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“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” (Romans 8:29).

SOMETIMES WE SET OUR SIGHTS TOO LOW. Even in our relationship to God (which we say is the highest of all pursuits in life) we settle for far less than what is really offered to us in Jesus Christ.

For example, think about our concept of “Christlikeness.” When we think of “Christianity,” too often we think only of how it can make us nicer people. What we need, however, is not merely forgiveness but transformation — at the deepest level, from the inside out. The gospel recognizes this, and to become “Christlike” is not merely to become more well-behaved. It is to have imparted to us a new order of existence in which we become nothing less than “sons of God.” Before you underestimate what Christ intends to do to you if you obey the gospel, ponder texts like these:

(1) “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

(2) “By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4).

(3) “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49).

If we’re honest, we have to admit that we need what these texts are talking about. It is not just our behavior that needs improving. We ourselves — our deepest thoughts and motives — need fixing. So Christ came into the world to bring an entirely new kind of life. If we are in Christ, a life that is “eternal” is being created within us, and one day it will reach its perfection. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Of all the errors we might make with regard to the gospel, the worst would be misunderstanding what its purpose is. The miracle of the Incarnation is that in Jesus a new kind of life has broken into this world. Are we ready for what this kind of life means?

“Salvation means the incoming into human nature of the great characteristics that belong to God” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — +

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