by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 11 April 1, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
29 For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren:
30 and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
I. Predestination Continued: Opposition.
A. It is almost invariably true that those who "oppose" the doctrine of predestination do so verbally at the "hot button" issue of whether God has predestined the eternal destinies of human beings so that some people "do not have a chance" to be saved.
1. Because this is a "hot button" issue, there often exists far more "heat" than "light" in the sense that people refuse to think rationally and consistently when the emotional atmosphere is super-charged. There is only one solution to this difficulty: a prayerful willingness to honestly tell God, "I will accept your Word as my guide in all matters of my faith so that it does not matter to me what You have said; it only matters to me that I understand what You have said." If I can pray this with truth, I can approach any "issue" with a minimum of emotional involvement and a maximum of clear mindedness.
2. The facts regarding the "chances" that people have to be saved are these...
a. Being saved is dependent upon several external issues.
1) According to the apostle Paul, it is necessary to "call upon the Lord" (Romans 10:12) in order to be "saved" (Romans 10:12).
2) According to the same context, it is necessary to "believe" on the Lord in order to "call upon Him" (10:14).
3) Then it is necessary for people to "hear" of Him before they can "believe" (10:14).
4) Then it is necessary for people to have exposure to a "preacher" before they can "hear" (10:14).
5) Then it is necessary for a "preacher" to be "sent" before any "preaching" can take place (10:15).
6) Then it is necessary that someone be willing to "go" before any "sending" can occur (Romans 1:1 and Acts 26:17).
7) Then it is necessary that someone have some godly compassion and a certain intrepid faith in God as Sender/Provider before there will be any "willingness to go" (1 Peter 3:14-15).
8) Therefore, if these things do not exist externally to those who are lost, they "cannot be saved", and who is able to bring all of these things to pass?
a) Additionally, what do we do about the hypocrisy of "heating up" over the question of whether people are "predestined" to be saved, or lost, when the questioner is not doing every thing in his/her power to make sure that all of these "externals" are in place?
b) Biblically, divine predestination is more about making sure the "externals" are in place than it is about "keeping anyone from being saved".
i. Someone may ask why God does not make sure that all of these externals are in place in every place.
ii. There are two parts to the answer: one, He has made sure (Romans 10: 18) at a very basic level that is at least one step above the testimony of creation (Romans 1:20); and, two, He has accepted, to some degree, the insistence by men that He allow them to operate by their own "free will".
iii. But there is another serious question: What would happen if God did let men operate exclusively by their own "free will"?; how many of these externals would be in place then?
b. Being saved is dependent upon several internal issues.
1) Having a "chance" to be saved involves more than having certain external provisions in place; it involves several internal realities.
2) What was Saul of Tarsus doing with his "free will" as it operated out of his own internal set of values and beliefs?
3) What did it take for him to jettison both values and beliefs?
4) What would we be studying this evening if Jesus had not taken the initiative on the road to Damascus and destroyed Saul's value-and-belief system?
5) Given what men do with their "freedom", who do you really want to be in control?
B. Though not typically opposed, what Paul says we are "predestined" unto is of far greater import than the eternal destiny issue: he says we are going to become conformed to the image of Christ.
1. Being "formed" into the image of the Son of God is far more critical than any particular "action" taken by the Father or the Son for one reason: it addresses the roots of all actions. Those who do not "like" the idea of God's final dominion over men's destinies need to consider whether they "like" the idea of being conformed to His character as the root of His decision making.
2. The "image" idea has a couple of possibilities in terms of reference.
a. In Philippians 3:21 Paul claims that God is going to "fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself." (ASV). These words tend to express a physical transformation that is deliberately put under the "subjection of all things to Himself" thesis. Thus, it is possible that Paul is addressing a "conformity to Christ" that has to do with the physical realities.
b. But, there is no identifiable focus in Romans 8 upon the physical issues of the body. In this entire chapter, there is an agressive antithesis toward having a "mind set on the flesh" and the "problems" of focusing upon the external superficialities instead of the deeper issues of Love and Faith.
c. The use of "image" reinforces this sense of antipathy because it was used by Paul in Romans 1:23 to decry the alteration of the glory of God by men into a "physical" image. Though this does bring the possibility back into play that Paul is addressing a future physical change for us (that is the focus of "image" in 1:23), it is more likely that the "image" idea is that of 1 Corinthians 11:7 (man is the image and glory of God) and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (we are transformed into the glory of the Lord by beholding it -- notatall a "doctrine" of gradual physical transformation by means of seeing a physical glory). Even 2 Corinthians 4:4, whcih says of Christ that He is the "image of God", cannot in any sense mean a "physical" reality. Additionally, Colossians 3:10 addresses the renewal of the "new man" by means of "knowledge" so that he becomes an "image of Him Who created him."
3. The "purpose" of God in this "predetermination" to conform believers into the image of the Son of God is stated: Christ, in God's determined pursuit, is going to be "the firstborn among many brethren" come Hell or high water.
a. At the bottom of the pool of "predestination" is one final issue: Who is going to have His agenda finally, and immutably, established among personal beings?
b. Because Jesus was willing to be the Sacrifice, the Father has determined beyond determination that He will be exalted above every name that is named. It is simply the "glory" of the God Who is that He will not long tolerate loss for those who are willing to endure it (but, by the same token, He will not long tolerate gain by those who are greedy for it -- the last time I read 1 Corinthians 6:10 it said that the "covetous" shall not inherit the kingdom of God).
c. So, whether men "oppose" God's determined pursuit of a pre-set plan, or not, God is able even to subject all things unto Himself. Men who rage against any "God" Who dares to oppose their machinations need, literally, to "get a Life".