Romans 8:28-30

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

March 24, 1999


Weíve seen Paul comparing the life of the flesh against the life of the Spirit. Life lived under the power of the flesh results in nothing but frustration and ultimately, death. Successful Christian living happens only when we learn to yield more and more of ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Rom 8:13 KJV) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Last week we saw that one way the Holy Spirit helps our weaknesses is by praying for us:

(Rom 8:26-27 KJV) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. {27} And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

He knows exactly what Godís will is even when we donít. Heíll step in and pray in our place with groanings that canít be understood. This might be through the gift of tongues, but it might simply be some kind of groaning deep inside.

Put your problems in the Lordís hands. Let Him take care of it. Let the Holy Spirit take your problems to the throne of God.

:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

know Ė eido Ė to see; to know; understand, perceive

This week we came across a line in the book Spiritual Discipleship, (pg.95) by J.Oswald Sanders: "Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare. Do we have eyes that see?

Thatís my concept of this word. Itís not seeing in the sense of just observing something, but seeing in the sense of really understanding whatís going on.

all things Ė both the good and the bad.

work together Ė sunergeo Ė to work together, help in work, be partner in labour; to put forth power together with and thereby to assist

good Ė agathos Ė of good constitution or nature; useful; pleasant; excellent

purpose Ė prothesis Ė a setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view, the shewbread; a purpose

The word "His" is not in the original. Itís simply "according to purpose".

The word order in the original is a little interesting. In Greek, you can rearrange words into just about any order, and it still comes out the same. The difference word order makes is the emphasis. You usually put the important things first. You could translate the verse like this:

And we understand that to those loving God, all things work together for the good, to those according to purpose, which are being called.

If you love God and are called by Him according to purpose, then all things are going to work together for your good.

The requirements:

I love God and am called by Him.

The only thing that I have a part in is whether or not I love God. I have no part in whether or not Iím called. Weíll look more at being "called" in the next verse.

The benefits to me:

All things are working towards my good.

I have been called according to a purpose

Lesson #1

I have a purpose.

You are not some cosmic mistake. You are not an accident. Part of life is learning to discover what my purpose really is?

(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Lesson #2

Itíll all work out.

Everything that God allows in your life is for a reason, for your good.

Itís not that all things are going to work out according to how I want them to. Itís that all things work together to produce something good in me.

Am I going to understand why everything happens to me? Not always.

Lesson #3

Just focus on loving Him.

Thatís our part in all of this.

We only love Him because He first loved us.

(1 John 4:19 KJV) We love him, because he first loved us.

We can know that all that He does is filtered through His love.

Get back to your first love. Thatís where youíll find rest in your circumstances, when youíre resting in His love.

Itís like in a marriage. If youíre not actively building your love in your marriage, youíll find that the problems that come up will divide you. Youíll get mad at each other. Youíll blame each other.

But when you get back to focusing on how to love each other, serve each other, appreciate each other, then youíll find that the problems will only draw you closer to each other.

(Rev 2:4-5a KJV) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. {5} Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works Ö

:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate

Keep in mind, you canít have Romans 8:28 without Romans 8:29. Itís verse 29 that explains the idea of being "called" of God. Itís verse 29 that gives us a clue to the idea of "purpose" in our lives.

foreknow Ė proginosko Ė to have knowledge before hand; to foreknow; of those whom God elected to salvation

predestinate Ė proorizo Ė to predetermine, decide beforehand; in the NT of God decreeing from eternity; to foreordain, appoint beforehand. A combination of pro (before) and horizo (to define; to mark out the boundaries or limits; determine, appoint).

Letís look at a couple of other places this word is used (itís used six times in the NT) to get an idea of what this means:

(Acts 4:23-28 KJV) And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. {24} And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: {25} Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? {26} The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. {27} For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, {28} For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

The early church saw that God had determined long ago that Jesus would be killed in part due to the Gentiles because of what David had prophesied. In that sense, Pilate and the others were only doing what God had intended them to do.

(Eph 1:11-12 KJV) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: {12} That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

We have been "predestinated" to receive an inheritance so that we would be to the praise of Godís glory. God causes all things to be worked out according to what His purposes are. This is very similar to what God says of Himself through Isaiah:

(Isa 46:9-10 KJV) Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Does this mean that we human beings donít have any free will of our own? Are we just mindless puppets controlled by some mighty puppeteer?

Somehow, though God is Almighty and Sovereign, we still have self will. The Bible tells us so.

(John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Itís not those that are "predestined" that donít perish, but those who choose to believe.

(Rom 10:8-15 KJV) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; {9} That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. {10} For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. {11} For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. {12} For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. {13} For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. {14} How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? {15} And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Right here in the same book, Romans, Paul says itís "whosoever" that calls on the Lord that is saved. People canít call on Him unless they hear about Him. They canít hear about Him unless we go and tell them. But why would we have to tell them if theyíre already predestined? Because thereís an element of "freewill" in this whole equation.

How can both be true? How can we both be predestined and yet have freewill? The problem is that I donít think we can reconcile the two ideas. Itís beyond our ability to understand in this life.

