Jack Graham - The Promise
Take your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 8, the eighth chapter of the book of Romans, and today we're going to speak of one of the great verses in all of the Bible, Romans 8:28, and in addition to that to speak of the security and the certainty that God's Word brings to us. This, of course, is the beloved and believed verse in the Bible, cherished by Christians everywhere through generations. We know it. I hope you are not so familiar with this verse, verse 28 of Romans 8, that you miss the impact every time you read it, because it is profound really. When you speak of Romans 8:28, you are speaking of the very heart of God's Word, and the purposes and the plans of God for each one of us. It truly is a promise upon which we pillow our heads and trust in God throughout our lives.
In verse 28 of Romans 8, the Scripture says, "For we know that all things are working together", or rather, I like to say as it's best translated, "that God is causing all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose. For those", and then watch the phrase as God finishes the sentences, "for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers". In other words, Jesus our elder brother and Savior and God, He has been the forerunner of the forever family of God. And then verse 30, "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified".
We touched on Romans 8:28 the last time that we were together. And we said that this is the promise that comes from God, and God always, always keeps His promises, and that this promise is inclusive. It is inclusive of believers because it says we know, those of us who know Christ, we know that this is true. This promise is given to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. We have been called into the family of God. More about that in just a moment. And we have chosen to believe and receive Him by loving Him, loving God is tantamount to believing and trusting in God.
So this is, as my friend O.S. Hawkins says, "a family secret". This is something that is given to us as the people of God because we believe, not in fat-chance or blind-luck or fate or the fortuitous conjunction of circumstances, things just happening. No, we believe that God has a plan for every life. And you, my friend, are a plan of God, and God has a purpose for you. That plan is not all about you; it is ultimately all about Him. But in the meantime, before we get to heaven, we live in this confidence, we live in this certainty that we as believers belong to Him, and not only now, but forever. Listen, we can know that we're saved and going to heaven. You can know it for sure! "These things are written (God's Word) that you may know that you have eternal life".
We are to live with this kind of confidence and this kind of certainty. You ought not to be as I say a question mark with your back all humped over, but you ought to be a walking exclamation point! You ought to be able to say I know that I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior and that I'm on my way to heaven. This we know! And because we know this, inclusive of the family of God, all of us who are believers, we live with this security and this certainty. Is there anything better than knowing that your sins are forgiven? That God's Spirit, Christ Himself lives in you? Knowing that heaven is in your future, that salvation is yours now? Is there anything better than knowing this? One thing: knowing that all your sins are forgiven. Knowing that Christ lives in your life. Knowing that you've been given salvation in Christ. And that you can never lose it! That you can never lose this eternal salvation that we have in Christ.
This is the forever plan of God. And we see it in this passage. The immutable, unfailing, infallible, eternal promises of God that we know as believers that God is working. It is inclusive of all of us. No exemptions, no exceptions. No one is excluded in the family of God. This is for you, dear believer. But not only is this great promise of God inclusive, but we also know that this promise of God is comprehensive. "For we know that all things work together for the good to them who love the Lord, to those who are called according to His purpose". That is comprehensive of all things in our life. Not everything is good in life. There is a lot of bad in our lives at times that we can't understand and whether it be tragedies or trials or tests or all the rest, we know that all means all, that God is working together in all things for our good. And even when we can't understand it, we can know that God is always working, as we just sang. Even though we can't feel it, we know that God is working because God promised us in everything, in all things, He's working together for good in our lives.
God has a plan and a purpose and a destiny for all of our days. And even when we get off the path and get off the track, even a rebellion against God ultimately for the believer, He's working, He's moving and He is changing things around and He is giving us an opportunity to get back on the path when we listen and obey Him. So I'm saying even the sinful things, (dare we say it?) that God can use our sins and failures to get us on down the path and back on the path for His plan and purpose for our life. For example, Simon Peter. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "You're going to deny Me" "But I've prayed for you that your faith will not fail, and that afterword you will strengthen your brothers". So Jesus said, "Simon, you're going to deny Me, but I'm going to use your denial and your sin".
And what a sin it was when Simon Peter denied the Lord and disobeyed Him, and refused to stand for Him at the cross, before the cross. And he was brokenhearted and sad and sorrowful, wasted after that experience, that sinful behavior but later Jesus restored him. He gathered with His disciples and spoke to His disciples, but even now as I look back on Simon Peter's life and to see how God used even His failure, even His sin, even His brokenness. It was his sorrow and repentance that rerouted him and got him back on track. And God used him in such an incredible way. I'm saying that God can use even our sin and our brokenness and our failures when we repent and when we return to Him, that God uses that. I'm blessed even to this day and so are you by the truth that God used Simon Peter's sin to encourage me. "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds".
