During our worship services at LJB we are presently studying through Paul’s letter written to the church in Rome, a city he had never visited. His desire to have fruit among them (1.13) motivated him to pen Romans, presenting God’s plan of salvation for mankind. As we concluded chapter 8 we discovered that Romans 1 – 8 presents that plan of salvation from eternity to eternity two different ways. What God does, He does well, and in Romans 1 – 8 He did it twice.
Romans 8.28 is a strong statement of blessing for believers, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” I couldn’t help but ask the question “How did believers get to such a blessed place after such a strong declaration of sinfulness in Romans 3.11-12, none who understand, none who seeks after God, all turned aside and become unprofitable, none who does good, no, not one. God’s plan of salvation, from eternity to eternity is the answer. And its presented twice.
The first way that Paul emphasizes God’s activity in salvation from eternity to eternity is found in the topics he addressed in Romans chapter 1 through 8. Romans 1.20 speaks of God’s invisible attributes being clearly seen since the creation of the world, resulting in everyone who has experienced creation being without excuse. Paul continues to develop the topic of man’s sinfulness through chapter 3.20. Abraham was then presented as God’s example of a man simply believing God, resulting in God accounting it to him as righteousness. Faith in Jesus Christ, rather than adherence to the law, is presented as the only way of justification and peace with God in Romans 5. Chapter 6 speaks of the believer’s complete identity with Jesus. As a follower of Christ one is identified with His death, burial and resurrection, each having a significant impact on the believer’s life. In Romans 7 Paul addresses the practical spiritual battle between the believer’s inner man and his flesh, concluding with verse 24 which says, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” The gem of the epistle comes in Romans 8 which declares the believer to be in a no condemnation state because of his love for God and the Holy Spirit who indwells him, with God willing and able to make all things work together for his good. Three significant groans are also presented in Romans 8.22-27: creation groans, waiting for man’s redemption, believer’s groan, waiting the completion of their adoption and the redemption of their bodies, and the indwelling Holy Spirit groans in prayer for the very one He is indwelling, praying according to the will of God. In Romans 1 – 8 Paul moved from creation to the redemption of the believer’s body, from one end of eternity to the other.
The second way that Paul emphasizes God’s activity in salvation from eternity to eternity is more concise, perhaps making it even more significant. It is found in Romans 8.29-30, For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. These verses, with their highlighted 5 step process: foreknew, predestined to become conformed to Christ’s image, called, justified and glorified, give the reader a picture of salvation from God’s perspective. Interestingly, it moves from eternity to eternity, from whom He foreknew to whom He glorified. These 2 verses are a strong declaration of God and His activity in the believer’s salvation. Paul’s motive seems to be God’s greatness, His grandeur and His vastness, rather than mere human understanding.
These two presentations of God’s activities in man’s salvation should cause the reader of Romans to magnify and worship the name of the Lord for who He is, and for who He has declared Himself to be. And because He is who He is, He is able to cause all things “to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
What an incredibly awesome God we serve!