Rom 8:24-25 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Before we discuss predestination, let us review the context surrounding it. Have you ever wanted something badly that you could not get for whatever reason. When you did not possess it, you dreamed about it and that dream brought you pleasure. The more your dreamed about it, the more excited you got. But what happened once you had it in your possession? I have a story. Back in the days of record albums, I wanted a portable stereo record player. I didn’t have one and could only play my records on my Dad’s equipment and then only occasionally. The more I wished for it, the better it got. I dreamed of it for months. As long as I hoped for it, it was primo in my mind. Well, the day finally arrived when I got it for a birthday present. It was great for a few days and then the luster wore off and it just became another of the things I owned. It no longer commanded my dreams. Then it was off to some new object. Eventually, some years later, and with no fanfare, the phonograph went in the trash.
This is what Paul is describing. Once a hope we have is realized it is no longer a hope but a reality and we no longer desire it like we once did. But if we don’t have the object of our hope in our hands, we still desire it will wait patiently for it. Well maybe not as patiently as we should. But we are willing to wait for it. Our hope is in heaven and the revealing of the sons of God. The luster will not wear off that hope, ever!
Rom 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
I will take both of these verses together because they are of one thought. I wish to avoid the connection these verses have with speaking and praying in tongues for that is not the subject here. Though it does lend itself to the study of glossalia, and many use it to complement the speaking in tongues, that is not Paul’s purpose here. What he is telling us is that we do not always know what is good for us, so the Holy Spirit of God Himself (not itself for the Spirit is a Him), who knows our heart and needs much better that we ourselves do, prays for us.
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are one so God knows what is in men’s hearts. Thus the intercession that is made is for God’s will to be done in the circumstances of the needs of the individual. So if we don’t need a new Lexus, no matter how badly we want God to provide that for us, He will not. He will provide us with adequate transportation, but not necessarily what we think we want. After retiring from the Air Force, I quit one outside sales job, and failed at the second outside sales job because I could not lie for the boss. Then I asked God to give me a good job. I was looking for an easier job than outside sales with higher pay. His response, become a pastor of a small church that could not afford to pay its pastor very much. The job was more difficult than sales, and paid far less, but it was the best job I ever had. It was the job God had for me and the job I needed. I was hoping for a good job in government that paid well. But that was not God’s will. I must admit that I probably would not have been happy in the job I wanted, but was happy being a pastor. It was a difficult, but fulfilling calling.
This is not to say that God does sometimes provide our desires, for He does. The house I currently live in is exactly what I dreamed of and desired. When my wife and I were house hunting, I came out here from a neighboring city to view this house I had seen in the ads for homes, and immediately said to my wife, “This is what I am looking for. We bid on it and eventually bought the house. God had provided the desire of my heart.
The Spirit knows what is good for us and what is good for us is always in God’s will. That is the point of the next verse, which is famous.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
This is one of the most recognized and memorized verses the Bible and is often misunderstood. All things work together for good. That means it does not matter what happens to a Christian, good will come of it. All things includes martyrdom, airplane crashes, losing children and loved ones to death, and every kind of bad thing you can imagine. It also covers good things like births, marriages, baptisms, employment, money, etc. Whatever your heart can imagine, both good and bad, are covered by this verse.
Who does this verse apply to? Those that love God. That is self-explanatory. Who are they that love God? God’s children. It also applies to people who are the called according to his purpose. What does that mean. Who are “the called?” The original language would indicate that the article is not necessary here. The literal Greek reads like this, “but we know that to those who love God all things work together for good to those according to purpose called are.” The article ‘the’ is not in the original. So we are simply talking about those who are called. They would be those invited by the Holy Spirit to trust Jesus as Savior. Paul expands on this in the next few verses. “The called,” or simply “called;” both have the same meaning: believers are called according to God’s purpose. God’s purpose is that all men should be saved. God purposed the plan of salvation and it is available to all.
All things, again, applies equally to bad, neutral and good. That includes events, occurrences, objects, people, living things, inanimate things, riches, destitution; anything you can name. Paul provides a representative list of all things in the last two verses of this chapter. I will name them here and we will study them when we get to those verses. They are, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, and any other created thing (which includes everything in the universe).
It is simple as this, God Himself works all things together for good. Is it for the good of His children? Yes. But is it simply for the good of the individual that the “things” happened to? Not necessarily. Yes all things work together for good, but the person to which an event has occurred does not always see the good that is worked. As an example, the death of a loved one. It is just possible that that death does no seeming good to the survivor, but it may cause another to be saved. That is good, though not necessarily for the one grieving. Sometimes we never know the good that occurred because of the circumstances surrounding our lives. It may be that we are glorified before we find out the good. However, the entire body of Christ benefits overall from all things. If something bad happens to us, and it provides good for someone else who is in Christ, then it does good for us all.
