“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28–30 ESV).
He sat on the river bank to watch the water pass. Splash. Ripple. Gurgle. The water flowed from left to right. It never stopped, he thought. And it never returned. He was still. The river and everything in it was not. He felt the river was the same as yesterday but knew that was untrue. These were not yesterday’s waters, but today’s. Yesterday was gone.
The current of life always moves; it cannot stop. God has placed humanity inside his creation. Part of God's creation is time, which runs, passes, and flows. We move with it. We cannot return to yesterday. But where is the current taking us? What is the point of this movement?
In a recent sermon at Calvary Monterey, my father — Bill to you — taught on the point of life. His teaching was based off Romans 8:28-30. His bottom line?
The point of life, for the believer, is to become like Jesus. It is not a goal Christians invented, God did. His intention for his people is that we would become like his Son.
1 The Goal Of Life Is To Become Like Jesus
So he could show the result of God using all things together for good, my dad decided to teach Romans 8:28-30 in reverse. It is sometimes silly how Christians apply the truth “God uses all things together for good,” so it makes sense to see first how God applies it. The “good” God works to bring forth is for his children to be “conformed to the image of his Son.”
“Life is like a great funnel. Everything in it leads us to become like Jesus,” my dad said. When we understand God intends to make us more like Christ than before, we will interpret everything in our lives through that grid. Though life is difficult, it is not purposeless. God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son. We are to become like Jesus; it is God’s goal for us. Is it yours?
2 It Is Guaranteed Believers Will Become Like Jesus
The goal of God, his desire for us to become like Jesus, is guaranteed for all believers. We are “predestined” to it, Paul wrote. One day our glorification will occur. One day, that is our vantage point. But from God’s vantage point our glorification has already occurred. “Those whom he justified he also glorified,” Paul wrote. The deed, in God’s mind, heart, reality, and experience, is finished; the glorification of his children is past tense.
Our past, present, and future have already been decided for us in the gospel. Everything in our past is taken care of; we are justified. Everything in our future is taken care of; we are glorified. So what matters now is our sanctification; to become like Christ today is the goal. But it will happen, guaranteed.
3 So What Is Jesus Like?
When my dad posited this question I honestly wondered how he would fit an answer into one point of one sermon. What is Jesus like? There is too much to say. But he did a masterful job of drawing us to one Scripture to encapsulate all of what Jesus is like: “Grace and truth” was his description. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17).
Jesus came in full representation of grace, but also the truth. He wasn’t fifty percent grace and fifty truth, but the full manifestation of both. To be full of both grace and truth is the result of sanctification. Your life becomes true, and truth flows from your life. Your life becomes grace, and grace flows from your life.
4 God Uses The Circumstances Of Life To Make Us Like Jesus
So believers — Paul describes us as called by and lovers of God — are on a passenger train to Christ-likeness. God uses all things in our lives, works them together, and creates good. He doesn’t cause everything, but he uses everything. The good, as we’ve detailed, is Jesus-like character and spirit.
God takes the trials and successes, joys and pains of life and, like a master baker mixing ingredients, blends them to create a masterpiece. But, again, the good, according to God, is sanctification, a deeper Christ-likeness. This isn’t: Your boyfriend broke up with you, but don’t worry, God will use it to provide a better one. No, it’s: God wills to use this to make you more like Christ. And that is the best possible outcome of life.
I enjoyed the teaching; it was vintage Bill Holdridge. Romans. Positional, in-Christ Christianity. Passion. Clarity. And a beautiful reminder of the destination the Heavenly Father has for each of us.