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Romans 8:28-30


Intro: I would like to remind you that the book of Romans was written to believers. It is a book given to those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Therefore, the message of this book is intensely Christian. Having said that, let me say that there are two basic schools of thought that exist concerning the matter of how we are saved. There are many views within these schools, but almost all views could be grouped within one school of thought or the other.

First, there is a school of thought that is known as Arminianism. This view of salvation receives its name from a man named Jacobus Arminius. People who hold to this viewpoint typically believe that man cooperates with God in his salvation. Salvation is through faith in Christ, but we choose to believe when we are ready. Most people who hold to this point of view also believe that we can stop believing at any time and, thus, we become lost again. Basically, salvation is based upon the will of man.

Then, there is a school of thought that is known as Calvinism. This viewpoint receives its name from a sixteenth century preacher by the name of John Calvin. Strict Calvinism says that God selected some people for salvation and others for Hell and that those selected have no say in the matter whatsoever. In strict Calvinism, the will of man is forfeited to the sovereignty of God.

Personally, my view is diametrically opposed to that of the Arminians. I lean more toward Calvinism, however, it is a modified view that is held by most Baptists in this part of the world.

I have said these things because these are the subjects that are in view in these verses this evening. And, while we will never solve the puzzle of salvation completely in this life, some of the answers to our questions are in these verses.

Tonight, I am titling this message "The Determination Of The Spirit Life." When I speak of determination I am referring to the determination of God rather than to the determination of the saints of God. I think we will see from these verses that salvation is something that produced by God and enjoyed by man. Salvation is one of those things that we had absolutely nothing to do with it becoming a reality in our lives. I also think it will become clear that these verses give us the strongest arguments in the Word of God for the unconditional, eternal security of the believer.

Let's dig into these verses this evening and as we do, please remember that we are treading in deep waters! Yet, I think there is some meat for the saints in these verses tonight. I only want to consider two thoughts this evening, but they are so big and so mind-boggling that they will give us plenty to chew on as we study together.


(Ill. Besides John 3:16, this may be the most beloved and claimed promise of the New Testament. And, there is good reason for that! Life is so filled with trials and troubles, it is good to know that everything is being worked out according to the plan of a great God.)

A. There Is A Confidence - Paul's statement is a shocking statement, but it is one that is absolutely true nonetheless! Friend, this is the ironclad promise of God! His reputation rides on this verse being true, and it is! He did not say that all things are good, but that they will work for good. It is a promise that is as good as the God Who made it!

(Ill. F.B. Meyer, "If any promise of God should fail, the heavens would cloth themselves in sackcloth; the sun, the moon and the stars would reel from their courses; the universe would rock, and a hollow wind would moan through a ruined creation the awful fact that God can lie.")

B. There Is A Completeness - Ill. Not "most", not "some", but "ALL" Webster - 1.) The whole of, the greatest possible; 2.) Every member or individual part of; 3.) The whole number or sum of; 4.) Every; 5:) Any whatever. In fact, every thing in the life of the child of God is working for your good! Even the things you don't understand, or even like! Notice some areas where God is working out our good and His glory.

1. Sweet Things Work For Our Good - It is easy to see how the sweet things in life work for us. (Ill. Home, family, health, wealth, salvation, etc.) These things are the stuff of life that make it good and make us feel good about things. In fact, these blessings from the Lord ought to cause us to want to be better Christians, Rom. 2:4. (Ill. We ought to thank and praise Him for His blessings - 1 Thes. 5:18; Heb. 13:15.)

2. Sorrowful Things Work For Our Good - (Ill. A Russian invasion and many carried off to slavery in Siberia. Would it be good? (Ill. There are several examples in the Word of God where extremely sorrowful things happened to people and it all worked for their good in the end. Ill. Jacob - Gen. 42:36; Judah - Jer. 24:5; The Psalmist - Psa. 119:71; Joseph - Gen. 50:20; Manasseh - 2 Chron. 33:11-12) Often the sickbed, the valley of suffering, or the time of sorrow can out teach the sermon! When God allows a time of sorrow, suffering or pain in our lives, it is always for our good and for His glory. (Ill. He never said we had to like it, but we should strive to be thankful!) Remember, it is the eye that is washed with tears that sees the best!

3. Satanic Things Work For Our Good - (Ill. Paul - 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Ill. Paul endured Satanic attack and affliction. But, God gave it to Him!) Ill. God can even use the devil to work out good things in our lives. Even Satanic attack is used by the Lord to grow us up in his image.

4. Sinful Things Work For Our Good - Ill. Christians ought not sin! When we do, we will suffer, Rev. 3:19, but God can take the suffering brought about by deliberate sin and use it for our good - Ill. Simon Peter - Luke 22:31-34.

(Ill. God uses all the circumstances of life for our good. May not see the good right now, but we can still take comfort and rejoice in the completeness of God's promise.)

