— Martin Luther (1483-1546).
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 8: 28 – 31
(28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) 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. (30) 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. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Verse 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. To the groaning children of God the Holy Ghost here speaks to them precious words of comfort. Almighty God is absolutely sovereign over all things and He causes and assures all things to work together for the good of His people. And Paul is speaking of all the saints of God, including himself, when he says, “we know.” We know it because our Lord has said it and always “Thy Word is truth” (John , 19). We do not suppose, or hope, or conjecture about it, for as it is based on our Lord’s Word, all the saints of God have confident assurance (Phil. 1: 6). We also know it, because the penmen throughout the Word of God have written of it. And, thank God, we know it because we have been “taught of God” (John 6:45), experiencing it ourselves in our daily lives, and what a man knows by Divine teaching he knows forever, and he can not be persuaded out of the possession of it. The saints of God know it by personal experience — know it with a knowledge that the Holy Ghost burns into our hearts and affections (Luke ). We can set our seal to the grand truth that all things under the government of an infinitely great, all-wise, righteous, beneficent, sovereign Lord God, both in the world, and in the true Church, and in the history of each member of the Church, work together for our good.
Many commentators, as well as many of our readers believe that the “all things” God gives His elect include only what Paul discusses in the first 32 verses of this 8th chapter: no condemnation; freedom from the law of sin and death; righteousness; leadership by and indwelling of His Spirit; the witness of the Holy Ghost; joint heir-ship with Christ as heirs of God; deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God; the resurrection; salvation; patience; the Spirit’s intercession for us; the knowledge that all things work together for good to them that love God; predestination; conformity to the image of God’s Son; Divine, effectual calling; Justification; Glorification; God’s gracious good will toward His people in that He is for them instead of against them and protects them from all that is against them; and, the culminating glory of glories, the fact that He spared not His own darling Son, but delivered Him up for all the elect!
A glorious list it is yet, this is not nearly all of the “all things” which the Lord freely gives His people. Continuing in our same chapter, the apostle enumerates tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, the sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, and — to assure nothing is left out — any other creature (vs. 35-39). The “all things” of verse 28, the “all things” of verse 32, and the “all these things” of verse 37 are all included. Fortune and misfortune, good report and evil report, are included. The power of God is over them all as the unbroken sweep of His providence controls and uses all (Psa. 103: 19). That God created, formed, governs and controls all things is said throughout the Scripture in so many ways, “I am the Lord that maketh all things” (Isa. 44:24). “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things (Rom. ). “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things” (Heb. ). He is the source of all things. He is the cause of all things. He is their end — their sole reason for existing. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. ). “All things” means all things, and all things are embraced by God’s predestination, His eternal counsel, and His unchanging will (Dan. ). In His providence God works all things after the counsel of His own will. He does just as He pleases, with everything (Job -14). Nothing whatever escapes His predetermination (Isa. 40: 10-17). All things that we enjoy, all things that we are deprived of, all that we do, all that we suffer, our loses, troubles, miseries, distresses, that the apostle cites in the following verses, “work together for our good” — together with one another, and all with and in subordination unto the power, grace, and wisdom of God.
“That ‘all things’: (1) God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (2) all good angels, rulers, and ministers, (3) all evil beings such as Satan, (4) all good events such as peace, prosperity, health, happiness, and (5) all bad events such as war, famine, sorrow, sickness, and death” (Henry Mahan).
“That all things work together for good” — that all that occurs in the Lord’s government of His people conspires for, and works out, and results in, their highest happiness, their greatest good. How this has shown itself in the history of the
. The darkest epochs of her history have ever been those from which her brightest luster has arisen. Take the gloomiest and most painful circumstances in the history of the child of God — Joseph as an example. Speaking to his brothers, he says “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20). The envy of his brothers, his being thrown in a pit and marked for death, his being sold as a slave, his imprisonment, were all working out of God’s purpose and plan of wisdom and love. Who could have foreseen and predicted that from these untoward events the exaltation, power, and wealth of Joseph would spring? (Gen. 45: 3-8). All of these things are not only present and operate in believers and toward believers, but they all co-operate under God’s direction and control to fulfill His purpose in us. Everything and all things that happen to a believer are for his good. It is not so much for present comfort, ease, and joy, but for eternal good. It’s all designed to bring us to Christ, make us like Him, for eternity. This is what all things working together is to accomplish (Eph. -12). Even the very sins of believers work for their good. By it the believer’s pride is checked; they are broken and made to cry out to God in real prayer, and they are induced to think charitably of others. Oh, dear saints of God, to what wicked depths would we go in pride and blasphemies were it not for the check of sin? How long would we go in our prayerlessness were it not for the breaking of our hearts by sin? Yes, by grace we hate and detest all sin which is such an abomination to God. We are everywhere warned against it in the Holy Scriptures, often chastened for it, and yet it is overruled for our good. But we caution all readers; even sin shall work together for good — not for them that love sin, but only for them who truly love God. Let us dare not think we can sin that grace may abound. Such a one is not a saint. He is not a child of God. He is but a child of the Devil. Church of God
“To them that love God” describes to whom this wondrous and gracious providence is limited to in its operation. Love to God is the grand distinctive feature of the true Christians (1 Cor. ). The very reverse marks all the unregenerate who dread God and attempt to hide from Him (Gen. 3: 8-10), are enemies of Jehovah (Rom. 5:10), and haters of Him (Rom. 1:30). But the saints are those who love the God of the Bible (Mark -33). They once were “by nature children of wrath, even as others,” at enmity with God, but the regeneration through which they have passed has effected this great change and now they love and adore Him (1 John ). The Holy Ghost has supplanted the old principle of enmity by the new principle of love and they love Him as revealed in Christ (John ). We love our Predestinating, Sovereign God; a Holy God that saves and glorifies according to His will. While in our depraved, natural condition we could not endure this God, we now rejoice that He has reconciled us unto Himself, and we cry, “Abba, Father.” By grace we now love what He loves and hate what He hates. Now that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith we desire to comprehend what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know His love which passeth knowledge (Eph. -19). There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which the saints do not love Him. But let us not lose sight of the source of this love: “We love him because he first loved us” (1 John ). Thus the motive of love to God as much springs from Him, as the power to love Him.
