Book of Romans
Lesson # 20
By Rev. James May
Romans Chapter 8:29 – 39
At the end of our last lesson we talked about Romans 8:28 where Paul writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
This is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible for every Child of God, for in this verse we find hope even in the most adverse of life’s circumstances. We know that somehow, the present situation will pass; that God has all things in his hands; and that he will never let us go down in defeat as long as we are faithful to his purposes in our lives and we allow the love of God, and for God, within us to grow.
Even so, it often takes a lot of faith and patience to wait for the “good” to come out of your circumstances. Things that happen often do not appear to be for our good while we are in the middle of the battle. It takes faith to believe that all will be well in the end. It takes perseverance in the hard times to continue to hold on to God’s hand and trust him.
Even though we are promised that all will work out for our good in the end, we are never promised that we won’t face some hard times in life; even times when everything just seems so hopeless. That’s when we must remember that the God on the Mountain is still God in the valley. He’s an “On Time God”, though to us it may seem like he is four days late, He’s still God and still able to work it all for our good. This is the absolute will of God for every one of his own children!
Paul wrote another letter to the Church at Philippi and in Philippians 2:13 Paul said, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
It gives God much pleasure to bless and take care of his children. He is a loving Father, and he will never forsake you or allow your feet to stumble. He will always make a way – even where the way seems impossible!
The Bible itself says that we should establish every word by hearing it out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. Of course, if the Bible says it even once, that’s enough. But God gave us a number of witnesses in his own Word to let us know how he loves to bless his people.
Luke 12:32, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Ephesians 1:5, Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
God chose you! He knew you when you were still far from him. He loved you when you didn’t love him. But he also knew that your heart would be inclined to hear his word, so he made a way that you could become his own child. And now that you have chosen to hear him and live for him, your life is in his hands and he has a desired result to fulfill in your life.
Now we will continue with this thought of God foreknowledge of you and the condition of your heart as we look at Romans 8:29.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
In reading this verse we see the doctrine of predestination set before us. Predestination is a subject, which we will find, creates considerable differences of opinions among Bible scholars as to what it means and how it works. Depending upon what you believe about predestination, your whole belief system on who can or who cannot be saved will be different. Your view upon God’s fairness and justice will also come into question. Perhaps we should pause for a moment and talk about that.
The questions that we must answer pertaining to predestination are these:
Did God, before the foundation of the world was laid, unconditionally predetermine who would be saved and who would not?
Has the eternal destiny of all men already been set?
Does any action of man really make a difference if God has already decided who will, or who won’t be saved in the end?
In order to understand what we are going to be discussing here, we must first understand, that in the Christian Church there are two basic opinions that are taught in the different denominations.
These two schools of thought, or interpretations of predestination are known as Calvinism and Arminianism.
Calvinism has its roots in the teachings of Rev. John Calvin who was born in France in 1509 and died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1564. He was a theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation when the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church were challenged. Although the doctrines of Calvinism are taught under his name, John Calvin was only one of many in his time who taught the same thing. They are often called the Reformed Movement.
During this Reformation, another division in interpretation of the scriptures on predestination came into being. This was credited to the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). Though both schools of thought came about because of the Reformation, only Calvinism became known as the Reformed Movement.
There is no way that I can cover every detail of the theological differences of these two great reformation movements so I will give a few important points and then focus only the ideas of predestination.
What are the beliefs of Calvinism?
1) The Total depravity of man, as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person is enslaved to sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as they could be).
2) Unconditional election" , teaches that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, his choice is unconditionally grounded in his mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those he has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God. In other words, no man has a choice on whether he will be saved or not because God makes the choices for him and there is no way to change God’s choices.
3) "Limited atonement," asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished and only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus's death. The atonement is not limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is intended for some and not all. If God chose to save all men, the atonement would be sufficient for all, but God does not choose all men and therefore the atonement is not for all.
4) "Irresistible grace," asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, "graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ." This is not to deny the fact that the Spirit’s outward call through preaching of the gospel can be, and often is, rejected by sinners; rather, it’s that inward call which cannot be rejected. Those whom God chooses to save have no choice but to be saved, and those whom God does not choose can never be saved.
5) "Perseverance of the saints" asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be changed by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. They have no choice. Those who seem to be saved but fall away either never had true faith to begin with. If they are saved, they cannot be lost, and if they are not presently walking in the Spirit, they will be divinely chastened and forced to repent.
What are the beliefs of Arminianism?
