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ŇWhom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.Ó — DonŐt be afraid of predestination, and donŐt be ashamed of it. We are predestinarians because we believe the Bible; and the doctrine of predestination is a blessed Bible doctrine full of comfort and joy for GodŐs people. Predestination is GodŐs absolute infallible purpose of grace regarding his elect, whom he foreknew. Our eternal destiny (perfect, glorious conformity to Christ) was fixed and settled by our heavenly Father before he made the worlds (Ephesians 1:3-6, 11; 3:11-12).
Those whom God foreknew in electing love he predestinated to be conformed to the image of his own dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When God made Adam, he saw that it was not good for him to be alone. So he made Eve Ňan help meet for him.Ó And the Lord God determined from eternity that it was not good for his Son (the last Adam) to be alone. So he chose to save a great multitude of sinners and make them just like his Son, a bride for him, a help meet for him. God looked upon his darling Son with such satisfaction and delight that he determined to have many sons just like him (1 John 3:1-2).
Our salvation, when it is finished in resurrection glory, shall be our conformity to Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the express image of the triune God; and GodŐs elect have been predestined to be the express image of Christ. This conformity to Christ is threefold.
A Climactic Conformity
In the new birth Christ is formed in us, we are made partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This is not a process, but an immediate work of God, an immediate resurrection from the dead, an immediate new creation of a new man in us Ňin righteousness and true holiness,Ó in conformity to Christ.
A Gradual Conformity
We are conformed to the image of Christ in our day by day experience of his grace, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior. By the power of his Holy Spirit dwelling in us, by the power of his Word working in us, and by the loving nurture and discipline of our heavenly Father, the lives of GodŐs saints are molded to Christ.
This conformity of GodŐs elect to Christ is not something we perceive in ourselves. As we grow in grace, we grow into a truer and truer realization that we are the very chief of sinners. Yet, the believerŐs conformity to Christ is real. We are, by the operations of GodŐs grace working in us, made submissive to the will of God, though we repent of our rebellions against it. We are made patient in suffering, though we confess our horrible impatience. We are made to believe God more fully, while we weep over our unbelief. We are made to love our God and our brethren more completely, while our hearts break over our lack of love. We are made more gracious and forgiving, while we repent of our hardness and reluctance to forgive offenses.
A Consummate Conformity
Soon, O blessed thought! Soon, we shall be perfectly conformed to our Lord Jesus Christ in the resurrection.
In divine, sovereign predestination God eternally and immutably determined who he would save, how he would save them, when he would save them, and where he would save them. Then he arranged everything necessary to accomplish their salvation and to bring them to glory at last, perfectly conformed to the image of his dear Son. Predestination marked the house into which grace would come, paved the road by which grace would travel to that house, set the time when grace would enter the house, and guaranteed that grace would actually enter the house at the appointed time of love. Nothing was left to chance, luck, blind fate, or manŐs imaginary free-will!