Romans 8: 28-30
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
- Apostle Paul starts this part of the discourse with “we know” (Ὁρῶμεν) – it’s common knowledge – it’s too obvious to miss. This is not a complicated doctrine – this is not seminary-level stuff
- It is important to know that. Verse 29 starts with a “For” which would mean that it continues from verse 28 or has to do with verse 28
- And what is this idea that everyone knows and is too obvious? “all things work together for good to those who love God”
- Not some things, not most of the things, but all things
- If bible verses were high school kids then this one is the head of the football team! You have it on your coffee mugs, calendars, bookmarks, and your t-shirts.
- We can have bible verses that are through and through Christian (like they ought to be) and still have a very pagan understanding of the said verse.
- Let me give you a famous quote from another book
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho (Pau-low Kow-eh-low), The Alchemist
- This book gripped me as a high school student and slung me into the world of New Age Spiritualism. I was the center of the universe and the universe conspired and worked all things together for me! — To establish my plans and purposes
- But Apostle Paul says that while all things do work together for your good, it is not you at the centre of the universe! It is God and his purpose. Which is everything against what the culture tells you, what the philosophies of the world tell you, and more often than not what we tell ourselves.
- What I mean to say is not that you all are narcissists, but that we can look at it in a man-centred way. There’s a way of looking at this verse and going – “all things work together for me – for me – for me”. We can end up with baptized narcissism if we discount the fact that we are called to God’s purpose
- Brothers we have been a church for 8 years, every now and then we come across a man who’s all geared up for ministry. He believes he’s called to ministry, and he has a mission and testimony. These are people who are all about the testimony
- They’d say how God has been taking them from one place to another and teaching them something along the way. And here are the commonalities in all these stories
- The decisions taken in life are taken with very little or no counsel
- Do your pastor or church members think you should pick up the ministry?
- They go to defence mode the second you question the notion if they are REALLY called to the mission that they want to do
- They’d have a story of how they never wanted this mission, but God has put them there
- They’d have stories of miracles of how God kept opening impossible doors as they took steps toward this mission
- They all want to think about or at least present their stories as unique stories
- The decisions taken in life are taken with very little or no counsel
- All these points are common in these “unique” stories
- If GOD has called us according to HIS purpose, then how do we know our mission in his purpose? We go back to him. And going to him is not waiting for that still small voice to speak to you. But we do it by depending on the means which God has given us – the bible and the local church
- Now, look at the text. All things work together for the good of not everyone, but only a certain kind of people, and Paul gives us two descriptions of these people
- Those who love God and those who are the called
- Isn’t it interesting that one of them is something we do and the other is something that is done to us?
- Love here is a verb. You LOVE him! You are doing something – you are the active party.
- And immediately you become the passive party because God calls you
- What’s the apostle saying here and expects that all of us know it? That there are people who God calls for his purpose! And these people would SURELY love God
- Now, this is what we all know and what Paul expects every layman in the church to know. And then, he decides to tell them more! He wants to explain the mechanics of this truth to them
- When we go to an ATM machine, we put in the card, enter the PIN code, type in the withdrawal amount and press enter and money would be dispensed from the machine. That’s obvious knowledge! Paul would start off by saying “We know, that those have an atm card…..” and so on
- But you see, that’s only an abstraction of the whole reality there or the mechanics behind it. The money gets deducted from your account, this data reaches the bank. The balance amount in the atm is updated in the bank. The number of transactions you did that month gets updated and so on.
- Similarly, as though he were writing a footnote in a study bible, Paul explains the mechanics of this reality in the following verses
- Before we knew (οἶδα) that all things work together for our good, God foreknew. But God foreknew what? “those whom” – the subject of the verse above, “the called”.
- He foreknew (proegnō) → προ + γινώσκω
- Ginosko has more depth than just knowledge of something, akin to the English word know
- Many use this verse to say that the election of people to the Kingdom of God was based on the foreknowledge of what the people would do in the future. It would be argued that God looked down the corridors of time and saw who would choose him and then elected them on that basis.