1) Depravity is total: Arminianism states "In his fallen state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirmed, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they are assisted by grace, but [fallen man] has no powers at all, except such as are excited by Divine grace." In other words, man has no power to turn to God on his own, and is totally lost in sin and blind to the things of God. It’s only by God grace that he can turn to God to receive salvation.
2) Atonement is intended for all: Jesus's death was for all people, Jesus draws all people to himself, and all people have opportunity for salvation through faith.
3) Jesus's death satisfies God's justice: The penalty for the sins of the elect is paid in full through Jesus's work on the cross. Thus Christ's atonement is intended for all, but requires faith to be effected. The teachings of Arminius said that there are only two ways in which the sinner might be justified, and that the first was truly impossible: (1) by our absolute and perfect adherence to the law, or (2) purely by God's imputation of Christ's righteousness through the acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice as our substitute.”
4) Grace is resistible: God takes initiative in the salvation process and his grace comes to all people. This grace acts on all people to convince them of the Gospel, draw them strongly towards salvation, and enable the possibility of sincere faith. But the offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly. It comes as an influence, seeking a response, but the offer can be both freely accepted and freely denied.
5) Man has a free will to respond or resist: Free will is granted and limited by God's sovereignty, but God's sovereignty allows all men the choice to accept the Gospel of Jesus through faith, while simultaneously allowing all men to resist.
6) Election is conditional: Arminius defined election as "the decree of God by which, of Himself, from eternity, He decreed to justify in Christ, believers, and to accept them unto eternal life." In other words, God chose to choose men to be saved and become believers. God alone determines who will be saved and his predetermined method of salvation for all men is that those who believe in Jesus through faith will be justified. No one is in Christ unless they are engrafted, or adopted in him, by faith."
7) God predestines the elect to a glorious future: Predestination is not the predetermination of who will believe, but rather the predetermination of the believer's future inheritance. The elect are therefore predestined to sonship through adoption, glorification, and eternal life.
8) Christ's righteousness is imputed to the believer: Justification is sola fide, which means, “By Faith Alone”. When individuals repent and believe in Christ with saving faith, they are regenerated and brought into union with Christ, whereby the death and righteousness of Christ are imputed to them for their justification before God.
9) Eternal security is also conditional: All believers have full assurance of salvation with the condition that they remain in Christ. Salvation is conditioned on faith, therefore perseverance is also conditional and the believer must remain faithful to Christ. Apostasy (turning from Christ) is only committed through a deliberate, willful rejection of Jesus and renunciation of saving faith. When we wilfully and completely turn from Christ, then there is no other possibility of salvation except by full repentance and reassuring our faith and belief in Jesus.
So what do we believe? We are more on the side of Arminianism.
•We believe that men have a choice to accept or reject the gospel and receive salvation. We believe that men have a choice to either serve the Lord faithfully or to choose to walk away and lose their salvation.
•We believe that there is no such thing as unconditional eternal security, that a soul which is truly saved, can never be lost, no matter what.
•We believe that eternal security is conditional on continued faithfulness and obedience to the call and election of God.
•We also believe that God has predestined the final end of all men, those who are faithful to a life of wonder and beauty in that glorious place called Heaven, and those who reject Christ to a terrible place of eternal punishment called Hell.
•We believe that it isn’t God who chooses that destination because Jesus died for the sin all men. It is man himself that chooses his own eternal destination.
So let’s go back and read again, Romans 8:29.
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What do we see in this predestination that Paul speaks of here? First of all, God is omniscient, knowing all things from beginning to end. He knows our hearts and he knows what decisions we will make before we ever make them. But it isn’t God that forces us to decide anything. It is our own free will. He did not predestinate whether anyone would choose or not to follow Jesus, but he did know what we would choose beforehand.
In the heart and mind of God, every man has that choice to be saved or not. But then comes the true idea of what God’s predestination is for all men.
God knows those who have chosen, and those will choose to accept salvation through Christ. For all of those who choose Christ, God has predestined that they would be conformed to the image of Jesus, both through the original regeneration and cleansing from sin; then also through a lifetime of sanctifying of the flesh in a holy life; and finally in their glorification in the resurrection. Jesus was the firstborn of the resurrection, and we shall all be as he is in that great day when we shall rise again.