“To them that are called according to his purpose” describes another characteristic of the children of God. This is that inward effectual calling of which the apostle speaks of in Romans 1: 6-7. (Refer to our comments there). “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ . . . beloved of God, called to be saints.” Oh, what a glorious call is this. The call comes, first, in our awakening and in the conviction of our guilty, wretched, lost and undone condition. It reveals our own righteousness as filthy rags and the need of perfect righteousness. It shows us that only the righteousness of Christ is perfect and will satisfy the just demands of a Holy God. It points to Christ as the refuge of sinners, the sinner’s Substitute, and casts us at His feet in pleading for mercy (Luke ). Wherever there is effectual calling the Holy Ghost has been to enlighten the understanding, and to open the heart to receive the call (Eph. ). Oh, to hear the sweet gentle voice of the Son of God in the deep recesses of the soul — to feel the drawings of our Saviour’s love upon the heart — to have listened to our Father’s persuasive assurance of His love that has forgotten all our enmity, forgiven all our rebellion, called us to be saints, His holy ones — called us to be sons, the Father’s adopted ones — Oh, this is surely a calling worthy of God, and demanding in return our supremest, deepest affection (1 Cor. 1: 26-29).
This call is “according to his purpose,” therefore if is a calling over which we have no control, either in originating it or frustrating it. There is no ground for the flesh to boast here. “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. ). It excludes any and all ideas of merit on the part of the called. “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1: 9). The saints thankfully ascribe our saving call and salvation to Almighty God’s eternal purpose, abhorring even the thought of self-boasting. We know that we are the recipients of this favor, distinguished only by the sovereign will and most free grace of the holy Lord God who has called us (1 Cor. 4: 7).
Those who only know a call or offer by ministers in their free-will message; the calls that providences have made; or the calls of conscience, are deceived if they take that as their hope. Only by the Spirit calling you with an inward and effectual calling is salvation wrought. Have you been called, spiritually called from darkness to light (1 Pet. 2: 9), from death to life (John 5: 24), from sin to holiness (1 Thes. 4: 7), from the world to Christ (John 15: 19), from self to God (Matt. 10: 38-39)? Examine your heart and ascertain.
Verse 29 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. “Whom He did foreknow” are plainly “the called according to our Lord’s purpose” of our previous verse. Some interpreters consider the word “foreknow” to mean merely foresee but the word refers not simply to the Divine prescience. It is true that God possesses perfect knowledge of all creatures and events for everything, past, present, and future is fully known to Him. He can never be taken by surprise whatever may happen, for, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). But it is not His knowledge of future events or choices (of what people would do, etc.) which is referred to here. It is not God’s fore view of what man will do or choices man will make which will cause God to choose them that is before us. God’s foreknowledge of the future is founded not on men at all, but upon His determination of His will concerning it. The decree of God precedes His foreknowledge as stated in, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). God foreknows everything that will be, because He has ordained everything that shall be (Prov. 8: 22-29). For God to foreknow is for God to fore-ordain (1 Pet. 1: 2) — fore-appoint by God from all eternity (Acts 13:48). Not only does He know all, but He has fixed and appointed, and ordered “all things after the counsel of His own will.”
“For whom He did foreknow” is clearly relating not to things or actions of people, but to the persons themselves (Rom. 11: 2). He foreknew their persons — the persons of them who were “the called according to our Lord’s purpose.” They were from all eternity the objects of His discriminating love, and He had given them to Christ to save to the uttermost. The foreknowledge of the elect by the Father simply means that His heart of love was fixed upon them from everlasting, and that His determination is to have them as His friends and companions throughout the eternal ages. All the called according to His purpose — the elect — are the objects of God’s everlasting love. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). His foreknowledge is one of sovereign love and distinguishing goodness. The foreknowledge upon which the election to salvation is based is not foreseen faith. Nowhere does the Scripture speak of God foreseeing or foreknowing our repentance and faith: it is always foreknowledge of persons and never of acts — “whom He did foreknow” and not “what He did foreknow.” As for faith, the gift that God works in the hearts of the elect (Eph. 2:8), Peter asserts that election is unto faith, which he defines as obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:2). Look at God’s order as shown in the 28th and 29th verses — Foreknown — Predestinated — Called — Justified — Glorified. All by His sovereign grace in every part.
“He also did predestinate.” Predestination, in its lowest sense, is understood to mean the exclusive agency of God in producing every event. But in its higher sense it is God’s predeterminant appointment and fore-arrangement of a thing before it happens, according to His Divine and supreme will. “For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4: 28). “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1: 5). The Scripture as a whole bears testimony to the fact that God is, and is Lord over all. Disconnected from the will and purpose of God there could be nothing certain as to the future, and consequently there could be nothing certainly foreknown. Predestination is but God’s determining will, and its application is directly to salvation and eternal life (Rom. 9: 15-24).
Let those who attempt to say that the nation of physical Israel is the elect be corrected by Scripture which nowhere asserts the children of Israel to be elected, or chosen, to eternal life. They were chosen to particular privileges as the ordained channel through which God’s subsequent revelations were to flow, but in-so-far as spiritual or eternal blessings are concerned, all were not Israel who were of Israel, and the two elections, the natural and the spiritual, may be seen to exist independent of each other. Consult the following Scriptures that show the beauty and force of a predestinated Church, and each individual member of that true Church: Eph. 1:4; Acts 13:48; 1 Thes. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13; Rev. 16:8; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:2; Matt. 25: 34. This is but a small number out of a huge number, too many to list, in proof of this wonderful doctrine of Scripture.
“Predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.” This is the sum of what the elect are predestinated to — viz., to be conformed to the image of His Son, to be made like His Son, and to have communion with Him in His holiness and happiness. Even here in our sojourn upon this earth the true believer “puts on Christ” (Gal. 3: 27); “the mind that was in Him” (1 Cor. 2: 16) is in them; they are in the world as He was in the world” (John 17: 16); and “when He shall appear, they shall be like Him” (1 John 3: 2) — even their vile bodies being changed and fashioned, so as to be “like unto his glorious body.” “As they have borne the image of the earthly” Adam — the first man of earth, “so shall they bear the image of the heavenly” Adam — “the Lord from Heaven” (Phil. 3: 21; 1 Cor. 15: 49). They are predestinated to be conformed to His Son in His death; in dying to sin and the world, and in His resurrection being quickened from their death in trespasses and sins — also assuring their bodies will be raised. “Christ the first-fruits, and afterwards those that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15: 23). They are conformed to Christ in His justification. When Christ rose, He was justified, and believers in this justification partake with Him in His justification (Rom. ). They are conformed to Christ in His relation to the Father in His Sonship, and are made also the children of God, so that they are His children, only Christ is the first-born among them. They are conformed to Christ in the Father’s love to Him, and are made partakers with Him in it as members. They are conformed to Christ in His being heir of the world, and they are joint-heirs. They are conformed to Christ in His exaltation and glorification, for He and they shall be glorified together. They are conformed to Him in ascension into Heaven; they shall also ascend. They are conformed to Him in the glorification of His body, for their bodies shall be made like unto His glorious body. They are conformed to Him in His enjoyment of the Father in heaven: they by being members of Him partake with Him in His enjoyment of the Father’s infinite love, and in His joy in the Father, His joy is fulfilled in them, and the glory which the Father has given Him, He has given them. They are conformed to Him in His reigning over the world as they sit with Him on His throne. They shall be conformed unto Him in His judging the world, for the saints shall judge the world, yea, they shall sit with Christ in judging angels. This glory, this excellency and happiness that consists in the saints being conformed to Christ, is the sum of the good that they are predestinated to, and the whole of their conformity to Christ is what the apostle has respect to, and not only their being made like Him in conversion and sanctification. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Cor. 3: 18).
While our completed conformity to the image of God’s Son will be perfected in Heaven, it begins here in when we are born again and we experience conformity of nature. The Son of God, by an act of Divine power, became human; — the saints of God, by an act of sovereign grace, become divine — “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1: 4). Thus grafted into Christ, we grow up into Him in all holy resemblance. The meekness, the holiness, the patience, the self-denial, the zeal, the love, traceable — faint and imperfect indeed — in us, are transfers of Christ’s beauteous and faultless lineaments to our renewed soul. Thus the mind that was in Him is in some measure in us (Phil. 2: 5). And in our moral conflict, battling as we do with sin, and Satan, and the world, we come to know a little of the fellowship with His sufferings, and conformity to His death.
“How may I arrive at a correct conclusion that I am amongst the predestinated of God? — that I am included in His purpose of grace and love? — that I have an interest in the Lord’s salvation? The passage under consideration supplies the answer — conformity to the image of God’s Son. Nothing short of this can justify the belief that we are saved. No evidence less strong can authenticate the fact of our predestination. The determination of God to save men is not so fixed as to save them be their character what it may. Christ’s work is a salvation from sin, not in sin. ‘According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy’ (Eph. 1: 4). In other words, that we should be conformed to the Divine image. That we should be like Christ.” (Octavius Winslow).
“That he might be the firstborn among many brethren” — that He might be glorious and happy in having so numerous, glorious, and blessed a family — that He may appear among them as the First-begotten, and Head of the many brethren which shall constitute the family of God. The Son of God sustains to us the relation of the Elder Brother. He is the Firstborn and He is the “Brother born for adversity.” Our relation to Him as our Brother, is evidenced by our conformity to Him as our Model — resemblance to His image. He is the “Firstborn” and the brotherhood is vast — “many brethren.” The number will be vast for the one family of God is composed of “many brethren.” Begotten of one Father, in the nature of the Elder Brother, and through the regenerating grace of the one Spirit, all the saints of God constitute one Church, one family, one brotherhood — essentially and indivisibly one. And the final end that is more ultimate than the glorification of the people of God; it is that which is concerned with the preeminence of Christ (Col. 1: 15, 18).
“The predestination and calling have for their object, that His glory, and excellence, and happiness, might be imparted to a vast multitude, and still all the glory, excellence, and happiness appear to be coming forth from Him. God calls His people to glory. He appoints His Son, as their Elder Brother, to lead them to glory. In bringing them to glory, He is determined to conform them to the image of His Son — to make them like Him; and the ulterior object is, to reflect transcendent glory on Him whom He delights to honor, and ‘who in all things must have the pre-eminence,’ that He might ‘see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied’ — ‘see His seed, and prolong His days,’ and at last present to the Father, the children given Him ‘a glorious Church,’ completely conformed to His own image, ‘not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing’ (Col. 1: 18; Isa. 53: 10-11; Eph. 5: 27). . . . It is the purpose of God — a purpose hanging on no contingency, that all His called ones shall be conformed to the image of His Son, first in suffering, and then in glory. Nothing can interfere with the execution of this purpose. This is the ‘good of God’s chosen’ (Psa. 106: 5), and all things must work together for it. God’s counsel ‘shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure’ — all ‘the good pleasure of His goodness,’ in the final happiness of His chosen (Isa. 46: 10; 2 Thes. 1: 11)” (John Brown).
Verse 30 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. The work of mercy originates in God’s predestinating His elect people to be conformed to the image of His Son. This is called “His purpose according to election” (Rom. 9: 11), His sovereign purpose, His determination. “He has mercy because He wills to have mercy (Rom. 9: 15). He has chosen His people before the foundation of the world, and “predestinated” them “to the adoption of children.” Before there was any world a covenant of grace and mercy was entered into between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the evidences of which covenant are abundant in the New Testament, and the parts to be performed by each Person of the God-head are clearly expressed, viz.: The Father’s grace and love in agreeing to send the Son, His covenant obligation to give the Son a seed, His foreknowledge of this seed, His predestination concerning this seed, His justification and adoption of them here in time (1 John 4: 9; John 17: 2; Eph. 1: 3-12; 1 Cor. 6: 11).
The eternal Son bare the obligation to assume human nature in His Incarnation, voluntarily renouncing the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, and in this Incarnation of humility to become obedient unto the death of the Cross. The consideration held out before Him, as a hope set before Him, inducing Him to endure the shame of the Cross, and the reward bestowed upon Him because of that obedience, was His resurrection, His glorification, His exaltation to the royal priestly throne and His investment to the right of judgment (Gal. 4: 4; Phil. 2: 5-11). And then the Holy Ghost’s covenant-obligations were to apply this work of redemption in calling, convicting, regenerating, sanctifying and raising from the dead the elect seed promised to Christ. Our Lord’s plan of salvation was an eternal plan and the roots of it are in election and predestination before the world was, and the fruits of it are in eternity after the judgment. Every one that God chose in Christ is drawn by the Holy Ghost to Christ. Every one predestinated is called by the Spirit in time, and justified in time, and will be glorified when our Lord comes (John 16: 8-11; John 3: 3, 5; Rom. 8: 11; 1 John 2: 20, 27; Rom. 15: 16) .
