—Romans 8:28-30 (NASB)
Very few words found in the Bible have caused so much debate and division as the six occurrences of “predestined“, two of which occur right here. Some translations substitute “determine before” or “ordain” as the English equivalent of the Greek word “proorizo” (pro-or-id-zo). Nevertheless this is at the heart of the matter where Calvinism and Erastianism and who knows what other related “isms” that have bumped heads. I’m not a scholar who will be able to definitively bring to a close for everyone the issue of predestination, but because my focus is the application of God’s Word I just have to ask, “Why is it that we seem to miss Paul’s point that the purpose of predestination is ‘to become conformed to the image of His Son?’”
People get so caught up in the discussion of God’s sovereignty and omniscience, attempting to translate what that means for us both individually and as members of the church corporately, that I think Paul’s statement is overlooked. Why does God “cause all things” — even those Satan and the world intends otherwise — “to work together for good“? What is “His purpose” to which we’re called? What is the point of not just being “justified” but ultimately “also glorified“? They all point back together to being “conformed to the image of His Son“. We’re supposed to become more and more Christlike. Our character and behavior is supposed to change.
My point is that so often the discussion of predestination and how God controls or knows the past, present and future history is chock full of heady and intellectual discussion of theories and ideas, and short on practical application of what Scripture seems to actually say. I don’t think Paul intended these verses to be a launching pad to a whole new genre of academic curriculum, but expressing a very great truth as a very simple personal application: “The answer to what God wants you to do, what He has planned for your life, is to become and live like the example set by His Son.”
Yes, by God’s will and design, He sent His only Son to “be the firstborn among many brethren“. His resurrection represents how we are all born again and intended to live according to new life in Him, leaving the old one behind. We’re not called to continue living the same way as before, but to pursue God’s Word and ways set before us since the eyes of our heart were so enlightened when we responded to His call. On this point we very clearly know the mind of God, know for sure His will and intentions, “to become conformed to the image of His Son“. All other endeavors are futile regardless of which “ism” we try to attach to it.†††