The Golden Chain
“Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (v. 30) - Romans 8
After describing our struggle with the flesh after conversion (Rom. 7), Paul in Romans 8 talks about some of the benefits that result from our justification. This chapter is well-known for its description of life in the Spirit and its discussion of the ordo salutis — the order of salvation (vv. 28–30).
Although Paul does not deal with sanctification per se, he does include God’s work of conforming us to His Son in his golden chain (v. 29). Note also that our adoption as joint-heirs with the Savior (8:14–17) is the starting point for Paul’s initial foray into predestination and election in the ordo salutis (vv. 28–30) and his detailed presentation of these topics in chapters 9–11. We may try to look at election in a manner unconnected from practical realities, but Scripture locates this doctrine in the Father’s great love for His people, a love that moved Him to make us His children. Divine election is preached wrongly if it is not preached as a comfort to believers and as a call to reflect God’s glory. It grounds our hope in God’s working all things together for good for those who love Him (v. 28).
As Dr. R.C. Sproul tell us, all Christians believe in some form of predestination because Romans 8:28–30 and other passages (Mal. 1:2–3; Eph. 1:11–12) teach that God has chosen some people for salvation. The question is, upon what basis does He make His choice? Does the Lord “look down the corridors of time” and then choose those whom He knows in advance will respond to the gospel? Or, does He set His special, salvific love on some, a love that guarantees that they will trust Christ? Much could be said in response, but most important is the fact that divine foreknowledge as taught in Scripture has to do with the Father’s decision to set His affection upon His elect. God’s foreknowledge certainly includes His knowledge of how a person will act, but to be known by God (Gal. 4:9) means primarily to be loved by Him in a special way. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and God’s particular love leads particular people to follow Jesus. A future decision of ours is not the basis upon which our Creator loves us. He loved us first, otherwise we would never love Him.
That God decided to save His people gives us confidence that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). If you trust Christ and feel discouraged this day, be comforted in your knowledge that the Lord has you in His hand and will never let you go.
Passages for Further Study
- Genesis 25:19–28
- Deuteronomy 7:6–8
- John 10:22–30
- Romans 9:1–26