“Predestining us for adoption through Jesus Christ into Him, according to the pleasure of His will,”
The doctrine of adoption is a blessed doctrine, indeed. Think about it this way, God’s work in Christ is not simply a matter of delivering us from eternal judgment, which indeed would be a blessed thing, yet God goes further. Indeed, he goes much further and adopts us in Christ Jesus. It is in this context that we can cry out, “Abba! Father!” to our God (Romans 8:15). It permits us to pray, “Our Father,” as we begin the Lord’s prayer and it enables us to be called children of God, assured of our Father’s love (1 John 3:1).
Yet, it must be noted that this adoption, while assured by the completed work of Christ and is granted to us in our justification, is something that will only be fully realized in the resurrection (Romans 8:23). It is as if the adoption papers have been signed and sealed, yet we, while in our earthly bodies and then have those bodies laid in the tomb, yet wait until we might enjoy the full measure of being in the presence of our glorious Father and King.
And, once more, this adoption is given “in Christ.” All the blessings of God are ultimately mediated to us through Christ; he is the amen of all of the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). How often Christians fall into the trap of thinking that God loves them just the way they are, that they are special in and of themselves in God’s eyes, and that their salvation is because God has some sort of need to be in relationship with them. How far from the truth these notions are! God enters into relationship with believers precisely because we are in his Son. And since the Father has a relationship with the Son, he has a relationship with us as believers. Furthermore, he is not content with the way we are, but only seeks to perfect us into the image of his glorious Son so that we might stand as the church as the pure and eternal bride of Christ. Because of Christ and His work, we are adopted as children of God — we are not children of God by the virtue of our being image-bearers.
“having been filled with the fruit of righteousness because of Jesus Christ to the glory and honor of God.”
“Having been filled…” Notice the language that this verse begins with. We do not “fill” ourselves but we are filled. It is God’s work in us from the beginning to the end. We take no credit, we can only ever give praise for what our God has done in and through unworthy lumps of clay such as we. With the Apostle Paul, I can say that my works are but dung…something to be cast out lest they defile the holiness of the camp. Yet, in Christ, I can also say (again, with the Apostle Paul) that I have been filled with the fruit of righteousness. What a blessed tension there is between the two.
Thus, the righteousness that I have been given — the righteousness in which I stand clothed before the throne of God — is not my own. It is Christ’s. Everything that is good or admirable that is found within me is because of Jesus Christ. I bring nothing of my own to the table when it comes to things of value. Without Christ’s work, I would be but a hollow shell in line to be crushed…destroyed under God’s wrath for God’s glory. Such is the man that I am and such is the cause for my praise. He has done for me that which I could never have done for myself. My debt of sin has been paid and I have been redeemed from death and Hell. I have been purchased by the blood of Christ, forgiven, reconciled to God, adopted as a son of the Most High, and am being prepared, along with the rest of the church, to be part of the bride of Christ. What more can we say but, “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!” What more can we do but to tell others the good news of this wonderful Savior!
And to whom is the honor given for this work? To God himself. May we never be “stingy” with our praise to our Redeemer-King. May we never hold back the honor that he is due. May we sing our praises to the Triune God without compromise and may we strive to live lives that are honoring to Him in everything we do. Such is the heart of a believer. Such is my prayer for you.