Of course, very often the verse applies personally to each believer. I have found in my life that no matter what I encounter, most of the time it eventually works for my personal good. Sometimes I do not see the good for years; other times the good is evident immediately. Those encounters include the good as well as the bad. Let us face it, even for Christians, bad things do happen; after all this is a fallen world. But take heart, we must rejoice when bad things happen for we know by this very verse of scripture that good will come of it somehow in the body of Christ. Paul explains the reason why in the next two verses.
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Some teach that this verse is about predestination of the saved. That teaching is that no one can be saved unless the Lord draws him to be saved. That is true enough, for that is what the Scripture tells us. But some teach that, because of this, only a certain amount of predestined people will be saved and no one else will. It is a fixed number and the predestined Christian has no choice in the matter. He or she will be saved, no matter what. These verses do not teach such a thing, and neither do the Scriptures. They do teach that no one can be saved unless the Father draws him to Christ (John 6:44). But the Scriptures also say that God wants everyone to be saved (2 Pet 3:9). If, according to the Scriptures, God wants everyone to be saved, then that negates the theory that only a certain number of predestined folks will be saved, no more and no less. No, all human beings throughout history have the opportunity to be saved. Some reject that opportunity. Let us proceed to discover what these verses really mean.
For whom he did foreknow. We easily understand that foreknowledge means knowledge of an event before it happens. When I am waiting for an elevator, I know before the door opens that eventually the elevator will stop on my floor and allow me to board. That is foreknowledge. Of course, something could happen to prevent the elevator from stopping on my floor. Power failure or mechanical problems could happen. So my foreknowledge is not absolutely certain though very likely. The foreknowledge of God is perfect and it is not tentative but absolute. So what does this foreknowledge mean? First, it does not mean foreordained or predestinated. It simply means knowledge beforehand.
God is omniscient. That means He knows everything. His knowledge is infinite. It never ends. How do we know this? Several passages tell us so.
Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
Psa 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
Isa 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
Though there are many more passages in the Bible declaring the omniscience of God, these few will give us a basic understanding. We see here that in Jer 32:27 that God can do anything. Nothing is too hard for him. Thus He is all powerful or omnipotent. Being omnipotent and omniscient necessarily includes infinite knowledge. In the next passage, 1 Joh 3:20, we find that God knows everything. Since there is no qualifier for the word everything, the meaning is obvious: there is absolutely nothing that God does not know. Finally, in the last passage above, Isa 46:9-10, we see that God’s knowledge includes everything in the past, even before creation, and it includes the future, even the future after the end of this age. God’s knowledge is complete.
Thus, in the past, even before creation, God necessarily knew who would and who would not be saved by faith in Christ. If His knowledge is infinite, and the Scriptures tell us it is, then God had and has to know who will and who will not be saved. This passage, therefore, has nothing to do with election as a strict Calvinist sees election (which is that only a finite number of humans are elect and will be saved but the remainder can never be saved and are already condemned to hell), but has only to do with the infinite knowledge of God. Paul is simply reiterating to his readers that God’s knowledge is infinite.
He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. We know from verse 28, that Paul is discussing Christians, or those called by God who love God. That expressly applies to Christians. In fact, the whole passage, which begins with “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” refers to those who are saved by the blood of Christ. So we know that what God foreknew is who would become Christians. The logical progression from that foreknowledge is what God’s will is for those whom He foreknew. Therefore, what God wills that those whom He knew from eternity past, is that they will be conformed to the image of His Son.
Before the foundation of the world, God knew who would be saved by the blood of Christ. His will for them is that they become like Christ. The original states that they would be conformed to the very image of Jesus. What is that image? Paul tells us in Phil 3:20-21, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” We will be like Christ, Who is now glorified, when we become citizens of Heaven.
Christ was raised from the dead with an imperishable body. We will inherit just such a body when we are glorified. Thus we will be like Him. This fits in the context of the passage we are discussing. However, this certainly does not agree with the strict Calvinists’ teaching that God predestined only certain people for salvation and the remainder would not ever be able to be saved.
