“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 8:29-30).
Romans 8:29-30 is called the “golden chain of salvation.” It details something called the Ordo Salutis; the order of salvation. It is an unbreakable chain that shows the way in which the believer who has been foreknown by God since before creation will also one day be glorified. Those who are foreknown will inevitably be predestined, called, justified, and then glorified. In simple terms, this is the way God saves us.
Hidden in this chain is a statement that is oftentimes neglected. We hear the words “foreknown” and “predestined” and we immediately begin thinking about Calvinism and Arminianism. Who are predestined and who are not? We hear the word “justified” and we think of Abraham and the fact that he was justified by faith. We hear the word “glorified” and our minds think of the pearly gates; the bliss of eternal life with Jesus! But in v. 29, Paul says that those who are foreknown are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.
The word “conform” speaks to something being fashioned into something different than it was originally. The only other time this word is used in the New Testament is in Philippians 3:20-21, when Paul said this: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
We are predestined to be transformed into the image of Jesus. We understand the concept of transformation. Paul says it directly when he says that previously, before we were predestined, we had “lowly” bodies that need to be changed to be like Jesus’ “glorious body.”
Simply put, you cannot be a follower of Jesus if your life looks no different today than it did when you first professed to know Jesus. You cannot be a true disciple of Jesus if you are not daily looking more and more like Jesus. You cannot be a true follower of Christ if the sin issues that plagued you 20 years ago are no different today. You cannot have the Spirit of God in your life (which is proof of your salvation) if your addiction to pornography, or alcohol, or gambling is no different today than it was before you knew Jesus. The primary evidence of a life that has been redeemed by Jesus is change. You will change.
As you hear that, you may feel immediate conviction and then feel it is your job to change yourself so as to prove that your salvation is genuine. If in fact your salvation is genuine, you will be convicted and you will commit yourself to changing, and you will see results. If your salvation is not genuine, you will be merely chopping the head off of a branch that has been produced from a sinful heart. Your life will only evidence this change if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
We don’t talk about change enough in the church. We don’t talk about transformation enough. We are too comfortable allowing people to go on in their lives unmoved and unaffected by the indwelling Spirit of God. Realize that conformity to Christ is not an option if you are in Christ. Therefore, submit yourselves to the Spirit’s sanctifying work in you!