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Bible verses about Transformed into the Image of Jesus Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 3:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

John 3:3 begins to show the profound importance of the born-again instruction by the fact that this doctrine is the subject of the very first of Jesus' discourses recorded by John. It is as if everything regarding our spiritual future begins and proceeds from this point. Interestingly, this discourse does not cover how men should live but how men are made alive spiritually.

In Ephesians 2:1-6, the apostle Paul reveals a major detail of why a spiritual birth is necessary:

And You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Twice, Paul says in these six verses that we "were dead"—not physically dead but spiritually dead. An individual cannot conduct his life before he is born, nor can a dead person direct his steps and regulate his life. Clearly, God perceives a person as spiritually dead before he is born again. Being born again thus begins a convert's progress toward his transformation into Christ's image and living in the Kingdom of God for all eternity.

Interestingly, Romans 4:17 states that "God . . . gives life to the dead." Being born again is also likened to a resurrection, but nowhere does the Bible show resurrected people as begotten as a fetus confined to a womb. Rather, Scripture shows the converted as adults freed from spiritual death and at liberty to move about, live life, make choices, and interact with others, putting their new spiritual life to practical use.

Luke 9:60 confirms Paul's declaration in a statement by Jesus that illustrates how God perceives the overwhelming majority of people on earth. Jesus commands the man who said he would follow Him but first wanted to bury his dead father, "Let the dead bury the dead." He obviously means, "Let those yet physically alive but spiritually dead bury one of their spiritually—and now physically—dead companions." Jesus thus confirms that God perceives those not yet truly Christian as spiritually dead and in need of spiritual resurrection to spiritual life.

Psalm 115:17 adds to this: "The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence." Though this statement obviously applies primarily to the physically dead, it also suggests that the spiritually dead cannot praise God with true spirituality. Jesus' teaching on being born again speaks of a new birth, a new beginning from a state of spiritual death imposed on us because of our sins. Thus, a person cannot begin spiritual life and truly praise God as a Christian until he is first born spiritually. Plainly, discerning figurative language is vital to understanding this doctrine.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part One)


 

John 6:45-46  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

More is here than readily meets the eye because we must understand it in its wider context. He is not speaking of merely being taught by God but rather indicating the entire transformation process.

This section of the discourse begins with Jesus saying that He will do everything in His power to save the person God gives to Him. He then establishes that the Father begins the process through a powerful drawing. He goes on to declare that the transformation from human glory to divine glory is also from God. Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, 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." Jesus thus encapsulates the entire salvation process as driven from above. Christians are still responsible to do works of submission, but the Bible always shows God in control and driving the entire process.

Our human responsibility resides in the word "heard" (verse 45), which encompasses not only hearing but also believing and producing faith. This touches again on "eating" the Word of God. Paul says in Romans 10:17 that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Through the work of hearing and analysis, we assimilate God's Word into use in our conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Four)


 

1 Corinthians 13:8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The point of Christianity is not to know the final score before everyone else does; it is enough for us to know that God will ultimately stand in complete triumph. Instead, He has called us to glorify Him by putting on the image of His Son (II Corinthians 3:18). We must be careful that we do not let ourselves be distracted from what is most important.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy's Place


 

1 Corinthians 13:12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One translator describes what "we see in a mirror, dimly," as "a riddle and an enigma." Paul suggests that now we do not see God nearly as clearly as we would like, but the time is coming when we will see Him in startling and bold clarity. He is illustrating a time-consuming process of change that gradually transforms.

The important element for us is that now, because of His merciful revelation of Himself to us, we do see a portion of His eternal glory, even if imperfectly. Others are totally blind to even the part we see imperfectly. We are in the process of becoming just like Him, and we will share His very life in glory, as I John 3:2 assures us: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Jude 24 provides measureless encouragement if we will believe what it says: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. . . ." We will be without spot, blemish, or wrinkle; we are going to experience perfection.

This is what is promised to us to enjoy when we see Him as He is, when we have the fullness of His Spirit, when we are fully redeemed. Moreover, because of the gift of God's Spirit, we are also promised a small foretaste in this life. We can know something of the joy of holiness and the hatred of sin as Christ knew them. God wants us to experience the love, joy, and peace that passes all understanding. At the time of our full redemption, God will wipe away all tears, and our joy will be unmeasured and unmixed.