Now “whom He did predestinate, them he also called.” It is the predestinated, the elect, that’s called, and it is HE, God Himself, who does the calling — He is the Author of it. That the “call” here is not an external call is made known from its results, viz., justification and glorification. This is a special, inward, effectual call, which has found its way to the heart of the sinner by the power of the Holy Ghost. “And that he might make known the riches of his glory in the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called” (Rom. 9: 22-23). In regeneration God quickens and calls a sinner who is absolutely passive (as Paul on the road to Damascus) and God gives him ears to hear and eyes to see His glory in the Person of Christ in the Gospel (Eph. 2: 1). And the second phase of that calling is what Christ does in a sinner’s saving conversion. Christ, through His great power, does but speak the powerful word and it is done, He does but call and the heart of the sinner immediately comes: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6: 37). “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live” (John 5: 25). The first moment they have new life is the moment Christ calls, and a being called and converted are spoken of in Scripture as the same thing (Heb. 3: 1). It is through this calling that the sinner comes to true repentance, is filled with sorrow after God, comes to the Water of Life to drink, and to the Bread of Life to eat, is translated from darkness into light, from the state of enmity into that of reconciliation with God, and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and is saved (Matt. 9: 13; Acts 2: 39). If Christ speaks to us and causes His mighty Word to reach our inmost hearts, we will repent, come to Him, believe, and follow Him, for as He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 19: 27).
This calling is the sure outcome of God’s election and Christ’s redemption, and is by Grace only: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace , which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 2:9). The Lord’s people are called out of the “darkness” of sin and degradation into God’s marvelous “light” (1 Pet. 2: 9). As bond-slaves to sin and Satan, we are called into liberty — we become Christ’s freemen, those whom His Spirit and truth have made free. “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty” (Gal. 5: 13). It is also a call into fellowship. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1: 9); called into oneness with Christ.
Effectual calling is the result of the operation of the Holy Ghost, whereby we are convinced of the sinfulness of sin as sin, and of guilt and wrath; whereby our understandings are enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, our will bowed, and our heart inclined to embrace Christ as our Saviour and obey Him as our Lord and King. It is a holy calling (2 Tim. 1: 9); a high and heavenly calling (Phil. 3:14); an irresistible calling (Rom. 11: 29); an experimental call (Acts 9: 3-6).
“This Divine calling is always effectual. This does not mean that the preacher may expect that all who come under the external preaching of the Word are also called unto salvation. Always there is a twofold effect; the preaching is a savor of death unto death, as well as a savor of life unto life. But the elect are surely called. They receive the hearing ear, the seeing eye, the willing heart. They hear the Word of God and they tremble. They are sorry for their sins, and repent. They cry out, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner,’ and receive forgiveness. They hear the voice of Jesus say to them personally, ‘Come unto me, and I will give you rest!’ And they come to Him and do find rest. They hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and know that they are of His sheep. And they follow Him, and He gives them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of His hand. For the gifts of God and the calling are without repentance. ‘For whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified’ (Rom. 8: 30). We are called by irresistible grace unto virtue and eternal glory” (Herman Hoeksema).
“And whom he called, them he also justified.” He pardons them; He receives them into His favor; He deals with them as righteous in His Son. Those whom God appointed unto salvation, He calls by His effectual grace; and those that He calls by His Spirit, He justifies through His Son (Rom. 5: 19). All the blessing of grace and glory are to every believer; for all such are in the Lord Jesus Christ, beloved, justified, and saved in the sight of God (Rom. 3: 19-22). Justification is the act of God whereby we become righteous before Him. He declares us free from all sin and guilt and perfectly righteous, so righteous as if we had never had any sin, as if we had always perfectly kept His every commandment (2 Cor. 5: 21). God inscribes His verdict in our hearts so that we are conscious of it, assured of our righteousness before Him Col. 1: 21-23). And, yet, in ourselves we are but corrupt sinners, worthy of damnation. And the marvel of justification is that such a sinner is declared righteous before God, and hears the verdict that he has no sin, that all his sins are blotted out and forgiven (Rom. 4: 6-8), that he is clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ that makes him worthy of eternal life and glory. As an ungodly sinner we are justified by the free grace of God in the imputed righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4: 5). The sinner is saved, the ungodly justified, the condemned are acquitted, upon the basis of an atonement that should not compromise the righteousness of the Divine government, but would so harmonize all the attributes of God, meet all the claims of justice, holiness, and truth, so that “mercy and truth are meet together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psa. 85: 10). “We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom. 5: 11).
To justify, in its fullest sense, is to account guilty, elect sinners just before God —release from all condemnation (Rom. 5: 9). But it is important that we avoid the error of the Church of Rome by mixing the great doctrine of justification with other truths. We must clearly distinguish it from the doctrinal truth of sanctification. Closely connected as they are, yet they entirely differ. Justification is a change of our state; sanctification a change of our condition. By justification we pass from guilt to righteousness (Rom. 10: 4), by sanctification we pass from sin to holiness (1 Pet. 1: 15). In justification we are brought near to God; in sanctification we are made like God. Justification places us before Jehovah in a condition of non-condemnation; while sanctification transforms us into His image. The Catholics blend the two together and teaches the error of imputed sanctification, while the Scriptures teach imputed justification (Phil. 3: 9). Also, justification is to be distinguished from pardon, for it is a higher act. By the act of pardon we are saved from Hell; but by the decree of justification, we are brought to Heaven. Pardon discharges the soul from punishment; justification places in the hand of the regenerated sinner a title-deed to glory.
Our Lord Christ is emphatically the justification of all the predestinated and called people of God. “By him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13: 39). He took the place of His elect people, the Church. For this He became the Son of man, was made under the Law (Gal. 4: 4-5). The Lord of lords, consenting to be brought under His own Law, in the place of His elect — the Law-giver becoming the Law-fulfiller. He humbled Himself, and as the sacrificial Lamb, took upon Himself the sins of His people that He should “bear their iniquities,” and that He should “justify many” (Isa. 53: 11). By a change of place with the elect, Christ becomes the “Lord our Righteousness” (Jer. 33: 16), and we are made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5: 21). Here is the transfer of our sin to our innocent Substitute, and in return, the transfer of His perfect righteousness to guilty sinners.
Justification is by faith, is a fruit of electing love, through it this great blessing of justification becomes our. “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3: 23-24). God-given faith alone makes this righteousness of God ours. “By him all that believe are justified.” And the Word of God tells us “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace” (Rom. 4: 16). We are “justified freely by his grace” (Rom. 3: 24); that is, gratuitously — absolutely for nothing. Our sovereign God justifies sinners by a perfect act of grace on His part, and as a perfect gratuity on the part of the sinner — having “nothing to pay.”
