Romans 8 and Verses 29 and 30 is what I want to read. And as we look at these verses, we have slowed down a little bit just to be able to savor what’s here. We’ll pick the pace back up when we come back in the New Year. But I’ve really wanted to tap the breaks here and slow down and really get down into the fiber of this passage. So I want to start by reading. I’m going to read Verses 29 and 30, Romans 8. “For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of His son so that He would be the firstborn among may brethren. And these whom he predestined, he also called.
And those whom he called, he also justified. And these whom he justified, he also glorified.” The title of this lesson is God’s Gold Chain of Salvation: Part Two. So we’re going to continue what we began last time. And just by way of introduction, as a young boy I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee – which is right on the banks of the Mississippi River. And I remember when they put in the new bridge to go over the Mississippi River. And in flood times, it’s a very wide river as you can imagine and overspills the banks and goes into cottonfields. And I can remember as a young boy in junior high school driving across that bridge. And it takes some time to drive across the bridge – it’s kind of like going across the Golden Gate Bridge – looking at that river as it’s surging.
And as I would look upstream, I just…obviously I can’t see where the origin is. And I would later learn in different classes – I mean, it starts up in Minnesota, in a foreign country. [Laughter] And it starts, and it just flows and picks up speed. And I would look in the other direction as my dad would be driving the car, and I can’t see where it’s going. And I would later go to New Orleans and see close to where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The only part that I could see is just this part immediately in front of me. And there’s a sense in which – that’s the way salvation is, in this regard; all we can see is what’s taking place within time. I mean, I know when I was convicted of sin. I know when God called me to Himself. I know when I believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I know when He justified me.
But if I didn’t look at a passage like this, I’d have no idea where this river of grace began to flow. And it’s so far upstream that you have to leave time and you have to go back to eternity past to see the origin of this surging river of grace. And this passage also shows us when it flows out into the vast gulf of eternity – eternity future. So this passage is an extraordinary passage. Because it begins in eternity past, and it consummates an eternity future and it spans eternity in time and ends up back up in eternity. And the group that God began within eternity past is the group that God concludes with an eternity future. And no one overflows the banks and is lost. And no one is picked up along the way.
And so, this becomes an extraordinary truth that gives us even assurance of our salvation; that ultimately, our salvation is a work of God. And it’s what God has done in our lives. So last time, we looked at the first part of Verse 29. And really, Verse 29 – both words “foreknew and predestined” – those were in eternity past. And then called and justified – that is within time. That’s in Verse 30. And then glorified, that is in eternity future. So these five links in this golden chain of salvation are what Paul is setting before us. And this is really a high mountain peak in the Book of Romans. There’s a sense in which the entire Book of Romans has been going up the steep incline, and at this point we are at one of the highest mountain peaks in the entire New Testament – certainly in the Book of Romans.
So last time, as I was saying, we began looking at those whom He foreknew. And just to remind you, we said, “This does not mean foresight; that God looked down the tunnel of time to see who would choose His son, and based upon what God foresaw, God then chose them back.” And I don’t have time to recreate all of last week, and I’m not going to ’cause it’s too much. I would just urge you to go on the Website and gather all the Verses together. Because I would not want you to be misinformed about what this word means. It means, “Whom God previously chose to love.” And it’s virtually synonymous with what we call the Doctrine of Election; that God chose whom He would save in eternity past.” And it wasn’t a stoic choice. It wasn’t just an intellectual thing. It was God setting his heart of love upon His elect.
And that’s what the word know means. KNOW. It means “to love.” The prefix “fore” means beforehand, and it really means those whom God previously loved. And we need to understand that there is a distinction in the love of God. God does not love everyone the same. “Jacob, I loved. Esau, I hated,” is still in the Bible.” And so, God has a special saving, distinguishing love for those whom He chose. He has a general love for those whom He has not chosen. and He causes the sun to shine on the unjust as well as the just. And He allows many good things to take place in the life of an unbeliever who never comes to faith in Christ. There are expressions of Christ’s non-saving love that is shown to them.