This promise is inclusive, this promise is comprehensive, and this promise is constructive. For it says God is working all things or "God is causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him, called according to His purpose", meaning that God causes all these things to work together. God doesn't cause all the bad things. He permits all things, but He does not cause all things. He causes some things in our lives that are tough and rough and struggles and sufferings in our life. Yes, God may be in that, disciplining us or chastising us or teaching us. But psalmist ended up saying after he had a rough experience in life, he said "It was good that I was afflicted because I learned your statues".
And sometimes affliction and pain and struggle, it causes us to look to God as never before, but God reshapes us and makes us in the midst of that, even the broken parts and the broken pieces. He told Jeremiah to go down to the potter's house, and there he saw a man working a piece of clay on the wheel and spinning it and working it and. If you will take a look at that illustration, the wheel is similar to the circumstances of life, and this potter is working as the wheel is turning and the circumstances in effect are changing. And his hands are moving and kneading and working. And Jeremiah saw that at the potter's house the clay or the vessel was marred after having made it. And there was a chip or there was a crack, and so what did he do? He remade it; he shaped it. That's what God does with us. He gives us the redemption of knowing that He is shaping and forming and making us a beautiful vessel for the glory of God.
That's what God is doing in your life. It's the story of Joseph, isn't it? While a slave in Egypt, he rose to prominence in the household where he was working. He was put in charge of everything because he had an excellent spirit. He was such a strong and vital young man, a hardworking young man, and so he was given responsibility. so one day because of a famine his brothers showed up at the palace and Joseph, they didn't recognize him. He had changed, of course, in 13 years. Probably now looked like an Egyptian. They didn't know it, but he knew them and he wept when he saw them. So what did Joseph do? It was his time to retaliate. It was his time to take his brothers out for what they had done to him. But, no, what did he say in Genesis chapter 50 when he looked at them and he said, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good". But he would not only save many people, but save his own family in the plans and the providences of God.
The most powerful example of how God takes evil and turns it around and transforms it is the cross. When man did his worse, God did His best! And when Jesus died, He died for our sins and He bore our sins on the cross so that we might be forgiven and pardoned and changed by His power, redeemed by His power. And in this, sin was transformed and we were transformed because God was working comprehensively and constructively in our lives. God is working now. This word is the word synergy. God is working. And we can trust the fact that if you're going through something right now, we can trust in the God who said, "I will make all things new". God is always working in us, even before we were born. He has a perfect plan in our lives for our good and His glory and we are to live in the total trust and joyous gratitude of faith because we know that God's plans are going to be fulfilled in our lives. And we see that in what we call the golden chain.
There are five words that I'm going to show you here which represent links in a chain, a golden chain, a strong chain that assures us and convinces us that we are the children of God now and forever. Because I want to say not only is His promise, Romans 8:28, it is inclusive, it is comprehensive, it is constructive; God is always working. But it is also protective because here is the promise. Look at the verses again, back in Romans chapter 8, verses 29 and 30, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined", there's another word to note and to mark, "to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called", that's the third word, that's the third foundational truth; that's the third link in the chain, "called, and those whom he called he also justified", that's number 4, "and those whom he justified he also glorified", number 5.
Five links in this golden chain. And by the catalyst of the cross we now see how we are forever saved from eternity past to eternity future. Why? Because one of the foreknowledge of God. You see that word foreknowledge. This speaks of the wisdom of God, foreknowledge speaks of the wisdom of God. You what it is? It means to see in advance, but in particular here it's a word which always, it also describes the word, to know is a word in the Bible which speaks of intimacy, it speaks of knowing well or knowing intimately, it speaks of love. "And Adam knew his wife and she conceived and brought forth a son". The very physical act of marriage is an act of communication and love that is expressed. So that's the word "to know". So when you see foreknowledge, it in effect is saying God set His affection, God set His love, God set His heart on you before time began!
According to the infinite wisdom of God, you, yes, you are in the infinite heart and mind of God. God set His eyes on you. God set His attention on you. But that second link in this chain that secures us forever, that holds us tightly now and throughout all eternity is the word predestined. We are also predestined. And this speaks of the will of God, God's will. The word predestined means the effective exercise of the will of God by which He brings before, determined by Him, all things. And so God who sees all things and knows all things, also predestines all things. In other words, predestination is a sure thing. If God says it's going to happen, it is going to happen.
