IX. IN THE CONFORMATION
OF THE TRANSFORMED BELIEVERS
The accomplishment of God’s full redemption and salvation in Christ is in the conformation of the transformed believers. The New Testament directly mentions conformation only once, in Romans 8:29, which says, "Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers." However, in other verses the thought of conformation is implied. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, "But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit." This verse says that as we behold and reflect Christ like a mirror, we are being transformed into His image. Although the word conformed is not used directly here, the preposition into is used, indicating that our being transformed into the image of Christ implies conformation.
First John 3:2 says, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been manifested what we will be. We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him even as He is." To be made like the Lord in His glory also implies conformation.
A. Conforming the Transformed Believers
into the Image of the Firstborn
Son of God in Resurrection
The conformation of the transformed believers conforms the transformed believers into the image of the firstborn Son of God in resurrection. There is one verse, Romans 8:29, that clearly and definitely says that the believers will be conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God. We will be conformed not in a general way but in a specific way to the definite image, the real likeness, of the firstborn Son of God. This verse does not speak of our being conformed to the image of the only begotten Son of God, but of our being conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. We need to consider why this verse speaks of God’s only begotten Son and why Romans 8:29 refers to the firstborn Son of God. It seems that it would be sufficient to say that we will be conformed to the image of the Son of God, without including the adjective firstborn. Christ was born in His humanity to be the firstborn Son of God in resurrection (Acts 13:33), and in His resurrection we, His believers, were also born to be the many sons of God, His many brothers (1 Pet. 1:3). Thus, we are to be conformed to the image not of the only Begotten but of the firstborn Son of God.
Now we all are under God’s transformation for His conformation. Transformation is for conformation. Transformation merely transforms us from one form to another form. It does not specify into what form we are transformed. But conformation does tell us to what form we are being conformed. We are being conformed to the image, to the form, of the firstborn Son of God.
From my youth I heard Christians stress very much the matter of following Jesus. At that time I did not understand what this meant, so I did not like this term. I said that Jesus was here nineteen hundred years ago, but today He is away. Since He is away and I cannot see Him, how can I follow Him? Then I was told that Jesus is loving; thus, to follow Jesus is to love others. I replied that Confucius taught the same thing: Confucius advised us to love others. Thus, to love others is to follow Confucius. Then what is the difference between following Jesus and following Confucius?
Thank the Lord for Paul. Paul also told us that we must follow the Lord. But he told us in this way: "Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul did not use the word follow; he used the word imitate. He was an imitator of Jesus; thus, he became another Jesus. By imitating Paul, we also become imitators of Jesus. Paul’s use of the word imitate is an improvement over the term follow, but it is still somewhat ambiguous.
As a young person I saw the matter of imitating, but I did not see the matter of being conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God. It is not a matter of imitating Jesus, but of being conformed to His image. This means that in life, in nature, in appearance, in taste, in everything and in every aspect, we become exactly the same as He is. Eventually, we not only become the same as He is, but He and we, we and He, become one entity. He becomes us and we become Him. The seven lampstands in Revelation 1 are all the same, but they are seven, not one. However, we and Christ are not only the same, but the same one. For this we must be conformed to His image, the image of the firstborn Son of God.
(The Central Line of the Divine Revelation, Chapter 26, by Witness Lee)