6. God's Purpose
Not only are we created by God - born again - to be able to contain God, to be filled with His fullness, not only are we able to release God in a river of life that flows out of us to bring healing and wholeness to others, but we are also able to defeat everything that opposes God
6. God's Purpose
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
We understand what God is saying by believing that what He says is true. I love Him because He first loved me. I am called by God’s purpose. In order to fulfill His purpose, God called me. God knew me from the beginning, and because He knew me, He predestined me to be just like Jesus.
Predestined is a big word that splits Christians – “free choice” versus “predestination.” Do I choose God? Or has He already picked me whether I choose Him or not? Most people say predestination is about “being saved” which to them is to “go to” heaven. In other words, God pre-decided who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. But Romans 8:29 is talking about becoming just like Jesus. “Heaven and hell” are not addressed here, nor in the whole book of Romans.
From the very beginning, God determined that I would be just like Jesus.
Because God determined I would be like Jesus, He called me. When He called me, I was conceived in my mother’s womb. The very fact that God called me means that He also justified me through Jesus’ shed blood. And because God justified me, He glorified me. I am already there. I believe what is already true.
Can God determine beforehand what will be?
Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” . . . Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
With God, things don’t just happen. God determined His purpose before He created anything. When God began the creation, what He wanted filled His mind. Romans 8:29 tells us exactly what God wants out of this whole thing – many sons just like Jesus. He began by creating man in His image, in the same construct as Jesus in the beginning, with the capacity to be conformed to Jesus in the end.
Before He begins any work, God declares what the end of that work will be. When God says, “I am determined to conform you to the image of Jesus,” it is set. He purposed it; He will do it. It is not possible for us to prevent God from fulfilling His purpose. Jesus will win our hearts.
Will we choose Him? Of course: He will win our heart. By the power of love, Jesus subdues all things to Himself. Jesus will win.
. . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; (Abraham) contrary to hope, in hope believed . . . And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body . . . He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Romans 4:16-21
Do we see ourselves fully conformed right now to the image of Jesus? In our mind it doesn’t exist, but in God’s mind it does. And God calls those things that do not exist to us as though they really do exist. Who is right, we or God?
In God’s eyes we are conformed to the image of His dear Son, that is the end of His work in us. God sees that end and calls it into existence
Abraham did not look at himself, but at the completion of God’s promise.
The history of man on the earth is about one thing alone. God is obtaining His purpose – many sons conformed to the image of His Son. That purpose has never varied or been hindered in any way. Nothing can keep God’s purpose from being fulfilled. Everything on this earth is simply the context of God’s intention.
God will get what He wants – many sons just like Jesus.
The question for us is the same as for Abraham. Do we look to God instead of ourselves? Do we believe what God says that we are what He sees?
With God, everything is right now, present tense. Just God. God the Father, the Son of God, the Spirit of God, rejoicing together in love and fellowship. Then, God looks at Jesus; all of a sudden, He sees something through Jesus that catches His heart. He sees you and me, many sons just like Jesus.
God, looking through Jesus, sees those sons (both male and female) apart from the universe, heaven or earth, and time. Then, God creates the universe, heaven and earth, as the context in which He reveals what He sees – many sons.
God knew He was placing man into a pit of vipers, a snake den. He knew man would fall. God purposed to bring forth His sons out of the limitation and sorrow of this world. He purposed to cause us to win the victory in this present age. As we triumph in this earthly context in which we dwell, we are conformed to the image of Jesus. There is no other way for God to fulfill His purpose. God cannot have what He wants in heaven. God cannot have what He wants in heaven. His purpose cannot be fulfilled there.
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 are being transformed from one level of glory to the next into the image of Christ. The gospel, the good news is that God is forming us into the image of His dear Son.
The question is, “Do I believe it?”
God already determined that I will be just like Jesus. I am already called, I am already justified, I am already glorified. God has already in His heart and mind accomplished His purposes in me. The question is “Do I believe Him?”
