July 24, 2011
Call to worship, Ps 119:65-72

#22, Romans 8:28-39

Now we come to one of the better known passages of Scripture,

5. Vv. 28-30. Here the gospel gives the assurance that all things shall work together for good, since all things are connected with the purpose of God. All events that can occur to a Christian come as part of the plan of the One who called the Christian to Himself.

V. 28 follows v. 27. v. 27 tells us that only the Spirit knows our heart. After we have yielded our way for his way in our desperate situations, he prays for us according to the will of God.

V. 28, is no doubt one of the most encouraging passages in Scripture. But many times we fail to realize the context of v. 28. It follows the depth of despair of v. 27. In abandoning our way for His, we come to him in desperation and sincerity.

However, sincerity does not necessarily mean that our prayers are according to the will of God. So in our desperation, sincerity and knowing our love for God’s will, the Spirit intercedes for us for the will of God. Our desires may not be what is needed to conform us to the image of his Son, so the Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God, and God works all things together for the good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.

It is God who makes all things work together in our lives for good; that is, our ultimate good.

Good... All of our afflictions, trials, persecutions and calamities may seem endless and overwhelming, yet we are assured here that they are appointed for our welfare. They lead us to look to the Heavenly Father for support. The trials of this life preform a Christian work in us that no other events can preform.

As we are told in v. 24, that trials and afflictions increase our hope in the future glory with him, and that hope sustains us in the trials and tribulations of this life.

Psalms 119:71 ¶ It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

V. 28 that love God... Difficulties prove our love of the Lord. Those who love the Lord will be made better by the difficulties. Those who do not love the Lord will be further hardened by resisting the same difficulties. They will refuses to submit to the obvious design of the circumstances; that is, they will refuse to be drawn to Christ through the circumstances, who is the only source of strength, joy and peace.

We use this verse for comfort in difficulties, but the verse sais all things. All things include material prosperity. Even prosperity may reveal lack of love for the Lord.

Proverbs 30:7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Paul fully accepts human “free will,” but behind it all he shows us God’s sovereignty. This fact is totally beyond our finite understanding.

I am on the mailing list of a man who denies the term sovereignty of God, for the word is never used in Scripture. Sovereignty means supreme power and authority. The state claims sovereignty over the individual, and I have heard individuals say that they are sovereign individuals. Though the term is not used of God, the idea is on every page.

Those who say that salvation depends upon the individual choosing God have made the individual sovereign, and above God.

God is the absolute and final authority. He is the unseen cause behind everything that takes place in creation:

Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

2 Timothy 1:9 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,

V. 29, foreknew...

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Simply put: God’s calling of his people, which took place in Christ at the very beginning, has a purpose. The purpose of all things is to conform us to the image of Christ.

Foreordained:

Acts 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Conformed. Circumstances, particularly distressing circumstances, conform us little by little into the image of Christ. They change us from glory to glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 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.

That he, Christ, might be...

Christ is the only First Born,

Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

many brethren... The many brethren are the multitude of believers who become joint heirs with Christ.

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

The purpose of everything that happens in the lives of the believers is to conform them into the image of the First Born, Christ.

The next two verses are the subject of great, and confusing, discussions. On one side are those who reject what it teaches because it does not fit into their own reasoning ability. So they try to reduce the doctrine presented here to natural understanding.

On the other side are those who admit it is totally beyond comprehension, yet they believe it because God said it.

Vv. 29, 30 tell us that God’s purpose in all things from the very beginning was to call an innumerable number of people to be conformed to the image of his Son. And he calls the by name according to who he has written in the book of life.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 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: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Predestinate...

1) to predetermine, decide beforehand
2) in the NT of God decreeing from eternity
3) to foreordain, appoint beforehand

Predestinate

To mark out beforehand, predetermine.’ In #Ro 8:29,30, it forms a link in the chain that connects the foreknowledge of God in the past with the glory in the future. Election is God’s choice of individuals; predestination is to a blessing, as in #Eph 1:5,11, believers are predestinated to the adoption of sons, according to the purpose of God. Predestination does not, as insisted on by some, imply reprobation of some to wrath. God "will have [or desires] all men to be saved," #1Ti 2:4; but to ensure some being saved, He predestinated, called, justified, and glorified them in His sovereign purpose. (A weak statement. Concise Bible Dictionary)

Our finite and fallen minds cannot understand vv. 29 & 30. Paul will develop this doctrine of predestination, or election, through the rest of his letter to the Romans. It is a doctrine that is absolutely rejected by the natural man, for it just does not seem right.

Hebrews 11:3, through faith we understand... We understand that the worlds were created out of nothing, so why cannot we understand that God adopts sons, according to the purpose of God.

I do not at all understand this, nor can I make any such claim. All I can do is point out what Paul says here:

First, he foreknew certain ones by name according to his sovereign purpose. His purpose was and is to conform the elect to the image of his Son.

