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