The Blessing of Guidance - Page 3 (series: lessons on Romans)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Everyone who was predestined in eternity is also called in time. This means that he not only hears the gospel but that he responds to it as well. It is therefore an effectual call. All are called, but only a few respond to the effectual (conversion-producing) call of God.

All who respond are also justified or given an absolutely righteous standing before God. They are clothed with the righteousness of God through the merits of Christ and are thereby fit for the presence of the Lord. Justification is a vital doctrine in Paul’s thinking. When God justifies us, He reckons us as if we are righteous because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ. He imputes the righteousness of Christ to our account.

Those who are justified are also glorified. The final step in the purpose of God is the glorification of His people. We will ultimately be completely conformed to “the image of His Son.” “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4). This is God’s view of salvation. Actually, we are not glorified yet, but it is so sure that God can use the past tense in describing it. We are as certain of the glorified state as if we had already received it! Foreknowledge and predestination belong to the eternal past, in the eternal counsel of the Trinity; calling and justification take place in the believer’s present experience; the glow (glorification), which begins now, will not ultimately and completely be known until the future. Although salvation from our viewpoint is an instantaneous act, it has, in fact, stretched from eternity past to eternity future and finds its basis, not in our merit or in the works of the law, but in the purpose of God. In the depression and turmoil of these days, nothing can be of greater encouragement to believers than to know that God is working all things together for our good and His glory.

This is one of the strongest passages in the NT on the eternal security of the believer. For every million people who are foreknown and predestined by God, every one of those million will be called, justified, and glorified. He will not lose one.

In verses 29 and 30, Paul is speaking of the experience of every Christian. “For whom He foreknew*, He also predestined* to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” This is a passage, which has been seriously misused. If we are going to understand it, we must face the fact that Paul never meant it to be a statement of theology or philosophy; he meant it to be the expression of Christian experience. If we take it as philosophy and psychology, it means that God chose some and did not choose others. That is not what it means.

Think of the Christian experience. The more a Christian thinks about his salvation experience, the more he becomes convinced that he had nothing to do with it, and God did it all. Jesus Christ came into the world; He lived; went to the Cross; He rose again. We did nothing to bring that about; that is all God’s work. Love woke within our hearts; the conviction of sin came, and with it came forgiveness and salvation. We did not achieve that; all of it is God’s doing. That is what Paul is thinking here.

The Old Testament has an illuminating use of the word “to know.” God said to Hosea about the people of Israel, “I knew you in the wilderness” (Hosea 13:5). God told Amos, “You only have I known, of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). When the Bible speaks of knowing a man, it means that He has a purpose, a plan, and a task for that man. And when we look back on our own Christian experience, all we can say is, “I did not do this, I could never have done this; God did everything." And we know well that this does not take freewill away. God knew Israel, but the day came when Israel refused the destiny God meant her to have. God’s unseen guiding is in our lives, but at the end of the day, we can refuse it and take our own way.

It is the deep experience of the Christian that all is of God; that he did nothing, and that God did everything. That is what Paul means here. He means that from the beginning of time God marked us out for salvation; that in due time His call came to us; but the pride

of man’s heart can wreck God’s plan and the disobedience of man’s will can refuse the call. This is what I believe, and I believe it represents what the majority of Christians today believe. Many good Christians disagree with me, however, and I respect their views. However, if my view is wrong, it has the result of causing me to have a greater desire to give the gospel to everyone, and that is what Jesus told us to do in His Great Commission.

In the Old Testament, intersession is used with regard to prayer. Key examples of intercessory prayer are found in Abrahams prayer for the inhabitants of Sodom (Gen. 18:16-33) and Moses’ prayer for a sinning Israel (Num. 14:10-19).

In the New Testament, the word means “to plead on behalf of someone.” The Holy Spirit exercises this ministry, on our behalf, in the most intensive degree. The Christian, when he prays for others is interceding or making intercession.

A theological term that refers to God’s superior knowledge and wisdom, His power to know all things. God is the Lord who knows our thoughts from afar. He is acquainted with all our ways, knowing our words even before they are on our tongues (Ps. 139:1–6, 13–16). He needs to consult no one for knowledge or understanding (Is. 40:13–14). He is the all-knowing Lord who prophesies the events of the future, including the death and resurrection of His Son (Isaiah 53) and the return of Christ at the end of this age when death will be finally overcome (Rom. 8:18–39; 1 Cor. 15:51–57).
Only the all-knowing and all-powerful God can guarantee real freedom from sin, decay, and death. He can begin a process of change in believers during the present age; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

The unique knowledge of God that enables Him to know all events, including the free-will acts of people, before they happen.

God’s foreknowledge is much more than foresight. God does not know future events and human actions because He foresees them; He knows them because He wills them to happen—“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:15-16). Therefore, God’s foreknowledge is an act of His will.

Divine and unalterable determination of the salvation or damnation of human beings even before they are created.

It expresses one aspect of divine sovereignty whereby the Creator not only creates but also foreordains. It became a subject of theological controversy when pitted against the humanistic and Pelagian doctrine of free will because they are in theory irreconcilable. Neither predestination nor unlimited free will has been established to everyone’s satisfaction, but the sovereignty of God is such a dominant concept in Christian theology that it does not leave much room for the operation of human will to cancel divine determinism and foreknowledge. Predestination has been the center of attention of two of the most brilliant minds in Christian history: Augustine and Calvin.

Augustine laid out the classic formulation of predestination when he taught that: 1. Human will is enslaved to sin. 2. Grace is needed to choose God. 3. Grace is enduringly available only to the elect of God. Augustine was only reaffirming scriptural teachings, especially Romans 8:28–30 where Paul talks of the salvation of those “who are called according to His purpose.” In Ephesians 1:3–14 Paul talks of election “according to the measure of Christ’s gifts.” In John 10:29 Jesus tells the Jews that “no one is able to snatch My sheep out of My Father’s hand.” The Augustinian position was upheld by the Synod of Orange in 529. However, when Gottschalk tried to extend this doctrine to mean that God actively willed the nonelect to be damned, the Synod of Quiercy in 849 rejected it as unscriptural.

The Scholastics tried to reconcile predestination with reason, but with only a measure of success. For them, predestination could coexist with apparent human free will because God was outside time, and for him all things are present and there is no past and future. However, this solution was attacked by Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and others who questioned how God’s love can be harmonized with his predetermination and how God can be sovereign if he cannot change his own will. Augustinians held that predetermination was a requisite for an ordered universe. Generally, the Reformers were Augustinians and viewed the church as a community of the elect rather than as a community of sinners in need of salvation. Calvin rejected belief in the universal saving will of God. Nevertheless, a reaction to Calvinism set in as Arminius and his followers dismissed predestination as robbing Christianity of its evangelical element.

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