Let us stop for a moment and briefly examine the Calvinists’/Reformed Theology’s philosophy. At the website of The House Church is an excellent definition of Calvinism. I quote it here:
Because all persons are totally depraved, those who are among the elect can do nothing to change their elect status, given purely through unconditional grace. Because God’s predestined decisions are perfect and final, they must hold even if those who are among the elect resist their election and their election must persevere even in the event that they backslide. Furthermore, since the number of elect persons is a fixed quantity established before the foundation of the world, it is only logical that atonement would be limited to the elect.—http://www.hccentral.com/delect.html, 6th paragraph
I must state that I believe in the depravity of mankind. The Bible is quite plain on this subject. Both Psalm 14:3 and Romans 3:10, no one is righteous for all have turned away from God. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned. John 14:6 tells us that no one can go to the Father in Heaven except through Christ. 1 Cor 2:14 tells us that we cannot understand the things of God unless they are disclosed to us Spiritually, that is, unless the Spirit of God teaches us those things. John 6:44 tells us that the Father must draw each man to Christ. Why? In our depravity, we can never know the things of God, therefore the only way to find them out is for the Holy Spirit to give us the discernment that we are sinners condemned to eternal separation from God without faith in Christ. In our depraved flesh we will never seek salvation. We will only seek it when the Spirit shows us our need.
The difference I have with Calvinism or Reformed Theology, is that I believe the Bible teaches that we have a choice whether to follow the Spirit’s leading and place our faith and trust in Christ or to reject his leadership and continue in our sins. We may refer to several verses relating to this.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ( Note: Calvinists and Reformed theologians reject that this verse says God wishes for all to repent and be saved ).
God desires that all should be saved. The word rendered all does not mean some, nor does it mean only all of a particular set, such as God’s elect. It is simple. The all in this verse refers to all mankind. God wished for them to come to salvation but knows not all will. It simply means all. Now, the Calvinist will tell you this passage is not about salvation but the second Advent. OK, correct. But the verse, in context, says that God is delaying the Second Advent so that more will be saved. They have several different ways of interpreting the Scripture that make it sound like Peter is saying that God is longsuffering and wishes for all of his elect to be saved. Therefore, I will not use this verse as the prime reason that God offers us a choice.
The main verse for the choice to accept or reject the leading of the Holy Spirit is found the Old Testament. Now before you exclaim, “but the church is New Testament!” or “but we are a New Testament church!” let me say that I believe the church is a Bible church. The Bible contains the Old and New Testaments and the church is a biblically based entity. The entire Bible is God’s Word so the entire Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2Ti 3:16-17).
In Deuteronomy 27-30, God uses the two mountains, Ebal, and Gerazim, on either side of the town of Shechem (modern Nablus) to pronounce the blessings upon Israel for obedience to the law, and curses for disobedience. After reading the blessings from Mount Gerizim and the curses from Mount Ebal, God made this statement about these things through Moses. He said, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” God gave the Israelites a choice between doing their own thing or doing God’s thing. They could choose to do their own things and death would reign upon them, or they could choose to do what God wanted and have life. God gives a choice between life through faith in Christ or death if we reject Him.
These are a few verses that concern this subject. There are many others: John 3:16-18, Acts 17:30-31, Romans 11:32, 1 Corinthians 15:22, 1 Tim. 2:3-6, Titus 2:11, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:14.
That he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Why are we predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image? Simple, Christ is the begotten, that is, natural, Son of God and we, as Christians, are adopted children of God. As we stated before, and adopted child has all the rights of a natural born child. We are to be the brothers and sisters of Christ, who is the firstborn child of God. In order to be His brethren, we must be conformed to his image, that is, we must have glorified bodies in order to live with Him eternally as His brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Whom he did predestinate. God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His Son so that we may be like Christ. But unless further action was taken, it would end there. I can preordain or decide ahead of time to take my car to the mall, but unless I actually get into my car at the predetermined moment, nothing will happen. Perhaps a better example would be a wedding. I can plan a wedding and plan to invite guests to the wedding on a predetermined date, but if, on that date I do not send the invitations, nothing will happen. It takes more than planning to make something happen. That requires action. Therefore, God did preordain that we should be saved and conformed to the image of Christ. But He also put his plan into action.
Them he also called. Another way to understand the word ‘called’ (Greek καλεω–kaleo, ka-lay’-oh) is invited. In the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:2-14, the King sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden. The root of the word rendered ‘to call’ is the same as that rendered ‘bidden’. In means invited. Let’s restate the sentence using the word ‘invite’: the King sent forth his servants to invite them that were invited. I know…that seems redundant, so let’s use a synonym: the King sent forth his servants to invite them that were on the guest list. Now we are getting the idea. Before creation, God predestinated, preordained, or preplanned for us to be conformed to His Son’s image. Then when we were created, He invited us to do so.
