The Firstborn of the Glorified
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28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
And we Know.
Why do we know? Because of God’s sovereign plan which he determined before all things existed.
Why did God do this? That Christ might be the firstborn among many brethren.
What does that mean? Not that Christ was the first created but rather that Christ is preeminent.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
We talked last week about this predestination. It refers to predetermination or the purpose of God. That is He decided beforehand. This is a difficult doctrine for us to understand. Primarily because we struggle to rationalise it with our understanding of justice. If God predetermined that I would be made into the image of Christ not based on my own merit then why did he choose me and not someone else? It’s not fair.
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
So how is that fair? Well, I can’t show you how it’s fair I can only tell you that God is righteous and His actions are not up for me to judge.
18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
All that He predestined he
The effectual Call of God. This call is not a general call this is the call that God gives specifically to those who He foreknew and predetermine to be conformed into the image of Christ. So this call is not a call of I hope he will hear kind of call. This is a call to those who have hears to hear. Those who have ears to hear will hear.
This is a call like the all to Lazarus to come forth out of the grave. This is a call only God can give and it comes with the power to do what it commands.
This Call commands faith in Jesus Christ how do I know? Because those who he called He justified. An Paul has just spent that last 7 chapters stressing the point that justification is by faith alone. So the call is to believe.
It’s helpful to see examples of this call.
13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
All those He called He
Through this letter to the Romans we covered justification extensively.
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Justification is not pardoned or forgiven even though we have been pardoned and forgiven justification is the righteousness of God imputed to the one who believes in Jesus Christ. The effect is that the one who has received this justification is absolutely righteous.
It comes by way of faith. No other way is a person justified than by faith in Jesus Christ.
So then if those who are call are justified then the call my also empower with faith to believe. Just as with Lydia the Lord opened her heart to heed the gospel.
now all those whom He Justified he
What is glorified?
One way to understand it is that it is the completion of being conformed into the image of Christ.
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
You may have noticed that I have been adding the word all.
All those who are foreknown are predestined, all who are predestined are called, all those who are called are justified, all those who are justified are glorified. And you may ask why would I feel I have the freedom to take that liberty?
I do so because I believe it is there in the text in the sense that
1. Paul is giving this to encourage us that this is why we should know that all things work together for our good.
2. Because God predestined that we should be conformed to the image of Christ before he called us. That means that God predetermined that we should be glorified long before we believed in Jesus. So that the end result was determined before we ever knew God. That means that all who were foreknown will be glorified.
3. because later we will see that this teaching of Paul is laying the foundation for us having boldness in this life that nothing can separate from the love of God no matter who or what comes against us. So why does it give us boldness? because we see that this is God’s plan and God’s work from beginning to end and absolutely nothing will ever interrupt God’s plan to glorify His elect.
This is why Christ could say in His prayer...
Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost
Christ is with you and He will never forsake you so what can man do to you?
So the question is not have you chosen Christ but rather has Christ chosen you? It’s not do you know Christ as must as it is does Christ know you? So how do you know if Christ has chosen you? As you hear the Word of God proclaimed Like Lydia God will open you heart to take heed to what you hear. The evidence is in whether or not you take heed to the gospel. My sheep will hear my voice and they will follow me.