Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work for good for those who love God, to those that are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, those He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Father, we thank You for Your good word. Speak to us from this passage of Scripture; give us insight and understanding, we ask. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. All God’s people agreed saying, “Amen.”
Now you can all be seated.
As we closed our service last time, I moved rather quickly, I recognize, through verses 19 through 25. And we’re not going to spend much time on those verses, both in our last service or in this service today, as the core of these verses, 19 through 25, really point to the same truth. The same truth that is somewhat easy to articulate. The hope of verses 19, 20, 24, and 25, hope is mentioned there, in verses 20, 24, and 25 – it is a hope for the revealing. Verse 19 speaks of this revealing, which is the eager expectation of all creation. And all of creation that is in corruption is eagerly anticipating and looking forward to the deliverance from this corruption, says verse 21. And that redemption, that deliverance from this corruption, is the redemption and the liberty of the adopted children of God. Yes there is a severe suffering, there is a deep difficulty as a result of the curse, as a result of sin upon this world, upon humanity. But we have a certainty, the Bible reveals this, we have a certainty, in Christ, that these sufferings are the birth pains along the road to a glorious deliverance. There is a glorious deliverance coming. Now since it’s Mother’s Day, moms, how many of you remember that day of the delivering? It’s kind of indelibly marked upon your mind, isn’t it? It’s there. Was there anything like trouble and anguish on that day? By observation, I think there was. At least when I watched my wife go through it three times, and we’re preparing for the fourth in just a little over a month. And always right about this time, 8th, 9th month, my wife starts to go, “E-e-h-h, I’m not looking forward to this;” that part of going to the hospital, and the stress and the strain and the pain. But Jesus, in John chapter 16, He highlights something that I have seen clearly three times now, that after that baby is delivered, there is joy at the end of deliverance; so much so that my wife has lost sight of the pain, the suffering, to the point that three times now she’s said to me within an hour or two after having these children, “I want to do it again.”
I go, “We’re you not just here a few minutes ago?!?” [laughter] I saw something that was phenomenally amazing that declares the glory of God. “Did you forget?” And there is a way in which there is a forgetfulness of the pain, of the difficulty. Because yes, there are birth pains, yes there are labor pains, but there is a glorious deliverance. And that is an illustration for us, church, because we recognize that all of us experience suffering. Jesus said, “In the world you will have much tribulation,” and the word that is used for tribulation is the same word in that same passage in John chapter 16, that Jesus says, “It’s like the labor pains.” But when the deliverance comes, it’s forgotten. And this is exactly what Paul has said in this passage that we’ve looked at. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, he’s going to say there that these things are a momentary light affliction working out for us a far greater weight of glory. So yes there are severe suffering and deep difficulties. We, as a part of creation, are longing for the day of this glorious deliverance. We’re longing for the day when these lowly bodies are transformed like unto His glorious body. Anybody here anticipating that? Eagerly anticipating that? Looking forward to that day? The Spirit of God has borne witness in us to these things, that they are so, that we are the children of God, and that as the children of God, we can be certain of this great inheritance. Knowing what we know, we face suffering; Paul says in Romans chapter 5, we face suffering with joy anticipating what’s going to come on the other side of it. We face it with perseverance and hope because it’s building something in us.
Look at verse 26, Romans chapter 8: “Likewise,” not only does the Spirit bear witness to us, that we are children of God, but “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness,” the Spirit helps in our weakness. “For we do not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts,” that’s God – Jeremiah chapter 17, verse 10 says God searches the heart. “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God;” the Spirit, the Spirit Himself.