God gift of faith harmonizes the outward act of God with the inward feelings of the believing heart so that in justification the heart of the Justifier and the heart of the justified beat in the most perfect and holy unison. Faith wrought in the heart is not an act on the part of God meeting no response on the part of the sinner (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3: 26). The heart of the believer flows out in gratitude after God’s heart, reaching out to Him in the mightiness and majesty of its saving love; and both meet in Christ, Mediator between God and man. By this the believer becomes conscious of a vital union with his justifying Lord Christ, and feels that he is one with Him. The righteousness wrought out, is by faith wrought in the soul, and that faith is the uniting grace of a real, personal union between the justified soul, and our risen, living Saviour and Lord.
“And whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Glorification is usually considered as the state of the saints in Heaven, but, though it certainly embraces this, it is not confined to it. The glorifying of the children of God is involved in the conforming them to the image of Christ. Christ is the model of our glory. To be like Him, in holiness and happiness, is to be glorious, and it is the ultimate design of God predestinating us to Himself. Even in this world the saints are glorified and are like mirrors reflecting His glory (2 Cor. 3: 18; 4: 6). In regeneration we are made to think, feel, and act like Christ. We are admitted to fellowship with Him in His Spirit, and His joy is in us. The glory which the Father gives Christ, He gives to His people (John 17: 22); and in Heaven they shall be completely conformed to Him in soul, body, and spirit. The saints shall “appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3: 4); they “shall sit with Him on His throne” (Rev. 3: 21); and “reign with Him for ever and ever” (2 Tim. 2: 12; Rev. 22: 5), thus receiving a “far more exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4: 17).
God’s foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification of His people form five links in an unbreakable chain of salvation. The invincibility of God’s purpose is the guarantee that all poor sinners whom He has quickened to new life in Christ shall certainly experience future and eternal glory, for God’s purpose of grace cannot be thwarted by the will of the creature. Eternal election is the spring of grace and eternal glory is its consummation. All the children of God, predestinated in His purpose, and regenerated by His power, shall spend an eternity of blessedness with Him in His glorious home above. The Scripture throughout presents much evidence of the sure glorification of those who are “accepted in the Beloved.” The mother of Samuel gave a striking view of the saints’ future exaltation: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to sit them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory” (1 Sam. 2:8). The troubled Asaph gave the same truth: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory” (Psa. 73: 24). The Apostle Paul, referring to his own experience, says, “I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Tim. ). Too, the Scripture teaches us that future glory is connected with present calling: “That they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Heb. 9: 15). Our union with the Lord Christ secures it: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1: 27); “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3: 4). Christ dwelling in us is our Heaven below, and to dwell with Christ eternally will be our Heaven above. Our Lord’s Prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory (John 17: 24). And what are the saints of God but the precious “vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9: 23).
The heart and essence of this state of glory for which we hope and which is the ultimate realization of the wonder of God’s grace in Christ Jesus our Lord is perfect fellowship with God as His friends and servants. To be in His family, to dwell in His house, to taste that He is good, to enter into His secrets, to know Him even as we are known, to see Him face to face, to love Him and be loved by Him, to walk and talk with Him in the most intimate communion, and then to consecrate ourselves and all things to Him as His servants, to have our delight in His perfect will, and to sing His glory and the song of the Lamb for ever — that is the heart of the Heavenly blessedness for which we look (2 Pet. 3: 13)..
We shall be changed, made spiritually, ethically perfect, made like Christ, that we may see Him as He is. The expansion and perfection of our intellectual faculties will result in a consequent enlargement and perfection of knowledge. The mind is the medium through which the first communications of the Spirit are received. A true knowledge of ourselves has led to a saving knowledge of Christ; and a knowledge of Christ has laid the foundation of all the joy, and peace, and hope the soul has experienced. And as our spiritual knowledge increases — the mind becomes more and more informed in Divine truth — there is a corresponding and proportioned increase of the blessing which an experimental acquaintance with the truth yields. If our progress in spiritual knowledge is an accession to our happiness here, what hereafter will be the happiness rushing into our glorified souls?
But a still higher element will be the perfect holiness of the glorified. Our battle with indwelling sin shall be over. “These are they which follow the Lamb whither-so-ever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they were without fault before the throne of God” (Rev. 14: 4-5). The absence of all evil will be another feature of the coming glory. Take the long catalogue of ills we suffer here — the cares that corrode, the anxieties that agitate, the sorrows that depress, the bereavements that wound, the diseases that waste, the temptations that assail — in a word, whatever pains a sensitive mind, or wounds a confiding spirit: and as you trace the sad list, think of glory as the place where not one of these shall enter. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21: 4). And the presence of all good will take the place of the absence of all evil. And in the foreground of this picture of glory we place the full, unclouded vision of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see Him now through the eye of faith and, oh, how lovely He appears! “O, my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely” (S of S 2: 14). These are happy moments but in glory we shall see Him fully as He is — where we see Him face to face for ever. With this unveiled sight of the glorified Redeemer, will be associated the certain reunion and perfected communion of all the glorified saints. Our sanctified relationships and sacred friendships with our brethren and sisters on earth is a high enjoyment. But in that land that is fairer than day we shall meet again all from whom in faith and hope we parted — whom we love in Christ — and who in Him have fallen asleep. “For we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they” (Acts 15: 11). Yes! We shall meet them again in closer, fonder, purer friendship.
Finally, there is the glorified body of the saints — so changed that it will be “fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body” (Phil. 3: 21). “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3: 2). All of this transformation of ourselves and all things will be accomplished only by the wonder of God’s grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 31 What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? What shall we say in addition to these things that have been said concerning God’s eternal plan in the total safety and security of the saints of God in our Lord Christ? The question supposes the existence of a combined and powerful hostility to the people of God (John 15: 18-19). “What shall we say to these things?” None have the answer save the child of God, and he has it because the Lord gave it to him. If we are in Christ our Lord; if there is no condemnation for us; if we are really liberated from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit of life; if the Spirit of Christ dwells in us; if by the Spirit we are led so that we mortify the deeds of the body; if we are children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, so that we look forward to an inheritance so great and glorious that even all the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with it; if even our creation stands with uplifted head, groaning and travailing in pain, looking for the glorious liberty of the children of God; if we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, and earnest of the full harvest, and groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body; if the Spirit groans within us, when we know not what to pray for as we ought, helping our infirmities, and if He that searcheth the hearts always hears the groanings of the Spirit; if in God’s eternal and unchangeable foreknowledge He ordained us to be made like unto the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; if He called, justified, glorified us; if all things must surely work together for good to them that love God — what is the conclusion, the all-comprehensive answer to every possible question you may further ask in the midst of the world?