Do we love God and our brethren? As the apostle John teaches, they go together; they cannot be separated. We have our failings on both scores. Because we belong to Christ, we can experience that love. Its fruits are just budding, but in the Kingdom of God, we will experience it in full flower.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Our Uniqueness and Time


 

1 Corinthians 15:36-37  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul says a change will take place, and he refers again to what comes out of the grave being a body—a spirit body.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

Ephesians 2:14-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The death of Jesus Christ does not do away with law but with enmity. The enmity of the law concerns the penalties that come with the law, for a law always has penalties. The enmity of the law can also be considered those prejudicial things that were expressed in prohibitions that separated Israel from other peoples and nations. However, because we believe in Christ and therefore have Him in common, the enmities and prejudices that have kept us separated begin to break down.

The end of verse 15 is interesting: ". . . so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." It is easy to be drawn into thinking that, when He calls the unconverted person, or when He calls, say, a Gentile, and brings him in contact with the Israelite, that the Gentile will be brought up to speed, brought up to the same level as the Israelite. That is not what Paul is saying here.

He is saying this: Christ is bringing the Israelite and the Gentile together, and He does this by melting them both down and putting them together into one. That is an altogether different picture! Notice, he writes, ". . . to create in Himself one new man from the two." From two, He makes one. He melts them down and mixes them together because neither one of them is any good.

We must begin to approach our relationships with one another from that standpoint. The Israelite should have an advantage because of his introduction to God, at least in terms of having available the Word of God, the covenants of God, and so forth. But "to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48), and the Israelites squandered their advantage (Amos 3:2). So the Israelite is no better.

God is melting them both down and creating a new man, one new man. Notice Paul's use of "create." A Master Craftsman, an Artisan, is at work on all of us. He instructs us, chastens us, does whatever is necessary to blend us all together into what? Into the image of the one that we have in common—Jesus Christ. He is creating us, not into an image of an Israelite, not into an image of a Gentile, but into the image is of Jesus Christ. That is the direction we are headed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

Philippians 1:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christians are clearly identified as saints in Scripture. A saint is a "holy one," separated from the unconverted, who do not have God's Spirit. We must not confuse righteousness and holiness. Though they function together in the salvation process, they are specifically not the same qualities. Righteousness is the practical and consistent application, the right doing, of God's way of life. At its foundation, holiness is being cleaned, purified, and set apart, distinguished from others, for God's uses. Holiness is notable by a life as free from the defiling acts of sin as the convert can achieve as he overcomes and grows. Holiness is godliness.

So essential is holiness that the author of Hebrews declares, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness must be pursued. Thus, God's legal declaration of holiness, which we receive through Christ's righteousness as we begin converted life, is not the end of our pursuit of glorifying God. I Peter 1:13-16 charges us with this responsibility:

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

Holiness reflects the attitude and way that God conducts His life. Peter's charge to us is not to add to the righteousness conferred on us by receiving Christ's righteousness. Never in our human lives will we ever be more righteous than at that moment. The purpose of the pursuit of holiness through living God's way in our daily lives is to engrain His way into our pattern of living so thoroughly that it becomes habitual, or as we might say, first nature. This effort as a living sacrifice is our contribution that helps transform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1).

II Corinthians 5:17 describes what we presently are in God's purpose: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold all things have become new." II Corinthians 3:17-18 more specifically defines where God's creative process is headed:

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, 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.

J.C. Ryle, the author of Holiness, writes:

Sanctification is the same with regeneration, the same with the renovation of the whole man. Sanctification is the forming and the framing of the new creature; it is the implanting and engraving of the image of Christ upon the poor soul. It is what the apostle [Paul] breathed after. (p. 317)

In Galatians 4:19, Paul writes, "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. . . ." He also says in I Corinthians 15:49, "And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man."

Just as surely as Christ's sacrifice is absolutely vital to our justification before God, so His labor in support of our sanctification forms the reflected image of Him within our very beings, our "hearts," in preparation for life in the Kingdom of God. There would be no salvation, no entrance into that Kingdom, without His efforts because we would be unprepared to live in that sinless environment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?


 

Colossians 3:8-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is the practical application of "seek[ing] those things which are above" (Colossians 3:1). In effect, Paul is saying that, if we are seeking heavenly things, the resources to overcome these things will be available. They will be part of us because God responds to those who are truly seeking Him.

We must be patient. Our relationship with God is not magic. It takes work. Those of us who have had any of these problems understand that one must hold a tight rein on oneself to keep from doing the things that Paul says to "put off." They are so deeply ingrained within us that they want to break out all by themselves.