Now there are about as many opinions on the ideas that are presented here in these verses as there are commentators and Bible teachers. This section of Scripture that we’re looking at today is a somewhat debated passage of Scripture. Be that as it may, verse 26 picks up where verse 16 left off. Remember, verse 16 said, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” Notice that in both verse 16 and verse 26 the Spirit Himself is mentioned. So these verses are connected. Now the Spirit is all but gone from verses 17 through 25, although He is mentioned just briefly in verse 33, there is a reference to the Spirit of God or man’s spirit in almost every single verse of Romans chapter 8 from verses 1 through 16. But then from 17 on, it’s only mentioned once, the Holy Spirit is only mentioned once. However, there in verse 16, and then again in verse 26, we are shown something that the Spirit of God Himself does, the Spirit Himself does. What does He do?
Number one, He bears witness to our sonship, that we are the children of God. This is one of the things that God, by His own Spirit speaks to us. He doesn’t send an angel. He doesn’t send some other messenger. He, by Himself, witnesses to us that we are His children. Secondly, we see in these two verses that He Himself helps in our weakness, He helps in our weakness. What weakness? Well, verses 19 through 25 talk a lot about suffering. The Spirit Himself helps in our weakness. How does He do that? Well, we’re told a little bit more in verse 26 how He does this. He makes intercession on our behalf. He intercedes on our behalf. This is God, by His Spirit, is praying with and for us, enabling us to pray. And He says “with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Now, again, this is a point of discussion, a point of debate; there’s a lot of questions about just what are these groanings that cannot be uttered. Some people say this is the gift of tongues that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14. The problem is that Paul makes very clear in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 that not everybody has this gift of tongues. So it is my belief that this is not the gift of tongues. This is a deep, sighing groaning within us. Have you ever gone through a trial, have you ever gone through a difficulty where you don’t even know what to pray, all you can seem to do is utter out a sigh – a-a-a-h-h-h? You hear the heaviness of a situation, and you know that you want to pray, you know how to cry out to God, just “God help!!” But in the midst of that, you don’t know what to pray, and we’re told here that God helps in our weakness, that He, by Himself, by His Spirit, He enables us, in some sort of mystical way to cry out to God with groanings which we can’t even put to words. Words would not suffice.
Now why do we need this witness of the Spirit? Why do we need His help? Because we are suffering the corruption and bondage of the curse, and in the midst of this, the Spirit is a witness unto us of our position with God, as His children, He has adopted us into His family, so He is bearing witness to us – “You are Mine, You are Mine, You are Mine.” And then He is also bearing witness to us of the certainty of our resurrected hope that we have of an inheritance. But the Spirit also helps in the midst of that weakness, enabling us to cry out to Him, even though we may not have the words, we still groan and say, “God help!” And He knows, because the Spirit of God is in some way directing our prayer. We can trust that He will enable us to pray as we ought. You see Psalm 103, verse 14 says that God knows our frame. He knows that we are mere dust. The verse just before that says, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.” God looks down upon us and, in the midst of that difficulty that we are in, He sympathizes with what we’re going through. We do not know what we should pray as we ought.
Notice first the implied in verse 26 – there is a way we ought to pray. There is a way we ought to pray in situations of suffering. But we don’t always know what to pray in situations of suffering. Can anybody relate to this, identify with this? Has there ever been a time in your life where there was something so burdensome upon you that you knew you needed to cry out to God, you’re even finding yourself crying out to God, but you don’t quite know what to say? It’s there; we’ve experienced it to some point, to some extent. Normally this comes in watching the pain or suffering of someone we love. Because, you see, when we ourselves are going through the situation, when we are experiencing pain, a lot of times we say, “Okay, I can handle this.” But when someone who loves us sees that, they are more broken than us at times. So we don’t even know how or what to pray. But as we’ve considered before, Jesus is the supreme example of what to pray, and He, by His Spirit, is enabling us, in these circumstances, in the way of what we ought to pray. So Jesus shows us what it should look like when we are in the midst of suffering and we’re praying, we see this in the gospels because Jesus experienced extreme suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. What did He pray in that moment? Well, in Luke 22, verse 42, we read there: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me.” “I don’t want to go through this suffering.” You see, Christ, in His humanity there in Luke 22, His humanity – He’s fully God and fully man – His humanity did not want to go through suffering. I’m so thankful that God reveals that to us in the gospels, because our humanity does not want to suffer. I’ve never met a person who says, “Yeah, I really like suffering.” We try to do everything we possibly can to get out of suffering. And there we see Jesus facing extreme suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He says, “Father, if it’s Your will, then take this from Me, take this suffering from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” What is revealed there? Jesus, in His humanity, He willed to not go through suffering, and yet He submitted Himself to God. He submitted Himself to God, and He is the perfect example for us of what it looks like.
