, and dependence as we live our lives free and blameless.
A Daughter of Christ Lives Blamelessly
A daughter of Christ is blameless in the eyes of God. Despite our sin, we are viewed as innocent because of Christ's sacrifice for us. I believe Paul calls us towards holy, blameless living, not because we will never sin after salvation, but because the shame of our sin and condemnation is removed. We don't have to live in the humiliation or distress of our sin any longer. We don't have to hide in shame. Living blamelessly gives us the freedom to be joyful.
We no longer fear what others may think of us because we are fully known, accepted, and loved by God on account of the cross. We can be silly, say the wrong thing, make mistakes, and still pursue holiness because the blood of Christ has already covered our sins—past, present, and future. This leads to a joyful pursuit of obedience because we are freed to admit our faults through confession and repentance, knowing that God's love for us is unchanging. Our obedience is marked by humility, as we understand the depths of God's scandalous grace and our need to depend on Him in order to live out all that He commands.
To this day, I'm still learning what it really means to be a daughter of Christ. I'm still working on laying aside the unnecessary shame I carry. I'm still figuring out how to strive for obedience without living under the pressure of people-pleasing. And I'm still learning to be mindful of all the joy and grace that God has bestowed on me through the power of the cross and sealing of the Holy Spirit. But as I learn, I hope I also teach my three daughters that being a daughter of Christ ultimately means that we are being made happy in Christ with every spiritual blessing because God predestined us in love and chose to adopt us as His own. It means that before the foundation of the world, God desired to make us holy and blameless before Him through the blood of His son and the forgiveness of our sins. It means that we now get to live in joyful, humble obedience to the Father, not to earn our acceptance, but out of the very nature that God fully knows us, fully loves us, and fully accepts us despite our sin, for the praise of His very glorious grace. And we do all these things through the work of the cross and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.