Life in the Spirit part 5, "Good Glory!"

LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

Part 5, “Good Glory!”

Last week, we saw that when we are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the gift of hope, an assurance that there is more in store for us than we have already experienced. We know it is coming and we patiently wait for it. That doesn’t mean we sit around doing nothing. It means we live in the first fruits of this promise. We set our minds on the Spirit and walk according to the Spirit instead of our flesh. Even when we groan under suffering, we have the promise and a hope of future glory.

So, what is this glory and what is God’s purpose for glorification?

Romans 8:28-30
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.

Believers may become discouraged periodically over the struggles in their lives. The question in their minds is “Why is this happening?” But they can be assured that through it all God is working out a grand and glorious purpose which nothing and no one can hinder. God’s Word gives us this assurance.

Verse 28 says, "We know."
Anybody who truly knows the Lord and His Word will gladly acknowledge this as true. We know it from the Spirit we have been given, and we know it from our own experience. As we look back over our lives, we can see examples of how God worked apparent tragedies together to accomplish His own good purposes. Also, in God’s Word, we see numerous illustrations of it.

Joseph is an excellent example. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He was falsely accused of trying to seduce his master's wife and languished for years in an Egyptian prison. But the day came when he could say to his brothers in Genesis 50:20,
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” The “good” wasn’t primarily for Joseph, but “that many people should be kept alive”.

There are days when we have our doubts; we all have our moments of weakness. But when we get our eyes back on the Lord and our minds set on the things of the Spirit and His Word, we are reassured God is in control and all things work together for good.

"All things."
All things means just that: all things. Paul mentions some of the things a few verses later: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and the sword.

Yes, “all things” include adversity as well as prosperity, pain as well as pleasure, losses as well as gains, sorrow and sadness as well as joy and happiness. “All things” include disappointments, delays, poverty, hardship, sins, failures, sickness, suffering, sorrow, death, and bereavement.

“All things” cover the forces of nature, the deeds of evil men, the activity of Satan, and yes, even politics. It may not all be good in and of itself, but God says all things “work together” for good.

"For good!"
What is good? Some folks seem to think that is referring to our health, wealth, happiness, comfort, convenience, prosperity, and pleasure. If someone is suffering some painful experience, these well-meaning but misguided believers will say something like, "Remember Romans 8:28." "Claim Romans 8:28." The implication is, "Even though it hurts, you can count on God to turn it around for your good."

This may disappoint you greatly, but there is nothing in the context of Romans 8:28 that would even remotely hint that this is what it means. I can't find anything here about your health, wealth, and happiness in this life as the world defines it. Let God’s Word tell you the "good" that God has in mind. Let’s keep this verse in its context.

Back in Romans 8:18, it mentions "the glory which shall be revealed in us."
In Romans 8:19, it talks about "the revealing of the sons of God."
In Romans 8:23, it alludes to "the adoption, the redemption of our body."
These statements all refer to the same event, the day of Christ's return.

1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

That's what Romans 8:29 is about,
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

"Conformed to the image of His Son."
That's our glorification, and that's the “good” and God’s “purpose” in verse 28. That's God's ultimate goal for us—not necessarily our worldly interests, but our Christlikeness. That's the end in view—not making everything fine and dandy in this life, but making us ultimately like Jesus.

That's His purpose for us—not necessarily our earthly happiness, but our genuine holiness—because He knows that holiness will provide us more true happiness than anything else we could possibly dream of. And He assures us that He can use every circumstance in our lives, pleasant or unpleasant, to help accomplish that great purpose.

But He isn't going to do that for everybody. Look at the objects of His purpose: “for those who love God” and “for those who are called according to his purpose”. That's a description of true believers in Jesus Christ.

Loving God, setting your mind on the Spirit, and trusting God all go together. Every true Christian is called according to God’s purpose, because he or she is being conformed to the image of His Son.

The true believer, who loves God and trusts His purpose, has peace from the faith that all things work together for good. If a person doesn't love and trust God, he may resent what happens to him, fight against it, and let it breed anger, disappointment, and rebellion in his soul.

It's like going to a doctor. You may not like the treatment he prescribes. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. But if you trust him, you accept the treatment, believing that it will work together for good.