But for us, God has a special saving love. And that’s what foreknowledge means. And it happened before the foundation of the world. In Ephesians 1, Verse 4 and 5, it says, “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. In love, he predestined us to the adoption of sons.” So this is one of the most loving truths there is in the entire Bible. And the irony is, when many people first see it – and it was this way with me – I thought it was a harsh truth. And it’s like, “Oh, my God can’t be like this.” And then the more you study it and the more you correctly, biblically understand this, you see, “This isn’t a harsh truth. This is the most loving truth there is that God in eternity past chose to set His heart upon me for no reason within me, simply because God chose to do so?” So that’s what the word “foreknowledge” means.
And I would refer you to last week’s study. We went through some12 verses – maybe more than that – on the word “know.” So this now leads us to the next…to the second link in this golden chain of salvation. And it’s the word “predestination.” So you’ll note that it says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined.” So I just want to look at this word-for-word as we begin to look at this. And we’re going to go to some cross-references. The “He” refers to God, the Father. Everything is flowing from God, the Father. It’s God, the Father who chose us. It is God, the Father who has predestined us. It is God, the Father who has called us by His spirit. It is God, the Father who has justified us. It is God, the Father who will one day glorify us. I said recently that the forgotten member of the trinity is God, the Father. But everything is flowing from God, the Father; even the Gospel itself is from God, the Father. He is the author and the architect of the Gospel. The Father is the one who sent His son into the world. The Father is the one who sent the spirit into the world along with the son.
So it’s very important that we understand who the “He” is. “He” is God, the Father. And let’s not forget the love of God, the Father for us. The word “also” is very important. Because the word “also” indicates that all those whom he foreknew, he also predestined. So that makes this golden chain of salvation an unbreakable chain. It’s an irrevocable action that God has taken. It’s a package deal. Everyone whom God has foreknown, God has predestined. So there are not some who are foreknown, but not predestined. In other word, “also” indicates that these links in this chain are fused together and can never be separated. Now the word “predestined.” There it is, right there in our Bible.
We can see it. If you believe the Bible, you believe in predestination. If you do not believe in predestination, you do not believe the Bible. It’s just that simple. This is not a word that was coined in Geneva in the 16th century. [Laughs]I This is not a word that was coined in Wittenberg in the 16th century. This is not a word that was coined in Hipaa in Northern Africa in the 5th century. This is a word that is found in your Bible. And we embrace this word. We believe this word. So it’s very important that we understand, “What does the word ‘predestined’ mean?” And so, the word “predestined,” it’s another compound word. It seems like every time I do a word study for us, it’s a compound word. When you join two words together, it intensifies and strengthens the word.
And the word is proorizo. I’m going to spell it for you in the Greek if you’re taking notes. PRO, pro. And then ORIZO. And the reason I’m going to this trouble is, I want you to see it with your own eyes as you write that word out. Proorizo. PROORIZO. The prefix is pro at the beginning. Pro. And that just simply means beforehand. The root word, orizo. You can hear the English word “horizon” in it. Horizon. And the horizon was the destination out on the far landscape where the sun would be meeting the edge of the circumference of the Earth as you would look out ahead. And it came to represent the destination of the journey. It’s out there on the horizon. It’s already been marked out. And so, when you put the prefix “pro” in front of “orizo” what that simply means is the destination was determined before the journey began. Before you even started on the journey, the destination was already marked out on the horizon.
So you see the beauty of the word study here? And what the word actually means is to determine beforehand. Fore-ordination, or to fore-ordain is what the word means. The destiny. And the word “destiny” and destination are just, you know…they come from the same root word. So there is a destiny about those whom God foreknew that is already sealed and determined before they were ever born. Before they ever came into this world. Before anyone was born or came into this world. It occurred before time began. It occurred in eternity past. So that is what this is saying. So this word, predestined, is found four times in your New Testament.
And we’re going to go to each of these four. and we’re going to look at a fifth where we see the proorizo in the noun form without the prefix. But you’ll see it’s very obvious. So let’s go to all these cross-references. I want to see – I want you to see where else predestined is found in your Bible ’cause this isn’t the only place. We’re going to go to the Book of Acts. Acts Chapter 2. Acts Chapter 2 and Verse 23 And this is an extremely important verse. And it’ll be worth your coming with me to this text. Acts Chapter Two, Verse 23. This is Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost when he preached, arguably, the greatest sermon in the history of the church. It was an Evangelistic sermon, as you recall. 3,000 souls were saved. We know that from Verse 41.
