We come now to one of the most misused and misunderstood passages of scripture. Yet, this is one of the most encouraging passages of scripture if understood properly. In order to fully understand scripture, there must be careful attention given to the context of the passage and to the most literal interpretation possible. Before we dive into our text at hand, let us consider the context. (1) The book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul to born-again believer’s living in Rome around A.D 56. (2) Both Gentile believers and Jewish believers are addressed in this letter. (3) In chapters 1-5, Paul deals with the doctrine of justification by faith. (4) In chapters 6-8, Paul deals with the sanctification of the believer. (5) In chapters 9-11, Paul specifically addresses his Jewish readers as he describes God’s dealings with the chosen nation of Israel. (6) In chapters 12-16, Paul gives practical instructions and applications for all believers. Within the context of the sanctification of the believer in chapters 6-8 we find the following: (1) Victory in Christ (chp. 6) (2) Freedom in Christ (chp. 7) and (3) Security in Christ (chp. 8). In chapter 8 we learn that our security in Christ is affirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, established in our future hope, demonstrated in our present sanctification, realized in who we are, and found in our eternal union. It is within the whole context of the sanctification of the believer in mind, that Paul encourages us in the fact that our salvation is secure in Christ because of who we are.
There is great encouragement for the believer in Christ living in this present time found in our text. In order to understand the richness of this encouragement we must consider the several key words that we find in this passage.
Foreknow. Paul states, “For whom he did foreknow…” The foreknowledge of God is indeed a great mystery, but also a great comfort. The word ‘foreknow’ comes from the Greek word ‘proginosko’ which means to know beforehand or to perceive or recognize beforehand. Two of the attributes of God apply directly to his foreknowledge. (1) God is omniscient. God is all-knowing. He knows all things. Nothing surprises God. He knows everything that happens and everything that ever will happen. God knows every sparrow that falls and He knows the number of hairs on your head. Notice what the Psalmist said in Psalm 139. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, But, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, And laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it.” The fact that God knows my every thought is a knowledge that is beyond human comprehension. (2) God is omnipresent. God is everywhere at all times. God is timeless. He is not limited by time. He is in the past, the present, and the future all at the same time. What an amazing truth! Since God is omniscient and omnipresent, He has a foreknowledge of all that will transpire throughout all the course of time.
The truth concerning the foreknowledge of God is very encouraging and comforting for the believer. God is in your future before you get there. Whatever you will face in life, God is already there and already has a plan to carry you through. Therefore, we do not have to worry, because God has it all under control.
Predestinate. Paul also mentions that “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.” The word ‘predestinate’ comes from the Greek word ‘proorizo (pro-or-id-zo)’ It means to predetermine or to preordain. Do I believe that we are predestined? Absolutely! Do I believe that we are predestined for salvation? Absolutely not! Does God know all those who we will be saved and who will not be? Yes. In His foreknowledge, God knows all things. However, just because he foreknows, does not mean he has chosen or predetermined certain individuals for heaven and certain individuals for hell. Consider the words of Warren Wiersbe, “The believer never need faint in times of suffering and trial because he knows that God is at work in the world (Rom. 8:28), and that He has a perfect plan (Rom. 8:29). God has two purposes in that plan: our good and His glory. Ultimately, He will make us like Jesus Christ! Best of all, God’s plan is going to succeed! It started in eternity past when He chose us in Christ (Eph. 1:4–5). He predetermined that one day we would be like His Son. Predestination applies only to saved people. Nowhere are we taught that God predestines people to be eternally condemned. If they are condemned, it is because of their refusal to trust Christ (John 3:18–21).” Paul is not talking here about an unbeliever who is predestined to be saved. He is talking about a believer who is predestined to become just like Jesus. The good news is that God will finish what He started. You and I, as believers in Christ, will one day be just like Him and share in His glory! God has begun a work in you to sanctify you and He will finish the job because He has already predetermined to do so.
