(095)Thesis: God predestined the "foreknown" to be conformed to the image of the resurrected Christ so that He might be the most highly exalted of all of the many brethren.
Introduction: In Paul's pursuit of "faith" in his readers regarding their confidence that God actually works all things together for their good, he introduced a concept of "foreknowledge" that is rooted in God's experience-based knowledge of all believers before they ever existed according to the theology of Romans 4:17 (He calls things that are not as though they are). Now, this evening, we are going to look into the second concept that is designed to get us to actually believe that God is at work to turn every experience we have into a "good" in respect to us: a very specific "predestination".
I. At Issue is the Fact That God Is Currently At Work to Produce Good Out of "All Things".
A. The verb "He is working" is a present tense, indicating that the effort is expended "in time" and is "current".
B. The immediate, and potent, implication is that God consistently exercises "wise reaction" in this present "time" setting in order to bend all things to the service of His goal of making "good" come out of all of our experiences.
1. It is "reaction" because it is applied to something that has already occurred.
2. It is "wise" because it takes everything into account and then decides what it would take to turn all of the details into servants of His goal of "good".
a. That it is "wisdom" is a hint of what the nature of "omniscience" really is: the knowledge of all things actual, potential, and possible, but without a "determination" of which of the "potential" and "possible" will actually become "actual".
b. Without this characterization of omniscience, "wisdom" is an illusion in that it is the ability to decide between options so that actions taken will result in good.
II. The Distinction Between "Foreknowing" and "Predestinating".
A. Foreknowing is a special area of omniscience in which the "Knower" actually enters into "experience" with the thing(s) "known".
B. Predestinating is the deliberate selection of which of the actual, the potential, and the possible of things "known" will be actively pursued as an established goal.
1. The word "predestine" is a combination word that literally means "to set the boundaries ahead of the present time".
2. The use of the word in the New Testament allows for the concept of "predestination" to be a "selective" determination of what will come to pass.
a. This means that there are some things that will not come to pass.
b. This also means that there are some things that will come to pass without any predetermination.
c. Thus, predetermination is laying out the boundaries ahead of time and allowing the details to be in flux much like the rancher who builds his fences but does not guide his cattle to the specific blades of grass that they will eat.
III. The Stated "Determination" Regarding the "Foreknown".
A. The objective within a larger objective.
1. Paul says that we are "predestined" to be "conformed" to the "image" of God's Son.
2. At issue is the precise nature of the "conforming".
a. Paul only uses "conforming", "image", and "firstborn" in respect to the issue in Philippians 3:21.
b. He does have another concept of "image" in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
c. The implication is that, just like Romans 8:23, it is the "body" that is to be "conformed to His image" as he taught in 1 Corinthians 15:49 (this is the ultimate "redemption").
3. The impact of this concept is that we will one day be totally free of any and all connections to Adam and the depravity which he brought upon all of his seed.
4. Thus, "predestination" is intended to enhance our faith in the reality of our future glory.
B. The larger objective.
1. The reason we are to be physically conformed to the image of the resurrected Christ is that by this action, Christ will become the "firstborn" among many brethren.
2. That Christ needs to be the "firstborn" is simply because He is slated to be the Eternal King of the Kingdom of God and, thus, has to be the ultimate authority and pattern for behavior.
IV. The Point.
A. Predestination is the only one of the five that has any further explanatory words attached.
B. The issue in hand is that God has made an immutable decision to establish our future reality.
C. Thus, "predestination" becomes a matter of our "faith" and the issues that are outside of such immutable determination are matters of our "prayers".