And the reason I mention this is, this is preached to unbelievers. Sometimes I hear people say, “Well you can’t talk about predestination except in a small group Bible study with only believers,” or, “You can only talk about it on Wednesday night when no one’s there. We’re certainly not going to talk about predestination on Sunday morning. That’ll really rock the boat.” Well the boat needs to be rocked. Okay? So this was preached to unbelievers, and it was a part of the lightning and thunder of this sermon that you’re not in control of your eternal destiny And it’s a part of God humbling the unbeliever and shattering their self-reliance. And so, in Acts 2 and Verse 23, Paul says, “This man delivered over.”
And by the way. The one who delivered over this man was ultimately not the Romans and not the Jews. It was God, the Father himself who delivered over his son. This man delivered over – now here it is – by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God you nailed to the cross by the hands of Godless men and put him to death. Now here is where divine sovereignty and human responsibility intersect in one verse. Divine sovereignty – it was the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God that Jesus be put to death on the cross, yet Peter holds them personally responsible for the greatest sin ever committed in human history; the predetermine, premeditated murder of the second person of the God head, Jesus Christ. That is the most heinous crime that’s ever been committed in the history of the world, crucifying the only perfect man who ever lived – the son of God, the son of man. Yet it was pre-scripted by God, The father.
He was the lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world. It was the predetermined plan. And this word “predetermined” has in it that orizo in a noun form…that horizon for Christ was marked out from eternity past. The cross was not an afterthought. It wasn’t plan B. There is no plan B with God on anything. It’s all plan A. So here’s why this is important. Not only has God predestined the salvation of all those whom he foreknew, God has also predestined the means by which they would be saved. Not only has God – listen to this. Not only has God predestined the end, He has predestined all the means to accomplish that end.
And one of those means was to the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross. God did not just exnilio in heaven and say, “You’re saved.” He actually had to commission His son, send His son into this world, be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, go to the cross and go through the agony of that horrific death bearing the sins of His people upon the cross. Even this was predestined. So not only – I want to say it again. Not only is the end predestined, but all of the means and all of the steps to accomplish that end. And we could add, He has predestined the preaching of the Gospel. He has predestined prayer. He has predestined witnessing. He has predestined that we would live a Godly life. All of this is a part of God’s predestination.
So that’s why this was very – this text is very important. Now come to Acts 4. Acts 4 and Verse 29. And this is the first time we actually see this word found just as it is in Romans 8:29. And just to set the context very quick, this is prayer offered by the early church after Peter and John have been arrested before the Sanhedrin for creating a disturbance because Peter has healed a paralytic; used that as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. The [laughs] early churches immediately beginning to shake things up with their witness. They drag Peter and John before the Sanhedrin. and Peter – rather than apologizing for what he said, Peter launches into this sermon and says, “There is salvation in no other name. For there is no other name under heaven given among mon whereby we must be saved.” They rough him up, and they release them.
And they come back to the believers. And they now respond in prayer. Now I want you to see the prayer that the early church offered because their led preacher was released from prison. Or not prison, but from his deposition before the Sanhedrin. So Verse [clears throat] 27. “For truly in this city, they were gathered together against your holy servant, Jesus.” And this is being said in prayer. The prayers start in Verse 24. “Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate along with the gentiles and the people’s of Israel to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Now why this is important is, this indicates how well-taught they were in the subject of predestination; that in Acts Four as the church just begins…I mean, the church is barely out of its infancy. They’re already praying, recognizing the predestination that what happened to the Lord, Jesus Christ – they understood that was a part of the predetermined plan of God. They didn’t hesitate.
In fact, this wasn’t their last resort in prayer. It was their first recourse. They believed that God was sovereign over everything in the world. And they open their mouth, the word predestination just comes flowing out of their mouth. So there was not hesitation on their part. And again. This is how deep their roots were in the Apostles teaching. In Acts 2:42 it says they were continually devoting themselves to the Apostles teaching. This is what the Apostles – part of what the Apostles were teaching them; is that God is large and in charge; that God is on his throne; and that God is orchestrating all human events to work together for His glory and for the good of God’s people. That was Romans 8:29 that we looked at two weeks ago.