The Scripture gives the answer, “God is for us”! And if God be for us, “nothing and no one can be against us!” God is on our side. That this triumphant confession is made in the midst of the world, of the things of this present time, of the powers of opposition, is evident from the phrase: “who can be against us.” Many are the influences that appear to be against us. Many are our enemies that seem to be able to harm and destroy us. These are all the powers of darkness; there is Satan and his hosts; there is the world and its hatred, temptation, and its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life, its power and persecution; there is the power of sin, within us, without us, of guilt that makes us the objects of the condemnation, of corruption by which we increase our guilt daily; there is the operation of the wrath of God in our very world, the sufferings of this present time, death. But God is on our side over against all these powers of darkness. By “God being for us,” we are to understand, the reverse of His being against us — not at variance with us, but reconciled to us; not our enemy, but our friend; on our side against all our enemies (Isa. 41: 11-13).
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” God, the living God, He that is really God is for us, is on our side, works in our behalf. “The Lord of hosts is the God of [his people], even a God to [his people].” He, all-powerful, all-wise, righteous, faithful, and kind to His people. How can they be in real danger, or real misery, who have infinite power to guard them, infinite wisdom to guide them, infinite holiness and benignity to be their portion for ever? God is our God in relation to us; in relation to all things; in relation to all the powers of opposition and darkness. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (Psa. 27: 1)? He is the absolute supreme Judge of Heaven and earth from Whose verdict there is no appeal and Who most surely executes His own judgments; as He is for us, He will surely justify us and clothe us with His own righteousness. He is the Creator of all things in the whole universe, Who made all things strictly according to His sovereign good pleasure, calling the things that were not as if they were; as He is for us, He surely created all things with a view to our eternal salvation and adapted to it. He is the sovereign Ruler over all, Who sustains and governs all things according to His own purpose, so that there is nothing that betides against His will, but all things operate according to His good pleasure, things great and small, things good and evil, even the powers of darkness, of the devil, of sin and death; as He is for us, He rules all things in our behalf, and surely all things must tend to our eternal salvation. He is for us by His eternal covenant, His incarnation in grace, and His death for ungodly sinners.
God, Who is the Almighty, so that He is not merely stronger than all our enemies, but all power in Heaven and on earth, even the power of the forces of darkness, is His. God, Who is the all-wise, Who arranged all things according to His sovereign purpose, so as to be perfectly adapted to the salvation of His own in Christ Jesus our Lord, and executes that purpose without fail. God, Who is the Amen, the Alpha and Omega, the Unchangeable, with Whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, the Faithful. And since He is for us, He was and is and shall be for us forever! RCLVC.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 8: 28 – 31.
Verse 28. We know that all things work together for good. Notice: 1. The Divine purpose. 2. The Divine calling. 3. The Divine principle. 4. The Truth affirmed — a. Extent of things specified, and operation stated; b. The universal harmony declared, and final end affirmed. — Wylie W. Fulton (b. 1939).
For good. All the temptations of Satan, yes, and all the trials of life. If God’s grace is in your heart, you will know and feel more and more of the power of temptation, and you will feel more and more keenly the thorns of trial. Why is Satan permitted to tempt? Peter says, ‘If need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations;’ there is a needs-be for the temptations of Satan, and for the trials that best us by the way. The Lord takes these temptations and trials and uses them for our good. Let us remember that in all the problems of life, Infinite Wisdom holds the scales of providence, and that we shall not be called upon to bear one iota more than God gives us grace to sustain. — John E. Hazelton (1853-1924).
To look at all our varied circumstances; and then to believe that if we are the lovers of God, all things we experience are working together for our spiritual good, what a view does it give us of the wisdom, grace, and power of a wonder-working God! And we are to measure this good, not by what the creature thinks, but by what God Himself has declared to be good in His Word, and what we have felt to be good in our soul’s experience. Have your trials humbled you, made you meek and lowly? They have done you good. Have they stirred up a spirit of prayer in your bosom, made you sigh, cry, and groan for the Lord to appear, visit, or bless your soul? They have done you good. Have they opened up those parts of God’s Word which are full of mercy and comfort to His afflicted people? Have they stripped off the covering that is too narrow? Have they made you more sincere, more earnest, more spiritual, more Heavenly-minded, more convinced that the Lord Jesus can alone comfort and bless your soul? They have done you good. Have they been the means in God’s hand of giving you a lift in hearing the preached word, of opening your ears to hear none but the true servants of God, those who enter into a tried path, and describe a gracious experience? Have they made the Bible more precious to you, the promises more sweet, the dealings of God with your soul more prized? They have done you good. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
What is the real test of my personal love to God Himself? It is my keeping of His commandments (see John 14: 15, 21, 24; 15: 10, 14). The genuineness and strength of my love to God are not to be measured by my words, nor by the lustiness with which I sing His praises, but by my obedience to His Word. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
But notice that the apostle Paul also speaks of these lovers of God as being called according to the purpose of God. They are those whom God has irresistibly called out of their hatred and rebellion unto the love of Him. That call is in perfect harmony with God’s eternal purpose. These are those only who have been chosen to salvation from before the world began. — C. D. Cole (1885-1968).
True love to Christ is never satisfied with any measure that it has attained; so as to rest satisfied with it. It has these two things in it: a desire to be further in love, and a concern that it cannot arrive at growth in it. The longing soul is inclined to think that its love to Christ is not worthy to be called love, and it breathes after it, even to have itself warmed therewith to Him, and to be brought to a further nearness to Him, as we see through the Song of Solomon. True love to Him causes the soul to long for an opportunity to discover its love toward Him. . . . If Christ be loved, He will be esteemed of as the most excellent Person, the most excellent bargain, the most kind Friend, the most loving Husband, and as the most full, complete and absolute Sufficient One, as He is spoken of and esteemed by the spouse, Songs 5, “He is altogether lovely.” The heart is brought to esteem of Him, and to prefer Him beyond all that it can set the eye upon. It were indeed somewhat, if you were brought under conviction, and thorough persuasion of this, that Jesus Christ is incomparably the best thing that a sinner can have a title to; but alas! He is despised and rejected of men, though He be the chiefest of ten thousands — and men play the fool in preferring other things to Him, who is infinitely worthy of the preference unto, and of the preeminence above them all. May God Himself kindle this love in us, and make us know more the great advantages of it. — James Durham (1622-1658).
