Loved By God
Explore the Bible Series
Lesson Passage: Romans 8: 28-39
Like a great symphony, the Eighth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans lifts the hearts of God’s people, secure in the redemptive love of Christ. Four “movements” unfold the security of God’s elect, and the symphony reaches its crescendo in the last paragraph of the chapter. The “movements” address four grand themes.
Note that the security of salvation centers on the work of the Triune God. God the Father sent the Son to accomplish salvation for his people (See v. 3). The Holy Spirit leads, assures, and keeps the believer (See vv. 12-17), and the Son loves his people with an everlasting affection that no force can thwart. Mark the harmonic work of the Trinity. What the Father decreed, the Son procured, and the Spirit applied. Each glorious person of the Godhead works to secure the elect for their future glory.
In one sense, it seems inappropriate for us to consider these things. They are wonderful and mysterious. Nevertheless, what God has revealed, he intends for his people to understand and enjoy. May the truths of this text buoy the hearts all who have placed their hope in the saving work of the Godhead.
By the end of this lesson, may all of us raise our hearts in the strains of this old hymn.
Father of Heaven whose love profound, a ransom for our souls hath found,
Before thy throne we sinners bend; to us thy pardoning love extend.
Almighty Son, Incarnate Word, our Prophet, Priest, Redeemer, Lord;
Before thy throne we sinners bend; to us thy saving grace extend.
Eternal Sprit, by whose breath the soul is raised from sin to death,
Before thy throne we sinners bend; to us thy quickening power extend.
Jehovah, Father, Spirit, Son, mysterious Godhead, Three in One;
Before thy throne we sinners bend; grace, pardon, life to us extend.
I. Paul’s Five Assertions (-30): The apostle assured his readers that God had good intensions for Christians despite the present sufferings. All of these things (the hardships believers endure) will work for the ultimate good of God’s people. Their calling assured that God intended good for them.
A. “… whom he foreknew” (v. 29a): The word “foreknew” denotes great love, discerning, distinguishing love. Many interpret this verse to mean that God foreknew the faith of believers, and, on that ground, God predestined the persons he knew would chose salvation. Of course, God does know who will believe in Christ, but this is not Paul’s point here. Notice that the verse does not say what (faith) God foreknew; rather, it describes whom God foreknew. If this passage referred to foreseen faith, Paul would have used a different pronoun. Also, this view does not account for the origin of faith. Scripture clearly teaches that that God gives faith to his people (See John 6:44-45 and 65, Ephesians 2:8, and Philippians 1:29).
B. “…he also predestined” (v. 29b): This verb means to mark out before time. We get our English word “horizon” from this term. It means to draw a circle around something. God, according to Paul’s theology, drew a circle around his people. This doctrine, of course, does not deny that God’s elect come to Christ most freely and willingly. The apostle affirmed both the free agency of man and the sovereignty of God. Notice that Paul defined the purpose of God’s predestination, “…that we might be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren.” Two points deserve mentioning.
1. God chooses his people that they might bear the image of the Son. He elects them to Christlikeness.
2. God’s choice of his elect ones makes them brothers. This predestination carries the great responsibility to regard the elect as brothers in Christ.
C. “…These he also called” (v. 30a): At the appointed time, God graciously and effectually draws the elect to faith in Christ. He does this merciful work by the power of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the word. The Holy Spirit calls sinners in the following ways.
1. He enlightens the mind to understand savingly the gospel.
2. He engages the conscience to see one’s sinfulness.
3. He enamors the heart to desire and delight in the Son.
4. He enables the will to follow Christ freely and willingly.
D. “…he also justified: (v. 30b): God declares the guilty sinner as righteous in his sight because of the Christ’s finished work. Christ perfectly obeyed the will of the Father and paid for the sins of his people by his death on the cross. Thus, he cancelled the legal/moral debt and satisfied the demands of God’s justice. The sinner, therefore, receives the free pardon of sins, and the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to the sinner’s account.
E. “…he also glorified” (v. 30c): At the return of Christ, God will resurrect and renew the bodies of believers. Soul and body will be reunited, and the saints will be conformed to the likeness of the resurrected Christ. This glorification is so certain that Paul expressed this in the aorist tense, as an accomplished action.
Application: This passage affirms five truths concerning salvation.
1. God initiated and executed the plan of salvation.
2. Each person of the Trinity works uniquely and in perfect concert to carry out the plan of redemption.
3. God, most assuredly, is not a “risk-taker.” He is not a cosmic gambler who took his best odds in his saving work.
4. Believers may take great comfort and assurance in God’s saving purpose of grace.
5. These truths should inflame the believer’s passion for proclaiming the gospel to a lost world. God’s work guarantees the success of our labors for the sake of the Kingdom.
II. Paul’s Five Rhetorical Questions (-39): The apostle raised five rhetorical questions to drive home his points about the believer’s assurance. In each case, the question anticipates a negative answer.
A. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31): Again, Paul refocuses the reader’s attention on the Father’s gift of the Son. The Lord’s sending of his Son will cancel out the hostility of the believer’s enemies.
B. “…how shall he not with him give us all things.” (v. 32): Paul argued from the greater to the lesser. If God has given believers the greatest gift in his Son, why would he withhold any lesser gift?
C. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” (v. 33): Because of Christ’s work for sinners, no one can bring a valid indictment against the Lord’s chosen ones.
D. “Who is he who condemns?” (v. 34): Not only shall no one indict the Lord’s people, no person can condemn them. Christ died to remove the sinner’s condemnation, and he continues to intercede for his beloved people.
E. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (v.35-39): Paul anticipated the powers and circumstances that might remove the believer from the circle of Christ’s love: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, or sword. The love of Christ assures Christians that they will conquer all of their foes.