So Acts 4:29, the church already has a world view in which they see the world through the lens of God’s sovereignty, his supreme authority and through the lens of their understanding of predestination. So if you want to have some strong prayers, put some predestination into your prayers. Now come to First Corinthians. First Corinthians, Chapter Two. And here is the second time this word is found in the New Testament. First Corinthians, Chapter Two and Verse Seven. And we’re focusing on this word “predestined.” The sentence begins in Verse Six, yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature.
This wisdom is the preaching of the cross. This wisdom is what the world calls foolishness we know is the sheer genius of God; that God can be both the just and the justifier through the profundity yet the simplicity of the cross. So that’s what this wisdom is in Verse Six. A wisdom this world could’ve never dreamed of – the plan of salvation.” Yet we speak wisdom among those who are mature, a wisdom, however not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.” The smartest people in this world could’ve never dreamed up the virgin birth; the sinless life; the substitutionary death, the body resurrection, the enthronement at the right hand of God, the Father; salvation by grace alone, through faith alone and Christ alone.
The smartest people in this world could’ve never come up with that. Only the genius of God could’ve come up with the wisdom of the cross. So Verse Seven. “But we speak God’s wisdom.” And how antithetical is God’s wisdom to man’s wisdom? Man’s wisdom is bankrupt. Man’s wisdom is foolishness. God’s wisdom is stunningly brilliant. We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery; a mystery of something that was previously hidden but has now been made known. The hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory. And there is an indication there even of glorified at the end of Romans 8:30. And now in Verse Nine…I’m going to go ahead and read Verse Nine because I want to make a comment.
But just as it is written – and He now quotes Isaiah 64, Verse 4. “Things which eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard and which has not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” My understanding of those verses is, that does not refer to heaven, though you hear it at funerals. That refers to the wisdom of the cross. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it even entered into the heart of man the brilliance of the wisdom of the cross.” Now the cross was predestined before the ages to come. That was in the heart and the mind of God before He created anything. We could put it this way. God had the solution before there was ever the problem. God had it all worked out long before Adam and Eve ever sinned.
God is always previous. You want God to be always previous. God is not a reactionary God. We react. God never reacts. God only acts. And God is always out ahead of the parade. God always has a purpose and a plan for what is unfolding. And in this case in Verse Seven, it is referring to that God predestined the cross according to His infinite wisdom. And only god could have designed what is, for us, perhaps the simplicity of the cross; yet the more you study it, it is the profundity of the cross. So the cross was predestined. It was plan A. Come to the Book of Ephesians. And I want to show you the last two uses of the word “predestined in your New Testament. In Ephesians One and in Verses Four and Five – specifically Verse Five. But I’m going to start reading in Verse Three.
And the reason I’m going to start in Verse Three is, I want you to see that this is found not in a theological debate. This is found in a doxology; that this truth is a cause for praise and worship to be given to God. So beginning in Verse Three. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” And that just simply means, “Praise be given to.” And please note, it’s going to God, the Father. Because everything is flowing out of God, the Father. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ who” – referring to the Father – “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Sometimes people talk about, “Have you had the second blessing?” I just laugh. “Second blessing? I’ve had every blessing in Christ, Jesus. [Laughs] Why are you talking about a second blessing? And the second blessing is realizing you got every blessing the first time you were blessed.” [Laughter] You got the whole package. Okay? I mean, you got God. What more do you want? So Verse Four. “He now gives the reason why we are to bless the name of the Lord just as He” – that refers to God, the Father – “just as He chose us” – please note. We did not choose Him. He chose us. “In Christ.” Meaning it was not on the basis of anything that God knew about me. It was all on the basis of Christ and who He is and what He would do on my behalf. “Before the foundation of the world,” Spurgeon said – Charles Spurgeon said, “God would’ve had to have chosen me before the foundation of the world.