Almighty God is the ultimate doctor. What He prescribes is always intended to move us along God’s good purpose, the path toward Christlikeness. And when we love Him and trust Him, we allow the things He prescribes to accomplish His purpose in us. As a result, we become more like Jesus. There is no greater “good” than that.

Someday the process is going to be complete. We shall be perfect like our Savior. That's God's purpose of glorification. Now let’s look at the process of this glorification.

Romans 8:29-30
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.

“For those whom he foreknew”
Don’t miss the word "For". It indicates why God is glorifying us. God is going to accomplish His good purpose in us because He foreknew us. Foreknowledge means more than just knowing ahead of time what we would do, and choosing us on that basis. In fact, it doesn't say anything about "what" God knew; it talks about "whom" He knew.

Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Just as God foreknew Jeremiah before he was conceived and appointed him to be a prophet, God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son.

As soon as some people hear that word "predestined," they think that God said something like, "OK, you people over here will go to Heaven, and you over there will go to Hell." That is a misinterpretation.

God doesn’t take away our free-will; otherwise, we couldn’t love Him. What God predestined, is that He would use every circumstance in our lives to accomplish one great purpose: to conform us to the image of Jesus.

It means that we will have the same character that Jesus has, which is the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

When God created man, He made man in His own image. That image was marred by sin, but God is in the process of restoring it by using every circumstance in our life to remake us in His own image.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

This is a life-long process, and Jesus is the glory we will reflect throughout the process, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. The firstborn was the first child born of the Spirit, the Son of God, who became a man. God's plan is to make many more sons and daughters just like Jesus, by giving them a new birth of the Spirit, in order to restore man to his original glory and prepare a bride for His Son—the Church.

And so, we have a calling: "And those whom he predestined he also called”.
It is not just a gracious invitation, but an effectual calling from the Holy Spirit that results in our coming to Christ for salvation. Many hear the invitation, but not all yield to the Father’s drawing and the Holy Spirit’s conviction to trust Jesus Christ for salvation.

Jesus said in John 6:44
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

And those who respond to the call, God justifies.
Verse 30 says,
“and those whom he called he also justified".

The sinner, who trusts Christ as Savior, receives God's gracious gift of righteousness, which allows God to declare him to be righteous, just as if he had never sinned.

Romans 5:17-19
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

The end result of a life in the Spirit is glorification: and those whom he justified he also glorified. This is why He created us and that is the good he is working in our lives.

This glorification is what all creation has been groaning for in verse 19. This is what we are personally groaning for in verse 23. This is what the Spirit has been groaning for in verse 26. This is the good and the purpose for which God called us in verse 28.

In the end, God glorifies us with complete conformity to the image of the glorified Christ. We will have gloriously transformed bodies united with perfected spirits, which will reflect the glory of Jesus throughout eternity!

If you have trusted Christ as Savior, you have a glorious future ahead of you. You're going to be like Jesus. Every event in your life is designed by God to help you along the way toward that good and glorious goal.

And viewing every circumstance in that light will keep you growing in the Lord.

That's why it's so important to read and understand the Word of God, to see what it says and how it relates to our lives. The circumstances in our lives have a meaning and purpose. We need to understand the purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ.

Therefore, meditate on God’s Word. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Set your mind on things of the Spirit and not on things of this world or the desires of your flesh.

God will use the trials in your life for good. Will you view them as opportunities to become more like Jesus, which is your glorification?

Now, I have to warn you, that if you have never trusted Christ as Savior, there's no glory ahead for you. Hell is what awaits you. I don't take any pleasure in saying this, but it's something that the Lord Jesus Himself taught, and as His servant, I must warn you.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Why stand under this sentence of condemnation when God offers you eternal forgiveness and salvation through faith in His Son.
You are reading this because the Father is drawing you.
The Holy Spirit is convicting you.

Make Jesus your Lord and Savior by publicly confessing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died in your place and rose again.
Then repent of your sin and give Jesus your life by following Him in baptism.
By doing so, you will be forgiven of your sin and you will be born again of the Holy Spirit. As a result, you will have the joy of a life in the Spirit and the assurance of everlasting life.

God will work everything in your life for good; that is, to conform you to the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is your glory and His.