In the midst of tribulation, trial, testing, temptation, trouble, we certainly know how to cry out to God. We just say, “God help!!” But sometimes we don’t know specifically what to pray. Why is that? Well, our will is clear. Our will is that we not go through suffering. But we’re not certain of what God’s will is in that situation; we’re not entirely sure what it is that God is doing there in the midst of the suffering that we’re in. And one of the things that we find in the Scriptures is that God allows these things in our lives, because in John chapter 17, He prays, “Father, I pray that You not take them out of the world.” And this is immediately after He said, “In the world you’re going to have much tribulation.” Jesus promised His disciples that they would have persecution, that they would have tribulation and trial in this world, and then He prayed, “Father, I don’t pray that you take them out of this world, but that there You’d we with them, We’d be with them in the midst of it.” So He doesn’t remove us from difficulty, trial, tribulation, suffering; but He is with us in the midst of it.
And we may not know what we should pray. We may find ourselves wanting to not go through it. Matthew 26, verse 39, Jesus says, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” So His will, in His humanity, is seen there – “don’t want to go through that, if it is possible.” And yet God was silent, the heavens were silent. In the situation of suffering, we do not know what God is proposing to do through the trial. We just don’t know what He has planned, what He is doing. We certainly do not know why it’s happening. How many times have I sat with someone going through difficulty and they ask that question: “Why?”
And I find myself saying, “No answer would take away the pain. No answer that I would give, even if it were theologically correct would take away the pain in the midst of this. All I can say is God is here. God is here.”
We may not know why we’re going through what we’re going through; we may not know or understand what God is proposing to do through the situation, but we do know this: we know that we are God’s children because His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His kids. We know for certain that both by the new birth and by adoption we are the children of God in the midst of whatever suffering we go through. And this is a big deal, because in Matthew chapter 6, you may remember Jesus commands His disciples: “Don’t worry,” as do unbelievers, “about what you shall eat, what you shall wear, or where you sleep. After all these things the Gentiles,” the non-believers, “seek. But you have a,” what? What do you have in heaven? What is it? “You have a Father in heaven.” You see the unbelieving world does not have this reality. We’re able to cry out to Him, “Abba, Father.” Even though we may not know exactly what to pray, we can pray, cry out to Him in the midst of that situation, “Abba, Father.”
Not only do we know that we are His children, but we know we have an inheritance with Him forever. We know that this suffering we may go through is temporary. 2 Corinthians 4:17 and 18: “these momentary light afflictions are working for us a far greater and more eternal weight of glory.” They’re temporary. Whatever thing you might endure in this life, it is temporary. We know, because of what the Scriptures say, that “tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint.” Romans chapter 5 tells us that. We know that the Spirit helps us in the weakness; whatever it is that we’re going through, the Spirit of God aids us. Jesus said, in John chapters 14, 15, and 16, “I’m going away, and I’m going to send you another Helper – the Spirit of God, whom the world does not know, but you know because He’s with you and He shall be in you.” We have the abiding presence of the Spirit of God. The Spirit Himself bears witness to us that we’re His children; He bears witness to us that we have an inheritance; He bears witness to us that these things we’re going through, they’re working in us more hope unto eternal life; He bears witness to us that we have Him as our Helper in weakness, and we know that the Spirit intercedes for us, and apparently through us.