Because once He saw me after He made me, He would’ve never chosen me.” [Laughs] “That we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Here’s what I want you to see. You’re not chosen simply for a place. You are chosen for purity. And if you want to know if you’re chosen, people sometimes ask me. “Well how can I know if I’m chosen?” It’s very simple. Number one. If you believed upon Christ, if you generally have, I can tell you you’re chosen. But secondly, “Do you see the evidence of a changed life? Are you living a holy and pure life?” Because all of the elect are. We are chosen to be holy and blameless before Him. Now here it is. “In love, he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.”
So here’s the fourth use of this verb “predestined” in the New Testament outside of Romans Eight. And it is that once God chose us, he then predestined us. Those are two different links in this chain. One is, He chose us. The second is, He predestined us. And what the predestination does is, it guarantees and sets in concrete that all those whom he chose will be saved and will one day be in Heaven with Him forever. It just pours concrete into the whole process. What is predestined cannot be undone. It is set in the irrevocable, eternal counsels of almighty God from before time began. Predestine means that God’s eternal purpose can never be thwarted, can never be undermined, can never be altered, can never be amended, can never be rerouted.
Because as soon as He made the choice to choose whom He chose, He predestined their salvation. So that’s Ephesians One and Verse Five. Please note. “In love, He predestined us.” Always think of predestination as a doctrine of love. It is never a harsh doctrine. You are looking at it incorrectly if you think of it as harsh. If you look at it correctly and understand it Biblically, you understand the fact that God chose anyone is shocking grace; that He chose a vast number is amazing grace; that He chose you is incomprehensible grace. [Laughs] That He chose me is incomprehensible. So in love, He predestined us. Now Verse Six. “To the praise of the glory of His grace.”
This is so that all praise will go to God. I mean, how could any praise go to us? If this all started with God in eternity past…now I want to bring one more thing to your attention as we’re looking at this. Please note where this is in the Book of Ephesians. This is not hidden at the back of the book. This is frontloaded. You open the Book of Ephesians, boom. There it is. This presupposes how well-taught the church in Ephesus was that they get a letter like this in the mail from Paul. And Paul is in prison in Rome. He sends this letter to the church at Ephesus. Paul doesn’t have to have a glossary of terms. Paul doesn’t have to have definitions given because they have already been well-taught in this doctrine and in this truth.
In fact, this is Christianity 101. This isn’t graduate school stuff. This is kindergarten stuff; that you have been predestined to believe in Christ if in fact you are a believer in Christ. And Paul can just put this out in the Fourth and Fifth Verse. And it’s not even found in the teaching section of the Book of Ephesians. It’s found in like the call to worship in a church service before we even get to the sermon. It’s the opening prayer in the Book of Ephesians. So don’t ever apologize for the fact that you believe in predestination. Don’t ever hesitate to speak of it, because it is part of the cornerstone truths of Christianity.
And if that were not enough, look at Verse 11. Paul brings it up again. He could’ve just let it lie after mentioning it once and think, “Well maybe they didn’t pick up on that. I’ll just press on.” No. He circles back to predestination in Verse 11 really to underscore it and to emphasize it. So he says, “We have obtained an inheritance, and it speaks of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” in Verse Three. This is the inheritance. “We have obtained an inheritance.” And please note the verb tense. We’ve already obtained it. So there’s nothing yet to obtain. We’re already obtained this inheritance. “Having been predestined according to His purpose – not our purpose like God and me together. No. It’s His purpose.
“Who works” – please note the next two words – “all things.” There is nothing outside of all things. All things is all things. “Who works all things after the counsel of His will.” So what this tells us is, not only has God ordained the salvation of all whom He chose, fore-ordained – predestined. And not only has He predestined the death of His son as a means to accomplish the salvation of all those whom He chose. God has also predestined all of the circumstances surrounding every aspect of your life and all the circumstances of your conversion. God predestined who would bring the Gospel to you. God predestined who lived on your right and on your left growing up. He predestined who your Sunday School teacher would’ve been. He predestined who your parents were. He predestined your gender. He predestined your height, your weight, your ethnic background. He predestined all things.