How is this possible? How can I look at myself upon this earth as the image of Jesus? Is not man a disaster, a mess, fallen and evil? How can I make these claims about any man, especially myself?
But God says that I, a man, will be conformed to the image of Jesus. Who am I? What am I? Am I something completely different from what I have thought?
There are three primary verses in the New Testament that show us how Romans 8:29 has application in our lives. The first part of being conformed to His image is found in Ephesians.
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
That we may be filled with all the fullness of God. A fantastically impossible claim, beyond human ability to comprehend. Filled with all the fullness of God? How could such a thing be?
The first question is not “What does it mean?” But “Do I believe it?” Then, once we believe that we are filled with all the fullness of God, we ask the question, “What does this mean?” Neither angels nor animals can be filled with all the fullness of God. No other created being has this capacity.
God created us with the capacity to contain God in all of His fullness. Whatever is God, we were created to contain that. We were created to contain infinity, omnipotence, the very Person of God. How can this be?
We must believe this word. I, a human, am created to contain all of the fullness of Almighty God.
The second part of being conformed to the image of Christ is found in John.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive . . . John 7.37-39
This is the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the day of the fulfillment of all God has spoken. At the peak moment of the ceremony, a moment of absolute silence, Jesus cried loudly, His voice piercing the silent crowds, “He who believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
What is Jesus saying? These rivers of living water are described in Ezekiel and in Revelation 22. And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
Jesus claims that He who believes in Him, out of his inner being flows the very river of life from God out from His throne, making alive everything it touches.
We not only have the capacity to contain God, but we have the ability to release God to every one we pass by in a river of life that heals and makes whole. The very river that flows out of the throne of God flows through us, and we are able to touch other people with God himself.
God made us with the capacity and ability to release Him into the lives and environment of others around us. Do I believe that God flows out of me in a river of life to make other people whole? To heal everyone I pass by? Jesus said this is the norm for those who believe in Him.
One more verse.These are three parallel verses. As we understand the purpose of God flowing through these three verses, we understand the gospel.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:9-11
Not only are we created by God – born again – to be able to contain God, to be filled with His fullness, not only are we able to release God in a river of life that flows out of us to bring healing and wholeness to others, but we are also able to defeat everything that opposes God, everything that says, “God, You can’t do it now. Maybe You can do it in heaven, but You can’t do it in this earth, in our lives right now, no way.”
We have the power to overcome that false accuser. Do we believe it? It is not theology. Do I believe it, that the accuser is cast down, defeated? I have the authority from God to defeat and cast down everything that would limit God.
Through these three verses, the truth that God is conforming us to the image of His Son works its way into all the New Testament. This is the gospel. These three verses are the focus and definition of the gospel, of our relationship with God. Everything from Genesis 1:1 to the end of Revelation is just an expansion of these three primary verses as they work to fulfill Romans 8:29 in our lives.
I taught a seventh grade Bible class, children who have grown up in Christian homes. Here is their understanding of the gospel: “I’ve got a ticket from God, believing in Jesus’ work (separate from me), so that when I die, I present my ticket and I go to heaven, not hell.” That’s it!
Why? Did they read it in the Bible? No, they did not! But it is what they have been taught. Listen, that is not the gospel of Jesus. The gospel of Jesus is that God is determined to conform us to the image of His Son. We are being changed right now from glory to glory into that image.
Besides that, in this life right now, we have the capacity to contain all the fullness of God, we have the power to release a river of life from God to bring life and healing to everyone we pass, and we have the authority to defeat every voice that speaks against God fulfilling His purpose in the earth. This is the gospel. And from this understanding we view everything God says in the Bible. This is what our children should be talking about, what they should know as the gospel.
At this end of the age, any other anchor, any other definition of the gospel, will be shaken, and it will fall. The one thing that cannot be shaken is that God is conforming me into the image of Jesus. Do I believe it?
I am Your servant; let it be to me according to Your word.