Romans 8:28-30 - Our eternal Security in Christ
28 And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, 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.
Verse 28: “And we know that all things work together for good”. When I read this, I ask myself 3 questions:
To whom is God working all things together for good? The answer is clear in the rest of the verse…for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Are these two different groups? Those who love God, those who are called? He answers this in the next couple of verses, but for now let’s just say these are people who are His children, those who are truly saved. So if you are a child of God, one who is loved by God and loves and serves Him then we have a promise here in scripture for you…
God will work all things together for your good. On the flip side…God is not obligated work all things together for good to those who do not love God, those who are not called according to His purpose. God has a distinguishing love and plan for those He saves, that is different from those who continue in their sin. God works all things together for GOOD ONLY for those who love Him and are Called.
So, How do we define GOOD?
Good does not mean comfortable. Good, in the context here means our Christlikeness. God is making us like Christ.
We know that God uses our circumstances, our trials, for the good of people around us. How many times has God used a tragedy to bring family members and friends to Himself?
But more than that, God uses it for the good of US. We may never understand this side of heaven How God is using it to make us like Christ, but when I look at myself and see how far I am from Christ’s perfection, I realize that it’s going to take a lot of molding and shaping to get me to be like Him…and often that hurts. Often we go through the fire…but God has a plan that will be accomplished by working ALL THINGS to make us like Christ.
So what is meant by ALL THINGS? Does this mean:
Lose your job?
When you live in chronic pain?
When your house burns down with all your possessions?
Lose your spouse of 50 years?
Is God working all things together then?
Does all things mean all things? Yes it does. If good is defined as Christlikeness in this passage, then even the worst of circumstances can be used to draw us close to Christ…and if we are saved, our Christlikeness is assured.
Some people believe that once they are truly saved, they can walk away from their faith, or jump out of the hand of God, and lose their salvation. But this verse is one of the best verses to show that we are secure in Christ and cannot lose our salvation.
I asked you a series of questions regarding hard circumstances we find ourselves in, and we know that God can use all those things for our good…but let me ask you one more…
Can God, sending a person to hell, be for their good? The answer is no. There is no disciplinary side to hell…hell is for punishment. Its not purgatory where we become better and then get to go to heaven. Hell is not for the rehabilitation of sinners.
Think through this with me…If I love God and I am called according to His purpose…or you could say it this way, if I am truly saved, then everything God will ever do for me is for my good. If I could lose my salvation, if God would send me to hell…then that is not for my good. If God ever sent one person who was a believer, to hell, He would be doing something that would not be for their good and thus, would be going back on His promise.
So, if you are truly saved, God will never cast you into hell because He promised to work all things together for your good…and hell is not good.
The next two verses further define what it means to be “Called according to His purpose”. Verse 29 starts with the word “For” so we know this is tied to verse 28. “For those whom he foreknew”…Now there is a bit of a misunderstanding when it comes to this word “Foreknew”. The word here is “proginosko” or to know beforehand. Many have interpret this to mean “God looked down the tunnel of time or corridor of time and saw what man will do and then will make a reciprocal choice, responding to man’s decision.
There are some basic problems with that interpretation.
First, God never looked into the future and learned anything. God is omniscient and never “finds out” anything.
Second, It says those whom He foreknew, not those whom he foresaw. God isn’t seeing events in Romans 8.
Third, If proginosko or foreknowledge means nothing more than “foresight”, then what God will see is every single one rejecting Him. All we like sheep have gone astray, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are born dead in our trespasses and sins, there is none righteous no not one, there is none that even seeks after God.
Finally, there is a basic misunderstanding of the word ginosko…to know. It doesn’t mean to know about, it means to have a personal love relationship with someone. This is a distinguishing love that God does not have with everyone.
Gen 4:1, 25: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain. And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth.
Adam didn’t know about Eve as this girl he saw time and again in the garden, this means to set your heart upon and love with distinguishing affection. It is a deep, intimate love.
Amos 3:2: God, speaking of the unique relationship He has to the Nation of Israel says, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” This is a discriminating love. They were God’s chosen people.
Matthew 1:24-25: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” Does this mean Joseph didn’t know about Mary until she gave birth? No clearly this is referring to the fact that he did not intimately love her until she gave birth to Jesus.
Matthew 7:23: Speaking of the day of judgment - “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” I never had an intimate relationship with you.
John 10:14 ff: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” Here the term love and know are used almost interchangeably. The Father knows me…The father loves me…
1 Peter 1:1-2: “To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Now some say this means God foresaw something, but in the same chapter in verses 19-20 it says: “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world” Christ was foreknown. So what God did to the Son in “Foreknowing” He also did to His chosen in foreknowing them. God had a distinguishing love for the Son and He has a distinguishing love for His children, not based on finding out something about them, but based upon the counsel of His Holy Will…His own purposes. Ephesians 1 bears this out.
So back to Romans 8: “For those whom he foreknew (foreloved), he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son”. How many who were foreknown are going to be conformed to the image of His son? When it says “Those” it is by default saying ALL of those. IF I said the hotdogs have been poisoned and “Those who ate the hotdogs had better head to the hospital” I am assuming in my language “all those”
So every believer WILL be conformed to the image of Christ. If God saves us and loves us, AND we could lose our salvation, we would never be conformed to the image of Christ, so the only possibility is that, if we are truly saved, we cannot lose that salvation, but will remain faithful to the end and be like Christ.
Verse 30: “those whom he predestined he also called”. How many of those foreloved and predestined does God call? All of them. No one can be saved if they are not called. John 6 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” So being called “According to His purpose” means He purposes to love us and conform us to the image of Christ, and all of those are called.
Now how many who are called actually respond? Can you be called with this calling and not respond and be saved and be justified? Paul answers this question for us in the next phrase: “those whom he called he also justified”. Justification is the “Judicial act Whereby He declares the sinner righteous”. How many of those who are called with this calling are justified? All of them. This is the plan of God and God’s plan will come to pass…He is sovereign.
One of my favorite promises in all of scripture is the final phrase in this verse: “those whom he justified he also glorified”. Philippians 3 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” One day, we will be glorified!
From our perspective, we are not yet glorified, our glorification is in the future, but this is not written from our perspective, it is written from God’s perspective and the Aorist or past tense is used here, not the future tense: “He glorified”…it is an accomplished fact in the mind of God.
From God’s perspective, it is a done deal. How many who are justified or saved will be glorified? All of them. So once again, you can’t be saved and not eventually be glorified…we are eternally secure because our salvation is not of us…it is all of God and He will bring us to glory! This is one of the strongest eternal security passages in all of scripture.
Jonathan Edwards said, “Man brings nothing to his salvation but the sin that made it necessary.” That is why Romans 8:28-30 can be so definite that ALL those who are foreknown are predestined, and ALL those whom he predestined he also called, and ALL those whom he called he also justified, and ALL those whom he justified he also glorified. It’s because it is all of God, that we have our security. John MacArthur said it this way, “If we could lose our salvation…we would”. Thank God today that He saved you, He will keep you, and He will glorify you.
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for over 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship around the country. Bill and his family attend Belcroft Bible Church in Bowie, MD. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.