Sunday, February 19, 2012

Romans 8:28-39 – All things, His Purpose, Inseparable

[In Romans 6 we were introduced to the idea of the spiritual life that is possible and necessary for God's redeemed. Romans 7 talked about the natural man and the futility of serving temporary things. Then Romans 8 gave us that metaphysical truth; we are uncondemned as we stand in the righteousness provided by Jesus. We should also walk in the spirit, being spiritually minded and avoid the fatal flaw of carnal thinking. Last week we heard Paul argue that present suffering is nothing compared to future glory. That idea is extended this week as week look closer at God's purpose.]

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.

[Very well-known passage here, everyone likes the idea that God has a purpose in everything, but there are some qualifiers here we need to understand. Circle these two word pairs "all things" and "His purpose", and underline the word love. Now its understandable that God as the sovereign maker of the universe could orchestrate events to work together such that they would accomplish his purpose. We have cars to carry us around, kitchen utensils for cooking, books for learning, etc. Likewise all things and events in God's creation have a utility for Him, and He uses them to accomplish his purpose.

But only those who love the Lord will necessarily see the hand of God at work, and agree with Him in His good purpose. What I don't like here is when people assume that only favorable circumstances, that work to our benefit necessarily accomplish God's purpose. We have to understand that all means all; and even things that I don't like can work together for good in God's 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.

[There are multiple words here that make some people uncomfortable. What is foreknowledge, predestination, and in what sense is Jesus the firstborn of many? Foreknowledge is knowing something that is true before it happens. You mean God knows who will be saved, before they are saved? Yes. How long before? I don't know.

One of the things we know about creation is that according to special relativity, the Cosmic Creation Event made not only matter and energy, but space and time itself. Therefore God as the first cause of creation existed outside of space and time. So we have a very hard time comprehending the mind of God, in that we have temporal minds designed for linear thinking. We use time and sequence as the markers to form our understanding. But God has an infinite mind not constrained by the limits of our understanding. So we will probably never know just how and when God has foreknowledge, we just need to understand that He does. << the vesica piscis>>

One circle represents eternity past, another eternity future and the intersection is where Jesus appears in the flesh. You see this symbol all over gothic art and architecture. If you bisect the football with a horizontal line it makes a perfect gothic arch. There is all kinds of medieval Christian symbolism in the vesica. The downward arch represented mankind and the upward arch represented God. But we see clearly most of eternity past and eternity future is outside of the temporal world, so foreknowledge is really not remarkable when you think about this symbol.

The next uncomfortable word is "predestination", those he foreknew He also predestined that we would be conformed to the image of His son. We are made in the image of God, but sin has corrupted that image. Jesus is the perfect image, even in the flesh He reflected the eternal attributes of the creator. So being conformed to His image, restores man to our original godly purpose. This is not something that might happen, Jesus will accomplish this work in all the redeemed.

Now some see "firstborn" and begin to think heresies about Jesus not being fully eternal and divine, but that is not asserted here. Refer to Romans 8:23 and remember that we are waiting for our adoption to be complete with the redemption of the body. Romans 7:24 called this present body the "body of death". Between the resurrection and the ascension into heaven Jesus was translated from the temporal body to His glorified form. He was the first one to receive this eternal translated body, making him the first-born, to be glorified; but not alone since we will be likewise translated when God completes the redemption of our bodies.]

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

[So here is how God accomplishes our translation:

Foreknew è predestined è called è justified è glorified

All of these together compose God's purpose, our redemption for His glory. Jesus died in my sin so that I might live in His righteousness.]

God's Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

[Who can oppose the purpose of God, preventing us from inheriting this future glory? God already paid the highest price in the sacrificial death of His son, would he then withhold anything else necessary? There is nothing that can interrupt this process which is why it is predestined.]

33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

[Satan's very name means the accuser. But what accusation could he make to challenge our inheritance? Now if it's my righteousness, he has a case, because I stumble in many things and could easily be called unworthy. But the problem for Satan is; IT'S NOT MY RIGHTEOUSNESS! It is Jesus who died, was resurrected, and is ascended to make intercession for us; and nothing he can say can change the completed work of Jesus. But this passage is not here to remind Satan, it is here to remind us of our permanent standing with God.]

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

"For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

[Here he quotes from Psalm 44:22 discussing God's love. We just had valentine's day which is all about demonstrated love. Demonstrations of love are important because sometimes difficult times, hard times, even tragic times come when we may not feel as loved as we do in the good times. In those difficulties we remember these demonstrations of love to reassure us of our permanent standing.

Romans 5:8 said that God's demonstration of love, is that Christ died for us when we were still in our sin. So we were not only foreknown to God, but we were fore-loved by God.]

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

["All these things" refers back to "all things" in Romans 8:28, and if all things work according to His purpose, how could all these things serve to separate us from God's love? No created thing can separate you from the demonstrated love of your creator because HE'S THE CREATOR! One of the perks of being the creator is having all of creation work for your purpose; God is sovereign.

All things, for His purpose, means we have the inseparable love of God our Father.]

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