Chapter Eight: Not Living in the ‘Condo’s’ Anymore!
~~ By James Fire
I originally intended for the study this chapter to be divided into two parts, but when it came around to this portion (vs. 29 and 30) I realized that this would take some substantial exposition. So now, here is the last of the three segments for your perusal and hopefully your edification and blessing!
OK, now we’re going to get into some theologically deep waters in these next two verses. . .
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.
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.
We’ll take these very important words one at a time; much theology has been written concerning God’s “foreknowledge” and His “predestination” and of those considered the “called” and “justified” – we shall tread lightly, carefully and not speak beyond what the Scriptures tell us (and soundly ignore the predilections and perspectives of views found at the theological extremities in Christian scholarship).
Foreknowledge is a word used (in different forms) four times in the New Testament; once here in our text concerning the saints, and also in Romans 11:2 in regards to Israel; Acts 2: 23 in regards to Jesus Christ and His crucifixion and 1 Peter 1:2 which also concerns the saints, that is “the elect”. The words “foreknowledge, foreknow, foreknew” are expressed in these two Greek – proginosko and prognosis.
“Proginosko means, ‘to know beforehand’, foresee; also foreordain (as in 1 Peter 1:20 in regards to Christ as the Lamb of God).
“Prognosis means, ‘foreknowledge’ and is one aspect of God’s omniscience (“all-knowing”); it is implied in God’s warnings, promises and predictions. In Acts 15:18 God’s foreknowledge involves His electing grace, but this does not preclude human will. He ‘foreknows’ the exercise of faith that brings salvation. See also Gal. 1:16; Eph. 1: 5, 11” From notes as found in Strong’s Concordance.
It’s often been asked, “Which do you believe: God’s sovereignty or man’s moral agency expressed in his free will?”
My common response is typically, “yes.” Which is passionately protested and the claim is made that I can’t have it both ways.
Yet Scriptures speak of God’s foreknowledge, His predestination (Eph. 1:5, 11); His election (1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1: 10); that all derives from His omnipotence, omniscience and sovereignty, and likewise the Scriptures speak equally of the ‘whosoever will’s’ and the ‘if any man’s’ that supports that we have a choice to make (See also: Matt. 16: 24-25; Luke 9:5; John 6:51; 7: 17, 37; 10: 9; 12: 26, 47, Rom. 10: 9-10 etc.).
Granted, that in ourselves there dwells “no good thing” as we have heard from Paul himself earlier in our study (some have suggested that by receiving salvation with our own will, that would intimate some innate goodness within us, which of course doesn’t exist) – but even a villain will reach out for a life preserver that’s tossed to him in his moment of need as he is nearly drowned in a powerful river stream.
And should any good or merit be attributed as something inherent within us beforehand because we receive salvation through Jesus Christ by our own volition, then might evil be attributed to Adam beforehand because while still in an innocent state there in the Garden, he (and Eve) chose to disobey God?
No one can possibly boast that they had anything to do with their salvation, merely because they received it – any more than a person could brag about how heroic they were in opening the front door (Rev. 3:20) to allow the firemen into their burning house and save them!
At the same time, we understand that because of the naturally sinful heart of man, there is no way possible for him to comprehend God, the Scriptures, the very work of salvation by “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:14) but that he is in dire need of guidance and understanding by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2: 12-13; John 14:26; 15: 26-27; 16: 13-14), whose office is indeed to lead people to Jesus Christ (as well as the Father’s – John 6:44).
I think as we examine the issue of mankind’s ability to choose which way he will go, that God’s sovereignty is even higher, greater and more glorified because in the midst of such power of choice in the minds and hearts of billions of souls living on this planet, His ultimate will shall be fulfilled, precisely as the Scriptures foretell! Heaven will be full of saints, glorifying God, despite the fact that they were all rebels and sinners, but because of God’s grace shed upon them, they willingly came to the cross and were touched there by His almighty love, His majestic grace and His profound peace!