C. There Is A Cause - These things aren't "just working out" for the believer. They are taking place because of the personal concern and work of God in the life of that believer. The cause is the awesome power of God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing and He is able to take control of every situation in life. It's easy to forget that God is in control - Matt. 28:18; Eph. 3:20; Luke 1:38; Job 42:2. When we get our eyes off Him and on our circumstance, we are in for a fall - Ill. Peter - Matt. 14:28-31.

(Ill. Martin Luther was prone to periods of deep depression. One day, during one of those times, he came to the breakfast table to find his wife dressed in black garments. She looked as if she were gong to a funeral. Luther asked his wife who had died and she replied "God." Luther raised his voice and said, "Woman, that is blaspheme!" She replied, "It is no more blaspheme to say that God is dead than it is to live as though He were dead." Luther got the point and repented of his foolishness! When life closes in on you, remember this: If you belong to Jesus, God is behind every circumstance you face. (Ill. Job 1 & 2). It had to pass across His desk and receive His approval before it cam to you!)

D. There Is A Condition - This promise is not for everyone. But, only to those who love God. If all things work together for good to the lover of God, the opposite must be true for those who do not love him!

(Ill. Preaching - Blesses the obedient, and bruises the disobedient.)

(Ill. If you went to a physician whom you didn't trust, you wouldn't follow his prescription and treatment and as a result, you wouldn't experience the blessing of healing. If you do not love God, and trust His wisdom, you will rebel against Him and refuse to submit to Him for your life.)

(Ill. How can I tell if I really love God?

1. Are you saved? You can't love Him until you know Him - 1 John 4:19.

2. Are you obedient? John 14:15; John 14:21.

(Ill. You have no right to claim Rom. 8:28 unless you qualify as one who loves Him!)

(Ill. Jesus can be either good or bad. He is the door - John 10:9. To the saved, He is the door into the glories of Heaven and eternal life, but to the lost, He is the door into damnation and eternal separation in Hell. You see, it is vitally important for you to "love God", so this great promise can be yours now and forever.)

E. There Is A Consequence - This is not a verse designed for your happiness! It is not to be taken lightly. This verse cannot be divorced from the verses that immediately follow it - 29-30. As we shall see, God's purpose in turning everything to good is not to bless you, make you happy, or make you wealthy. God is doing all that He does to make you more like Jesus! God didn't finish with you at salvation. He will continue to shape you until you reflect His image perfectly. The whole purpose of Romans 8:28 is to teach us that God has an eternal plan and that nothing will ever be able to change that plan! God is busy reproducing Himself in each of us.

I. The Determination Of The Spirit Life


(Ill. As we move into these two verses, I will admit that they pose questions that I cannot readily answer. In fact, there are no easy answers to the problems posed here. If there were, then these two verses would not have divided the church for these 2,000 years. These verses merely teach us that God is working in us to reproduce the image of Jesus in every child of God, v. 29. That is a precious truth! However, it is how this working is carried out that poses the problem for many. What I want to do this evening is not settled ages old doctrinal disputes. What I hope to accomplish in preaching the truths contained in these two verses is to cause each of us to understand that God is working out an eternal plan in the life of every child of God. These verses tell us of the "purpose" that was mentioned in verse 28. Let's see what God has purposed for each of us!)

A. It Is Based In The Omniscience Of God - (Ill. There are two basic interpretations of this verse. One group says that God looked ahead through time and saw who would be saved and these are the people He determined would be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is probably the most common view. On the other hand, others say that God looked down through time and for reasons known only to God Himself, elected certain individuals to be called to salvation. Either group poses its own set of problems.

1. If God only predestinated those whom He knew would believe, then God's sovereignty is forfeited to the will of man. In other words, God was forced to accept only those whom He knew would believe on Him. This forces God's will to become the prisoner of man's will. Friends, that can never happen!

2. On the other hand, if God picked some people and saved them whether they wanted to be saved or not, then the free will of man is a joke. It means that people are nothing more than mere automatons who have no say in whether they will come to God or not. This view also paints God as a Creator Who is cruel because He evidently meant for some people to suffer in Hell forever.

As you can see, both of these views have problems. Now, let's complicate things just a little more. Notice Ephesians 1:4-6. This passage also tells us that God chose us out before the foundation of the world and saved us by His grace.

(Ill. How do we understand this problem? Well, first I would say that I flatly reject the notion that man's will carries more weight than God's will. God will never be held captive to the whims of men. However, I also reject the idea that God handpicked a few for Heaven and the rest for Hell. Let's see if we can untangle this matter by looking at what the Bible tells us about getting saved.

1. Man does not initiate salvation - Man is dead in sin, Eph. 2:1. Therefore, he is incapable of coming to God on his own. As a result, salvation is dependent upon the sinner being called to come to God by the Spirit of God, John 6:44; John 6:65. Therefore, salvation always begins with God. He takes the initiative.

