(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
What’s God’s Purpose for Me?
Most Christians who have been in the faith any length of time have heard quoted Romans 8:28 concerning any number of happenings in their lives:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
I one time almost got a book thrown at me by a woman whose mother was going through a horrific battle with cancer! The daughter was a strong Christian, but her trust in the daily faithfulness of God was being severely tested as she saw her mom increasingly suffer. By the way, the truth of Romans 8:28 still stands, even in that case, and the daughter later admitted to me that I was right in reminding her of this verse, but that she just was in no frame of mind at that time to receive it!
Has anyone quoted this verse to you when you were going through some trial or testing? Have you wondered how something that seems so not good can work together for good? The problem is that we often fail to go on to the next verse, Romans 8:29:
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Verse 28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. Verse 29 then spells out God’s overriding purpose for all of His children, that He predestinated His sons and daughters to be conformed to the image of His Son. All things that touch our lives as Christians – God is using all things to make us more and more like Jesus!
That this is the overriding purpose of the Father is shown by other Scripture truths. II Corinthians 3:18 says,
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [in a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
How do we behold the glory of the Lord? II Corinthians 4:6 has the answer:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
God’s glory, (His fulness) is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ! Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus “…is the image of the invisible God….” The Lord Himself said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….” We see Jesus by beholding Him in the Scriptures! It is not a clear ‘eye to eye‘ beholding, because it is “…by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7). But the more we behold Him (the more we get to know Him through the Word of God) the more we “…are transformed into that same image from glory to glory just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18). Saint Paul says it is “…from glory to glory…” (and he could have added a few more glories…) because it is a process – degree by degree, little by little, glory to glory, we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ!
Why is it such a drawn-out process to become like Jesus? Two reasons:
- We have such a long way to go to become like our Savior! We often don’t realize how much we lost when sin entered into creation. Adam was created “…in the image of God…” (Genesis 1:27). But when Adam disobeyed the prohibition of the LORD: “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Adam ate, and Adam died! Oh, he didn’t die physically right away. That was many years down the road. But Adam died spiritually, and that was immediate! Before Adam disobeyed God, he and his wife Eve had continuing fellowship with their Creator. But after they ate, when the LORD came to fellowship with them “…in the cool of the day…” (Genesis 3:8), they ran and “…hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8). No longer did Adam and Eve carry the image of God within them; now they bore the image of the devil whom they had just obeyed! (see John 8:44). And they have passed that sinful nature to all humanity, as it is written in Romans 5:12: “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death “[separation from God] through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…
- If that sinful and deadly condition of estrangement from God is not corrected, people will be forever separated from Him in hell – “…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
But for the Christian, the culmination of the process of becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ is seen in I John 3:2:
Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
Then, it will not be by hazy faith. Then, it will be by sight! We will see Him clearly when He comes back for His own, and we will be immediately transformed into completely sinless and eternal beings like as He is. We will never be God! But we will be like Him, who is the Son of God, God the Son, the One in whom “…dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).
In the meantime, God is making us more and more to be like Jesus! Now, I suspect you are a lot like me. I have a long way to go to be like Jesus! I have stuff in my life that does not resemble Jesus Christ, and God has to get rid of it! So He orders all things in my life to work together for good, the good of His purpose to make me more and more like His Son! And that can hurt!
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 – copper, bronze, aluminum. The process involved 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 away, the contacts would not fit the order specifications, and they would be virtually useless for their intended purpose! I guess those 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 like Jesus! But if God does not carry out 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 rather bear the pain for His manufacturing process and come out looking like Jesus – useful to my Lord – than to be sold for scrap!