God set the table perfectly for you to come to faith in Jesus Christ. He even predestined giving you the gifts of repentance in faith. The whole thing is God. So that’s why He says in Verse 12, “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” Not our glory, His glory. God gets all the praise. That’s when we get to heaven and we’re given crowns. They’re going to be in our hand for about half of a millisecond, and we’re just going to cast them back at His feet. I mean, why in the world would we hang onto this crown? He chose me, He predestined me, He called me, He regenerated me. He gave me repentance, He gave me saving faith, He sealed me in Christ, He set me apart from the world. He began to work within me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. He brought me all the way home to glory and has glorified me.
This crown doesn’t belong to me. This crown belongs to Him. “So we’ll cast our crowns back at his feet, and it will be emblematic that all things are from Him, through Him and to Him.” So this is getting our theology straight. The Mississippi River is flowing north to south. Okay? It’s not flowing south to north. You need to understand everything is coming down from God above. And this has to be right because it gives God more glory. It gives God more credit. And to see it any other way robs God of the glory that belongs to Him alone. We have far more reason to rise up and bless the name of the Lord, knowing all of this is true. Now just to line up, you see in Verse 11 the word “predestined,” the word “purpose,” the word “counsel” and the word “will.” Do you see those four words, predestined, purpose, counsel and will? Let me line these up in the right order. The sequence in which they unfold.
So come with me back to eternity past. [Laughs] Before there was anything. Before God even created Heaven. Before God created the universe. Before God created the angels. It’s just God and God alone. The first thing that happened was his counsel. God deliberated within Himself. There was no one else to consult. God the Father deliberated within himself. And out of His counsel came His will. And God considered every conceivable possibility. God could’ve had the sky be green and the grass be blue. God could’ve had you born 4,000 years ago. God considered every conceivable possibility. And God locked in on the one plan: His will that flows out of His counsel. And then came God’s purpose. And the word “purpose” means God’s resolution. When God purposes to do something, nothing can hinder it or thwart it.
And the word “purpose” means God determined to put His shoulder to this plow, and with great intention and purpose to be the executor of this will. And He will not change His will for anything or for anyone. Man will have to change his plans. God will not change His plans. That is the purpose. It means to be resolved. And when God is resolved, there’s nothing that can turn it back. And then the last word is predestined. What God has purposed to do, He sets it in concrete, He puts steel girders into it, and it can never be changed. It is predestined. And the destination is determined before the journey even begins. This is big-boy football. This is our God. And any lesser understanding of God is a vain figment of your imagination. This is the God of the Bible. This is the God of Heaven and Earth.
So come back to Romans Eight. I want to finish Verse 29. I don’t want to do a series in just 29, so… [laughs] I hear your nervous laugh. So all right. Verse 29. And again. We have slowed down at this point just because this is so fundamentally important. This really becomes like putting on glasses. The lens through which we see so much. And it’s critical that we have the right lens in front of us to see your salvation, to see lots of things. All right. Verse 29. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined.” Now what follows is the purpose of the predestination. The purpose. The goal. The aim. And you will note as you look at Verse 29 and 30, this is the only link out of the five links in which Paul puts a footnote; in which Paul adds an explanation.
And so, what follows is a two-fold purpose. One for us and one for Christ. It begins with the purpose for us; why we are predestined, why we are foreknown. It’s not for no reason. He says, “To become conformed to the image of His son.” This is what God’s about in your life. It is to make you and me more like His son, Jesus Christ. This is the good of Verse 28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good. There is no greater good than for you to become like Jesus Christ; with your attitudes, with your actions, with your reactions, with your words, with your goals, with your ambitions, with your dreams. The entirety of your life. This is what God is after in your life, is to make you as much like His son as He can possibly be.
And you know what’s secondary? A far distant secondary. It’s incomparable compared to what’s primary. What is so far secondary is where you live and where you work that…I mean, that’s a part of the plan. Everything’s a part of the plan. But all of those threads are in muted colors. What’s in the brightest color are those of His son – the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is to make me and make you like His son. And that begins now in this world. It’s called sanctification; that progresses sanctification life-long process of becoming more and more and more like His son.
