Lesson  3

 The Ultimate Goal
of the Christian Journey

 Most of us appreciate the value of setting goals. 

 Successful corporations give credit to setting high goals and motivating their employers to focus on achieving them.

 People who are successful in their vocations are driven to acquire the fullest knowledge possible about their occupation and continually pursue all new information to stay at the peak of their qualifications.

 Those who desire to have good relations with family, friends, co-workers, social acquaintances and yes, fellow Christians are wise to make it a goal to learn conversation and behavior that nourishes good relationships. 

Likewise, those who have embarked on the Christian journey by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior are wise to identify the ultimate goal of the journey and focus on learning and pursuing the attitudes and actions that help them reach that goal.

 The Ultimate Goal of the Christian Journey is to be Shaped into the Likeness of Jesus Christ.

 Biblical Confirmation

 The apostle Paul gives strong confirmation in Romans, chapter 8, of God’s ultimate goal:

 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  Romans 8:29.

Christians who have been studying the Bible are probably much more familiar with the previous verse,

 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28.

 We are likely to quote this verse when. . .

            We get fired from our job
            We are diagnosed with serious illnesses
           Our house burns down
            We experience a campaign of lies and slander,

 We would experience far more comfort and encouragement if we would also claim verse 29.  The reason God allows bad experiences to come into our lives is the same as why He allows great blessings of joy and happiness.  Everything He allows shapes us to be more like Jesus.  To truly believe that makes all hurts to be worth it all.

 Biblical Illustration

 In 2nd Corinthians  3:4-18, the apostle Paul compared the New Covenant of Christ Jesus with the Mosaic Covenant to show how the New Covenant has far greater glory.  At the close he reveals how keeping our eyes on Jesus transforms us into His likeness.

 The Mosaic Covenant:  “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away. . .
The New Covenant:  “. . .How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”  3:7, 8.

 The Mosaic Covenant:  “For if the ministry of condemnation had glory. . .”The New Covenant:  “The ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.  3:9.

 The Mosaic Covenant: “For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect…”
The New Covenant: 
”. . .Because of the glory that excels.”  3:10.

 The Mosaic Covenant:  “For if what was passing away was glorious. . .”
The New Covenant: 
“. . .What remains is much more glorious.”   “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech---“  3:11, 12.

 The Mosaic Covenant:  “. . .Unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.  But their minds were blinded.  For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament.
The New Covenant:  “. . .
Because the veil is taken away in Christ.”  Verses 13, 14.

 The Mosaic Covenant:  “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.”   Verse 15.
The New Covenant:  “Nevertheless when one turns to the LORD
, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Vss 16, 17.

 Let us summarize: 

  1. The Mosaic Covenant was glorious.  The Ten Commandments revealed the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God.  The sacrifices pictured that God provided a means for the sins of the people to be covered over until the sacrifice of Jesus took away the sins of the world.  The Great Commandments reveal the love all of us are to have towards God and our fellow man.
  2. Israel was blinded to the true purpose of God’s law.   Why?  Because they mis-took the purpose of the law. 

They believed that God gave the law so they could save themselves by keeping the law by works of righteousness and religious practice.  They entered into a covenant relationship with God in great confidence.  “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”.  Exodus 19:8: 24:3.  It is significant that even before Moses brought the final aspects of the law the people were worshipping the golden calf provided by their High Priest, Aaron (See Exodus 32:1-5)  This was a clear violation of the first two commandments.

  1. The true purpose of God’s law made clear.  The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:19, 20: 
    “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  In the verses that follow we are informed that we receive the righteousness of God
    “through faith in Jesus Christ” and we are ”justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  (Verses 21-24).  This is what Paul meant when he wrote in 2nd Corinthians 3:16, “Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord (Jesus), the veil is taken away.” 

God’s Supreme Provision To Shape Us Into The Likeness of Jesus.

 “But we all (true believers) with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the LORD, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the LORD.’” 3:18 

This verse gives us some great keys for God’s children to be shaped into the likeness of Jesus. 

But we all. . . “  All true believers are encouraged to unite in The New Covenant purchased by the sacrifice of Jesus and sealed by His own blood to pursue God’s purpose of shaping them into the likeness of Jesus.  We are inclined to think that pastors, teachers, evangelists and deacons are to strive to be like Jesus and the rest of us are exempted from doing so.  The apostle Paul informs us here that we are all included. 

“. . .With unveiled faces. . .”  We should reject the great spiritual blunder of multitudes in the family of Israel to cover our eyes so that we cannot see God’s grand purpose for us. 

. . .Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the LORD. . .”    We are told here to continually gaze into the mirror God has provided us.  Instead of seeing a reflection of ourselves we see a likeness of the Lord Jesus in His glory.  We are promised that as we do so we are being transformed into the same image from (one level of) glory to (a higher level) of glory by the Spirit of the Lord.

 We note that when the apostle Paul wrote this, mirrors were made of highly polished metal.  They were much less clear than the mirrors we have today.  Verse 14 indicates that the “mirror” represents the Holy Scriptures.  “But their minds were blinded.  For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is not taken away in Christ.”   When we read the Scriptures we should be looking for Jesus. 

Jesus challenged the Jewish religious leaders, “You search the Scriptures (Old Testament) ,for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”  John 5:39.

Whether we are reading the Old Testament or the New Testament we should be looking for Jesus.   The Holy Spirit will help us to see Him in His glory.  As we continue to gaze upon Him the Spirit of God will transform us from our present level of glory to a higher level of glory . . .shaping us into the likeness of Christ.

 We are all encouraged to read the Scriptures and look for Jesus…, the kind of person He is, the truths He taught, and the examples He set.  Then let the Holy Spirit transform us.

Copyright © 2009 Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.