The moment you accepted Jesus into your heart, you began that lifelong journey of being conformed to his image. God has foreordained that this would happen, and the only way it won’t is for you to choose to walk away from God and deny Christ through habitual sin in your life that you choose to ignore and refuse to repent of.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Here is the predetermined will of God for the hearts and lives of those who choose to become his children. God chooses you, just as he chooses all men, but not all accept his choice. For those who choose to accept the offer of salvation, God then calls them forth to serve him in his kingdom and to be obedient servants and children. Those who accept and are called and then justified through the blood of Jesus Christ and their sin-debt is paid in full. Then, for those who are justified, they are eligible and ready to be glorified.
How are we glorified? God honors us and gives us the highest privilege we could have to be a part of his own family and to work in his own kingdom. He awards us eternal life and all the blessings of being a Born Again child of God, adopted as son or daughter. He lifts us up as is his own pleasure and for his own purposes. He rewards faithfulness and chastises us with love when we fail in order to bring us back to a place of obedience. And he honors us and cares for us by working all things to our good.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
When God has already predestined your end, and promises that all things will work out to your good, and no man can stop the plan of God for your life, and no one can stop you from reaching your eternal destiny, but you – then who can stop the plan of God?
Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
If our Father in Heaven was willing to allow his only Son to die so that we could have these great promises, how can we not believe that God will fulfill what he has promised and bring us to his predetermined destiny for our souls? God is faithful and will not fail!
Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
When God says you’re justified; made free from guilt and sin; and the blood of Jesus has already been accepted as the substitute and full payment of your sin, then who has the right to accuse you of anything? Whom the Son has set free is free indeed!
When God justifies you, who can condemn you? Satan tries, but he fails! Men try, but they cannot condemn; they can only accuse! Your own conscious may try to condemn you, but God has overcome that too. When God sets you free; nothing can hold you bound anymore! When the devil comes knocking at your door, trying to remind you of how bad you once were, or of the things you may have failed to do, let him know that God has justified you. You are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and that there is no more condemnation that can be held against you! Resist him and he will have to flee!
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Whoever, whatever or whenever condemnation comes, remember that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, seated with a finished work. His blood has done its work in you, and now you are just, holy, pure, clean and forgiven because of his blood. Jesus is your intercessor in Heaven! He pleads your case of innocence before the bar of God’s throne! He’s your Counselor, or Lawyer, and he never loses a case! Thank God that Jesus is our Intercessor!
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
What power is there in Heaven or earth, or under the earth, that can separate you from the Love of Christ who gave himself for you and has declared you righteous?
Who can stand against his acclamation that you are a Born Again Child of the Most High God, set free from the accusations and punishment of the Law of God and Forever Free in Christ!
What conditions of your life could nullify the promises of God or the power of Christ in you? Nothing of this life can separate you from those promises – nothing but your own free will choice be separated!
There is no tribulation, no distress, no amount of persecution, no famine, no nakedness, no peril, and no sword that can divide the union between you and Christ! Though this body may perish, the soul is forever in Christ! Though I may face many hard times in this life, God’s pleasure is to always make it turn for my good! What or who may dare to separate what God has declared as One with Him!
Romans 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Yes, the world may look at Christians and say that we are irrelevant, but God says otherwise. The world may count us as weak and losers, but God says your strong in him and you are the greatest winners on earth and in eternity. Though we may look like sheep for the slaughter, we are the Children of God and destined for glory and victory and power forever!
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In every and anything that can be thrown against us; in every move of man or of hell that tries to destroy us, we are still more than conquerors through God who loves us. Nothing can overcome the power of God’s Love! No matter what happens, Love remains and we remain in Christ!
Death can’t separate us from that Love because we will never die but live forever in Christ!
Life on this earth can’t separate us from God’s love because we are in the palm of God’s hand and our life is secure in him. Only God has the power over life and death.
Even demons have no power over us, for they are subject to Christ in us. We have power over all the forces of darkness through the blood of Jesus. Just call upon the name of the Lord and demons will have to obey. They may resist a little, but if you hold on to Jesus, they will have to leave.
No power of government, laws of men, military force or anything else of this world can stop us from being in the Love of God. Supernatural love is never affected by the works of this world and of the flesh. Our life is in another dimension with God, far from any place that man can touch.
What can stop the Love of God? What can take you out of the Father’s hand? Who can come between you and Jesus? What power can touch your salvation?
NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM GOD’S LOVE!
NOTHING CAN STOP YOU FROM REACHING YOUR PREDESTINED FUTURE IN GOD!
THAT’S GOD’S PROMISE TO US ALL!