A Destiny of Glory
Sometimes it seems as if to the government each of us is just a
number. There are so many of us, but in the IRS computers we are SS#123-45-6789.
It appears from recent headlines concerning IRS abuses that we are often times
just numbers to IRS employees as well. It is much easier to cheat and harass a
number. But we are human beings, not just meaningless cogs in a machine. We must
not allow ourselves to swallow the lie that we are just numbers without purpose.
So many today are despondent and cynical. Others are tremendously self centered.
Before God created the first molecule, there was within His mind a plan. This plan entailed bringing into being a group of people whom He would love and bless and exalt; and they would return to Him love and honor. Within the mind of God these people already existed whom God would ultimately glorify as they were fashioned into the image of His Son. God is mindful of us! The Psalmist considered the greatness of God and marveled that He would think of us at all, let alone love us and provide for us (Psalm 8:3-5).
What is even more amazing is that God still loves us even after countless incidents of outrageous human behavior, pride and disloyalty. Israel, a microcosm of the human race, certainly well illustrates human treachery and faithlessness, putting God's love and patience to the test (Hebrews 3:7-12).
It is a shameful thing for any person to think as little of God as many do today. Consider God's interest and purpose for us as is recorded in our text: "And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30).
God Causes All Things To Work Together For Good
The "all things" in verse 28 is not referring to all the accidents and tragedies of life. That is how this statement is sometimes misused, and if someone falls and breaks a leg, there must be some good purpose for it.
The "all things" of this statement has reference in the context to all the things God has done for us; things such as the incarnation of His Son, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, His ascension and His role as our intercessor and His intention to come again (Romans 8:32; cf. Hebrews 2:14,15; 3).
This is true for "those that love God". Love involves action, not merely words or sentiment. Our love for God will lead us to draw closer to Him as we keep His commandments (James 4:8; 1 John 5:3).
Those that love God are "called according to His purpose". It is through the gospel that we are called according to God's purpose. God has chosen from the beginning to save those who are set apart (sanctified) by the Holy Spirit and faith in the truth. This occurs when one obeys the gospel from the heart (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 6:17,18).
Whom He Foreknew He Also Predestined
The word "foreknew" (vs. 29) simply means to "know beforehand" . The word "predestine" means to "appoint beforehand". God knew beforehand that there would be a people with hearts receptive to the gospel of redemption. Based upon this foreknowledge God appointed beforehand what would be the ultimate destiny of this group. This group is made up of people who are willing to answer God's call in Jesus Christ and come to Him (John 6:37).
One of the things God appointed beforehand for this group is that each of them "become conformed to the image of His Son" (vs. 29). Paul Earnheart once noted a "progression" of salvation in these verses which I think is very helpful. First, there was man in the mind of God; then man is created. Also, man was recreated in God's mind; then man is recreated by the power of the gospel. Finally, man was glorified in the mind of God; and man's ultimate destiny is glory in eternity.
It needs to be stressed that God deals with us as free men and women. He does not determine what each of our attitudes will be. That is left up to us. He may foreknow our attitudes and based on that use us accordingly to advance His purpose (as He did with Judas).
Jesus was the "firstborn among many brethren". We become God's second-born ones. We are His sons and daughters. We have purpose and our lives have meaning.
Predestined - Called - Justified - Glorified
God foreknew and purposed His Son's atoning death on the cross for our sins (1 Peter 1:20; Acts 2:23). He had foreordained the death of His righteous Son to be our justification on the basis of our faith. Before time began, God had woven the attitudes of men and women; of the apostles, of the scribes and Pharisees; of the Romans, including Pilate, and even the schemes of Satan, into His plan. And this was also true of those who had preceded Christ on earth, back through the history of the world to the beginning; of nations and kings and queens; of Israel, the patriarchs and Adam and Eve.
Our calling and our justification is according to this plan of God's (verse 30). Our attitudes toward our calling is our doing. We can answer the call and be justified, or we can turn away and be lost. But if we answer the call to live a sanctified life of faith, we can be assured that our prearranged future holds glory for us. God has made the arrangements, and no force can separate us from it if we love God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 9.1; January 2002