Romans 8:29-39- The Never-Ending Love of God
Explanation- We now come to what is known as the golden chain of salvation. It may be beneficial to break this section down piece-by-piece.
Paul begins by saying that, ‘those whom He foreknew.’ At the root of this word ‘foreknew is the word ‘knew,’ which in its proper context implies an intimate knowing. Matthew 1:25 uses this word to convey that Joseph, ‘knew her (speaking of Mary) not until she had given birth to a son.’ The context implies that the knowing that is being referenced here is of an intimate and sexual nature. In Matthew 7:23, we find another when Christ says, ‘…then will I profess unto them, I never knew you…’ It would be foolish to assume that Christ is saying that was previously unaware of this individual’s existence, nor does this knowing involve that of a sexual nature either (as in Mt. 1:25). It is being used to represent an intimate knowing that Jesus has with His people that He does not share with the individual being spoken to. Coupled with the prefix ‘fore,’ we get the idea that the individual being spoken of in this context is one that God had intimately known before time began.
‘Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.’ This is a weighty text. The concept of predestination is one that has been debated for centuries. The word ‘predestined’ literally means to predetermine something. In this case, it would refer to the destiny or outcome of an individual’s life. Those whom God foreknew were predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. This implies that all of those whom God intimately knew before the founding of time were to be set on a direct and unavoidable path that would ultimately lead to being conformed or made into the likeness of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ.
‘Those whom He predestined He also called…’ Having been foreknown and predestined are the first links in this golden chain, but how does the one who has been foreknown and predestined finally come to the fold of Christ. Paul tells us here that there is a call. This call is the definitive point in an individual’s life where they hear the Gospel preached and are moved upon by the Holy Spirit and brought into a regenerative state. As Paul will go on to say in Romans 10:14, ‘How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?’ In the wisdom of God, He has chosen the foolishness of preaching to activate regeneration in the heart of the elect. This is the primary means by which a man who has been foreknown and predestined is called to the fold of Christ.
‘Those whom He called He also justified’ The term ‘justified’ is a legal term which literally means to render one innocent. Though a man may have been known, predestined, and called, there must come a point where God legally dismisses the case that the Law has made against the individual. This was ultimately accomplished when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into glory, but it is applied to the individual at the point of conversion. The finished work of Christ is the means by which our justification finds validity.
‘Those whom He justified He also glorified.’ For the believer, there will come a day when we put off this body of death and are forever united with our Lord in glory. It is then that we will be freed entirely from the bondage of sin and death, and will be given new bodies that will live forever in the presence of God. Christ’s work accomplished on our behalf not only purchased our justification, but it also ensured our glorification. He will not leave His people to the grave but will raise us up to be with Him in an eternal state of glory.
Now, in light of the glorious truth just presented, what shall we say? What else can we say but, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ The same God who foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified us is the same God who provided His own Son to make it all possible. The is the free gift of God, carried out by the Son, delivered by the Spirit, and granted to the elect of God whom He foreknew before the foundation of the world. If God has gone to these lengths to provide redemption for the elect, can we not trust that He is both willing and capable of giving us all things in Christ? And even further, is there anyone who can bring a charge against the one whom God has justified? Who can come into God’s courtroom and bring just accusation against one of His own? Who is able to look Christ in the eye and say that, ‘Your blood was not good enough for this one.’ The answer is a definitive ‘no one.’ Even aside from the accusation of another, is there any one thing that can separate us from the love of God found in Christ? Paul lists off several events, all of which are those of fierce suffering, and carries us to the conclusion that there is not one person, place, thing, event, or happening that can separate us. The fiercest of trials and the most deadly of foes will only draw us nearer to our beloved Savior. For, as Peter said, ‘to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ For the sake of Christ, we are suffering each day, and yet not one of these areas is able to take us from the Father’s grasp. In Christ, we are more than conquerors. In Christ, we are on unshakable, unbreakable, un-take-able ground.
Application- How can we not see the great love of God displayed in these passages? All that He has done to grant us this free gift of salvation is more than we could ever fathom. If we are ever in doubt of the love of God or if we are quick to forget His goodness, then let us often retreat to this passage and find the strength that we need to carry on. In light of this awesome work of God in Christ, Paul labors to express to us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Not death, life, angels, rulers, things present nor things to come, powers, height or depth, or anything else in all of creation is able to take us from God’s love. These are true words and have comforted saints of all ages. We would do well to visit them frequently and keep them close to our hearts.