Roman 8:28 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.
Romans 8:29-30 tell us why everything works out for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (verse 28). Why does everything work out for good? Because He foreknew us and then He predestined us, and then He justified us, and then He glorified us. In other words, if verses 29 and 30 are not true then verse 28 cannot be. Verse 28 is true because what is stated in verses 29-30 is true.
Why does God tell us this? Why are we told that God foreknows us, predestines us, justifies us and glorifies us? Did God inspire the Apostle Paul to write this so that we would fight about the meaning of foreknowledge or predestination or calling? But that is what we do isn’t it? More fights and acrimony over these words than almost anything else in the whole Bible among true believers. But we are not told these things to make us fight. We are not told these things to make ourselves look down on those who have difficulty with it or do not believe it. We are told this so that we will see just how it is that we can know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, why those in Christ are not, will not, and cannot ever be, condemned. We are told these things because they are absolutely crucial to understanding why it can be said of us that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ. What we, as believers are to do with Romans 8:29-30 is not argue with it. We are meant to rejoice in this, find comfort and hope in it and rest in the God who told it.
Why do all things work out for good? Because:
We Are Foreknown:
Romans 3:10b-11 – both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.”
God never, in eternity past or in the present, looked at people who wanted Him and therefore decided to save them. “There is no one who seeks God” – at least not on his own – and not without a powerful work of the Holy Spirit having done a work first. When you seek God it is because God has already done something in you to make it happen.
The point that God is making for us here is that the reason we have an ironclad guarantee that we shall not be condemned and an ironclad guarantee that all things work together for good is that salvation is of the Lord. God does not look into the future and see certain people who are seeking God. He looks into history and sees that there is no one who is righteous and none that seek after God – so He seeks them. He sets His love upon them and knows them as His own and orchestrates their lives and history itself for the sake of winning those whom He foreknew to Himself. And because He did – we know we will not be condemned. We know that all things work together for good. We know we shall be glorified. Our hope is not in us. Our hope is in Him and what he planned to do and what He did to fulfill His plan. If the salvation of sinners is a matter of God waiting for people to come to Him then no one will be saved. You, dear Christian are the result of a pursuing God. The Good shepherd left the ninety-nine and went seeking you. You did not choose Him – He chose you – John 15:16.
Why do all things work out for good? Because:
We Are Predestined to be Conformed to the image of Christ
Dear believer in Jesus Christ – God has determined that those whom He has foreknown shall one day be perfectly like Christ. Do not lose the wonder of this. God has chosen to save you. But it is not just a matter of guaranteeing you a safe place forever. Not sitting on a cloud with a harp forever. Not predestined to just go to heaven. Not predestined to just live forever. No. Far greater than that. You know why all things work together for your good? Because has predestined you to one day be like Christ. You know why the Spirit intercedes for you with groanings that cannot be uttered? Because He is bringing you to be like Christ. You know why you are not condemned? Because God has determined to make you like Jesus Christ. How good is that?
That He Might be the First Among Many Brothers
verse 29b – in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers
Why would God do all this? Why would God set His love upon a people who had no use for Him? Why come for those in whom there was no righteousness, who did not seek God, whose hearts were hearts of stone? Why bother with them? Why predestine them to be conformed to the image of Christ? Answer? God did all this so that His Son might be the first born among many brothers.
So many Christians seem to think and live as if the new heavens and new earth are a very small place. “Us four and no more”. Not at all. Jesus will not be the only one to rise from the dead. He has done a work in paying for sin and His one sacrifice will ring out to the glory of God for eternity from a vast numberless multitude. God has not set His love upon a little group. It is a vast group. It is numberless. It is a great, vast, expansive crowd from every age and from every people, tribe and nation. Satan thought he had won a victory when he convinced Adam and Eve to sin. He thought that he had destroyed the work of God. But no – Satan’s head will be crushed. He shall be defeated. He shall look and see a numberless multitude of people who were born slaves to him but were set free by Jesus. He shall see real joy and people living for the praise of God and all that He has done. And perhaps part of his hell will be that he will spend eternity knowing that after all was said and done – he was never really in the game. He will see that the cross was not his victory, it was Christ’s. It was Satan’s greatest defeat and it will hound him forever that he actually had a part in getting Jesus there. And he will know that he was nothing more than a pawn in the hands of God.
And dear believer, the way those people are going to be part of that vast crowd is by hearing the Gospel – from us. The people in your life are there because God put them there – to be an influence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in deed and in word.
Our vision for our church is that it become more like Christ, by His grace, for His glory. This is what we are predestined for – so that Jesus will be the firstborn among many brothers. We can do this. It is why God has saved us. He has not called us to attempt something that cannot be done. He has known us. He has predestined us. He has called us. He has justified us. He has glorified us. The God who did all that will help us today. And tomorrow. And forever.
You should fight that relentless temptation in the knowledge that God has called you for something better than committing that sin. You should forgive that one who has sinned against you in the knowledge that you are predestined to be like Christ and Jesus would most certainly forgive him – and most likely already has. You should repent of your sins knowing that Jesus came with His sights set on you to give you final victory over sin and to be conformed to him for eternity alongside of more people than you can imagine.
There is nothing that more greatly spurs us on to holiness and obedience than knowing that this is what God is doing in us by His power and grace.