Being conformed to the image of the Son

What does it mean to be chosen by God?  Paul used that expression in Romans 8:28.  In our text, Romans 8:29-30 he explains what that means.  What he says is not a new concept.  Moses described God’s love and choice of his people in Deuteronomy 7.  In this context God marks you as his own people, as the sign and seal of baptism reminds you.

Our text has been described as a golden chain, anchoring your hope as a believer in Jesus Christ.  Paul begins in eternity. Foreknew of course, means far more than intellectual awareness.  It is God’s love placed on his people.  Predestined includes the goal, or purpose for which God has chosen you.  It is nothing less than your being conformed (think “shaped,” or “patterned”) according to the image of his Son!  As John Calvin writes about this verse, “. . . no one can be an heir of heaven without being conformed to the image of the only-begotten Son of God.”  This is one of the places that the sufferings that Paul keeps mentioning fit in.  They are used by God to help shape you to his Son.

At a particular point in time God called you to himself, to union with his Son.  And, since you were a guilty sinner, he justified you, declared you righteous, not by infusing grace into you, but by counting you righteous in Christ.  Glorified somewhat surprisingly, uses a past (aorist) tense of an event that is still future.  But, because God is the one doing this, your future is no less certain than what he has already done!  What God has begun he will complete.

Notice who it is that foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies?  God is at work (“divine monergism,” as some commentators put it).  Take comfort in that.  And, because he is a at work, focus on being shaped to the image of the Son.

(Written in preparation for a sermon on Nov. 28, 2010)

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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