This is why Paul writes in Romans 7:15-23, "The things that I do not want to do, I do. The things I do want to do, I do not do." He concludes that two conflicting laws were working within him. There was the law of his mind, which loved God, understood a great deal about Him, and wanted to submit to Him, to sacrifice for His sake and in His name, and to discipline himself. But the law of his flesh—sin that dwelt within him—every once in a while reared its ugly head and broke out.

Thus, we must discipline ourselves. We know that we are to "put off" those things that do not reflect the image of God and to "put on" the characteristics that do. "Putting on" and "taking off" are not always easy. Sometimes, we can readily apply or overcome certain things; they seem to come easily to us. But other character flaws are thorns in the flesh, their barbs stuck deep within us, and they embarrass us from time to time and make us feel guilty. They make us wonder whether we will be acceptable before God. Seeing this, we realize that overcoming them will take a great deal of work—and work requires discipline.

One of the final things that Paul mentions in this passage is love (Colossians 3:14). Love is the crown; it tops off, as it were, all of the other virtues, tying them all together. A true love for God and love for others—not to mention a proper love for ourselves—will motivate us to transform into Christ's image.

The diligent "putting on" and the "taking off" will be the proof of our seeking God and the things which are above. When we understand this, we realize that even the ability to "put on" and to "take off" is a gift from God, as the resources to do this come from Him. God responds to those who make Him the focus of their lives, and this is who we exhibit. The evidence begins to show in the way we live our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 23)


 

2 Timothy 2:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Does that not picture someone who is striving to finish at the top, striving to win, to be the best that he possibly can? He does not desire to be just an "also ran," one of the pack, but to be somebody whom God looks upon as worth watching.

We have to put this in relation to what God wants us to be. Does He not want us to glorify Him by being as much like Him and Jesus Christ as possible? That is what real mastery is! Within the context, mastery is to be like Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 22)


 

Hebrews 4:12-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Word of God is always an issue in our lives. The greatest gift a human being can be given is to hear this message, the Gospel Message, because around it our belief system is to be conformed. The Word of God becomes an issue because it tests a person's life and sets the standards of acceptable behavior and attitudes.

Verse 13 contains a very vivid picture in "all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." In Greek literature, this illustration alludes to two things. First, it pictures a priest prepared to sacrifice an animal, so he has turned the head of the animal to put it into a position to cut its throat. In other words, the animal had to look into the eyes of its executioner, and he in turn had to look into the eyes of the animal.

The second, in some ways, is even more vivid. It is drawn from the Olympic games, in which wrestling played a significant part. In this picture, one of the competitors is about to be pinned. His opponent has a grip on him that has placed the loser's shoulders on the mat, and his face has been turned up so that he has to look directly into the eyes of his conqueror.

Everybody has to face God's Word directly. We can think of the Word of God as being the living Jesus Christ, since judgment of us has been committed to Him. We all must pass before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10). We are under it right now because judgment is on the house of God (I Peter 4:17).

What are we doing with the message? How is it affecting our lives? Is the world having such an impact on us that it is creating its fruit in us, perhaps apathy toward the things of God and great interest in the things of this world? As Revelation 3:17 suggests, the Laodicean is not lazy. He is rich in the wrong things, expending his energy on the wrong things. He even tells God, "I have need of nothing." Are we allowing the Word of God to transform us into His image?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

Revelation 11:3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This verse actually reads, "I will give to these witnesses of Me." He does not say that He merely possesses them, that is, that they are His witnesses. Instead, He says that they witness "of Me." They point everybody in the world to Jesus Christ and thus on to God the Father. It is their job to witness of Him.

The whole Old Testament points to Jesus Christ, and the New Testament tells His story. So the entire Bible is also a witness of Jesus Christ and therefore of God the Father. In a sense, everything comes down to witnessing of Jesus Christ. What are we called? "Christians." Our whole lives should be totally focused on showing or manifesting Jesus Christ in us. These Two Witnesses are pinnacles of that among men. They will witness of God for 3½ years, in the face of the entire world.

It is interesting how these Two Witnesses correlate with Jesus Christ Himself. We could say that, individually, they will be images or representations of Jesus Christ. God has called us all to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, and these Two Witnesses—these two prophets—will show the world in themselves what this means. Their witness will be so true, it will be as if they are two "Christs" walking the earth. Perhaps this is exaggerating things a bit, but it is indeed one of the ways in which a person witnesses, which is why these two prophets are so important.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)


 

 




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