Lastly, we know, look at verse 28: “And we know that all things,” not some things, not a few things, but how many things? All things; “And we know that all things work for good to those who love God, and to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Now there are several other things that we’re going to see as we wrap up Romans chapter 8 next week, that we know because of our knowing God. There are many things we know because we know Him in the midst of suffering. But one thing we know, that is explicitly stated here in this passage, is that all things, every single thing – that is good things, bad things, or medium things – all things work for good to those who love God and to those who are the called according to His purpose. Now remember, the context is suffering. If the context of the passage was joy and happiness and abundance of wealth and abundance of blessing, and then we read “all things work together for good,” we would say, “Oh yeah, amen. All those good things work together for good.” But here Paul says “No, in the midst of suffering,” the context, verses 19 through 25 is going through trial, tribulation, distress, thlipsis (in the Greek); going through hard pressing, like a grape being pressed down, or an olive in the olive press – and that is what the Garden of Gethsemane is, it is the place of the olive press – and there was Jesus, hard pressed to the point that He sweat great drops of blood. I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced that, I haven’t. It sounds bad! I mean if you’re stressing to the point of sweating blood, there’s a problem. It’s actually a medical condition where the capillaries just under the surface of the skin break forth and you start to have blood running forth from the sweat. Jesus is going through that in the Garden of Gethsemane as He is hard pressed. “Father, if there’s any other way, let this cup pass from Me; not My will, Yours be done.”
So the context of Romans 8:28, one of, I know so many people have told me, “Romans 8:28 is my favorite verse.” As we’ve been going through Romans people keep saying, “Can’t wait to get to Romans 8.” Here we are!! Romans 8:28; we’re not going to be here for long; we’re leaving it in just a minute. So hold onto it for a second. It is in the context of suffering. So then, the sufferings of this present life are ultimately, notice this, they are ultimately working for good in the life of the follower of God – ultimately. Why do I say that? Because not all things are good things that we go through. Not all things, in the existential moment, appear to be good things. But, we know for certain, we’re assured that all of those things are working together for good. You see there is a recipe that God is working out. And some of the ingredients in that recipe are sweet like honey, other ingredients are bitter. And sometimes, in the process of making this recipe, which is conforming you and I into the image of God, sometimes it’s baked at a hot temperature. And yet God says the outcome is good. Why? What is the outcome? We’re being conformed into the image of His Son. That’s the final product. But to get us to that place – conformed to the image of His Son – there is the power of the resurrection, there is the is the fellowship of suffering, to make us conformable to the image of God. Philippians 3:10 says it explicitly. So there are things along the way of this path to being conformed into the image of God that are bitter, hard, hot things. Have you ever experienced one of those bitter, hot, hard things? We have. But God is working. Notice it there. He works all things. We know that He is working. I love the fact that God is at work in us. We should wear shirts that have construction signs that say, “Work in Progress – Expect Delays.” [laughter] It’s a reality. The junior highers should have that like tattooed on their foreheads. [laughter] Temporary tattoos maybe. Work in Progress – Expect Delays. It’s a reality. We’re going through difficult things because the outcome is God is fashioning us more and more into His likeness, into His image. He wants us to be more like Him. That’s what He’s doing. And in the midst of it, there are difficult ingredients that come into this.