And we never max out. None of us have arrived. Forgetting what lies behind, reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, the upward call of God and Christ, Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14. “We will not fully reach out goal till we get to the end of Verse 30 – when we’re glorified. That means we will be as perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as a redeemed creature can be. The word “image” is a Greek word that you will recognize. Eikon. EIKON. Eikon. And it means likeness. On my desk as I wrote this this week, I have an eikon of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
And he’s just staring at me, and it is a perfect bust…the likeness of Spurgeon. Right on top of my dresser, I have a bust – a full length head-to-foot of Calvin. I have a full-length head-to-toe of Luther. I have a full head of Tyndale. I’ve got over here another one of Luther. People keep sending me Luther statues. [Laughs] I got them all lined up. You want to send me a Luther? Send me a Luther. I’m good on Luther. Send me a Calvin. I need another Calvin. So what God is doing in your life is, He is just chiseling away from your character and Your words everything that does not look like Jesus Christ. He’s just taking a piece of raw marble and chiseling away everything that doesn’t look like, sound like Christ. And He is building Christ-likeness into you.
And you know what? This is predestined. How can you know if you’re chosen? God is at work in Your life, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ. Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. But He who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. There is this inseparable link from eternity past to time. And He’s conforming us to the image of His Son, and one day He will complete that when we enter into glory. So this answers the charge – some people say, “Well if you teach people predestination, then they’re just going to go live like the devil. You know? You have just removed all human responsibility, and you have just said to people, ‘Doesn’t matter how you live.'” Wrong. Read Bible. Romans 8:29. “If you are predestined, God has moved into your life and He will never move out of your life.
And He is going to have your way. And if you put up some resistance to His work of sanctification, He’s going to take you to the wood shed and He will discipline you because he loves you so much that He won’t let you get away with this. And if you keep running stop signs, you know what? You will have a premature death and He’ll just take you home to glory. And He will instantly make you like His son, Jesus Christ.” But you’re going to be made like Jesus one way or another. It’s kind of like, “You’re going to be humble one way or another. Either you humble yourself, or God’s going to humble you. But you’re going to be humble if you are one of God’s elect.”
This is all…these chains are all linked together. You just can’t isolate one from another. So that’s the first purpose. It is predestined that you become like His son, Jesus Christ. And He is causing all things” – Verse 28 – “to work together toward this good in your life.” Now the second purpose. That He – you see it at the end of the verse? “That He refers to Jesus Christ. That He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Now the cults look at this and they go, “See? Jesus was created. There was a time when Jesus did not exist, and He is the firstborn. And so, he now is a created being just like everyone else.” Wrong. In the Bible, firstborn is used in two ways. One is literal, one is metaphorical; which means symbolic. In this case, it is clearly metaphorical.
And to show you this – and I’m looking at my friend, the clock. You’re going to have to turn back to Psalm 89. And we’ll probably – because of that clock, we’re probably going to end in Psalm 89. But I want you to see this so that when you get this little knock on the door, you’ll know how to answer. Okay? So Psalm 89, right in front of Psalm 90. So Psalm 89, Verse 27. “I shall make him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the Earth.” Who is the Him, who has been made the firstborn. You come to Verse 20 above. It is David. I hope you have a pen and just can draw a circle around David and Verse 20 and draw a circle around firstborn in Verse 27. In fact, it goes back to Verses Three and Four. “I’ve made a covenant with my chosen. I have sworn to David, my servant. I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.”
This is God’s Davidic covenant. The covenant that God made with David specifically, that there would be a descendant of David…a greater son of David who would sit upon the throne and be the king over not just Israel, but over the whole world and would be a king over the entire universe. And that greater son of David was none other than Jesus Christ. And we talked about Him in Romans One, Verse Three and Four that at the very beginning of the Book of Romans One, Three and Four Jesus is identified as the son of David. He is the fulfillment of Psalm 89. But what I want you to see in Verse Three is that we’re talking about David – God’s covenant with David. Verse 20. I have found David my servant. With my holy oil, I have anointed him.”