“Predestinate” is the next word to examine, and it’s important that as we consider what this is, we do so in the light of God’s foreknowledge! His foreknowledge enables Him to see what transpires within the confines of time; His predestination is empowered by what He decrees in eternity; both work in conjunction with one another and presents no tension or conflict whatsoever once we understand the vantage points of temporal reality and eternity.
“Predestinate[d]” is found four times in the New Testament as well: twice in our text, and also Eph. 1: 5, and 11. The same Greek word is used in all instances.
Proorizo means, “to limit in advance, to predetermine, to determine before, foreordain”. Such examples are cited here in the following verses: Acts 4: 28; 1 Cor. 2: 7; Romans 8: 29-30 and Eph. 1:5, 11.
In the case of Acts 4: 28, it’s clearly seen that the people mentioned committed such things against the “holy child Jesus” that were determined before by the hand of God. Would this mean that Pontius Pilate had no other choice but to hand down a guilty verdict (despite the pressure from the Sanhedrin for him to do so) or that Judas Iscariot could not have done anything other than to betray his Master?
Or . . . is it in God’s foreknowledge, knowing who Pontius was, and Judas and the Sanhedrin and its members, and elected them to the positions they held, He correctly (since He is incapable of error) anticipated or foresaw what decisions would be made?
The wisdom of God is elaborated upon in 1 Cor. 2:7, specifically that wisdom that was ordained before the world began, that is, plainly speaking, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the cross, which is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1: 18 – 25). It’s so very reassuring that long before Eve ever conversed with the serpent in the Garden (and no, I don’t believe that was some Hebrew allegorical myth!), that the LORD God knew full well what would transpire, and already had the remedy in Mind. Such majesty in the sovereignty of God!
In the references found in Ephesians, we see how predestination has worked in the church of the saints, and secured “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” in accord with His choosing us “in Him before the foundation of the world” (vs. 4) that is, creation – which is extremely pertinent because time is as much a part of this world as is space, and energy and matter, and so on. Again, God, via predestination within the realm of eternity can fix into place, what His foreknowledge perceives what transpires within this ‘capsule of creation’.
Then in vs. 11, it speaks of the obtaining of an inheritance via predestination, and in accord with the LORD who works “all things” after the counsel of His own will. Does this mean that God is the marionette and we are simply puppets being pulled by Divine strings? Were such strings pulled that caused Lucifer to say “I will be like the Most High” and for Adam and Eve to chomp on forbidden fruit? Or is it that, in light of the events that God knew would take place (foreknowledge), He orchestrated His plan that would use such events to bring about (predestine) “the counsel of His own will”?
Such an inheritance granted, and predestined by God, should bring an enormous comfort for the saint who can ‘bank on’ God’s integrity and promise. Later in vs. 13 it speaks of the “earnest” or ‘down payment’ as we would call it – of the Holy Spirit, as an assurance that the LORD will in fact return to redeem the entire possession (our fallen, sinful, corrupt bodies as earlier mentioned in our text).
Then there is the text before us in Romans 8: 29 – 30: It’s interesting to note that where predestination is mentioned in regards to the church, it’s always associated with the ministry of Jesus for His body.
Here in this passage from Romans, and the earlier one in Ephesians, it speaks of saints being “adopted,” “conformed to the image of His Son,” their “justification” and their glorification and their “inheritance”. That once we are “in Christ” as members, baptized into His body, that God’s course is steadfast and true; unalterable it would seem, which is in accord with one of my ‘life verses’:
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [to complete fully] it until the day of Jesus Christ:
In Scofield’s notes he explains about the foreknowledge, predestination and election of God:
“Observe in the last clause of this verse, that God’s purpose not His foreknowledge, is first in the order of the chains of verbs occurring in vv. 28-30.” References on foreknowledge are as follows: Romans 11:2; Acts 2:23; 4:28; 1 Peter 1:20. On predestination: 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:11 and 1 Peter 1:20; and a substantial note based on this last reference from Peter’s epistle:
“The sovereign choice of God is foreordination, election and predestination logically originated in the divine decision based on His eternal omniscience of all possible plans of action. The order logically, not chronologically is omniscience, divine decision (foreordination, election, and predestination) and foreknowledge.