Now how can we be so certain that this is true? This great and glorious declaration – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, and the called according to His purpose.” How do we know this is true? Look at verse 29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He,” Jesus, “might be the firstborn among many brethren.” You see God wants to have a large family of those who conformed to the image of His Son. “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Now these two verses, 29 and 30, and specifically two words in these two verses – foreknew and predestined – are sticking points in the American Evangelical Church of the 21st Century. I don’t know if you know much about this little sticky issue; we talked about it several weeks ago when we started our study in Romans chapter 8; it’s the issue between those who commonly refer to themselves as Calvinists, and those who commonly refer to themselves as Arminians, not Armenians, Arminians. It’s a little bit different. Followers of a guy by the name of Jacob Arminius; Calvinists, followers of a guy by the name of John Calvin; both Reformers in the 16th Century. And so we live in an argumentative culture. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but we’re an argumentative people – Americans. That’s just what we are. Why is that? It’s part of the American gene. Did you know there’s an American gene? Yeah, it’s a gene called dissent. How do you think we got here? A whole bunch of dissenters; they all left other places and said, “I don’t like how things are here, I’m going over there. I don’t like the way you guys play baseball on your field, I’m taking my bat and my ball and going somewhere else.” That’s the American gene. It’s like ingrained into us for the last 237 years, or whatever it is. So for 200 years we have this ingrained mentality – “You don’t do things my way, I’m outta here. I don’t like the way you do things, I’m gonna let you know I don’t like the way you do things.” So we have this argumentative nature, that’s who we are. Might I clue you into the fact that it is our flesh? How do I know this? Well, turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 3, I’ll prove it. 1 Corinthians chapter 3; 1 Corinthians 3, look at verse 3. Paul says to the church at Corinth: “For you are still carnal.” You’re still fleshly. Why? “For where there are envy and strife and divisions among you, are you not” what? Say it a little louder. “…carnal and behaving like” what kind of men? “…mere men.” This is fleshly, says Paul. “Where there are envy and strife and divisions among you, you are carnal, behave like mere men.” Look at the next verse: “For one says, ‘I am of Calvin,’ and another says, ‘I am of Arminius,’ are you not carnal?” Yes, I updated it. [laughter] It is carnal, church. It is of the flesh. This argument that is continually raging. Let me clue you into something; I say this with a heavy heart – I love the Calvary Chapel movement. But for the last two years, I personally have been involved in a very vocal struggle with people who have been maligning me and some of my friends as Calvinists, and saying, “You should be kicked out of the Calvary Chapel movement.”
I say, “Are you not carnal in this?” It’s sad, and it’s the flesh. This happens. It’s unfortunate. You can pray for our movement – Calvary Chapel – it’s unfortunate.
For one says “I’m of Calvin,” the other says “I’m of Arminius,” are you not carnal. Now, I recognize, there are a lot of views and opinions on these two verses, and these two words – foreknowledge and predestination – some of the opinions I agree with, some of the views I don’t. But, amidst it all, there are some very important things that we know, some very important things that we know. Number one: there will very likely be a lot of things that when we get to heaven with the Lord, we realize “I was a little off on that.” You know there’s so much opinion and division within the body of Christ, the church global, what we would call the Catholic Church – and I’m not referring to the Roman Catholic Church. There is so much division within the large body of Christ that when we get to heaven, we’re going to get up there and go, “Gosh, we were a little off on that one. I’m really sorry about the fact that I called you a heretic and burned you at the stake in the 12th Century.” [laughter] Man, if there were no law against that sort of stuff today, I’m thinking that there would probably still be some burnings at the stake because of “heresy” within the church. It’s unfortunate. Instead, we just malign and fire people online. Man, you can be a lion behind the keyboard. [laughter] And I confess, I’ve said some things online I probably shouldn’t have. But, we’ve got to recognize that we don’t all have it fixed and firmed and understood. Whether it’s on issues of eschatology – that is the study of end times, or on issues of soteriology – that is the study of salvation and how these things come about.
Secondly, we need to recognize this: God is a lot less concerned about these things than we are. He is. A lot less concerned about these things than we are. Thirdly, at the end of the day, Calvinists and Arminians are still brothers in Christ. How many of you, because it’s Mother’s Day, know that you’re going to be spending some time this afternoon with some family members that you probably don’t agree with on every point as it relates to faith and politics? How many of you have recognized, over the course of meetings with those people, there comes a point that out of love, you agree to disagree, and you just don’t talk about it anymore? Oh that we would learn the illustration within the larger family of the body of Christ. There are certain things we just have to say, “Hey listen, you have you’re position, I have my position; we still love Jesus.” Now of course, I’m not promoting an ecumenical sort of thing where if someone comes in from the Jehovah’s Witnesses or from the Mormons and they have a totally different position on the deity of Christ and who Christ is, or the way of atoning for salvation; I’m not saying that we just say, “Oh yeah, come on with us, everything’s cool.” No. There is issue in that area. There are what we would call national borders and there are what we would call states borders. You don’t go to war with another state, you shouldn’t – it’s a civil war, it’s bad news. There are certain things we stand our ground on. But there are others that we say, “You know what, there’s flexibility within the body of Christ, and that’s not essential; that’s not essential.”