- So what is foreknew then? In the first century there was a prominent translation of the bible called the Septuagint which was in Greek. In areas where Greek was the primary language, the Jews would use this translation over the original Hebrew. Another interesting fact is that when the new testament writers quoted the old testament they quoted from both Septuagint and Hebrew OT.
- Here are some examples of New Testament quotes from the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament:
- Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 in the Septuagint version: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (ESV).
- Acts 2:17-21 quotes Joel 2:28-32 in the Septuagint version: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…” (ESV).
- Romans 3:10-18 quotes Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3 in the Septuagint version.
- Hebrews 10:5-7 quotes Psalm 40:6-8 in the Septuagint version: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me” (ESV).
- These are just a few examples, but there are many more throughout the New Testament.
- “The word ‘foreknow’ is the translation of the Greek word ‘proginosko.’ It means to have knowledge beforehand, to foreknow. The term ‘know’ in biblical language, especially in the Old Testament, often has the sense of ‘choose, select, or acknowledge with favour.’ That is why ‘know’ can be used as a synonym for ‘love.’ The term ‘foreknow,’ therefore, cannot be taken to mean merely that God knew something before it happened. In the Old Testament, the word ‘know’ is used in passages like Amos 3:2, where God says, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth.’ Clearly, this is not simply an assertion of knowledge of their existence, but a statement of God’s special relationship to Israel. It is also important to note that in the New Testament, the term ‘foreknow’ is never used for mere cognitive knowledge but always carries with it the idea of foreordination or predetermination. In Acts 2:23, for example, Peter states that Jesus was ‘delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.’ In 1 Peter 1:20, Jesus is said to have been ‘foreknown before the foundation of the world.’ This does not simply mean that God knew about Jesus in advance, but that he predetermined or foreordained his death and resurrection. Similarly, in Romans 11:2, Paul speaks of God’s rejection of Israel as something ‘which he foreknew.’ In this context, the word cannot simply mean that God knew about Israel in advance but must refer to God’s prior decision to reject them in judgment. Therefore, in the context of Romans 8:29, ‘foreknow’ cannot mean simply that God knew about certain people in advance, but must refer to God’s prior decision to set his love upon them.” – James White, The Potter’s Freedom
- Predestined is a highly controversial word. People for ages have been debating over this word predestined in the English bible. Now if we look at the Greek word for it, we’ll find the word used there is actually προορίζω. That word means, “predestined”. It’s very very straightforward
- Predestined to what?
- Conformed here is Συμμορφόω – meaning take the shape of
- We’ll be shaped like Christ, of course, this is not complete till the resurrection, but it’s a very ongoing process
- 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
- Colossians 3:10: “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
- FUTURE: 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will have not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is.”
- For us this reality is Sanctification
- One day Pastor Mike called for an emergency meeting at his house, and I, Steve, and Benji went there thinking it had to do with Cross Purpose. As I walked in I saw Ethan walking around the house with a level of confidence someone wearing diapers should not have. And He had a t-shirt that said “No 1. Bro”.
- The way I came to know that Mike and his wife were going to have more children is by the declaration that Ethan is the firstborn of the brothers
- Paul is indirectly saying that you were predestined to be Children of God. He does this explicitly elsewhere
- Ephesians 1:5 – “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”
- Ephesians 1:11 – “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
- Why this indirect language then? So he can talk about Christ
- This is a text about you
- all things working for your good
- You love God
- You are the called
- You are predestined
- But above everything, this text is about Jesus! It is God’s purpose that Christ the glorious be the firstborn among many brothers
- And now we know who the called are in verse 28. The ones who are predestined
- So predestination comes before the call to Jesus
- If Predestination is the plan then Calling is the invitation to the plan. The new testament uses it as God’s call to salvation itself or one of the aspects of it
- Rom. 1:6–7: “including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our
- 1 Cor. 1:2, 9: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Ministry: Romans 1:1 ESV reads: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,”.
