Summary: In this sermon we see that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because of five undeniable affirmations.
The first verse of the greatest chapter in the Bible—Romans 8:1—says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Everything else that follows in the rest of Romans 8 tells us why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There are a number of reasons why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. First, because there is no condemnation from the law (8:1-4); second, because we have been delivered from the flesh (8:5-11); third, because we are now the children of God (8:12-17); fourth, because we have the hope of future glory (8:18-25); fifth, because of the intercession of the Holy Spirit (8:26-27); and sixth, because of five unshakeable convictions (8:28).
Today, we see a seventh reason why there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and it is because of five undeniable affirmations. We see this in Romans 8:29-30.
Let’s read Romans 8:28-30, in order to see the context:
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. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)
When we studied Romans 8:28 last week, I said that this verse is one of the most comforting statements in the entire Word of God. The reason is obvious. It tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That is, God has a great and good purpose for all Christians, and he is working in all the many detailed circumstances of our lives to achieve it.
Wonderful as that verse is, the verses that follow are even more wonderful, for they tell us how God accomplishes this purpose and remind us that it is God himself who accomplishes it.
Some time ago I came across an amusing but apparently true story. In 1966 the Hindu “holy” man and mystic Rao announced that on a certain day he would walk on water. This attracted a great deal of attention, and on the day set for the feat a great crowd gathered around a large swimming pool in Bombay, India, where it was to occur. Rao prayerfully prepared himself for the miracle and then stepped forward to the pool’s edge. A solemn hush fell over the assembled observers. Rao glanced upward to heaven, stepped forward onto the water, and then immediately plummeted into the pool’s depths. Sputtering, dripping wet, and furious, he emerged from the pool and turned angrily on the embarrassed crowd. “One of you,” he shouted, “is an unbeliever.”
Fortunately, our salvation is not like that, because if it were, it would never happen. In spiritual matters we are all unbelievers. We are weak in faith. But we are taught in these great verses from Romans that salvation does not depend upon our faith, however necessary that faith may be, but rather on the work of God.
Romans 8:29-30 tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because of five undeniable affirmations. The five undeniable affirmations in these verses constitute an unbreakable chain of five links. Each affirmation points to something that God has done for us, and stresses God’s sovereignty in our salvation. The five undeniable affirmations in this chain of God’s sovereign acts are foreknowledge, predestination, effectual calling, justification, and glorification. Let us look at each one of these five undeniable affirmations in more detail.
I. Foreknowledge (8:29a)
The first undeniable affirmation is foreknowledge. Paul says, “For those whom he foreknew. . .” (8:29a).
Foreknowledge is the most important of these five terms, but it is also the most misunderstood.
The word “foreknew” is composed of two separate words: “fore,” which means “beforehand,” and “knew.” Thus it means “to know beforehand.”
It has been taken by some to mean that God knows all things. Therefore, God knew beforehand who would believe on him and who would not. The result of this knowledge is that God predestined to salvation those whom he foresaw would believe on him. In other words, what he foresaw or foreknew was our faith.
But this explanation does not do justice to our text. For one thing, the verse does not say that God foreknew what certain of his creatures would do. It is not talking about human actions at all. On the contrary, it is speaking entirely of God, and of what God does.