Summary: What is the disciple’s objective in spiritual growth?

Last week we looked to Hebrews 12:1-2 as began this series on disciple­ship-becoming more like Jesus. We said that the disciple’s hero is none other than Jesus-He alone is the one we desire to be like. We said that we must set our priorities around that goal, seeking purity in our daily life, and surrendering daily to allowing God to use whatever He deems necessary to build Christ-like character in me, even if it means I am made uncomfortable.

Today, I want us to consider why it is possible for the disciple to daily surrender to God with such abandon. You see, the disciple has a hope that sustains him or her, come what may. That hope is Christ-likeness.

Now, when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not use the word as we often use it today. We use the word to speak of how we "hope" it will rain, or that we "hope" our favorite team will win the game. When we use the word today, we are talking about something that may or may not happen. But when the Bible speaks of hope, it is referring to a confidence assur­ance. A truth, a certainty that serves to sustain us, come what may.

You see, a disciple is one who lives with the confident assurance that...

1. It is the Christian’s eternal destiny to be just like Jesus-vs. 29-30

A. Because of what God has predetermined for His children-v. 29

Paul makes it clear that Christ-likeness is the eternal destiny of every child of God, and that part of the blessedness of eternity is that we will be just like Jesus! Paul tells us that just as surely as God foresaw the day of our conversion, He also foresees the day when we will be just like Jesus in every way! This was something God had predetermined for each of His children even before we chose to trust Christ as our personal Savior, be­cause this is part of what God has predetermined for all creation!

This is what Paul is referring to when he says that Jesus is the "firstborn among many brothers." This is a reference to the stated plan that God has for the entire universe. You see, the Bible tells us that one day, God will make all things new!

"And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new."’ Revelation 21:5 (NASB)

"But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God." ~ 2 Peter 3:13 (NLT)

God will, one day, reverse all the effects of sin in the universe, including the effects of sin in the lives of the redeemed. He will make a new crea­tion, and believers are part of that new creation God will bring about!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Which leads us to yet another reason for our assurance that every Chris­tian will one day be just like Jesus. We have this assurance...

B. Because of how God now perceives His children-v. 30 "those He justified, He also glorified"

The Father now sees all those who have come to Him through faith in Christ as being one with Jesus. What is true of Christ is true of us.

1) This is the basis of our acceptance by God -

"He made us accepted in the Beloved "~ Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV)

God sees us through "Christ-colored" glasses!

2) It is the basis of our assurance concerning eternity.

"But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonder­ful kindness is what saves you (we are justified in His sight). God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven (We are glorified in His sight)."

~ Ephesians 2:4-6 (CEV)

How do I know that I will one day be with Jesus and be like Jesus? As far as God is concerned, it’s a done deal!

C. Because of how God has pursued his children-v. 30 "And those He predestined, he also called; and those He called, He also justified"

Paul speaks here of the fact that everyone of us who have been justified through faith in Christ, knows that this is not something that came about by our doing. No, it is a work completed by God alone. He sought us out, He pursued us, He called us, and He has saved us.

Now there is a sense in which God calls to all mankind.

The Bible tells us that God...

"commands all people everywhere to repent." ~ Acts 17:30

This was the message that Paul said he preached "both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ2’ Acts 20:2 1.

Of course, not all who are called repent.

Who then does he mean when he mentions the "called" in verses 28 & 30? He is speaking of those who have chosen to repent and believe. He makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (KJV), "But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

Notice carefully that Paul preaches Christ to Jews and Gentiles indis­criminately. In that sense all are called. But that is not the sense in which Paul uses the word here. He says that out from among those who hear the general call there are those who are "the called." And the difference is that those who are called in this narrower sense stop regarding Christ as a stumbling block and a folly. Instead they regard him as the power of God and the wisdom of God. They choose, by faith, to respond to the call to repent and believe on Jesus.

The point here is that if you are truly saved, you know it came about, not because of your effort, but entirely because of God’s effort. You did not pursue Him; He pursued you! And the point is that just as God pursued us in order to bring us to Christ, He now pursues us in order to make us more like Christ!

Because this is true, not only can the disciple be confidently assured that it is the Christian’s eternal destiny to be just like Jesus, but that...

2. It can be the Christian’s daily experience to become more like Jesus-v. 28

In other words, that which will be true of me in eternity can be my ex­perience in daily life. This is possible by virtue of...

A. God’s providential working- "And we know that in all things God works for the good"

The disciple is confidently assured that God can use EVERY experience of life to make me more like Jesus.

God works by divine providence to bring about what is the best for His children-to make them more like Christ. For as we have mentioned previously, becoming more like Jesus is the key to experiencing the joy and blessing that the Lord has in mind for us to know in this life. Joy and blessing that can be ours regardless of the circumstances we face.

What is providence? Providence comes from the words, "Pro" which means "before;" and "Video" which means "to see." Therefore, providence means "to see before." This means that God sees beforehand and plans accordingly.

God is so great that He weaves together the choices of millions of human beings and waves of cause and effect and blends them together to accom­plish His purposes. So God is providentially at work in all things, good and not so good, to bless us by conforming us to the likeness of His Son. However, this is possible only if God’s providence is accompanied by...

B. My daily surrender- "those who love Him"

Every Christian will be like Christ one day; but only the Christian who lov­ingly surrenders to the providential working of God in their life progresses toward Christ-likeness today. And it is only the Christian who allows God to use the circumstances of life to make him or her more like Jesus that knows victory in the midst of EVERY circumstance-good or bad.

"Romans 8 is one of the goriest chapters in the New Testament. No­tice verses 35-36: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

But over this gory painting of the Christian life Paul splatters the word HOPE with a big red paint brush. For example in verse 37 he shouts, ‘No! In all these things we are more than conquerors’ Not just conquerors, but more than conquerors! Tribulation and distress and persecution and famine and nakedness and peril and sword are not just defeated; they are more than defeated: they are turned into servants for our good." ~ John Piper

But this is possible only for those Christians who lovingly surrender their lives to God to let him work, HOWEVER HE SEES FIT, to bless them by making them more like Jesus today.

Conclusion: The circumstances of life often speak to us like Lucy one day spoke to Charlie Brown. Lucy said to Charlie Brown "Sometimes, I feel we are not communicating: You, Charlie Brown, are afoul ball in the line drive of life. You’re often in the shadow of your own goal post you’re a miscue. You ‘re 3 putts on the 18th green. You are a 7-10 split in the 10th frame. You have dropped a rod and reel in the lake of life. You’re a missed free throw. You’re a shacked 9-iron, a called 3rd strike, a bug on the windshield of life! Do you understand? Have I made myself clear?"

But the Christian who is living as a disciple considers that which he is con­fidently assured of-that he will be like Christ one day and that as he lov­ingly surrenders to God, he can be blessed by becoming more like Christ today. Then he replies like Paul in verse 31, "God is for me!"

In light of the assurance that it is our eternal destiny to one day be just like Jesus; and that it can be our daily experience to know the blessing of be­coming like Christ, as a disciple, I must daily...

1. Remember the eternal destiny that awaits me as a child of God;

2. Recommit to seeing that destiny fulfilled in my earthly experience; and

3. Respond to the daily challenges of life with the affirmation, "God is for me!"