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Divine Craftsmanship: Conforming into his image (Romans 8:39)

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Nwafili

Preamble

• Let me begin by appreciating His Grace, the Primate, The Most Rev Henry C. Ndukuba and Mama Primate, Mrs. Angela Ndukuba for the opportunity given to me to preach at this Synod. May God continue to bless Your Grace and prosper your ministry among us in Jesus’ Name!

• Let me again appreciate His Grace for the choice of the theme of this one-day Synod: “Divine Craftsmanship: Conforming into His image” anchored on Romans 8:29. This theme will avail us the opportunity of asking soul-searching questions.

Text
The text, Romans 8:29 reads: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and reveals a number of things about God and us:

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• About God: We see, 2 attributes of God – His ability to know things before they happen (Foreknowledge cf. Jer. 1:5a); and His ability to decide things in advance (Predestination cf. Eph 2:10b).

• About us: We note who we are and what we are created for – we are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son, Jesus the Christ.

Divine Craftsmanship
God is pictured in the Bible as “the master craftsman” who creates “out of nothing” so skilfully and purposefully. God created all things, visible and invisible. We are God’s craftsmanship:

• God created man in His own image (Gen 1:27; 9:6) and after His likeness (Gen 5:1b)

• The Psalmist remarked that God made us so fearfully and wonderfully (Ps 139:14), and further says: “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us… we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Ps 100:3)

• St Paul said in the NT that: “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works….” (Eph 2:10a)

• For “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:11)

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The LORD decided and planned beforehand that we be conformed to (i.e. to be in harmony, accord or agreement with) the image of His dear Son. God’s ultimate goal for humanity is to make us like Christ. On this, Apostle John wrote: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1John 3:2).

So, we can only become our true selves and the persons we were created to be, as we become more and more of Jesus!
The Image Of Christ

An image is “a visual representation, a mental picture or impression of something” (M. Webster Dictionary). The equivalent terms for image in biblical scholarship are: ‘form’, ‘stamp’ and ‘glory’.

We all have personal images. Your image is who you are, what you represent or stand for. This image, the Bible says, must conform to that of the Son! And I beg to ask: Whose image are you? Whose form or stamp do your carry? Note that it is possible the image one carries is not or no longer in conformity with that of Christ. This Synod calls on us to be conformed to the image of Christ, so that in us, His likeness will be seen.

At creation, man was made of dust (Gen 2:7). We all share this Adamic nature, but in Christ, we receive a new nature, as 1Cor 15:49 put it: “…just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.”

I will at this point HIGHLIGHT some aspects of the “Image of the Son,” which we must conform to in our walk with the LORD:

• Jesus is the Light – In Jn 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (cf 1Jn 1:5-7). Therefore, when we associate with the shady deeds of darkness, we are not conforming to His image.

• He is the Truth (Jn 14:6) – In Him, there is no falsehood. When we become “chameleonic” and tell lies, we are out of form!

• Jesus was humble and obedient unto death – Php 2:5-8 says: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant… He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross.”

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Beloved in Christ, the theme of this Synod is a wake-up call and a charge we must all keep, as leaders of the Church in our own rights. Remember, we shall give account of our stewardship someday! “…And may your servant, Lord prepare, a strict account to give.”

(CNH 546i: 2) (Text of sermon preached by Ven Festus U. Nwafili, the Archdeacon of Asokoro Archdeaconry and Vicar of St. James Church, Asokoro, Abuja, at the one-day Synod of the Diocese of Abuja, held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp Gwarimpa on Saturday, September 4, 2021)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24 & 25)

How humble are we in His service? We are called to a life of obedience in Christ. Obedience unlocks divine blessings. Let us esteem living in obedience and the fear of God (1Sam 15:22; Ps 34:7,9).

• He was totally committed to doing the Father’s Will – Jesus said: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work” (Jn 4:34); and again, “…not my will, but your will be done” (Lk 22:42). Do we know the LORD’s WILL for our lives, and if we do, are we still committed to His Will for our lives?

• Jesus was faithful – Heb. 3:6a says: “Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house….” How faithful are we in God’s house today? Faithfulness leads to fearlessness, for “the righteous are as bold as a lion” (cf. Prov. 28:1b).

• He was a man of prayer – Rose up early, went to solitary places to pray (Mk 1:35), and offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One Who could save Him from death (Heb 5:7). Prayerlessness is a mark of spiritual deformity. “Pray (your own way – silent or loud) until you become Prayer”!

• Jesus was sacrifice and service personified – He left the glory of heaven to come down (2Cor 8:9); He came to serve and not be served (Mk 10:45). Song: He came from heaven to earth to show the way…! The way of sacrifice and service. Let’s be consistent and selfless in these matters.

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How Do We Conform To The Image Of Christ?
By reading and heeding the Word – we are instructed in Jn 15:4,7 to “Abide in the LORD” and “His Word in us”. This calls for looking into our relationship with God’s Word. I commend the painstaking effort to review the Diocesan Constitution to align it with that of the CON; and think, it is now time to review/align/realign our lives to the Constitution of all constitutions (the Word of God)! Be deliberate/intentional in reading and obeying God’s Word.

• By studying the earthly life of Jesus, as contained in the Gospels – Hymn: CNH 598:5 “O let me see Thy footmarks and in them plant mine own…”! Trace His lifestyle and emulate same.

• By being filled with His Spirit: Gal 5:16 says – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Our submission to the Holy Spirit is very important.

• By doing His work in the world – Dan 11:32. Anyone who has faith in Christ will do greater works (Jn 14:12). Engage in honest works for the good of the Church.
Conclusion:

Beloved in Christ, the theme of this Synod is a wake-up call and a charge we must all keep, as leaders of the Church in our own rights. Remember, we shall give account of our stewardship someday! “…And may your servant, Lord prepare, a strict account to give.” (CNH 546i: 2)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24 & 25)
(Text of sermon preached by Ven Festus U. Nwafili, the Archdeacon of Asokoro Archdeaconry and Vicar of St. James Church, Asokoro, Abuja, at the one-day Synod of the Diocese of Abuja, held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp Gwarimpa on Saturday, September 4, 2021)

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