Made Like the Returning Jesus

Bob RoaneDeath, Eternal Life, Heaven, Hell, Jesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The world does not know us because it did not know Him (Christ). Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He (Jesus) is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

From the class “Christ and His Heaven.” Used also in counseling and prison ministry.

This Scripture above is rich, sweet, and nourishing to our souls. Let’s consider a few key thoughts drawn from it:

Aspects of Christian Salvation

1. Christian believers are already cherished, adored, loved deeply by God (Father, Son, and Spirit). Amazingly, He lavished His affection on us and gives us eternal value, worth, meaning, purpose, and significance in our connection with Jesus. Let us never forget this and remind ourselves and each other of this often.1

2. God loves Jesus’ followers with a special/saving love, beyond His general/non-saving love for all people.2 Humans have different kinds of love for the Lord, family, friends, enemies, teammates, etc. So we resemble God who made us.3

3. Christian believers are already God’s adopted children, dear and precious to Him. We are not just pardoned and accepted in Christ, but brought into God’s family with Jesus as our Elder Brother. This is our true identity even if other people disregard and disrespect us.4

4. As God’s adopted children, we have many rights and privileges which unfold in three stages: in this life, when we die, and when Jesus comes again for us.5 The best is yet to come, not experienced now, so we need to be heavenly-minded and forward looking.

5. We share in Christ’s inheritance which can never perish, spoil or fade; it is kept in heaven for us.6

6. Because of our remaining/indwelling sin, we believers are still morally imperfect and unclean. John says above that we are not yet all that we will be when Jesus comes again. In this life, we are simultaneously saints and sinners (Luther).7

7. Thankfully, God does not leave us as we are. We will never be equal to Christ (He is unique!), but when He returns Jesus will make us morally like Him (in a creaturely way)—pure, sinless, Christ-like in our attitudes and actions, in our character and conduct, and full of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. This future stage is called glorification or final sanctification.

8. As we anticipate Jesus’ Second Coming, believers seek to purify ourselves (by the Spirit’s refining  help) just as Christ is pure. This is not self improvement, not pulling ourselves up, not just trying harder, but actively working out what the Lord works in us.8 The Holy Spirit who lives in us gives us assurance of our salvation and assistance to imitate Jesus in everyday life—at work, in the family, in God’s family, and in society.

9. Believers are marked and sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is God’s pledge, deposit, and down payment, guaranteeing that He will fully complete His purifying work in us when Jesus returns.9

Illustration of Metamorphosis/Transformation

Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959) was an American filmmaker who made 70 silent and sound movies. His famous films include The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Shortly before his death DeMille wrote:

A big black beetle came out of the water and climbed into my canoe. Under the hot sun, I watched as the beetle died and his glistening black shell cracked down his back. Out came a shapeless mass that quickly transformed into a beautiful, brilliantly colored dragonfly. As I watched in fascination, there gradually unfolded iridescent wings, flashing a thousand colors in the sunlight . His wings spread wide and his blue-green body took shape. Metamorphosis occurred before my eyes, transforming an ugly beetle into a gorgeous dragonfly, dipping and soaring over the water. I witnessed a miracle. Out of the mud came a beautiful new life. If God our Creator works such wonders with an insect, what may He have in store for me?10

Now What? (Application)

DeMille raised a question, but Scripture states facts: When Jesus is revealed, His followers shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is….Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body….We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, the Spirit.11

How do Christians face the future? With confidence in Christ and God-centered optimism because He promised to completely repair, restore, renovate, refurbish us and this fallen world. We don’t fight against sin (in ourselves and in the world) in order to become God’s children, but rather because we already are His children:

If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin….If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.12

The Lord has transformed us (past tense); He is re-making us (present tense) more like Himself day by day; and He will complete (future tense) the good work He has begun in us.13 What a Savior!

Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!

Notes: 1 Psalm 86:15; 136:26; Zeph 3:17.     2 Deut 7:7-8; Eph 5:25.     3 See also 7 Types of Love According to the Ancient Greeks.     4 Matt 12:46-50; Heb 2:11; Rom 8:15; 9:26; Gal 3:26.     5 see Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 32-38.     6 Matt 5:5, 25:34; Rom 8:17; Col 1:12; 1 Pet 1:4.     7 Rom 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8-10, 2:1-2.     8 Phil 2:12-13.     9 2 Cor 5:5; Eph 1:13-14; Phil 1:6.     10 Adapted from Leonard Sweet.     11 1 John 3:2; Phil 3:21; 2 Cor 3:18; cp. Rom 8:11.     12 1 John 1:6-7; 2:2.     13 Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18, 5:17.