In yesterday’s reading, we saw that there was a suitable place from which we could look back to what God did in the eternity that is past. We now turn round on our viewpoint and gaze in the other direction. When we do, we discover that those whom God has fore-loved have a wonderful destiny. Each of them is going to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.
Such a destiny is truly wonderful, although the wonder is increased when we recall where God found those whom he loved and began to work on them. He did not find them in a state of perfection. Instead they were in a state of imperfection, having rebelled against him, and were deserving of his punishment. If we were allowed to, we could look far down from our lofty viewpoint and observe those whom God loved living all kinds of sinful lives, with some of them behaving very badly, such as the individual (Saul of Tarsus) who wrote this letter and some of those to whom he sent it in the city of Rome.
Something else makes this destiny amazing, and this aspect involves what the Son of God would do on behalf of those loved eternally by God the Father. He would freely come into the world that they had marred by their sins, and come into it by becoming a man. He would become like them in the world dominated by sin so that they could become like him in the world where sin is unknown.
The reason why he came to live in the world was not to live in it permanently. Instead he came into it in order to die in it, so that by his death he would pay the penalty for the sins that they deserved to have to pay themselves in a lost eternity. This he did while nailed to the cross of Calvary, where he endured the punishment that their sins deserved.
And there is another feature that makes this destiny amazing and that is the role of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We must remember that he has the same degree and same kind of love for his people that the Father and the Son have. In expressing their love, they engaged in different roles. The role of the Father was to predestinate those he foreloved; the role of the Son was to pay the penalty due for their sins; and the role of the Spirit is to give foretastes in this life of what will be their full experience in the next as in the here and now he gradually conforms them increasingly but not perfectly to the image of Jesus. But one day they will be.