GOD HAS PREDESTINATED
“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. 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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom 8:28-34)
Devotion 17 of 41
“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.” (Rom 8:29)
The predestination of God is not a lifeless doctrine. Nor, indeed, does it center around the individual believer. The Lord’s determination has to do with the culmination of His work. This is the revealed destiny of everyone who lives by faith, or is “in Christ Jesus.” “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Other versions read, “the likeness of His Son” (NIV), “be made like His Son” (BBE), and “become like His Son” (NLT).
The meaning of this passage is this: God has predetermined that everyone He adopts as sons (8:19) will be fashioned to bear the “image of Christ.” That is not a commandment, it is a predetermination. It is not a possibility, it is a predestined purpose. It is not a goal for which we are to strive, but a work that God will do. This is a revealed purpose by which we can measure, or examine, ourselves. How much like Jesus am I becoming? Am I advancing in this conformity or not? That will tell me whether God is working with me or not.
THE “IMAGE” OF HIS SON
Why does the Spirit say “image of His Son?” Why not simply say “conformed to His Son?” Remember, the passage before us is elaborating on the manner in which we are being brought to glory. We are coming through the vale of sufferings, being “saved by hope” (Rom 8:18-24). What we will ultimately be, is determining the pathway through which we are being led. Our daily experiences are not the point of this text, but our ultimate destiny. What happens to you every day, and what you undertake every day, has primarily to do with where you are headed, not where you are presently located. We are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (8:17). That has to do with our future. Our present affiliation with God, through Christ and by the Spirit, is PREPARING us for that future. In view of this, I personally question the validity of a lot of work that is being done in the name of the Lord. It is too earthy. In the glorious work God has and is doing, the Son of God is set before us through the Gospel. That presentation is, in a very real sense, “the image of His Son.”
The idea is that God, through the Gospel, has set before us the Image to which we are being conformed. Of particular emphasis in this text is that suffering is one of the means through which this conformity is being accomplished. As the Spirit said through Peter, “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, THIS IS COMMENDABLE BEFORE GOD before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21). Of course, if you do not take suffering, caused by you doing good, patiently, this is NOT commendable before God.
Our sufferings are to our lives, like the preparations of the Temple stones and timbers were in Solomon’s stone quarries, and the place where the timber was prepared. It is written, “And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house” (1 Kgs 5:17-18). Thus, the building materials were prepared off-sight, so to speak, so that when they were actually placed in the Temple no chiseling or further preparation was required. It is written, “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone MADE READY BEFORE it was brought thither: so that THERE WAS NEITHER HAMMER NOR AXE NOR ANY TOOL OF IRON HEARD IN THE HOUSE while it was in building” (1 Kgs 6:7).
So it is with the saints of God, who are being prepared for to be the “habitation of God” (Eph 2:22). Any preparatory work, essential for the “living stones” to be fitted into the overall final building is being done in this world, during this lifetime. The Lord Jesus Himself is the living depiction of the kind of building in which God will dwell. If we want to fit in that “habitation,” then, to some measurable degree, we must be like Jesus in this world. The Holy Spirit is not ambiguous on this point: “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because AS HE IS, SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD” (1 John 4:17). That is why now, in this world, we are to “arm” ourselves with His mind (1 Pet 4:1-3; Phil 2:5). It is why the real believers “purify themselves even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
This is why we are admonished, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13). This is not a mere duty, and it ought not to be preached as though that is all there is to it. This is Divinely ordained preparatory work. It is the initial phase of being conformed to the image of His Son. The glory of it is that God has abundantly established that what He purposes He will cause to come to pass. Your part is strictly secondary, but it is necessary. Be moldable clay! Be tenderhearted, obedient, and eager to do the will of the Lord. Be like David, who was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
Tomorrow: “NOT A SUDDEN DEPARTURE”
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus I thank You for conforming process wrought by the Holy Spirit.