As God’s decision is eternal however, so also His foreknowledge is eternal. As foreknowledge extends to all events, it includes all that is embraced in election, foreordination and predestination. Election is therefore according to foreknowledge and foreknowledge is according to election, meaning that both are in perfect agreement.”
Also notes on Eph. 1: 11:
“Predestination means to mark out or determine beforehand. In Scripture this idea is more inclusive than election. The latter is always limited to those specially chosen of God. But predestination includes the salvation of the elect and also all other acts and events in the universe, to distinguish two classes of decreed events: (1) events divinely caused, such as salvation of the elect; and (2) events divinely permitted. To say that God predestined the evil acts of men does not mean that God caused these acts, for this would make God the author of evil. Rather it means that God, foreknowing how men will act under various circumstances, determined beforehand to permit them to so act; thus making the acts certain to come to pass, as parts of His total plan, yet leaving all men fully responsible for what they do (Luke 22:22).
The Biblical truth of predestination raises difficult intellectual problems, but these cannot be escaped by rejecting predestination and affirming foreknowledge. For, if God foreknows all events, then they are just as certain as if they were predestined.”
And on the doctrine of election:
“In both Testaments the Hebrew and Greek words are rendered ‘elect, election, choose, chosen’. In all cases they mean, simply, chosen or to choose, and are used of both human and divine choices. (1) In the latter use of election is (a) corporate, as the nation of Israel or of the church (Is. 45:4; Eph. 1:4); and (b) individual (1 Peter 1:2). (2) Election is according to the foreknowledge of God (1:2) and wholly by grace, apart from human merit (Romans 9:11; 11:5-6). And (3) election proceeds from the divine volition (John 15:16).
“Election is, therefore (1) the sovereign act of God in grace whereby certain persons are chosen from [eternity] among mankind for Himself (John 15:19); and (2) the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him (Lk. 6:13; Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:27-28)."
God’s foreknowledge is steeped in prophetic relevancies in the Scriptures; for example, it was prophesied that Judas, the son of perdition would betray the LORD for thirty pieces of silver. God in His foreknowledge knew decisions that were Judas made would eventually lead him to the point that Scripture foretells.
Yet even though such was prophesied, Judas bears the full brunt of the responsibilities of his decisions and actions. Judas wasn’t forced by God to do what he did, but he was foreknown by God what he would do, and was by the sovereignty of God divinely permitted to do so.
So we have seen some things about the foreknowledge and predestination that God uses in His relationship with the world and the church; then there is the “called” of God. Everyone that is a believer, disciple, born again saint of God has been called by our Father Who has drawn us to Christ Jesus our LORD and Savior. This calling when it involves persons means “to summon” or “to bid”.
When the LORD Jesus explained to His disciples who the greatest in the kingdom would be, the Scriptures state that He called a small child to Himself (Matt. 18:2), this was likewise a summoning (a different Greek word employed in this verse, but with the essential meaning being the same: “summon”).
There are some that can’t quite place the exact time when God summoned them into the Kingdom; others (like me) can. In any event, this calling results in a dynamic which results in spiritual life – we become justified in Christ Jesus, and just as such justification takes place, the saint can rest assured (by God’s predestined plan for us) that we will be glorified and receive an inheritance! How gloriously wonderful is that??
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
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?
Many people in the world have this image of God as an angry, vengeful Being Who is simply biding His time before He unleashes bolts of lightening and cosmic doom upon them. And certainly, God is angry with the wicked every day (Ps. 7:11), and there is that verse that indicates that God hates all workers of iniquity (Ps. 5:5), but one may certainly be angry with those who are loved, and God’s hatred against such workers of iniquity is because of their unrepentant hearts. These verses taken in light of the beloved verse of John 3:16 reveals that God has shed His love upon the whole world (humanity at large) so that those “whosoever” will believe in Him would not perish.
