For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brethren. Romans 8:29
My parents divorced when I was five years old and at six, my mother remarried a very remarkable man who took on board my older sister and me. Through the years, they had four more children. Jim Kearney loved and cared for us until we left home. I started the first grade with my birth surname, Stansell, but from the second grade onward, my mother gave me his surname and I have carried it for the rest of my life. From that day onward, as I got to know our new dad, I began to learn from him many positive things, the first being his relationship to Christ and his faithful church attendance.
Our salvation is much like that. We changed names, going from sinner to saint (a sinner saved by grace, who is now set apart to take up his own cross and follow Christ).
In that miracle of a moment when we looked unto Jesus at Calvary; repented of our sins and called on His Name to save us, we entered a new family and slowly began to embrace His desire for us to be conformed to His likeness and ways.
In his book, Quiet Talks on Service, S. D. Gordon mentions the name of Johann Hofmann, a German painter of the late 19th to early 20th century. He is best known for his many paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ.
It is said that while living in Dresden Germany, he would visit at intervals the Royal Gallery where his paintings were on display and retouch his paintings, so the full beauty of his subject would not be diminished.
It’s sorrowful today, that many are not concerned with the beauty of Christ being revealed through them. Many only see their salvation as a ticket to miss hell and go to heaven, without any regard to coming under the Lordship of Christ and as a result becoming more like Him.
This was confirmed recently while having breakfast with a friend, who told me that very thing. It took him years to get his thinking right. He had made a decision, but it hadn’t changed him. Decisions won’t save you, only Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross for our sins and then resulting in a life of daily following Him!
After a call to the ministry in 1978, the following year, Dottie and I moved from Memphis TN to DFW TX to work with Evangelist Manley Beasley for five years.
I will always remember him talking about a church where he would be invited repeatedly to preach. Through the years, at some point in the meetings, the pastor’s daughter would always come to the altar to be saved in tears. Each time Manley would be excited but when he would talk to the pastor, he would notice that he wasn’t. So, he asked him why. He said, I’ll be excited when she starts bearing family resemblance to her Savior.
The proof of our salvation is not in the fact of when we ‘made a decision’ but if we’re bearing family resemblance. There are many factors that reveal how close you resemble the Savior, but they all run parallel to your obedience to scripture.
A person claiming to be a Christian cannot be saved, while willfully, habitually living in sin with no conviction or repentance. When our lives are over, and we appear before the Bema, the judgement seat of Christ, we won’t be judged on how many times we showed up at church; how much we gave; or how many places of responsibility we assumed. No, we’ll be judged and rewarded on our family resemblance to the Person of Christ.
Perhaps, this is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5: Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.