7. The Required Context: A Dying Body
The one thing we cannot do when we go to heaven is manifest the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. The key to God's purpose is the human body. How can the life of Jesus be revealed in our mortal flesh, if we don't have a dying body? God triumphs in our bodies right here on this earth. Our mortal human body is a wonderful gift from God.
The Required Context: A Dying Body
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 predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
Here is a sad fact of history: two very short phrases in these verses have been two of the most fought over phrases in church history. Whom He foreknew, these He predestined . . . Countless books and sermons have been written on both sides, opposing the others, wars have been fought, blood shed, as a result of these phrases, this one word, “predestined.”
Some say, “God decided beforehand who would be saved and who wouldn’t.” Others say, “No, the foreknew is significant, God knew beforehand whether we would choose Him or not.” Back and forth.
The most extraordinary thing is, in all the debate I am acquainted with, no one has gone beyond the word “predestined.” Thus it becomes a debate over whether we’re predestined to go to heaven or predestined to go to hell.
Only, where did they get that? They didn’t get it from this verse.
To be conformed to the image of His Son. We are looking at the determination and intent of Almighty God. This is why God created everything – God wants many sons just like Jesus.
Predestined? I simply believe what God says.
Here is how I read Romans 8:29 for myself. From the very beginning, God determined that I would be like Jesus. God is absolutely determined that I, Daniel Yordy, will be just like Jesus. If I have learned anything about God, it is this: God gets what He wants. Do I believe it?
Each of us interprets the Bible from a viewpoint determined by a handful of verses and concepts. God’s people read right over awesome truths, without noticing, because there is a trigger in their mind that automatically shoots those things into heaven. “This will happen ONLY in heaven.”
Their defining verse, “The goal of the believer is to go to heaven when we die,” rules how most believers read their Bible. Why would it be wrong to choose a different set of verses that rule how we read what God has spoken?
What if Romans 8:29 were our ruling verse? We all have a ruling verse, even if it’s not found in the New Testament! We have an already-made definition. Why would it be wrong to pick a ruling verse that tells us exactly God’s purpose for His creation. God was determined, before any sin came into the picture, to have many sons just like Jesus. What if we approached every New Testament verse with this thought, “God is determined to make me just like Jesus, and this is how He is doing it? This is how it is working?”
How is God accomplishing this transformation in our lives?
But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18:
We behold the Lord’s glory, and by doing so we are transformed into His same image. “Transformed” is the key word. This is a glorious process; we are not going from shame to glory, but from glory to glory. We start in glory and we are transformed into further glory.
I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2
Again, the key word is “transformed,” here by the renewing of our minds. God wants to change the way we think, about Him, about ourselves, about what He is doing in our lives.
Becoming like Jesus is in the present time. Romans 8:28 says, All things work together for good. Everything we go through in this life, good and bad, hard and comfortable, God is working together for our good. God tells us what He means by “good” – being conformed to the image of Jesus. When we stand as the image of Jesus, fully like Him, we will look back at everything in the course of our lives and see how God has used all of it to bring us to this state of being just like Jesus. God has worked it all out for our good.
And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:17-18
That glory is the image of Christ. Paul means that when we are revealed fully as the image of Christ, we will look back and see that everything we have gone through is absolutely wonderful. We will be amazed when we see how God has used it to bring us to this wonderful place God calls “good.” But we don’t need to wait until then to believe that everything we are going through right now is working in us the image of Christ.
We are becoming something, not going somewhere or getting something. We are becoming the image of His Son.We are becoming what we are.
The whole Bible is about this process that began from before the creation of the world, from our conception in our mother’s womb, from the moment we were born again. From the time we were born again until the point that we are just like Jesus, revealed in all glory, God is working this transformation in our lives. Take away the assertion “Heaven is the place to go to” from that picture, it doesn’t matter. Whether we’re on earth or in heaven, it is the same process and goal.
We know from the New Testament that those who are in heaven with Jesus are not finished. They are waiting for the same thing we are waiting for, the resurrection of their bodies. I do not doubt that God is still working in their lives.
Heaven has no power to accomplish anything. The Holy Spirit carries within Himself in His workings in our lives the power that transforms us, not a geographical location or the realm of existence called heaven. The Holy Spirit is in us working just as He is working in those who are in heaven. But those who are in heaven do not have their mortal bodies and so lack the vital ingredient needed to be fully transformed into the image of Christ.
Some might think it would be far easier to be changed in heaven than here. I will show from the New Testament that is absolutely not true.
God created this earth and our mortal bodies, subjecting everything to vanity for the sole purpose of using it to conform us to the image of His Son. Those in heaven are missing the very ingredients God created to obtain what He wants.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
The one thing those who are in heaven only cannot do is manifest the life of Jesus in their mortal flesh. Those in heaven don’t have any mortal flesh.