Now we're going to take some time in the messages going forward in Romans to talk about election and predestination and those subjects. But in this particular passage the word predestined doesn't have anything to do with belief or unbelief before you were saved. This has to do with Christians. This is a promise to you as a Christian; that you are predestined to do what? To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. So this is talking to believers once again. You, believer, God has a destiny for your life! He has a will and a purpose for your life!
Now it is God's desire that you come to Christ so He has then called you, that's the third link. And the word called here has to do with the effectual, fervent, call of God upon our lives that brought us to Himself. And what is the call of God? This speaks of the ways of God, that God has not only chosen us but that now God has called us to follow Him. He calls your name. He knows your name. He calls your name. And He invites you to come to Him.
If you are not saved, if you don't know you're saved, this is God's call for you right now. His Spirit is calling but God uses the Gospel and faithful witnesses of the Gospel and what I'm saying to you right now is God's call to you to come to Christ if you don't know Him. Because "Whosoever will may come". Now there are some people who believe that God only calls the called, or only elects the elect; that He only died for the elect. No, the Scripture tells us that God loves everyone, that everyone is called, everyone can come to Christ. No one is excluded who wants to come to Christ.
First Timothy 2:3 to 6. Look at this. "This is good and it is pleasing the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time". So when you consider God's call, this effectual call, it means that everyone can hear this call. Second Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you and not wishing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance".
Predestination, the calling of God. This does not mean God predestined some to be saved and predestined others to be damned. No, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". The Bible says, "Whosoever will may come". Revelation 22, verse 17: "The Spirit and the bride say come". That's the Spirit of the church, the bride, "say come and let the one who hears say, come. And let the one who is thirsty come and let the one who desires taste of the water of life without price". God is saying come to Me, I'm calling you to Myself. And "whosoever will may come".
When you get right down to it, I don't want to over simplify the mysteries of God in terms of His election, His preordination and all the things of God has planned in His salvation, but the fact is God saves whom He will. We do not choose Him; He has chosen us but He has given us an opportunity, He's given us a choice in the calling to respond or not to respond. Did you know that you can resist the work of the Holy Spirit? Paul said to a group of people in the book of Acts, "You do often resist the Spirit". The Bible says, "My Spirit will not always strive with a man". So you can resist the work of the Holy Spirit.
Some say the calling of God is irresistible. No, you have a choice. Jesus looked over Jerusalem and as He was on His way to the cross and He said, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I would have gathered you to myself as a hen gathers the brood," and with tears falling down His face, He said, "But you would not". Not that they could not, "but you would not". Yes, you have a choice to make. God is calling, but you must respond by faith and repentance and receive Christ into your life. This is the call of God. The "whosoever wills", these are the elects, and "whosoever won't's" are the non-elects. And then next to finally, there is justification and this speaks, this justification of the work of God. We don't need to cover justification that much this morning because we covered it very much in our previous lessons in the book of Romans. But justification means that we are made right with God. Justification speaks of the work of God and making us righteousness.
Romans 4:5 "And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness". We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. And remember this: that justification, this work of God is more than an acquittal, it's more than a pardon. We are not only forgiven and acquitted of our sins, but then we are then given the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, right-standing before God. And so watch this golden chain. We're talking about security now. We're talking about being an exclamation point walking around with confidence and certainty that we're on our way to heaven. So God says, "Here's why you can know this, because I'm working everything together for the good in your life for My glory, for your good. And it is because of my wisdom, I have known you before the foundations of the world. I set my love and my heart and affection upon you".
It is because predestination because, I mean, if this was the only verse in the Bible that spoke of eternal security, it's enough to believe in the eternal security of the believer. Because what God starts, He always finishes. And He said I have predestined you to be like Christ. And when we see Jesus the Bible says in 1 John, "we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is". He's conforming us and making us like Christ. And this is the whole purpose of life for the believer. And so, that's the wisdom of God. And we are predestined, that's the will of God.
And one final thing, I'm glorified. And this speaks of the worship of God. Because notice the tense of that verse. It doesn't say I will be glorified; it says we are now glorified. In the heart and mind of God it's already happened. You're as good for heaven as if you were already there. You are now glorified in the sight of God. This is the golden chain. This is what keeps us and holds us so that we can know that we know, that because of what Christ has done, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy who has saved us. And before you receive of this cup and eat of this bread, you need to know for certain that you have this eternal life. That Christ lives in you, that you have been called and chosen of God and you have responded and said an everlasting yes to Him.