Thursday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 8:29-30

God Foreknew

These two verses contain much encouragement and reassurance for believers as Paul reaches for the climax of these first eight chapters of his letter.  He began this chapter with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” which is why he “is not ashamed of the gospel” (1:16).  He has spoken of the Holy Spirit’s presence within the believer enabling him to live after the manner of his Lord.  And now Paul introduces us to what some down through history have called the “golden chain” of redemption.  It is fitting that he places it here at the climax rather than at the beginning of the letter, a mistake which theologians have made in the past; that is, in any sort of systematic arrangement of theology, which Romans anticipates more than any other writing in the New Testament, the doctrine of election is best discussed after other doctrines, such as justification by faith, law and gospel, and life in the Spirit.  To begin with election often short circuits discussion of these other necessary teachings.

“For those whom He foreknew.”  Biblical scholars largely agree that “foreknew” is equivalent to “chose.”  It is not simply that God knew ahead of time who would choose him; God “knows” these in the biblical sense of a special intimate relationship.  Besides, what God foreknows must occur by nature of His knowing it, and His knowledge is in no way dependent upon our choices.  And because God knows and chooses these ahead of time, He predestines them.  It makes no sense to say that God “predestines” those who choose Him; in that case, He would be rewarding them.

But the wonderful part of this verse is that he predestines them not to heaven, which is what we often think of, although heaven is certainly included.  Paul says they are predestined “to be conformed to the image of His Son,” which we must be if we are to reside in heaven.  To be like Christ—that should be every believer’s most earnest desire, above all other desires in this world.  And thereupon, God calls us, justifies us (makes us right before Him), and glorifies us, although that glory awaits its ultimate fulfillment in heaven.

And so Paul covers election at the end where it naturally belongs, after having discussed our inability to save ourselves and our need for God’s justifying grace.  And having introduced it, He will now build upon it our confidence and assurance in the One “who did not spare His own Son.”  Who shall bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?  Don’t even dare!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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