God is reaching out to the lost and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 33:11). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
Even some Christians feel that God is looking down upon them disparagingly, shaking His head at them with disapproving eyes. Yet if such a one is genuinely in Christ, they are seen by God the Father in the same way as He sees His Holy, Righteous Son.
I like how John MacArthur puts it:
“The atonement on the cross works in such a way, that God looks upon me as though I lived the life of Jesus Christ, and He looked upon Jesus on the cross as though He lived my life.”
His perfect righteousness is transferred to my account while each and every one of my sins was laid to His account! Not just mine of course, but all the sins of the world – all laid to His account!
Tell me that God is ‘against us’ in any way! No, God looks with tremendous favor on His children! He loves us so much that He heaps blessings upon us, and not only that, but also chastens us when we misbehave – all out of a heart of love (for any good father will see to his children and desire to bless them, to see them joyful and filled with the assurance of his love, even when it comes time for some discipline)!
Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
See also Num. 14:8; Ps. 3:6; 20:7; 23:4; 27: 3; Isaiah 12:2 and Hab. 3:18.
God delivered up His own Son for judgment, condemnation and for the suffering of His wrath against the sum total of sin and for us, He has granted “all things” – if this isn’t lop-sided, I don’t know what is! Yet this is the nature of grace (unmerited favor) given by God. He and the Holy Spirit didn’t take a vote on Who of the trinity should go down and die for the sins of the world, and Jesus just got outvoted 2 to 1! No, He went willingly and laid down His own life: He didn’t suffer the death of a martyr, but rather gave His life for the sheep which He loves (John 10:11, 17-18)!
It’s the same God that offered up His only begotten and beloved Son, that offers “all things” for us: and what are “all [those] things”? Cadillac’s? Mansions? Fat bank accounts? Wardrobes so huge it takes a room-sized closet to contain them all?
Why would we want to settle for such paltry pieces of penury when we could partake of “that better part” as did Mary, the sister of Lazarus? That is, the very love of Jesus, His joy, His peace and Presence, His victory over sin in our lives? That “life more abundant” in blessed communion and fellowship with our Savior that has nothing whatsoever to do with our circumstances or situation or possessions, but rest solely upon the ROCK of our SALVATION!
Obviously I don’t mean to say that God can’t or doesn’t bless His children with material blessings; of course He does! However, His heart is that we should esteem these sorts of things lightly – because they are here today and gone tomorrow and can bring no lasting satisfaction; rather that we would esteem such fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship we enjoy in the Father and the Son, and the instilling of the character of Christ in our lives because these things are eternal and bring the true sense of fulfillment and satisfaction – not ‘stuff’.
See Matt. 5: 3-12; 1 Cor. 13: 4-8; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1: 3-6.
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Satan would love to charge and condemn us for every single sin we have ever committed or will commit, but his charges cannot stick to the saint of God who is trusting in Christ and for whom "there is now therefore no condemnation", who has a tender heart of repentance towards the Father, and has in the inner (spiritual) man an abiding hatred for sin (though the flesh yet craves it!).
We are justified, period!
If perhaps Satan may whisper in your ear concerning some sin committed just today, you can readily agree with him in regards to your fault, but then turn right around and confess that sin to the LORD in genuine repentance, and He will faithfully forgive that sin and cleanse you from all (note: not ‘some’ or ‘most’) unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Our faithful High priest does indeed make intercession and has provided reconciliation for us (Heb 2:17-18).This same High priest is also our defense attorney or “advocate”
1 John 2:1-2
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The evidence for our justification is that empty tomb in Jerusalem where Christ Jesus once lay, but only for three days . . . when He rose, having died (not for His own sins – He had none!) for our sins, He by that resurrection proclaimed that our sins have been abolished and He is the victor! Hallelujah! See 1 Cor. 15: 20-23.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Does verse 36 seem to contradict verse 35 to you? Or what about vs. 37 from 36? If God indeed loves us, why then would He allow us to be “killed all the day long”? And “slaughtered”?