Now with all that said, foreknowledge – first, we cannot remove verses 29 and 30 from the greater contextual flow of the 8th chapter of Romans or the entire book of Romans. Romans chapter 8 is firmly fixed between two boundaries at the beginning and at the end, and the boundaries are found at verses 1 and 2, and verse 39. And the boundaries consist of two words – in Christ, in Christ. This idea of predestination and foreknowledge and election (which we’re going to see in another passage next week), these concepts – foreknowledge, election, and predestination – are firmly fixed between the boundaries of in Christ, which is key to this discussion. Whatever destiny God has for man is achieved only in Christ. Note this: whatever destiny that God has planned for us – those all things working for good – whatever destiny – being conformed to His image – it only happens in Christ; it does not happen outside of Christ. It only comes in Christ. God did not simply select people to receive a destiny; His whole eternal purpose is accomplished in and through Jesus, and what Jesus did. Furthermore, the wording of verse 29, Romans 8:29, the wording of it suggests that it is an answer to an unuttered, inevitable question from verse 28. What do I mean? Well, look at verse 28 and 29 again: “And we know that all things work for good to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose.” Now the word “for” at the beginning of verse 29 is the Greek word hoti. Now that may not mean much to you, but it’s important because it’s most often translated because, because. So look at this: We know that all things work together for good. How do we know this? That’s the inevitable question. Because “whom He,” God, “foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son.” Now notice, when we talk about predestination, it is predestination unto the ultimate destination, which is conformity to the image of Christ. Why do I say this? Because it does not say that we’ve been predestined to salvation, it says we’ve been predestined as those who are saved – they got on the plane, like I mentioned last week; they’re on the plane. How they got on the plane, how they chose to buy the ticket, whatever it was, it doesn’t matter; they’re on the plane, the destination is Cleveland. They, because they’re on the plane, are going to reach the destiny. They’re predestined, by their position in the plane, to make it to the destination. If you are in Christ, you are predestined to get to the destiny, the destination, which God has said is going to be conformity to the image of His Son, by the fact that you’re positioned in Christ. How you go to be positioned in Christ, that’s not the question in this passage. That’s not at issue in this passage. You might use other passages for it, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is here, that for those who are saved, those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1 and 2, and verse 39 – it’s sandwiched in between), those who are in Christ, they will ultimately be conformed to the image of His Son. They’re going to get there. We can be confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in us, He will finish it, He will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. What is the day of Christ Jesus? The day when we behold Him, and when we see Him, we shall be like Him.
The word foreknowledge is the Greek word proginosko, it’s the word from which originates the English word prognosis. What is a prognosis? It’s knowing something, by evaluation, in advance. It’s knowing, if you go to the doctor and they say, “You know, you’re predisposed, we’ve given a prognosis, you’re predisposed because of a family history, or this or that, you’re predisposed to cancer. Therefore, we are recommending that you do this, this, this, and this.” You’re predisposed because of family history to heart disease. I’m giving you a prognosis that if you don’t do these things, then you’re going to end up with heart disease. So, you know, In-N-Out Double Doubles, animal-style, three times a week, probably not the best idea. When the founder dies of a heart attack, good indication. Even if it does say John 3:16 on the cup; and I love In-N-Out. Did you know that this was supposed to be an In-N-Out, and the city of Escondido wouldn’t let them have a sign, so we got the facility? Rock on!! [laughter] This was supposed to be a cash register, like right here. We’re dishin’ out spiritual food here!! Double Doubles, animal-style!! [laughter] …in Jesus. Okay, sorry. That’s right, no heart disease here. So it’s the Greek word from which derives the English prognosis. It literally means to know in advance. It is sometimes used of prophetic events. God knows in advance that this is going to happen, so He tells us and it happens. Does it mean that He determined it and forced it to happen? You go to the doctor, he says, “Listen, you’re predisposed to getting heart disease.”
