Conformed to His Image

Last week we saw God’s promise that He is using all things for good in the lives of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Today we will see how He achieves that purpose.  Our salvation is God’s work and because it is His work in us we are secure.  We have eternal life because we have His life which is eternal. 
Romans 8:29–30 “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
There are five links in the chain of God’s saving work that are unbreakable.  Whenever we address the issues of foreknowledge and predestination we have the potential for misunderstanding.  The confusion comes when we try to use human reasoning to discern the divine working of God.  Our part isn’t to reason it all out but to accept by faith.  Before we address what Paul is teaching here let’s be clear about what isn’t being said.  This passage isn’t teaching that some people are chosen to be saved and others are destined to hell.  Rather, it is to help us see the plan of God working in the believer’s life.
For those whom he foreknew This is the first link in the chain.  This speaks about God and what He was doing.  He foreknew.  The fore speaks to the fact that God, who operates outside the realm of time in what we call the eternal now, is not bound by the confines of time.  He spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  It is more than just He knew us before we knew Him but He sees all things, past, present and future as one.  The “knew” here speaks to relationship.  He knew Jeremiah before he was conceived. 
Ephesians 1:4 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love”
Think with me; God knew you would be His before the foundation of the world was set; that should make you feel very secure. 
He also predestined The second link in the chain is predestination.  It means, “To mark out, appoint or determine beforehand.”  Predestination has absolutely nothing to do with going to hell.  The scripture always tells us for what we are marked out.  In Ephesians we learn we were predestined to be holy and without blame before Him in love.  If you search the scriptures you will not find predestination used in reference to the unbeliever.  It simply tells us He has a wonderful destiny for us.    His plan will be accomplished in our lives.  Your destiny isn’t a secret but is revealed to you.  Why is the believer secure?  Because our security has everything to do with God’s determined will for us. 
To be conformed to the image of His Son, So what is our destiny?  Our destiny is that we, who are in Christ, will be conformed to His image.  God is using all things for our good because we are the objects of His love and are called to His purposes –  to be conformed to His image.  He will not give up on us until we manifest His image.  We like to think life is all about our happiness but when things don’t go the way we planned we get upset with God.  God’s prime objective for us is not our happiness but that we bear His image to the world. 
in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. In Jewish culture the firstborn son had privileged status and responsibility.  To be the firstborn was to be preeminent in the family.  So here we see that Jesus is preeminent as the only begotten Son of God amongst a multitude of us who are adopted into His family.
And those whom he predestined he also called,The third link is His calling of us.  Notice, each of these links in the chain is in the past tense.  He foreknew, He predestined and now we see that He called us.  God wants none of us to perish, all are free to come!  However, none of us have the capacity to respond to the call without His Spirit working in our lives to convict us.  The Apostle Paul was converted on the Damascus road when he saw the glory of the Lord shining about him.  He heard the words, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?  Is it not hard for you to kick against the goad?”  Paul was fighting, struggling, kicking, trying to hold onto his independence but he was being goaded relentlessly to a fate he could not escape.  That is what happens to all of us.  We think we have a major part in coming to the Lord but our part was running away and His part was running after us until He caught us.  We didn’t find Jesus, we were found by Jesus.  From the beginning to end, our salvation is God’s work, not our own.  Consequently, we cannot humanly undo what He has divinely done.  Nowhere does Scripture teach that God chooses unbelievers for condemnation.  God calls us and opens the door for all of us to be saved.  Listen carefully if a person goes to hell, it is because He rejects God.
John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
Unbelievers are condemned by their own unbelief, not by God’s predestination.  The believer is solely indebted to God’s grace for his salvation.  However, every unbeliever is personally responsible for his eternal damnation.
and those whom he called he also justified, This is the fourth link in the chain.  To be justified is to be declared righteous; it is the opposite of condemnation.  In the beginning of the chapter Paul declares, “There is therefore no condemnation.”  We were guilty and condemned when Jesus stepped in and took our guilt, our punishment and bore it Himself.  This so we could be justified, have His righteousness and be free from condemnation.  Do you see how He has not only foreknown us, He predestined us, called us and justified us all by His own hand. Wow, you and me – right with God!
and those whom he justified he also glorified. The fifth and final link in this glorious chain is our glorification.  We think of glorification as some future event but God sees it differently.  He is absolutely certain it is already accomplished even if we have yet to experience it fully.  We will be made in His image and share in the glory of His kingdom as the beloved children of God.  God living in the eternal present sees us as conformed to His Son’s image.  We see all of our failures and weakness but He sees His completed work.  He will never give up on you!  God will complete the work God has begun in you.  That is how committed He is to you!
Have an awesome week with your heart and mind fixed on God’s incredible destiny for your life!
You are loved,
Pastor Tim