So come down to Verse 27, He now calls David…his firstborn. Now, time out. David wasn’t the firstborn. David was the eighth son. Is there a mistake in the Bible? No. What firstborn means is, you are the highest son. You have been raised up to the place of pre-eminence. Whatever your birth order is. To be the firstborn means you are the inheritor of your Father’s estate. The firstborn was given the farm. The first farm – first son was given the family business. The first son was put in charge. The first son had all the rights and all the privileges that go with being born first. In the case of the Lord Jesus, it has nothing…Jesus wasn’t the firstborn. I mean, Cain would be the firstborn. It’s not talking about literal birth order. It’s talking about metaphorically the pre-eminence and the prerogatives and the privileges that come with being the chosen one by the Father.
And Jesus Christ was chosen from within the trinity – not the spirit, but the son was chosen to have the place of pre-eminence in all things. And the role and the ministry of the spirit would be to draw our attention to the son. And even the Father himself would point the finger to the son and say, “This is my beloved son and whom I’m well pleased. Listen to him.” So in Romans Eight Verse 29 when it says, “He is the firstborn among many brethren,” it doesn’t mean that He was created. Even if you took it that way, He wasn’t the firstborn. Cain was the firstborn. It means that He has the place of unrivaled supremacy, and all the throne rights belong to the Lord, Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 28 and Verse 18, “All authority in Heaven and Earth has been given unto me.”
So the purpose of predestination is, number one, so that we would be made like His son and, number two, that His son would have many brethren who would recognize his pre-eminence. And throughout all the ages to come, we would worship Him and adore Him and ascribe honor and glory to Him as the pre-eminent one. And nothing pleases the Father more than for you and me to make much of His son. You want to make me happy? Don’t tell me, “Hey. Great lesson.” Tell me something good about my children. That causes my heart to soar and to sing. And in an exponential way – 10,000 times 10,000 times 10,000 – so it is within the heart of the Father whose motives are pure and pristine. He delights in His son having the place of honor and glory. That’s why He has seated Him at the right hand and given to Him all authority and has put all judgment into His hand.
And that is why the son is to be the object of saving faith. And that is why all things are working out to make us more like…not the Father and not the spirit, but like the son; that we would be – that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. And so, there is a whole family of brethren now who have been predestined to believe, call justified, surrounding the throne singing the praises of the son throughout all of the ages to come. This is all far more about – it’s far beyond you and me. This ultimately is about God’s son; that there would be a redeemed body of believers who would magnify the name of the Lord, Jesus so that when we get to Heaven throughout all eternity, it will be one big coronation service.
And we will be crowning Him with our praise and our worship and our glory. We just happen to be incidental. We just happen to be the choir around the throne that has been foreknown and predestined and called and justified and glorified so that there would be, throughout all the ages to come, a vast throng and multitude of people who will give the glory to God’s son – the Lord, Jesus Christ. Well how much more so should we begin that even right now in this lifetime? To give the glory and to give the honor to the Lord Jesus Christ? Now I haven’t even gotten to the application. And I’m looking at my friend, the clock, and I just ran the stop sign.
So I’m going to stop in a word if prayer. If you want to stay, we’re going to take some questions. And I’ll enter those. You need to slip off to work, I more than understand. Do that. We’ll be here next week, and we’re going to look at Verse 30 just to give you some sense of hope. And I’ll just put the application at the end of next week. Because here’s what I want you to understand. This isn’t just for us to win arguments with people that don’t believe this. This isn’t just to make us smart. This isn’t just so we can sit in an ivory tower and dissect all this. This is one of the greatest life-changing truths that will ever come into your life. And I’ve got ten ways this changes your life that we’re going to look at, and you’ll never be the same. You will never be the same as a result of this sinking into your heart and soul.
So I’m going to close in a word of prayer. We’ll be right here, same time, same place, same station at the Iconic Herbs House next Thursday. Let me pray. “Father. We hardly know where to even begin to thank you and to praise you; that You set Your heart upon us. In eternity past, You thought of us, chose to love us and that you’ve predestined us to become like your so that the son would receive honor and glory from many brethren. Father, let this sink into our hearts, our souls, our minds. Shape us. Mold us. Make us by this truth. Bless these men. Strengthen them and encourage them as they ponder and meditate on these truths. But more than that, as they anchor their soul to these truths. Forge these truths into their very heart. In Jesus name, amen.”