2. The death of Christ on the cross was for the sins of all men - When Jesus died, He was dying for the sins of the world, 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:21.

3. But, only those who receive the atoning death of Christ by faith are saved through His blood - Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-10; John 5:24; John 3:16.

4. There is also no escaping the fact that believers were chosen by God before the world began - Eph. 1:4-6.

5. But, wait, the Bible says "whosoever will" may come, Rev. 22:17; Rom. 10:13! Doesn't this mean that anyone can be saved? Yes, but only if they have been called by the Spirit of God.

6. The bottom line of the whole matter is this: Jesus died for the sins of the entire human race. His gift of salvation is freely offered to all men everywhere. However, those men will not want the gift unless they are specifically called by the Spirit of God to receive it. When God calls someone to salvation, He moves in their life in such a way that they come to want what He wants. God is absolutely Sovereign in the matter of salvation, just as He is in every other matter of life!

(Ill. Imagine it this way: Two men are playing a game of chess. One is an accomplished master of the game and knows thousands of ways to start a game, strategies to use during the game and how to play the end game. The other person is a novice and he just blindly makes each move playing the game. As the game progresses the master skillfully uses every move his opponent makes to bring him into a position where there is no other alternative but for him to surrender his king to the master. The master of the game has brought his opponent to a place where they share the same will. That is a crude analogy, but it makes the point that God's sovereign will is fulfilled while the will of the human is not violated. God works in our lives to bring us to the place where we will surrender to His will for our lives. Why doesn't He do this with all men? That is a mystery that cannot be solved. Salvation is for all men, but no man can be saved apart from the call of the Spirit of God.)

(Ill. Here is where we must put this matter to rest. Let it be stated that no one can be saved apart from the call of God. And, those who are called were chosen in Christ before the world began. Let is also be said that God has chosen out no one specifically for condemnation. God gives all men light, John 1:9; but the elect are extended an "effectual call'. They respond to this call and they are saved according to God's eternal purpose. These two things may seem contradictory, but they are not! They are merely mysteries that we cannot solve, but which by faith we know to be true. I will end this discussion with this statement: Salvation is a mystery! A mystery that will not be solved until we are home in glory!)

B. It Is Based In The Omnipotence Of God - Now, the end result of all this is God's desire to make us like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 29 tells us that we have been "predestinated" for this great honor. The word "predestine" comes from a word that means to "mark off the boundaries ahead of time." That is, before we were even born, God had already determined that we would be saved, and that we would bear the image of the Lord Jesus in our new Heavenly home! God's overarching purpose in salvation is to remake the image of His Son in every person who believes.

(Ill. Jesus is called the "firstborn". This word comes from the same word from which we get the English word "prototype." A prototype is a perfect model that is made before a product goes into mass production. Jesus is our prototype. Just as He is so shall we be! Just as He conquered death, so shall we. Just as He is glorified, so shall we be. Just as He is holy, so shall we be. Just as He inhabits Heaven, so shall we.)

How do I know this? Because of verse 30. Here, we are told that He "foreknew" us and that He "predestinated us". These things we have already dealt with. Now, those He predestinated, He "called". Those he called He "justified". Those He justified He "glorified". The whole point of these verses is this: In Jesus, we are absolutely secure! Why? Notice:

1. Verse 28 tells us that God is working out His purpose in us. What is that purpose? He is making us in the image of Jesus. Why do all that work and then throw us away?

2. Verse 29 tells us that God has already decided that we will be like Jesus some day. It is a done deal!

3. Verse 30 uses several words to speak of our journey. And, every one of them is in the "aorist tense" in the Greek and this tense is roughly equivalent to our past tense. Notice:

A. We were predestinated - Past tense.

B. We were called - Past tense

C. We were justified - (Ill. To declare righteous!) - Past tense.

D. We were glorified - Past tense - In the mind of God, we are already with Him in Heaven, Eph. 2:6, and we are already sinless, and we are already glorified. We are as good for Heaven as if we were already there!

Conc: The final word here is this: If you are saved, you are saved forever. Nothing can or will derail the purpose of God concerning you. If you are saved, you will be saved forever. If you are in Jesus, you will be in Jesus forever. A good way to end this message might be to look at the question asked in verse 32. "What shall we say to these things?" I think the best answer would be to say "Glory! Hallelujah!" Or, we might just answer it by standing in pure amazement at the power of God.

My friends, we will never get the workings of salvation figured out while we are in this world, but we sure can enjoy the end result. If you are saved, praise God and know that you will be saved forever and one day you will be like Jesus. If you are not saved, know this, if you have the desire to be you can be. That desire is the Spirit of God calling you to come. If you feel that tug tonight, then come to Jesus and be saved.

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