- Calling seems to be the method of bringing the elect into the plan
- The called were Justified! For God’s purpose, he justified sinners.
- We still struggle with sin in this stage.
- The word glorified is in the past tense
- Calvin in his commentary says
“The verb ‘glorified’ is in the past tense, but it refers to a future event that is as sure to happen as if it had already taken place. Paul does this to emphasize the certainty of our final glorification. The reason that it is so certain is that it is grounded in God’s immutable decree, and that decree is based on His eternal love for us in Christ.” – John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentary
- Assume you are caught cheating by your teacher in the class. While the teacher on exam duty was going to report you, your class teacher comes in and says that she’ll pick it up from there. The class teacher pulls you aside and says “I’ll let you go this time, but next time don’t repeat this. I’ll make sure you are not reported to the examination board”. You’ll come back after the exam and tell your friends that the class teacher saved you. She might have not yet finished the task of not letting you get in trouble with the examination board, but the trustworthiness of her character makes you say “teacher saved me today”
- This is Paul’s way of saying that glorification is inevitable and as good as done because God is trustworthy
- Now we can know about all these things or we can KNOW about these things. When we look at the mechanics of Predestination we run the risk of looking at it like looking at an ATM machine
- Before the foundation of the world, the father looks at his beloved son. The father’s heart was filled with joy. He saw his own reflection in the face of the son. Beauty, perfection, glory, power, majesty. In the heavenly realm, the seraphim covered their face in his presence. His temple shook by the power of angelic praise
- No creatures would stand against him for he is the king over all creation.
And the father asks the son, “Son, are you willing to have your head pierced with thorns for Ashok?”, Christ said, “I am willing”.
And the father asked, “Son, are you willing to be spat on by Roman soldiers for Preetha?” Christ said “I’m willing”
And the father asked, “Son, are you willing to be stripped naked for the sake of Michelle?” Christ said “I’m willing”
And the father asked “Son, will you sweat blood, lose sleep, be bruised and marred and hung naked on a cross for the attendees of redemption hill” Christ looked at a bunch of people, many of who are not punctual on reaching church in time, people who are not regular to Church meetings. Many who are irregular in bible reading and praying. All our sins were on display before him, and Christ said without a moment of hesitation “I’m willing my Father”
- How about that for the mechanics of Predestination? Brothers and sisters, it is only right for us to look at the word predestination and cry “unfair”. You are right God should have looked down the corridors of time and looked at you and thrown you to the depths of hell. How unfair that Christ would drink hell on your behalf instead!
- See the destined day arise, see the willing sacrifice
- In this room, right now walks the Christ whom you murdered. Today he sees your heart and the darkness and the filth within you that none else can. This morning since you reached the church, you have already done enough sins to deserve hell a hundred times! Praise God you were predestined or you don’t stand a chance.
- It’s all Christ brothers and sisters, the one who keeps you from stumbling, the one who presented you gloriously on the last day
- Okay, you are predestined to be conformed to the image of God now what
- Let me urge you to look at the willingness of this Christ to choose you and urge you to willingly commit yourself to him
- So today if Christ through his word asks you to commit yourself unto him, say you are willing
- Many of you are stuck where you are for a long time, and you need to move to the next act of obedience you are called to
- Those who are unsure about this whole Christianity thing, keep coming and come talk to us
- Those who are not regular attendees, attend regularly
- Those who attend regularly, what’s keeping you from membership?! Don’t waste precious time, come join us, we have so much to do for this Christ
- To members, let us be all diligent in our commitments to church, prayer meetings, and bible study. Come volunteer and ask where we can help. We want to do so many things in this city – don’t grow cold
- God has predestined us to be here this morning and that’s not by accident. Today morning you dressed up and came down to church because he willed it
Jesus had to die for you to be here – What a glorious Predestination!