(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Once more, here is Romans 8:28 through 31:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestin- ed, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
In the last two Gems we have discussed the beginning and the middle of the Christian life shown in these four verses. What is the end of it all? The end is found in verse 29, describing the purpose to which every Christian is called! “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Conformed to the image of Jesus! Wow! For me to act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus, love like Jesus, be like Jesus………..God has got a long way to go! He’s got His work cut out for Him! How will He accomplish this end?
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to
those who are the called according to His purpose.”
- First, let’s define what the good is toward which all things work together. Because a lot of those ‘things’ don’t seem all that good when we are in the midst of them! But God’s idea of good is that we “…be conformed to the image of His Son….” There is no higher good than this!
Here are other Scriptures that support being “…conformed to the image of His Son…”:
✞ Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness....” This was God’s original purpose for man, to perfectly reflect who the LORD is. However, sin so marred that like- ness into something that was almost unrecognizable! Jesus Christ came to restore that image! ✞ Psalm 17:15 – “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” ✞ Matthew 10:25 – “It is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher....” ✞ John 13:34, 35 – “By this all will know that you are My disciples...[when] you love one another as I have loved you.” ✞ I Corinthians 11:1 – Paul challenges us, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” ✞ Ephesians 5:1, 2 (Bible in Basic English) – “Let it be your desire to be like God, as well-loved children; and be living in love, even as Christ had love for you....” ✞ Philippians 2:5 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus....” ✞ I John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
However, the problem with being conformed to His image is that because of sin, so much of that image has been lost! So God has a lot of work to do in the likes of me and you to fulfill His purpose of making us like Jesus!
- In the Gem, Beginning, Middle, End – II, I focused on II Corinthians 3:18: “…we…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” That phrase “…from glory to glory…” shows a process, sometimes a very slow process! Paul could have added some glories: “from glory to glory to glory to glory to glory….”! For the process is ‘step by step by step by step by step by step’, becoming more and more like Jesus!
- There is another passage in James 1:2 through 4 that speaks of this process to fulfill the purpose of God:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.
✞ First I want you to know that James is using a book- keeping term when he says, “...count it all joy....” He does not mean that when trials come into your life you are to jump up and down shouting, “Oh goody! Another trial!” The idea is that you have a ledger with two pages, the left hand page for ‘joy’, and the right hand page for “Oh #&@%*, another trial!” The trial probably doesn’t feel good, but we are to mark it down on the ‘joy’ page! ✞ Why? Because God is producing faith > patience > that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing! And the only One I know who is perfect and complete lack- ing nothing is Jesus! Trials may not feel good, but they are making us more and more like God’s Son!
- Back on March 8, 2013, I wrote a Gem called, What’s God’s Purpose for Me? In it I gave an illustration of what it might feel like for this purpose of God to be worked out in our lives:
It is a lot like what I experienced while working in an electrical contact manufacturing plant many years ago. We made large commercial contact components out of metal. The process involved die-stamping them out by a drop-board forge and then finishing them to specs by further processes such as grinding off the rough edges. I would stand before the grinding wheel for hours smoothing off the roughness of these contacts. If those pieces of metal had voice, I would imagine them screaming out as I ground away, “Ow! That hurts! Stop! Don’t! That’s painful!” But if the rough edges were not ground off, the contacts would not fit the order specs, and they would be virtually useless for their intended pur- pose. I guess the contacts did have some worth in their rough state: They could always be sold for scrap metal!!! It may hurt to have our un-Christ-like edges ground down so we can be made to conform to the specs God has for us – to look, to be like Jesus! But if God does not orchestrate the process, and/or if I fight tooth and nail against the pain of His working in my life, I will not become like Jesus, and I will not be of full use to God! I would rath- er bear the pain of His manufacturing process and come out looking like Jesus – useful unto Him – than be sold for scrap!
- And this work of being conformed to the image of His Son is life-long – all our mortal life-long!
This is the ‘middle’ work of the Christian life!
What about the end? The end of the process is described in…
- Romans 8:29 – when we are fully “…conformed to the image of His Son…”!
- Romans 8:30 – when we, in heaven with our Lord, are “…glorified…” as He is!
- I Corinthians 15:49 through 54 – “…as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus]. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on im-mortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ”
- Philippians 3:20, 21 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
- I John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed , we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (see Revelation 19:11-16).
What Adam lost for all mankind through sin,
God will restore for us in Jesus!
This is the glorious ‘end’ for every Christian!
What is this knowledge of ‘the end‘ supposed to do for us now? Is it just a happy ending to a sometimes rough earthly story? It is much more than that! For we are told in I John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He [Jesus] is pure.” This doctrine of being made perfect and holy like Jesus in ‘the end‘ should encourage us in our growth in holiness now, in ‘the middle‘!