The purpose of the predestination of the believer to be conformed to the image of Christ is so that we would share in the sonship of Jesus. “The purpose is that Christ might be the “eldest in a vast family of brothers” (Weymouth). If we were to bear no family resemblance to him, the intention of the Father would never be realized. The supremacy of Christ is reflected in the designation “firstborn” (cf. Col 1:15, 18; Heb 1:6; Rev 1:5). It speaks both of his priority in time and of his primacy of rank. It also implies that there are to be others who will share in his sonship.” We can be encouraged by the fact that Christ is our elder brother and as a brother we are a part of God’s eternal family, which can never be dissolved.
Called. The third key word we see here is the word ‘called’. Paul says, “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called….” The word ‘called’ comes from the Greek word ‘Kaleo’ which means to be called out or forth. It is to call someone in order that he may come or go somewhere. This term in the Bible comes with great difficulty and must be considered within the context of the whole counsel of God’s Word. There are two things to consider here: (1) God’s call to salvation (2) God’s calling out of the believer to a life of service.
God’s call to salvation is universal. In other words, God calls every man, woman, boy, and girl to come to Him for salvation. Those who believe in limited atonement would not agree with this point. They will say that God’s atonement for sin is limited only to the so-called elect. Some will even go as far as to say that you must be regenerated before you believe on the Lord Jesus. In other words, the Holy Spirit must come in you and give you the faith to believe in such a way that it would be impossible for you to resist. Therefore, the conclusion would be that God ‘calls’ only a limited number of people who He has chosen for salvation. This, my friend, cannot be any further from the truth. It is a lie, it is a deception of Satan, and it is a false doctrine. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ died for the sins of the whole world and that He is calling everyone to repent and turn to Him for salvation.
Notice what Romans 1:18-21 says. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Here we find a description of the unsaved sinner and why God is just in pouring out His wrath upon them. Every single human being is born with the truth of God in them. The Bible very clearly shows that the lost sinner certainly has the capacity to know and understand the things of God. You do not have to be regenerated before you can know and understand God’s love for you. They know God is real and that He is there and that they are accountable to God. Paul mentions here that they knew God. The call of God to salvation is within us. The problem is that many people suppress that knowledge and they turn away from God and they do not answer God’s call to salvation.
Over and over the Bible teaches that Christ died for the whole world and that all who believe on Him shall be saved. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. “ It is against the very will of God for someone to not believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. Notice what 2 Peter 3:9 says. “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.” The New American Commentary points out, “Peter explained why the coming is delayed. God is patient with his people. Notice that the verse says “patient with you” (eis hymas). The reason for his patience is then explicated. He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The idea that God is patient so that people will repent is common in the Scriptures (Joel 2:12–13; Rom 2:4). That he is “slow to anger” is a refrain repeated often (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Pss 86:15; 103:8 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:10; 4:2; Nahum 1:3), but he will not delay forever. We should note at the outset that perishing (apolesthai) refers to eternal judgment, as is typical with the term. Repentance (metanoia), correspondingly, involves the repentance that is necessary for eternal life. Peter did not merely discuss rewards that some would receive if they lived faithfully. He directed his attention to whether people would be saved from God’s wrath.” It is in this context that he mentions that “God is not willing that any should perish.” Notice what Paul says in 1 Timothy chapter 2. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”My friend, the Bible is very clear. God is not the author of confusion. When He said, ‘all’, He meant ‘all’. Jesus did not die just for a chosen few. He died for the whole world. He paid the price of sin for the whole world. Through the drawing of the Holy Spirit of God, He is calling all people to come to Him and be saved!