To deny the Divine decrees would be to predicate a world and all its concerns regulated by un-designed chance of blind fate. Then what peace, what assurance, what comfort would there be for our poor hearts and minds? What refuge would there be to fly to in the hour of need and trial? None at all. There would be nothing better than the black darkness and abject horror of atheism. O my reader, how thankful should we be that everything is determined by infinite wisdom and goodness! What praise and gratitude are due unto God for His Divine decrees. It is because of them that “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Well may we exclaim, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. ). — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
GRACE makes the promise, and
the payment. What are the works of Providence but the execution of God’s decrees and the fulfilling of His Word? There can be no more in Providence than is in them. There is nothing but good to the saints in God’s purposes and promises. Therefore, whatever Providence does concerning them, it must be the performance of all things for them (Psa. 67: 2). — John Flavel (1627-1691). Providence
Whatever befalls the Christian contributes, directly or indirectly, to the promoting and the securing of his final happiness. Every thing will ultimately prove to be beneficial to him. Many things occur to him that are in their own nature prejudicial, which neither he nor any of his fellow-men can consider in any other view, or as likely to be productive of any advantageous consequence. Still, however, it is true — “No evil shall happen to the just” (Prov. ). No affliction, however severe, however long continued, however apparently disastrous, and even ruinous, but shall be made to contribute to his spiritual improvement and everlasting salvation. Poverty, reproach, persecution, the loss of property, reputation, and life — all these things may happen to him — all these things are in themselves evil, but all of them in his case shall become the means of good. — John Brown (1784-1858).
This also is the reason why nothing can come at us but that it may do us good. If the God of mercy is round about us, about us on every side, then no evil thing can by any means come at us; but it must come through this mercy, and so must be seasoned with it, and must have its deadly poison by it taken away. Hence Paul, understanding this, saith, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” But how can that be, did they not come through the very side of mercy? And how could they come to us so, since Satan trieth to wound us deadly in every or in some private place, if mercy did not compass us round about as a shield? — John Bunyan (1628-1688).
How was Paul called to Christ and salvation? Go to Acts chapter nine and read it. Think about the way that he was glorying in his own shame, persecuting the Church of the Living God, trying to stamp out the worship of Christ, and all of a sudden — WHAM! — God had stricken him down, Christ had appeared to him, spoken to him and the Holy Spirit had so worked in his heart that he immediately called Jesus “LORD.” And God brought him into several days of intense darkness, blinded his eyes and sent him to the humble home of a
believer to await further instructions from Heaven. Damascus
When God called Saul of Tarsus to salvation, it was a PERSONAL call. The Lord did not send out some general message of good will, but gaining his attention by absolute POWER, Christ spoke to him. Has Christ personally called you?
Then it was an INDIVIDUAL calling. There were several attendants traveling with Saul of Tarsus in his religious fanatical work of reining in God’s children and persecuting them. But to none of Paul’s companions did the Lord speak — only to the one elect vessel of sovereign mercy. The others thought that it had thundered, but knew nothing of Christ’s appearance to Saul. Has the call of God become an INDIVIDUAL call to you?
And don’t you see in this that God’s call to this persecutor was an EXPERIMENTAL or EXPERIENTIAL call? It was at a definite time, ordained from the council halls of eternity — a time when God not only would personally and individually call him, but it was a definite and real experience (more
REAL than any other life experience of this man). He never forgot it. It was even as my Dad often said, “The night that the Lord called me to salvation was the greatest night of my life. In fact, you can take all the other nights out of my life, if you will, but don’t take that night away! It was the time when the Lord met with me and called me and saved me.” — Wylie W. (b. 1939). Fulton
Verse 29. The words (John ) stress the sovereignty of God. People do not come to Christ because it seems a good idea to them. It never does seem a good idea to sinful people. Apart from a divine work in their souls (cf. 16:8) people remain more or less contentedly in their sins. Before they can come to Christ it is necessary that the Father give them to Him. — Leon Morris (1914-2006).
In the light of Romans 8:29-30, it is impossible for one of God’s elect to go out of this world uncalled by grace or unregenerated! — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
The elect will never perfectly resemble each other until they resemble Christ in glory. — Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778).
Christ made Himself like to us, that He might make us like to Himself. — John Mason.
Regarding the words of Romans 8: 29-30, a man must receive the whole or reject the whole! It puts a strain on judgment and discernment to think that one may receive two or three of these points and not the rest. The doctrines of the fall, election, particular redemption, effectual call, and perseverance stand like soldiers in a square, presenting on every side a line of defense which is hazardous to attack and easy to maintain. — C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892).
Christ was first elected as Head and Mediator, and as the Cornerstone to bear up the whole building; for the act of the Father’s election in Christ supposeth Him first chosen to this mediatory work and to be the Head of the elect part of the world. After this election of Christ, others were predestinated “to be conformed unto His image” (Rom. ) i.e., to Christ as Mediator, and taking human nature; not to Christ barely considered as God. This conformity being specially intended in election, Christ was in the purpose of the Father the first exemplar and copy of it. One foot of the compass of grace stood in Christ as the center, while the other walked around the circumference, pointing one here and another there, to draw a line, as it were, between every one of those points and Christ. The Father, then, being the prime cause of the election of some out of the mass of mankind, was the prime cause of the election of Christ to bring them to the enjoyment of that to which they were elected. Is it likely that God, in founding an everlasting kingdom, should consult about the members before He did about the Head? Christ was registered at the top of the book of election, and His members after Him. It is called, therefore, “the book of the Lamb.” — Stephen Charnock (1628-1680).
The Holy Spirit is the bond of union between us and Christ. We are united to Him because we have the same Spirit Christ had; there is the same Spirit in Head and members, and therefore He will work like effects in Him and in you. If the Head rise, the members will follow after, for His mystical body was appointed to be conformed to their Head: Romans 8: 29. — Thomas Manton (1620-1677).
