Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 15, 2018
Let us begin with our April memory verse, Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In your bulletin, there should be a new all-encompassing memory verse sheet with all of our verses that we have memorized up to this point. As I have said before, I hope that you are your family are being intentional about memorizing these verses and reviewing the previous ones. I know it is something the Parsons' House needs to be better at.
Today, we continue to slowly walk through Romans 8. And this will be our third week unpacking verse 28; and to be honest, I think I am moving too fast. All week, after last Sunday's sermon, I kept thinking to myself, I should have said this or I should have said that.
If you recall, three weeks ago we looked at verse 28 in isolation, and we stood in awe of the sovereignty of God over all things; that God is the Master Architect of our lives, through his providence working together all things for our good. Last week, we began by looking at the foundation of verse 28. This foundation is found in verses 29 and 30. And as we saw, these foundational blocks are from the perspective of God. This is God's eye view of your salvation from beginning to end. This is how God understands his purposes as they relate to us.
And the first foundational block we saw was the foreknowledge of God, “those those whom he foreknew.” And we saw that foreknowledge is not informational, but that it is relational. We observed that God’s foreknowledge is God’s eternal love of His elect; those whom he foreknew. These are the ones that God set his favor upon before they existed, and even before time began.
Next we observed that everyone that God foreknew he predestined, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” All that he foreknew he predestine, not just some, but all. And he predestined them for the purpose of conforming them to the image of His Son. Therefore, the Sovereign God of the Universe had a goal in mind for his children, and the goal was Christlikeness. Therefore, if you are a Christians, this is your purpose; this is your destiny. God is moving you from one degree to the next to the next to be more and more like Christ, and he is using all things for this purpose.
Our destiny is to be like Christ, but we do not sit back idly and assume that this will occur without our effort. I am reminded of what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We are called to press on, to strain for holiness. And will we obtain it? Yes, for the Spirit of God works in us to bring about our destiny.
Now with that brief review under our belt, let us continue to unpack Romans 8:28-30, and let us stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
Whom He Called
Now, as I said earlier, Romans 8:28-30 is from the perspective of God. These are the dominoes of our salvation as God see them. The first domino is the eternal foreknowledge of God. The second domino is the predestining of God. This now brings us to our third domino, the calling of God.
And this domino, the calling of God, is when God’s eternal love and His predestining purpose breaks into time, for the foreknowledge of God and the predestining of God occur before creation; when the only thing that exists is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
So now let us talk about this doctrine of being called. First, we must recognize once again, that all those who are predestined are called, “And those whom he predestined he also called.” If you are predestined you will be called. Just like all those who are foreknew are predestined. Therefore, all those that are foreknown are eventually called, for this is a part of their destiny. This is the assurance and security and comfort of Romans 8:28-20, that no one drops out of this sequence. Everyone who starts at being foreknown reaches the end, which is glory.
Second we must understand who is doing the calling in verse 30. It is God. It says, “He also called.” God is doing the calling. The Sovereign God of the universe is calling. The High King of Heaven is calling. And we should recognize that God is a God who calls, and he has been calling people since the beginning.
But what does Paul mean in verse 30 when he talks about the call of God? In answering this question we must recognize that the call of God in verse 30 is bookended by two other words: predestined and justified. Calling is the domino that falls between the two. The call of God is the necessary link that bridges the gap between God’s predestined purpose of Christlikeness and our justification. Therefore, the call of God is a call of transitional power. It is a call that is what is termed effectual. This call produces an effect, and once again, this call is 100% effective for those who are foreknown and predestined. For those who are familiar with the Doctrines of Grace, this is the “I” in the the acronym, TULIP. I stands for irresistible grace. The effectual call of God is irresistible.
Perhaps a good way to think about this effectual call of God that always leads to justification is a royal summons. When the King calls, everyone responds. Why? Because the King has all authority. And as we have already discussed, God is the Sovereign King of the Universe, so when he calls, we respond. Jesus speaks of this in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” How does God draw a man? By calling them.
Now, let us ask the question, what form does this call of God take. Does God say, “Hey you! Come here?” No, the call of God comes through the proclamation of the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says, “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The royal summons of God comes through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Remember one of our memory verses, Romans1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the irresistible power of God. This gospel power of God is effectual. It summons men to Christ.
We also see this in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Paul says, “our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” The gospel that came to those in Thessalonica contained had Holy Spirit power. The gospel that Paul preached convicted them of their sin and drew them to Christ.
