Theologians like to call Romans 8:29-30 the “Golden Chain of Salvation.” In this passage God does lay out a chain of sorts, the links if you will, in his plan of salvation. This passage also includes some of the weightiest (and most controversial) theological words and concepts in all the Bible. I’d like to just polish the surface of the chain. I’ll let you do the digging.
1. Foreknew. The concept and word foreknew does not speak of God knowing the actions of people, who’d choose or reject him, and then him acting and planning accordingly. The word is a word of intimacy and it deals with God knowing each of us intimately before the foundation of the world, not after you came into being. The greatness of this word is that it speaks of God as being personal and eternal.
2. Predestined. Easily the most debated and hated word in the Bible. A general definition of predestination is that God determines the course of your life before you were here. It is very closely related to foreknew. Just as God designed you in his mind, and I don’t claim to have my mind wrapped around that one, he predestined you and your life from beginning to end. Not to be a cop-out, but all of this hurts my head, but that doesn’t mean the subject of predestination should be avoided. It’s in the Bible. Therefore we must believe and teach it.
3. Called. Called speaks of God’s election. God uses the message of Jesus, the gospel, and its application by the Holy Spirit, to call sinners to faith in Jesus. So, you’re foreknown and predestined, but you still must be called out at some point and time and by some means. As I mentioned, that means is the Good News that Jesus came into the world and died for you and as you!
4. Justified. Justified speaks of our legal standing before God. If not for Jesus and his work on the cross, we stand before God guilty. Because of Jesus we can stand before God innocent. Nothing we can do can justify us before God. Only on the grounds of what Jesus did may we stand before God without blame, shame, wrath, guilt or sin.
5. Glorified. The Bible is clear that if God saves us he saves us until the end. Ultimately, after this life, we will be glorified in that we will live forever with Jesus in the presence of God. Sounds like reasons to shout!
I love that in the verses before these two verses and that passage following, Paul makes the case that if you are bound by this chain, you will never be unbound. The chain of salvation cannot be broken unless someone or something comes along that is stronger than Jesus.
We all know that isn’t going to happen.
Therefore, instead of engaging in arguments about the wording of this passage (though I’m all for hearty debate), we should engage in praise that our God is powerful enough to save us and save us despite ourselves. We should find hope and comfort in the chain!