Predestined. Justified. Glorified.
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 8:29d (Holman) . . .so that He would be the firstborn among
God wants His adopted children to look like His only begotten Son. He wants believers to carry this family resemblance, the image of Christ.
God intends to take sinners, who are ugly, and make them like Jesus, who is lovely. Jesus’ face is ultimate beauty to God the Father, who wants that face reflected in millions of mirrors made from the faces of His saints.
The Father is working at making us replicas of Christ. It is reasonable for God to do this. Jesus pictures what people were originally meant to be. God is only trying to make us what we were supposed to be in the first place.
Look at Jesus. See what we are meant to be, and aim at it every day. Commune with Him and let His Holy Spirit conform you to Himself. This is our reason for being a Christian, our purpose as a believer. By remembering this, we avoid bitterness and rebellion when suffering. Since affliction helps make us like Jesus, we should not rebel beneath it.
A lady expressed sorrow at the pain of a friend, who said, “It’s just an answer to prayer. I’ve long prayed to be conformed to the image of Christ. That’s the end I seek. This is the means. I would rather suffer than sin any day.” Refuse nothing Jesus our pattern had to endure, including a cross.
Romans 8:30a And those He predestined,…In God’s mind, our salvation was accomplished before the foundation of the world. He foreknew those who would be His, and predestined they would be conformed to the image of His Son. This is all because of grace.
Every person deserved to be in Hell, separated forever from God. An individual’s appreciation for God’s salvation will never amount to much unless this truth is applied to one’s own self. None of us deserve to be saved.
Nevertheless, God determined that He would take some of us to Heaven in spite of our sin. God refused to let His Justice solely dominate His handling of us. He determined that Grace and mercy should be shown.
Never mention Hell when discussing predestination. Hell is what all people deserve. Predestination is God’s way of providing a means whereby some can be spared that horrible fate. The blessed doctrine of election is a comfort to the saints, and should only be discussed with regard to believers.
We rejoice in it though we cannot fully understand it. We broadcast the Sovereignty of God, and yet plead with people as if they are totally responsible for their decision. We hold both to be true. Scripture teaches sovereignty and free will. We will never in this life bridge the gap between the two. Though seemingly contradictory, we hold both with equal fervency.
Failure to grasp both doctrines has caused much pain in the church. Clinging solely to predestination stifles the zeal in churches. It also spawned the anti-mission sentiment that has repeatedly troubled Baptists. Stressing free will too much has led to the doctrine of “losing one’s salvation.”
This is one area in which the church’s intellect must not be allowed to tamper with her faith. We fully understand neither doctrine, but believe both.
Romans 8:30b …He also called;…Salvation is a 5-link chain: foreknowledge, predestination, the call, justification, and glorification. This chain is suspended at both its ends from Heaven. The two ends are hidden from us, fastened to the two eternities.
The only part of this golden chain of salvation that enters time is the middle link, the call. Heaven handles all else: foreknowledge, predestination, justification, and glorification. Only the middle link reaches down to us.
The call is God’s way of reaching out of eternity to apply salvation to our particular case. This call does not refer to the general call that goes forth to all people through the preaching of the Word. It rather refers to the inward call of the Holy Spirit to those God foreknew. Those who were predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son always respond to this call.
The fact sinners have to be issued a call at all is an indictment against us. We would never come if God Himself did not call us. Even after Jesus’ death, people still won’t repent on their own. The Holy Spirit has to be sent to call us from our sin. Left to our own will, none would ever receive Jesus.
Romans 8:30c …and those He called, He also justified;…Since Paul was considering salvation from God’s point of view, he did not stop to mention the faith we must have to be justified. Paul was placing emphasis on God, and rightfully so. Is it not true in our life that the longer we contemplate our salvation, the more we dwell on God, and the less we consider ourselves? We know salvation is of God. He did it all. He chose us long before we chose Him. The Father loved the world; the Son died for the world; the Spirit woos the world. Salvation is of God. Everything must be ascribed to Him. There is no room for boasting. “He” called; “He” justified.
Romans 8:30d …and those He justified, He also glorified.
From our perspective, glorification is a future event. From God’s viewpoint it is so certain that Paul spoke of it as having already been done.
“The tense of the last word is amazing. . .the most daring anticipation of faith that even the New Testament contains” (Denney). This exemplifies what is called the “prophetic past.” A predicted event is seen as being so certain of fulfillment that it is described as if it has already occurred.
Nothing can prevent our final glorification. Our salvation began in eternity past and will be consummated in eternity future. The five verbs Paul used to describe salvation are all in the aorist tense, which refers to an event accomplished in the past once and for all. God foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. In His mind these things are accomplished, as good as done. As far as God is concerned, the unborn elect are already glorified.
Our ultimate glorification is assured because it was God’s plan for us all along. The believer is predestined to one end: to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Therefore, every believer has to go to Heaven. Otherwise, the plan of God for our life will be thwarted, and that is impossible.
We were made to be like Jesus, but this cannot be fully accomplished in this world. God will always have to take us to Heaven to complete the job.
He works on us here, but the final product will not appear until we are away from the world’s temptations and the bad influence of our old nature.
At the moment of our conversion, God began conforming us to Jesus’ image. This process is called sanctification, and continues for the rest of our lives. Sanctification and glorification are different only in degree, not in kind. Sanctification is glorification begun, glorification is sanctification consummated. Sanctification is progressive; glorification is conclusive.
We are becoming more like Jesus daily, but will not be totally like Him until we leave this life. Take heart, believers; we will someday be like Him. When this happens, we shall be able to do perfectly what we only do imperfectly now: bring honor to Jesus. Our purpose in going to Heaven is not essentially for our own benefit, but that we might honor Jesus forever.
When we become like Him, we will have demonstrated how powerful Christ’s cleansing power really is. Our glory will bring honor to Jesus.
God gave Christ to us because He loves us (JN 3:16); He gives us to Christ because He loves Jesus (JN 17:6). The Son did not fail to demonstrate the Father’s love; the Father will not fail to present the Son a completed bride. Believer it, dear saints. The transaction is done. Our position is secure.