The second calling that we see in scripture is the calling of God on the life of a believer to live a life of service to Him. This, I believe, is what Paul was more directly referring to in Romans 8:30. Let me explain. In the context of Romans 8, Paul is teaching on the subject of the sanctification of the believer. It is within that context that he encourages the believer with the promise that God will conform the believer to the image of His Son. In that same verse he mentions that those whom God has predetermined to be conformed into the image of Christ, is also called of God. Yes, we were called by God for salvation. However, now that we have answered the call to salvation, we are also called to live a life that is consisted with a sanctified believer who is being conformed to the image of Jesus. More specifically, the believer is called to fulfill the purpose of God in His life to bring glory to God even in the midst of suffering (Romans 8:28). The church is considered as the ‘called-out ones.’ We are called out of the world and set apart for a life of service to God. The church is called to fulfill the Great Commission. This is our purpose. The church is the called-out ones, whom God has chosen to be the vehicle through which the Gospel message is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
The encouragement here for the believer is the fact that God will finish what He started in conforming us to image of Christ. He has also called us to fulfill His purpose for our lives in this world. This is who we are. The encouragement that Paul is giving here is, simply remember who you are. Don’t allow the suffering of this life to pull you down. Don’t give up. God has a greater purpose for you. He has predestined you to be just like Jesus, He has called you to a greater life of service to Him. So, live within that purpose.
Justified. Verse 30 goes on with the thought that, “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called and who He called, them He also justified…..” The reformed theologian will attempt to use these verses as an order or progression of God’s saving work in an individual’s life. It appears as if this could be the case, and if you are not careful you will find yourself buying into the deception of reformed theology. They will say that God foreknows, predestines, calls, and then justifies according to his calling and predestination. The problem here is that such a view is not consistent with the context of this passage and the rest of scripture. We must remind ourselves that Paul is dealing with the sanctification of the believer. He is not talking about the progression of an unbeliever becoming a believer. He is simply encouraging the believer in who he is in Christ. We also know that scripture makes it very clear that we are justified by faith alone. If Paul has some type of progression in mind here, then why did he not mention faith? You see, we are not justified by predestination, we are justified by faith. So, what was Paul saying here? Basically, he was identifying those who are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and those whom God has called to a life of service, as those who have been justified. How is one justified? By faith in the Lord Jesus. What is faith? It is an act of the human will. It is a choice, a decision, to repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus. No one can do that for you. Yes, you must be drawn by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does not believe for you. You must repent and believe. Only you can make that choice. No one, not even God, will force you to believe. You must come to Him by faith by your own choosing. Have you ever done that? Have you been justified? If so, then you are among those whom God has predestined to be just like Jesus and whom God has call-out to fulfill His purpose.
Glorified. “and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” The ultimate goal in the sanctification process of the believer is that we are glorified. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, “Glorified is in the past tense because this final step is so certain that in God’s eyes it is as good as done. To be glorified is another way of saying that God’s children will be “conformed” to His Son; and that is God’s ultimate “purpose.” No longer will they “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23)” It is a done deal. Just as sure as we were justified when we placed our faith in Jesus, just as sure as God has promised that we will be conformed to image of Christ, just as sure as God has called us according to His purpose, we are just as sure to be glorified and literally made to be just like Jesus just as sure as if we already are. This is our hope. This is our confident expectation. Imagine what it will be like to be just like Jesus. Perfect. No sin. No curse from sin. No pain. No sickness. No stress. No disease. Perfect. Glorified. Just like Jesus!
Child of God, a good work has begun in you by God. It was God’s will and plan for you from the very beginning. Before you were ever conceived, God had a plan for you and part of that plan was that you would be saved. Now, that you have accepted God’s plan and you have believed on the Lord Jesus by faith. He has justified you, pardoned you from the penalty of sin and declared you as righteous. He has predestined you to be just like Jesus. He has called you out to an abundant life of bringing glory to Him. One day, He will glorify you and make you to be just like Jesus. You are no surprise to God. He knew that you would come to Him. In His foreknowledge, He knew. Therefore, as we will see in our next message in Romans, “Nothing shall separate you from the love of God.”
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ps 139:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 541). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 189). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 1:18–21). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 3:16–17). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 10:13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 2 Pe 3:9). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 381). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Ti 2:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 474). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.