Verse 30. THEY who believe there is any power in man by nature whereby he can turn to God, may contend for a conditional election upon the foresight of faith and obedience: but while others dispute, let you and me admire, for we know that the Lord foresaw us (as we were) in a state UTTERLY INCAPABLE EITHER OF BELIEVING OR OBEYING unless He was pleased to work in us to will and to do according to His own good Pleasure. — John Newton (1725-1807).
Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He either doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Sinners are not brought to Christ through a proposition or any appeal whatsoever — but wholly and only by a Divine call. And I know there are two phases to the effectual call of God. In the first, a sinner is totally passive as God directly (apart from any visible or audible means) quickens the spiritually dead and gives him the capacity to hear and receive the Gospel of God. This phase is regeneration, and it’s prior to conversion — always so, necessarily so, for “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit” (1 Cor. ). He cannot comprehend God’s truth until God has opened his heart and given him spiritual capacity. Then, secondly, there is the calling unto conversion which comes through the word of the truth of the Gospel; it gives that new nature its spiritual food and brings him into all the riches of his salvation in Christ. These are things that the sinner would never know, would never even desire, until he is born again by God’s secret operation of grace. We are said to be “quickened” by the Son of God (John ), by the Spirit of God (Eph. 2: 1), and then to also be quickened by the “precepts” or the Word (Psa. 119: 93). And so there is a distinction between the effectual calling or first work of grace in giving life to the dead, and the calling into the fellowship and fullness of the knowledge of Christ. — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
When, according to the determinate counsel of God, the time of the gracious visitation of every one of the elect is come, He actually delivers them, as His property, by an outstretched arm. And why should He not, seeing He can easily effect it by the power of the Holy Spirit, turning and inclining their heart? Is it credible that He should suffer those who are His lawful right, to be, to remain, the slaves of Satan? Shall He suffer any of those to perish whom He purchased for His own possession by His precious blood? Christ Himself has taught us thus to reason: “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice” (John ). Because these sheep were of right His property, it therefore becomes Him actually to lay hold of them as His own, and bring them into His fold.” — Herman Witsius (1636-1708).
Salvation from beginning to end is of the Lord and He will see to it that it is experienced. God not only makes a plan of salvation, He works the plan. He who predestinated back in eternity also calls the one predestinated. There are no salvation packages left unclaimed in the depot of predestination. — C. D. Cole (1885-1968).
Who will be justified? The elect only — “Whom He did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified” (Rom. ). But election is not justification. Each of the elect must — and assuredly will — come to receive the sweet assurance of justification in the merits of Christ. This justification is experienced through faith in the Son of God, and this faith is wrought in the heart by the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit. — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
As the love of God the Father is chiefly spoken of under the act of election and expressed by Him giving His only begotten Son to be our Head and Mediator, and as the love of God the Son shines forth brightest in His incarnation, obedience, and laying down His life for us, so the love of God the Spirit is displayed in His revealing in the Word the eternal transactions between the Father and the Son and by enlightening our minds into a true, vital, and spiritual knowledge of the Father and the Son. It is at effectual calling that the Spirit is pleased to make an inward revelation and application of the salvation of Christ to the soul, which is indeed Heaven drawing upon us, for by it dead sinners are quickened, hard hearts softened, stubborn wills rendered pliable, great sins manifestatively forgiven, and infinite mercy displayed and magnified. It is then that the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of all Spiritual life, enables great sinners to know that God is love. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
In glorification . . . this is the last step in our deliverance from sin. It is the blessed goal to which we look with sighs and hopes. It will be the end of all conflict and struggle with indwelling sin. It will be the end of all pain and sorrow and death. Tears will be wiped away and never again will they flow from burning eyes upon our scalded cheeks. It will be the end of all disappointment and discouragement. There will be no more strife and envy and hate where the redeemed are. Love will flow in a steady stream from heart to heart. We will be ushered into God’s presence, never more to roam. From this time on, we will be like Christ, but He is to have the preeminence, for He is to be the firstborn among many brethren. — C. D. Cole (1885-1968).
There is a strong and indissoluble chain of mercy and grace in God towards His elect, the links whereof can never be either broken or severed. — Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656).
Justification takes place when, in the just judgment of God, our sins, and the eternal punishment due to them, are remitted, and when clothed with the righteousness of Christ, which is feely imputed to us, and reconciled to God, we are made His beloved children and heirs of eternal life.
— Martin Luther (1483-1546).
— Martin Luther (1483-1546).
Salvation prophetically . . . This is the salvation we wait for. This part of salvation is a matter of promise and hope. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13: 11). — C. D. Cole (1885-1968).
Verse 31. This is the chief and the only support which can assist us in every temptation. For unless God favors us, though all things should smile on us, yet no sure confidence can be attained; but on the other hand His favor alone is a sufficient solace in every sorrow, a protection sufficiently strong against all the storms of adversities. — John Calvin (1509-1564).
That includes all, that God is for us; not only reconciled to us, and so not against us, but in covenant with us, and so engaged for us; all His attributes for us, His promises for us; all that He is, and has, and does, is for His people. He performs all things for them. He is for them, even when He seems to act against them. — Christmas Evans (1766-1838).
If we reverse the sentence contained in the last clause of verse 31, we have a truth no less clear, but terribly alarming to all who, live in sin: If God be against us, who can be for us? All the consolatory truths of Scripture have the reverse side, and if men were wise, they would look at both sides, and not allow the vanities of earth to divert their attention from eternal things. If God be against us! Awful thought! If He is against us, all His attributes, purposes, plans, works and words are against us. Who but a madman will attempt so unequal a war? — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
What wonderful condescension that God should be for a single member of the human race! What marvelous grace and mercy that the thrice Holy God should dedicate His power and wisdom to the welfare of unholy and vile creatures! Who can understand the love that passed by fallen angels and laid hold of the seed of Abraham! Who can fathom the depths of mercy that contrived the way to save rebellious man? — C. D. Cole (1885-1968).
The apostle now sets forth seven answers that must be given to “those things” by a Christian. (1) God is for us, and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31). (2) “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?” (v. 32). (3) God has justified us, so “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” (v. 33). (4) Christ has died for us, so who will be able to condemn us? The Judge has become our Saviour, our Father. Our risen Saviour has become our Advocate on the very throne of God (v. 34). (5) No condition or catastrophe can separate us from the love of God (v. 35). (6) “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (v. 37). (7) Nothing, positively nothing, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (vv. 38, 39). . . . We know what should be said to these things. Here we declare our eternal oneness with Christ and announce that being in Him, we are as beloved of God as He is, and that our position is as secure as that of Christ. — Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960).