For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.Romans 8:29-30
These are the five steps that God takes, stretching from eternity to eternity — far greater than any of our individual lives would suggest. The first step is that God foreknew us. A lot of people talk about how God foreknew what we were going to do, he foreknew that we would believe in Christ. This verse is not dealing with that. This verse is concerned with the question of existence. It is telling us that from among the tremendous number of human beings that have been spawned onto this earth since the creation of man, God foreknew that you and I would be there — as well as all the believers who have preceded us or who will follow us in the course of history.
Then, Paul says, the next step is that God predestined:
Ah, you say,
I know what that means! That means God looked over the whole group and said, Predestination has nothing to do with going to hell. Predestination has to do only with believers. It simply tells us that God has selected before hand the goal toward which he is going to move every one of us who believes in Christ. That goal is conformity to the character of Christ. Everything that happens to us focuses on that one supreme purpose.
Now these will go to hell, and those will go to heaven.
The third step is that God called us: This is where we get into the act. I could not begin to describe to you the mystery and wonder that is involved in this. This means that the Holy Spirit somehow begins to work in our lives. We may be far removed from God, we may have grown up in a non-Christian family, we may be involved in a totally non-Christian faith, or we may be from a Christian home. It does not make any difference. God begins to work and he draws us to himself.
Fourth, those God called, he justified: Justification is God's gift of worth. Those who are justified are forgiven, cleansed, and given the position before him of being loved, accepted, wanted, and endeared. By the cross, God was freed to give the gift of righteousness. Had he given it apart from the cross, he could have been properly accused of condoning sin — but the cross freed him. It established his righteous justice on other grounds, so that he is now free to give to us the gift of worth without any merit on our part.
Then, finally, those God justified, he also glorified: Paul writes as though this had already happened. It has already begun, and God counts it as true. Glorification is the exciting day which the whole creation is anticipating, when God is suddenly going to pull back the curtains on what he has been doing with the human race. Suddenly, the sons of God will stand out in glory.
There are none lost in the process. Those whom he foreknew, before the foundation of the world, he also predestined to conform to the likeness of his Son; the same number of people he called; and the ones he called, he also justified; the very ones he justified, he also glorified. No one is lost in the process, because God is responsible for it. It is going to involve pain and toil, but it is going to happen, because what God sets out to do, he does — no matter what it takes.
Father, I am so grateful for your eternal purposes which allow me to rest in deep gratitude for your grace and mercy.
What are five aspects of God's eternal plan for those called according to His purpose? How does this radically change our 'time-management' perspectives?