And if we are such conquerors, then why is it we would suffer such defeat in martyrdom and death?
The answers are quite simple actually.
The magnificent and marvelous demonstration of God’s love was proven by the cross of Christ, and if saints are tortured, slaughtered and martyred for their faith, this is a test of their love for God, and by the LORD’s grace, He provides the holy resolve to persevere in such dire straits.
The child of God then demonstrates not only their love for the LORD, but the faithfulness of God in providing such things as are necessary to endure such “tribulations or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword”.
We are more than conquerors because of the truth that our victory is not of our own making, and if the enemy would defeat the church, he must do so by defeating the Head of the church, Who Himself seized the victory 2000 years ago on a wooden cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem! Our victory is ‘a done deal’! And as Warren Weirsbe once said: “We fight not for victory, but from victory!”
2 Cor 2:14
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
See also: Psalm 44:5; Matt. 16:18; Lk. 10:19; 1 John 5:4; Rev. 15:2.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul here states that he is “persuaded”, that is, peitho in the Greek: “to be persuaded, convinced, to win over, to trust, believe, to have confidence in, to bring about a change of mind, an actual and outward result of the inward persuasion and consequent faith.”
Such spiritual assurance is secured for every true believer in Jesus Christ, as is amply demonstrated in our text here; also consider:
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
There is nothing in death and any venue that leads to this inevitability that can thwart God’s love from resting upon any of His children. Likewise there is nothing in life what with all the burdens, struggles, temptations, fears and disappointments, or as Hamlet said in his soliloquy -
“Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them... Who would burdens bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?”
- that can deter the love of God from us! No powers residing in the dark hosts of Luciferian forces, as powerful as they may be, can interfere with the love of Christ Jesus our LORD from overwhelming us with an accompanying peace that is easily afforded to the saints! No regrets from the past, no challenges in our present, and no anxieties about our future can keep the love of God from any who come to Him through the LORD Jesus Christ!
1 John 4:9-10
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
It’s no wonder that we love the LORD – considering how good, noble, gentle and full of tender mercies, how holy and pure, righteous and supremely loving He is! Yet the very idea that God would go through all the bother in becoming a man, LEAVING the glories of the holy heaven and all the angelic attendants at His beck and call and enduring such afflictions by being in the presence of sinful, wretched humans who for the most part, gave Him nothing but disdain and mockery and who wanted nothing from Him except His death – just so that He could demonstrate His love for us by being our sacrifice Lamb, slain for our sins! THIS IS THE MARVEL OF THE GOSPEL and the LOVE which is its very heartbeat; the heartbeat of God!
Such love is what we were made for, in fellowship with the living God, and once the church crosses over the great divide of the space/time continuum and steps into eternity, we will no longer “see through a glass darkly” but face to Face – and know the fullness of the love of God experientially, undiluted and everlasting!
1 Cor 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
May we even this day, delve more deeply into the fathomless wells of God’s love, for He delights in our company (as difficult as that may be to imagine: can you picture God getting excited to have us present at His throne of grace in prayer and fellowship?) and longs for such sweet fellowship and communion with His beloved babes and blessed children of His charity!
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
This concludes the study in Romans chapter 8; next time we will enter a new section in this epistle, where Paul addresses the issue of Israel and compares this wayward nation with the present church, of which he is an apostle, and reveals that the LORD has yet some significant plans for the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
After this, Paul gets practical – which he most often does, after laying down the theological foundations of God’s Truth (which he concludes for the most part in chapter 8 for the church; 9 through 11 for Israel).
Until then saints, let us keep ourselves in the love of God! Amen!