And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 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 8:28-29
Reflect upon what God has already done.
Now top that off with the reality that He has predestined our Spiritual inheritance: Christians are by faith children of God (non-Christians are not His children; they are His yet-to-be adopted creation). This isn’t some kind of Calvinist/predestination mumbo-jumbo (I consider myself neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian); the relevant facts are that our Father, having the ability to see both the end and the beginning (and everything in-between simultaneously) knows who His followers will be and pre-ordains them. Therefore, Christians in a very real sense, have been covered before they even knew who Jesus Christ was. Looking back, we can now identify with His mission and having been called according to His purpose; it all makes sense.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21
What about the fate of the unbeliever?
The same destiny theology applies, but in reverse: that person is condemned to a God-less void. Why? Because they have rejected Jesus and His grace all the way to the grave. It’s called the unpardonable sin; given a choice, they chose unwisely (take note: God knows them and we do not).
God’s Word gives us the reason for their errant behavior, and it’s not due to a lack of theological or intellectual understanding (the Gospel is the simplest of messages; so simple a child can understand it). No, his reasons are purely selfish: he loves sin more than anything else and rejects the only One able to spare his life. God has not condemned this man as much as he has condemned himself.
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:30
What Else Do We Know?
We know the word glorified in this verse is in the past tense. Our glorification, although not established on earth, is perceived to have already occurred in the eyes of the Father. Those who are in Christ are seen as God’s children and the offenses we have committed are supposed to have never occurred. God sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son; a sinless state. If we can realize this truth and take it to heart, suddenly our praise and service will no longer be a fleshly endeavor to gain favor with the Lord. In so doing our praise and service is based on position rather than proposition. Positionally, we’re beneath the spout where His blessing continually and consistently flow out. Occasionally we may choose to reposition ourselves (moving away from the ‘spout’), but hopefully that occurs less and less as we mature in faith.
If it’s True For You, Then It’s True For Them Too
Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Mark 8:22
If God sees me in my glorified state, then that means (gulp) He sees every other Christian in the exact same way. What does this passage from Mark’s Gospel have to do with that issue? Immature Christians (immature in a favorable sense) tend to view other Christians like trees. We’re often stumped by their behavior, we leave them alone, or we cut them down. Occasionally we even see other believers as dead wood; mere obstacles on our spiritual path. If God sees them in their glory, why do we see them otherwise? Doesn’t Jesus want us to see them as He sees them: heirs to the greatest inheritance of all time? Is it not audacious to criticize Christ’s bride?
As long as all Christians are in the same book, we don’t have to be on the same page. I remember once criticizing a brother in Christ for the manner in which he shared the Gospel. He wasn’t violating any Biblical ordinances, but I made the mistake that so many of us make: he wasn’t doing it the way I would do it. Here’s the irony – I wasn’t doing it. Naturally, the Holy Spirit was quick to convict me. Wouldn’t you know it, I now come across Christians who don’t like the way I do it.
Oh how true the verse…
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)
Back to the Book
That’s not to say we cannot judge, correct, or admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite frankly, if we’re aware of errant theology or impious behavior and we don’t offer correction in a Biblically prescribed manner, we’re culpable. So while it’s true we can all be on different pages, it’s vitally important we’re all in the same Book. The truth of Scripture is the narrow path with which we must always align ourselves.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Ephesians 4:32 & 4:15; Galatians 6:1)
Do you see the flock or men walking as trees? Are you critical or supportive of their words and deeds? Could it be said you’re trying to put square sheep into round holes? Are you able to delegate and facilitate the efforts of the flock corporately and the sheep individually? Has that one sheep actually gone astray or is she really deep within a niche God has carved out for her? Are you offended that some sheep are being led by the Holy Spirit and not you? Is it possible that congregationally there is not enough missional opportunity and some sheep don’t have a place to flourish in their faith (for God’s glory, of course)? Is God revealing that the nook He carved out for them is possibly an opportunity for the church as whole? Can you recognize body parts and their functions? Is everyone in the same Book?
“For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)