Today we are studying Romans 8:29-30 in the morning service at Creekstone. Since we will be considering doctrines that require more explanation that I am able to provide in the time we have available, I have included below some exlanatory notes for you with regard to the five key doctrines Paul mentions in these verses: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification. The point is not to “know your stuff,” but to have a sense of hope, that God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves and has a big-picture context for our lives that is more glorious than we could ever imagine. Theologians call this sense of hope “eternal security.” In Psalm 16:11, David called it “the fullness of joy.”
Foreknowledge. This does not refer to intellectual knowledge of facts or actions, but relational knowledge of people. It is not foreknowledge of someone’s faith, but of the person; not of something, but someone. For example, when the Bible says in Genesis that Adam “knew” Eve, it means he had an intimate love-relationship with her. After all, the result of that “knowing” was a baby. In Romans 11:2, Paul says, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.” In Amos 3:2, we read the Lord saying of Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” The New International Version of the Bible sharpens the meaning by translating the word foreknown to “You only have I chosen…” Concerning foreknowledge in Romans 8:29, translators have attempted to capture the essence of this relational knowledge in several other ways:
The New English Bible: “God knew his own before they ever were…”
Charles Williams: “For those on whom he set his heart beforehand…”
The Jerusalem Bible: “They are the ones he chose specially long ago…”
Predestination. This means that God predetermined the desinty of those whom he fore-loved and sent the Son to save. This doctrine highlights God’s grace in salvation, gives security to those who are saved and provides jet fuel for missions. For more on this theme, check out Ephesians 1:3-14 for a more expanded treatment of Romans 8:29-30, and then Deuteronomy 7:6-8 to see how Israel is an Old Testament example of God’s predestinating, choosing, electing grace.
Calling. There are two kinds of calling. The first is an external, universal call to all people to hear and receive to the gospel. The second is an internal, personal and effectual call, whereby the fore-loved are compelled to respond inwardly and affirmatively to the outward call. So one call is universal to all. The other is effectual to the elect, fore-love, predestined objects of God’s love and mercy. Passages that emphasize the universal call (John 3:16 for example) are like a camera in a movie that shows a scene from ground level. Passages that emphasize the effectual call (like Acts 13:48, which reads, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”) are like the camera that shows the action from above—God’s/heaven’s view.
Justification. We have talked about this so much there is not much need to drill down on it. But since it is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls, it will be prudent to mention the essence of this doctrine. We’ll use the Westminster Shorter Catechism answer to question #33, which says, “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only because of the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to us that we receive by faith alone.” Justification is the legal declaration of God to a sinner giving him a new status. No longer am I seen as a condemned rebel, but rather as a righteous son. This is because the result of justification is not only legal, but also is relational, whereby we are adopted into the family of God as full heirs of the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus.
Glorification. This is when a sinner experiences complete sanctification, or moral perfection, at the return of Jesus. We do not achieve it, we simply receive it as part of the full-orbed gift that is the gospel. In glorification, I am given a new glorified body and perfected soul, completely devoid of any trace of a sin nature. I will be unable to sin in a glorified state. I will be like Jesus—without sin, and perfectly holy, righteous and good—to the glory of God’s immeasurable grace.