Ten years later, you come in, you get heart disease, you say, “Doctor, you made me get heart disease!!!”
“No, no, no, no, no, no. I just gave you a prognosis. I didn’t determine that you would get it. I just told you you were predisposed to it.” So he didn’t force it, but he knew about it. Now, let me make very clear here, Calvinists and Arminians, they agree that God knows all things. 1 John 3:20 says He knows all things. The very same word that says “all things work together for good,” He knows all things; He just does, He knows it. So Calvinists, Arminians, they agree that God has foreknowledge of future events and outcomes. They say, “Yes, we agree with that.” Here’s where they differ: the Calvinist will say God knows all events and outcomes in the future because He determined them, because He sovereignly directed that they would happen. This is called predetermination. You see, in Calvinism, they see predestination, foreknowledge as the same thing as predetermination. Here’s my issue with this: if this is true, then it follows, it is a sequitur that double predestination is true. Now what is that? Some of you have never heard of this, and it’s probably a good thing that you never heard of it. There is a concept among Calvinists called double predestination, and it is this: God has elected some for heaven, and He has elected all the rest, the overwhelming majority, for hell, for damnation. That is a reality in Calvinism, and a good Calvinist, and there are some really smart Calvinists, they’ll have to concede that is true. If God determines all things, then as one of them who I highly respect, I like a lot of his writings, but not all, John Piper, he said the specks of dust flying around in this room right now, God made them be there by His determination. And so if this is true, then God has elected a small group, very small group in all of human history, to be in heaven with Him, and He has chosen, and there’s nothing they can do about it, that the overwhelming majority will be sent to hell. And they say this all to His glory. I say that it maligns and impugns the character of a holy God. It makes Him evil. Whether you want to admit it or not, it makes Him evil.
Now, at this point, if there’s any Calvinists in our midst, they’re going to say, “Oh see, I knew it, you’re an Arminian.” No, no, no, no, no, no, not so fast. Back the turnip truck up. [laughter] Unfortunately, many Arminians, I pick on all parties, many Arminians diminish God’s sovereignty too much, and essentially make man’s will sovereign. They make man more sovereign than God, on the extreme. These are the two extremes.
And as I mentioned when we began our study in Romans chapter 8 several weeks ago, that there is a tension here, and I recognize that there’s a tension here. The question then is: Is there a balance, where is there a balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? The balance, I suggest is Romans 8:28, would you look at it with me again for just a moment? Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work for good,” notice this, “to those who love God” – man’s responsibility, “and to those who are the called according to His purpose” – God’s sovereign will. How can you divorce two things that are together? Now some people have a real hard time with it, because they can’t explain the mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility co-existing together, and yet they do in the Scriptures. And you cannot diminish one without wrongly exalting the other. And when you take A truth and make it THE truth, it becomes a lie.
“Whom He predestined, he called; whom He called, He justified; and whom He justified, He glorified.” According to God’s prognosis, His foreknowledge of all things, He chose us in Christ to be destined to be conformed to His image, therefore, because of that, He’s called us, and because He has called us according to His purpose, He also justifies us, that is, He make us right. How does He make us right? Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Righteous; He makes us right before Him. Then what does He do? He glorifies us. Notice that Paul speaks of this in clear certainty because he speaks of it in the past tense – those He justified, He glorified. What’s that mean? It is a certain fact – those who are in Christ shall be glorified, to the glory of the Father, which will bring about the redemption of the curse upon all humanity. In Christ, if you’re in Christ today, in Christ, whatever suffering you’re going through, whatever difficulty you’re facing, in Christ you can be certain that He is going to get you to the final destiny. What a glorious reality.