But many of you will now say, “Wait a second, I have shared the gospel many times, and numerous people were not convicted of their sin. Why is that?” The sharing of the gospel is to be proclaimed to all men. We call this a general call. We scattered the gospel seeds everywhere; however, only on those who are foreknown and predestined, does the Gospel come with Holy Spirit power. The best place that we see this unfold in the Scriptures is in Acts 13:48. Paul is preaching the gospel in the town of Antioch of Pisidia, and this is what it says in verse 48, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” The only ones who believed are the ones who were appointed to eternal life. The general call of God went out to all, but it was only effectual to those who were called, predestined, and foreknown by God.
Jesus speaks to this reality in John 10. In Chapter 10, Jesus is the Shepherd and Christians are his sheep. First in John 10:2, Jesus says, “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Who are the sheep Jesus knows by name? Those who are foreknown and predestined. These sheep follow Jesus. These sheep believe.
Then in John 10:25-27 Jesus says speaking to unbelievers says, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” The reason not everyone believes the gospel is because they are not the sheep of Christ. And what is the voice of Christ to his sheep, the effectual call of the gospel.
Who He Justified
I realize we spent a lot of time on the word call, but now let us transition to the next block in the foundation, the next domino that falls. Look at verse 30 again, “and those whom he called he also justified.” So once again we see that all who are called are justified. No one drops out. All who are foreknown are predestined. All who are predestined are called. All who are called are justified.
We won’t spend a lot of time on justification because we have already unpacked it in chapter 3 and 4. But let us remember what justification means. Justification means to be declared not guilty by God. To be justified is to be forgiven of our sins.
And this puts a spotlight on who God is calling unto him. Prior to God calling, we are not justified. Justification comes after calling. Therefore, God calls the guilty. In fact, not only does God call the guilty, he calls the dead. Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the bodya and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” God calls the dead. God calls the sinner. God calls the disobedient. God calls those who are deserving of God’s wrath. And what does he do after he calls them? He justifies them. He declares them not guilty.
How? Through faith in Jesus Christ. But notice, Paul does not say faith in Christ in verse 30. He goes from called to justified. Why? Because in the effectual gospel call of God is the gift of repentance and faith. Remember earlier, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, the gospel brought full conviction. In the call of God is the gift of repentance and faith.
As you know, repentance and faith and not attributes of the spiritually dead; these are attributes of the living. When the effectual call comes, the transgressor feels the weight of their sin, and turns from their rebellion and places their trust in Jesus Christ. And it is through faith in Jesus Christ that a person is justified. Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
For us, who have repented and put our faith in Christ, this is our current status. God has already foreknown us. God has already predestined us. God has already called us. And God has already justified us. This is why chapter eight of Romans begins with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are now guilt free because of the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
He Also Glorified
Which leads us to our last domino to fall. Look at verse 30 one more time, “and those whom he justified he also glorified.” What does glorified mean? If we step back into verse 18 we see the use of the word glory, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Then we see the word glory used again in verse 21. “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” So what does glorified mean? It means the final state of perfection redemption. Glorified means the fulfillment of our destiny, Christlike in soul and in body. Standing in the presence of God in perfect harmony with no more sin, no more pain, no more tears, and no more death. Glory is the state of the eternal weight of joy.
And once again, you will notice that all who are justified are glorified. No one drops out. If you are a true, born again Christians, you will make it to the end. No one loses their salvation. This is the whole point of verses 28-30. If someone you knows go from being a Christian to not being a Christian, that means that they never really were a Christian to begin with. They are a Judas. How do we know this? Because all who are justified are glorified. Likewise, all who are glorified were also foreknown and predestined and called.
For us this morning, we are in between the dominoes of justified and glorified. But notice, it does not say, “will be glorified.” It says “he also glorified.” They way this is written it is as if it has already occurred. And in the mind of God, it has. Remember, this golden chain of foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified is from God's perspective. Therefore, in the mind of the Almighty God, we are already glorified. It is as good as done. God is transcendent. He is outside of time. He is above time. Therefore, even though we are yet to be glorified, from God's perspective, we already are.
And with that final and eternal domino falling, we can see why Romans 8:28 is true, “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God's purpose is to redeem his chosen through his Son and bring them into His glory. And if you love God, everything in your life is oriented to that end. This is the answer to the “Why me” question for Christians. Why you? Because God is using all things for your good, which happens to include conforming you into the image of Christ and bringing you to glory.
So, hopefully, now you can see what Romans 8 is called Great Eight. There is no greater assurance that can be found in all of Scripture then these verses we have been studying. God is Sovereign, God is Good, and God loves you from eternity to eternity.