We have a game on the computer where you have to find your way through a maze. At times you can see the goal you have to accomplish, yet you canít see how to get there. As you move along in the maze, more and more is revealed to you. For us, from where we see things, and from what little we can see, these two things donít make sense together. We canít see how two separate trails can lead to the same goal. Yet beyond our understanding is a place where it all makes sense. I think that place is when we get to heaven.

Charles Spurgeon used to explain it something like this: "When we get to heaven, weíll see those great big pearly gates, with a huge sign overhead that reads, "Whosoever will, come". And as we pass through the gates into heaven, if we would care to look over our shoulder, weíd see that thereís another message on the other side of the sign. It reads, "Predestined before the foundation of the world". From the earthly side of heaven, all we can really understand is that we have a choice. God offers us salvation, but we have to choose to accept it and receive it. Yet when we get to heaven, weíll look back and see that we were chosen by God from the very beginning.

How do I know if Iím one of those predestined or not?

The only way I know is to choose Him. If you choose to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then youíll know that God has chosen you. If you choose not to accept Him, it really doesnít tell me anything. It might mean that youíre not chosen, but it also just might mean that youíre kind of stubborn.


God has a plan and Heís in control.

Rather than getting caught up in trying to understand being predestined, just find rest in the fact that God is God, and Heís in control.

For example:

1 Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Because God is in control, He will not allow you to be tempted more than you can handle. Itís the simple truth. He will ALWAYS provide an exit from the temptation. If the temptation were actually too great for us, it would never be allowed to come before us. So how come we fall to temptation? Because weíre not looking for the exit, and if we were to see it, we arenít taking it.

:29 to be conformed to the image of his Son

conformed Ė summorphos Ė having the same form as another, similar, conformed to; it describes what is the essence in character and thus complete or durable, not merely a form or outline.

image Ė eikon Ė an image, figure, likeness

This is what Godís plan is aiming at. That we become more like Jesus.

What does the "image" of His Son look like?

There are lots of different lists that we could use that describe Jesus, but one of my favorites is:

(1 Cor 13:4-8 NASB) Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, {5} does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, {6} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; {7} bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. {8} Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

If God is love, and Jesus is God, then itís not that big of a stretch to take the word "love" and substitute it with "Jesus" in the passage. As you read through it this way, it makes total sense. If on the other hand, I substitute my own name, it doesnít sound quite right. Thatís because there are areas my life that still need to be shaped into the image of Jesus. This is my goal.

Shaping into an image isnít really a pleasant thought. It means that some areas are going to be pushed and molded. Some things may need to be cut off or trimmed. Some other areas may need to be added. Some areas may need a total overhaul. But this is what God is trying to do in our lives.


"There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out "Let me alone" but he only smiled and said, "Not yet". And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. "Stop it Iím getting dizzy," I said. The master only nodded and said "Not yet" Then he put me in an oven, Iíd never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said "not yet." Finally the door did open "whew", and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. "Thatís better" I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, "Not yet". And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, "Not yet, not yet" . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldnít make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said "Look at yourself". And I did. And I said, "That canít be me, Iím beautiful!"

:29 that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

firstborn Ė prototokos Ė the firstborn

The term "firstborn" in Scripture doesnít necessarily mean "first to be born from a mother". Thatís what the idea derives from, but it means something more than that. It carries the idea of "preeminence", the idea of position, of leadership.

We see several examples where the first child to be actually birthed was not the one recognized as the "firstborn".

It was Jacob who received the blessing and the birthright, even though Esau was the first son born. (Gen. 25:33; 27:29)

It was Joseph who received the double portion of the firstborn, even though he had several brothers who preceded him. (Gen. 49:26; 48:5)

It was Ephraim who received the place of the "firstborn", even though Manasseh was actually the oldest. (Gen. 48:14; Jer. 31:9)

The idea here is that Jesus is kind of like our "older brother", and weíre being shaped and molded to be more and more like Him.

:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

predestinate Ė same word as used in verse 29 (proorizo).

called Ė a form of the same word used in verse 28 (kaleo).

justified Ė dikaioo Ė to render righteous or such he ought to be. This is what God does when we put our trust in Jesus. He declares us to be justified, He now calls us righteous.

(2 Cor 5:21 KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

(Rom 5:1 KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

glorified Ė doxazo Ė to think, suppose; to praise; to honour; to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor; to impart glory to something; to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged.

This is something that really has yet to happen, as far as our reference of time is concerned.

Yet all four verbs (predestined, called, justified, glorified) are in the past tense (aorist tense, something done at a point of time).

We get a little insight into Godís working. We can see that He predestines us in the past, calls us in the past, and even justifies us in the past. But glorified? That hasnít happened yet. Yet for God, itís already happened. In Godís mind, itís already happened. How? Because God inhabits eternity. He is present in the past, present in the present, and present in the future. He is existing at all times right now.

Itís like a Heís in the Goodyear Blimp above the Rose Parade. He can see the beginning of the parade as well as the end of the parade. But for those of us camped out along the parade route, we can only see one float go by at a time.

We have an Awesome God. He knows whatís up ahead. Heís prepared for it. He cares for you. Heíll take you through.