A few weeks ago, I asked mom to record dad reading this section of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. Watch and listen, then I’ll tell you why I wanted this as a keepsake.
There is a reason why the sufferings of this present life could separate you from God’s love: you would quit loving the one who causes the suffering. How then can Paul be so persuaded that not even God-imposed sufferings will destroy the relationship that we have in Christ? When I see the sufferings of what my mom and dad are going through, what then, explains their year-after-year, trial-after-trial, pursuit of the Lord? The answer to this question is why I will forever cherish what God the Father has done through his Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s break this down:
vs. 28 It is to the “called/those who love God” who are promised that the sufferings you go through have an ultimate purpose to make you like Christ. Nothing is by chance.
vs. 29 Those who are called are also the foreknown. This is equivalent to being “chosen, set apart, and loved in advance” (Gen. 4:1; Jer. 1:5; Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:20). Foreknown does not mean foresight of the future. It means chosen to be loved in the future – something is being done to you, not merely seen about you. The aim is to make all those who were called in the past like Christ, so that Jesus will rank the highest, become “firstborn” – among all those that he becomes united to.
vs. 30 All those that were predestined (notice past tense and a done deal) to become like Christ, is the same group of sinners that were called. This calling is not an external call that results in nothing. It is the kind of call that always produces justification/salvation. It’s the kind of call that raises you from being dead in sin (John 6:37, 44; 10:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 4:6). It’s the kind of call that overpowers all resistance to Jesus Christ. Why? Because all the called are justified, that is, saved. This is why Paul is silent on mentioning faith. Not that faith is absent (it logically falls between calling and justification), but that faith can’t be what was foreseen (even if foreknown means that; which it doesn’t). Why not? Because there was no faith to see apart from the calling that always produces justification. If God saw anything in the future it was his own calling, raising you, bringing life into you so that you would have the faith that always produces justification. And, all those who are declared righteous are glorified (a done deal in the past that guarantees the future result).
vs. 31-39 What shall we say to “these things”?
- God the Father has always been for, not against my mom and dad.
- If God the Father gave his Son to my mom and dad, then everything else is chump-change from there on out.
- No accusation will ever be successfully sustained against the elect, God’s chosen. God’s courtroom is sealed: It is God who justifies and no one can revoke his action.
- No one can look at my mom and dad’s sins, and say, “you should be condemned.” Why not, because Jesus was condemned in their place.
- Jesus is now interceding, that is, he is now in the position with the authority, to make sure that what was forged in eternity past will come to fruition. Jesus will not lose a single soul for which he suffered and died for (John 17:9, 12).
- The end result: nothing will ever separate the elect from the love of God which is manifestly displayed and guaranteed in Christ Jesus. And just in case someone might think that there is at least “something” that could unravel these promises, Paul interjects “nor anything else in creation” – to put a lid on it.
This is why the reading of this portion of Scripture will forever hang like a precious locket around my neck. Jesus paid it all for all that the Father gave to him (John 10:14-16, 25-30; 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24).