18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 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.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Alright friends, this is part two of our look at this text, the end of Romans 8. Rather than dividing this in two, I wanted us to take a couple of weeks and consider this as a unit before diving into chapter 9, because chapter 9 is historically one of the more challenging chapters in the entire letter.
If you missed last weeks message, I would encourage you to take a moment this week and listen through it. We explored the issue of suffering in the Christian life through Paul’s lens, which was this: when you grasp the implications that Christ’s sacrifice has on your future, namely that Jesus’ atoning death doesn’t just save you from death and hell, but also adopts you into the family of God as co-heirs with Christ…if that is your worldview, then who cares what we have to endure right now. And, you can see this ideology play out in Paul’s life…he really believed it.
This week I want us to consider two new words that Paul has introduced us to here in chapter 8 because they are going to set the table for what is to come in chapter 9, and in the process I want us to get really comfortable with this notion, “God is a God who chooses.” We’ll dig into that statement a bit more in a minute. Look with me at verse 28:
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.
The first word we are going to explore today is the word “predestined,” which is also the root of the bigger word predestination, which is a Biblical doctrine. What we said last week was that depending on the type of church you grew up in, you either never talked about this doctrine or you talked about it all the time. I have found that people either have a strong opinion on the doctrine of predestination or they can’t explain to you what it is. There is not a lot of in between. So, if you are someone who has a strong opinion on this, let me call you to join us in really examining the Biblical text. Not just considering what some theologians have to say, but first really looking at what is here and considering what Paul has to say.
Now, first, while we associate this word with a larger Biblical doctrine, realize that at this point, Paul is simply trying to explain the process of sanctification to his readers. Remember, sanctification is the gradual process through which we are being made by God to look more and more like Jesus. It is a work he is doing within us through his Spirit. Verse 28 is key here because it lets us know exactly whom Paul is talking about when he speaks of those whom God has foreknown. We said last week that there is a real sense in which God has foreknown everyone. You weren’t a surprise to God. But, in the context of Romans 8, Paul is talking specifically about those who love God and are called according to his purpose. So, verse 28 sets that context for us. And, “the good” that he is working together for those people is that they would experience verses 29-30, that they would be conformed to the image of his Son…that’s good…that they would be called by God…that’s good…that they would be justified…that’s good…and that they would be glorified…that’s also good. So, all things here are working together for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. And, if you are someone who loves God, Paul’s point is you have nothing to worry about. Verse 31, if God is for us who can be against us? Why do you have nothing to worry about? Because God has preordained or predestined that these things would be true.
The Greek word here is “proorizo” and it is actually a compound word. Pro means before and horizo which means to set boundaries. This is actually the word we get our English word horizon from, the boundary between earth and sky. So, proorizo simply means that boundaries have already been set. They are not being established now or on the fly…it’s already happened. When were they set? Before.
So, Paul is telling his readers, listen, we have nothing to worry about. No matter what suffering we endue, because God has already set boundaries around the fact that everything will work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. And, don’t miss this, God’s preordaining work should be a catalyst for great peace within us. Why? Because it is not a promise about something that might happen in the future. It is a true about something that has already been established. Now, look again at verse 31:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
The second new word that Paul has introduced us to is the word “elect” in verse 33. This is an even simpler word in that it simply means chosen. Who can bring any charge against God’s chosen ones? In the Greek, this is “eklektos” which is obviously where we get a word like election. We have a big “election” coming up where we will “choose” a new president. Also, a part of this word points to the notion that those who are chosen are favored. When you vote in an election, you vote for your favorite. Now, again, Paul’s point here is this, “believers, you have nothing to worry about no matter what you are experiencing.” God has already set the boundaries regarding the good that will come for you, and because you are favored by God in this way, because you have been chosen by God, nothing can separate you from this good that is to come because you are now his children. The proof of this in Paul’s mind is the fact that God did not spare his Son Jesus. That God was so committed to this preordained reality that he sacrificed his only Son. That’s commitment.
Now, my experience has been that whenever we start talking about God choosing things in an explicit way, for some reason people get uncomfortable. I don’t really know why this is because we talk about choosing things in other terms all the time, and it doesn’t make us uncomfortable. We talk about God creating the heavens and the earth, which began with a choice. We talk about God calling/choosing Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Jonah and on and on and on. We talk all the time about Israel being the chosen people of God. We talk about God’s will. That God has purposes and plans. We talk about being called by him in our lives…that God has selected or chosen things that he has for you in your life. Friends, we serve a God who chooses things. And, Paul’s point is that that should be incredibly reassuring to us. We do not serve a God who leaves things up to chance. He’s not up in heaven flipping a coin. He’s also not sitting there hoping his plans will come to fruition. His plans will come to fruition. There is no doubt there. There is no “what if” there. We do not serve a God who embraces the concept of randomness. And, that will serve as our launch pad to get us into chapter 9 next week.