Second, he predestinated, or he determined to form Christ in those certain ones even before he called them.

Third, he called them to his Son:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Fourth, he justified freely by his grace, Romans 3:24.

Fifth, he glorified them with Christ by making them joint heirs with Christ in his glory.

From the beginning, the Elect had the promise of justification and glorification with Christ. That is, in due time God promised to bring them to Christ, and ultimately to the glory shared by Christ with the Father. Included in this promise is sanctification; that is, conformed to the image of Christ.

Only the gospel gives the assurance because all things are connected with the purpose of God, they all shall work together for good. All events that can occur to a Christian come as part of the plan of the One who called the Christian to Himself.

Our last point in this chapter is,

6. Vv. 31ff. The gospel gives comfort in the fact that everything that can affect the happiness of man is on the side of the Christian, and will co-operate in his favour.

The rest of the chapter is a hymn of praise to God.

Typical of Paul, he answers objections.

These things... Paul could be referring to the great doctrines of salvation by grace through faith which he has been covering since chapter 3. But the context, both previous and following, implies that he is speaking more of the great truths he just presented in vv. 29, 30, and will develop more fully as he goes along.

From the very start of Christianity there have been enemies of what has been presented in vv. 29, 30. Many refuse to hear these things, but we must not be swayed by the those who seek to reduce God to their level:

To doubt them is to deny them: for God asserts them--from foreknowledge to glorification. To question whether they apply to us is to question--not election, but the words "whosoever will," of the gospel invitation. You can let God be absolutely sovereign in election, and yet, if you find the door opened by this sovereign God, and "whosoever will" written over it by that same sovereign God, by all means enter! Set your seal to this, that God is true, by receiving His witness (# Joh 3:33). Do not allow any "system of theology" to disturb you for one moment! What will you say to these things? Say, with Paul: God is for me: He spared not His own Son--for me! This question, What shall we say to these things? is a testing word, as well, as a triumphant word. (Newell on Romans)

If God be for us is Paul’s challenge to all who doubt what he has said. There is no one equal to God, so there can be no challenge to what Paul has delivered by the Spirit of God. The challenge is against God, not against Paul.

V. 32, us all things goes with v. 28. The gift of his own Son is our promise that all things work together for good to them that love God.

V. 33, Paul tells those who challenge what God has said to come forward as an accuser, as one would come forward in a courtroom.

It is God... God is the Judge, and he is the one who established the laws of Justification, Romans 3:21-31. He is the one who established predestination and election, vv. 29:30. The accuser must face God with the charges that God is unjust. And many do.

The mailing list I am on that I mentioned above–the man who is hostile against the sovereignty of God. He is extremely hostile against any doctrine of presentation or election. These people have no problem charging God with being unjust.

It is God that justifieth, and man has no right nor authority to question God, nor change his word to suit their own understanding. Those who judge God or question his message of justification do not serve the God of the Scripture, but a god after their own imagination. They have made a god in their own image.

V. 34. It is a bold accuser who can face God with any charge, true or false:

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Not only does the devil accuse us, but many professed brethren accuse us of being deceived if we believe what Paul presents concerning election. But God the Father is the one who established the terms of Justification.

V. 35. Can anyone put a distance between Christ’s love and us? Can any one cause Christ to cease loving his people? Such things do happen between family members, such as husbands and wives.

Then Paul changes from who shall separate us to what shall separate us. Referring back to v. 28–though these things may come upon God’s people who have been called according to his purpose, they cannot separate them from the love of God as proven in giving his only Son.

V. 36 develops the sword of v. 35.

Slaughter. Continuous martyrdom. The early church faced this slaughter as sheep–no resistance. The church until Martian Luther faced slaughter. Though we do not face this today, those living in Muslim and Hindu countries do. As this nation turns into a Muslim nation, we will see this slaughter here also.

The sword cannot separate the child of God from the Love of God.

V. 37. Rather than being separated, we are conquerors through Christ.

1) We are conquerors in all this terrible situation, in all these things.
2) We are more than conquerors.
3) It is altogether through Him that loved us, and not through human energy of any kind, that we are more than conquerors.

more than conquerors
1) It is to come off conqueror in every difficulty
2) It is to know that Divine, and therefore infinite, power has been engaged for us in the conflict, 3) It is the absolute confidence that this infinite and therefore limitless Divine help is granted to us against any possible future emergency,
4) It is to "divide the spoil" over any foe, after victory! (# Isa 53:12.)

Him that loved us, past tense. Preaching that always emphasizes the present love of God or Christ for the soul falls sadly short. His love for his people and his church goes back to vv. 29, 30–from the beginning.

Vv. 38, 39, all the things that people dread are listed here – natural, supernatural and even things we do not even know about.

These things strike fear in the heart of the unsaved, but in Christ, fear is gone. Rather than dread and fear, we are assured all is for our benefit. We are assured by the giving of the Son by the Father for our benefit, v. 28.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.