Them he also justified. Now when Paul uses the word called, he means an invitation responded to and accepted (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 1:24). So in this verse the ones called have been invited by the Holy Spirit and have accepted the invitation. Since they have accepted the call, God justifies them, which means he finds them not guilty of their sins because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Justification is a legal proceeding that does not require emotion or subjective reason. It is an objective look at the facts of a case and pronouncing the defendant not guilty. God looks at the facts of our case and sees that the sin debt we owe has been paid by the blood of Jesus. On that basis and that basis alone, He judges us not guilty. No amount of pleading on our case can affect the outcome of God’s judgment. It is simply an objective decision. Consider a case in traffic court. The defendant is accused of running a red light. He is proven guilty by the photograph taken by the traffic light camera. Before the judge passes sentence, a person steps in and pays the traffic fine. The law is satisfied and the defendant is justified. He leaves the courtroom free. That is how it works with us. Jesus paid the price for our sins and we are thus justified by what He did at Calvary. Our sins are forgiven; our guilt is gone.
Them he also glorified. The premise of this statement is that God knew us, called us, and justified us. The verb δοξαζω, doxadzo, (glorify) used here in following inflection (indicative aorist active 3rd person singular): εδοξασεν, edoxasen means that the result (that we will be glorified) of the premise is conclusive. In other words, that we will one day be glorified is in actual fact that is going to happen. There is no doubt. The verb, glorify, matches the context of the entire verse.
The basic meaning of the Greek word rendered glorify is to recognize. Hence, those God knew would be saved from before the beginning of creation, He invited to believe on His Son. Those that accepted the invitation to believe on His Son, He justified, or found not guilty because of the blood of Christ, and He will recognize them in the next age. In fact the entire creation will recognize them as we saw in verses 8:19-21, “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. (NLT)” In the present age, we cannot really know who the real Christians are for we cannot see the heart of any individual like God can. We can certainly tell real Christians by their works, but anyone could say and do all the right things and still not have their heart right with God. We simply do not know the heart of another person.
Yet, at the end of the age, all Christians will be revealed and all will be recognized. How? All will be glorified. Not only does the verb doxadzo meant to recognize, it also means to” honor, praise, invest with dignity, give anyone esteem or honor by putting him into an honorable position” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, © 1992 By AMG International, Inc ). However, the main reason we will be recognized is we will have the same glorified body as Christ. That type of glorification involves brightness and splendor, which are further meanings of doxadzo. Remember when Jesus was transfigured temporarily into His glorified state, how bright He was. “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Mat 17:1-2).
Recall also that when Moses came down from Sinai, his face shone with the glory of God: “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist [knew] not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him” (Exo 34:29). Recall also the appearance of the glorified Christ in Rev 1:13-16 “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”
Furthermore remember that we Christians will also be glorified:
Dan 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
Mat 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
1Co 15:51-55 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
It is a certainty that those who believe on Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection will be glorified. We will be recognized by God and He will cause the entire creation to recognize us at the end of the age. Additionally, because of our faith in Christ, we will be honored with a place in Heaven, which is a place of esteem and glory. Finally, we will inherit a glorified, imperishable, immortal body; which will be the signature of our salvation. These things are certain.
Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
What things? Is the Apostle speaking of the foreknowledge, calling, justification and glorification of Christians? Or did he mean all the things he has written about up to this point? Simple. It is everything Paul has written up to this point. Each subject Paul has written about to this point revolves around our sin and God’s grace. The answer to the question posed is no one and no thing. This is answered fully in the remaining verses of the chapter.
Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
The most precious gift God could have given us was for His Only Begotten Son to take the punishment we sinners deserved upon Him so that we may have eternal life in God’s presence and that we may be justly called the children of God; nothing is more valuable, nothing more precious. God the Father could give nothing more valuable or more precious than His Son. Anything else is less than Christ. Therefore, since Christ is the most valuable and precious thing God could give, why would He withhold lesser blessings? He would not. He will freely provide all our needs.
Rom 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Since the Lord God Almighty Himself has justified us, that is, has found us not guilty of our sins, who else can judge us? Since there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and since we are the foreknown, predestined, justified and glorified children of God, and since God is with us, and since Christ was delivered up for our sins the implied answer is, no, actually the only possible answer, is “no one.” Certainly the world may judge us, but so what? God Himself judges the world. Accordingly, the world’s judgment has no eternal significance. At any rate, once we die we are released from the world’s judgment; it is only God’s judgment that matters. Since he has already justified His elect, that is, Christians, no one else and no other thing may undo that. We are His and we will be with Him for eternity.