The key to God’s purpose is the human body. Without our body we lack the very thing God created for this transformation process to take place. How can the life of Jesus be revealed, apocalypsed, in our mortal flesh, if we don’t have a dying body? God triumphs in our bodies right here on this earth.
If we find ourselves in heaven only, it is a blessed place, but we no longer have the opportunity to see Him revealed in our dying body. This is the opportunity of eternity. Our human body is a wonderful gift from God. Do not despise it.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-20
Each of the three passages revealing how God is fulfilling Romans 8:29 in our lives contain both an inworking and an outworking. Ephesians 3:19 is the outworking of being filled with God, but the preceding verses show us the inworking.
Verse 16: That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.
The power of the Holy Spirit works in our lives from the inside out.
Verse 17: Christ dwells in our hearts by faith.
What do we see when we look at our heart? We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Our minds follow what we see. Jesus said that if our eye is single, that is, as we see God, our whole body is full of light. But if our eye be darkness, that is, if we see ourselves as a fallen self in this world, our whole life will be full of darkness. What do we see when we look at our heart?
There are those believers who insist on using Jeremiah’s words, spoken as part of the Old Covenant, The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. When they look at their hearts, they see selfishness and deceit. Their whole Christian lives become an effort to stay away from their hearts and to live in another person that is not them, Christ in them being separate from them, always escaping from their own heart. A Christian, then, becomes someone who pretends he is something other than what he is.
God found fault with the Old Covenant because it does not produce Christ in us; it was never intended to do so. Therefore He established a New Covenant, and in the New Covenant, when I look at my heart, I do not see selfishness or deceit. When I look at my human heart, I see Christ. How do I see Him? With my human understanding? Misreading all the variations of feeling found in the human heart? If I go by what I see with my natural eyes, I might not arrive at the conclusion Paul arrives at here; I might imagine it is all selfishness and deceit.
But I cannot do that. Paul says that when I look at my heart, I see Christ; I believe what God says. I no longer worry about the shades of emotion in my human heart, because it is inside the human part of me that Jesus is revealed.
We start there! When we look in our hearts and see Christ, we are rooted and grounded in love.
I have walked with God for many years. For most of those years I walked under the belief that my heart was my enemy, filled with selfishness and deceit. I lived for years under the belief that God loves me, yes, but I must line up, I must come through, I must choose Him. I believed that God requires me first to prove that I love Him in return.
I can assure you of this, I am a failure and a disaster. If my former belief were true, I cannot be saved. It took a deliverance and the mercy and kindness of God for me to be able to say for the first time, “God loves me,” adding nothing to it. “God loves me.”
But that is not enough. I can accept mentally that God loves me. God has to love me because God loves everybody. But here is the bottom line. “God likes me.” Can you say that? Can you look in the mirror, look at yourself when you’re feeling your worst? When you have just blown it, go to the mirror, and look at yourself. Can you say, “God likes me”?
God likes me. Everything I am, He likes. I am special to Him. He likes me, and I am clean. I am clean! Rooted and grounded in love! It’s not enough to believe that God loves us. We still think without realizing it, “Yes, He loves me, but I don’t think He really likes me.” Our bottom line has been, “Yes God loves me, but I don’t think He likes me because there is something terribly wrong inside of me.”
Christ lives in our hearts by faith. What do we see when we look at our self, our human self? What do we see in our human heart? Do we see Christ? Do we believe that He really likes us?
“Rooted and grounded in love.” I cannot go forward, I can accomplish nothing unless I am rooted and grounded in the fact that God not only loves me, but He likes me. He likes to spend time with me, to listen to me talk. He likes the way I see things, the things I like. He likes to do things with me, to be with me.
There is a religious thought that says, “Well, that would be condoning sin because I do things that are wrong.” Do not despise the blood of Jesus! Do not minimize or put down the blood of Jesus. What draws us away from those things God doesn’t care for? Only our love for Him. What is it that makes us love Him? When we realize how much He likes us. When I know how much He likes to be with me, my heart melts, and I avoid those things that would block my knowledge of His closeness to me. But if I’m not sure that He likes to be around me; yea, He loves me like a distant parent, but does He like me, does He like to be around me, my personal ways, does He like to listen to me talk?
We will always stay away from someone we think doesn’t really like us.
What is sin? Sin is staying away from Him because we think He doesn’t really like us. We can call outward things sin, but real sin is avoiding God.
Do not despise the blood of Jesus; it is more powerful than we know. It satisfies God more than we understand.
Let Jesus like you. Allow Him to enjoy being with you.
Rooted and grounded in the love of God. — That we may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.
We have the capacity to contain God. How far can God reach in me? What is the width, the length, the height that God can move in me? Is God limited by making me His dwelling place?
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.
This is where it starts. God participates only in a love relationship. Fear, duty, obligation, measuring up, these are things God stays far away from.
It begins as a love relationship. It begins when we look at our hearts, our heart of hearts, who we really are, what makes us tick, what makes us sing, what makes us live, do we see Christ? Does He love me? This is where it starts.