Justification and Assurance
(g) If God Be For Us Who Can Be Against Us
Conformed to the Image of His Son
In our last study we commenced the final section of Romans 8, which runs from v28 to v39. I suggested that the words of v31 are a fitting title for these verses, what a manner to crown this glorious chapter on the topic of assurance, “If God be for us who can be against us.” The two verses in the current study have often been called the greatest proof text for the doctrine of Eternal Security or as it is more properly called, The Perseverence of the Saints. Here we have 5 perfect links in a golden chain of grace. Each link is interlinked and dependent on the other. Salvation begins with God through Foreknowledge and is completed in eternity with Glorification. Therefore those who are foreknown will be glorified. The case is strengthened through the use of the past tense to describe glorification. Even though we are not yet glorified consciously, we are already glorified in God’s mind. The work is completed. We are therefore taught powerfully that salvation is a work of grace soley depedent upon God and it is as result of this that we can have assurance and hope. Why would God wish to foreknow, predestine, call, justify and glorify a group of rebels and sinners? In order that those rebels and sinners might be conformed to Christ’s image. This is God’s purpose in our lives. This is the grand aim of Christianity – to conform poor sinners to the image of Jesus Christ. It is to this end that God is working out out all things for good in our lives. This is the good and this is his purpose (v28).
1: Foreknowledge and Predestination – The Plan for Conformity to God’s Son
Foreknowledge – This does not merely mean that God foreknew what certain people would do and chose them accordingly. If that were true God’s choice would depend upon human choice. This cannot be true as salvation is not in any sense dependent upon what man does. Foreknowledge means that God foreknew and foreloved a particular people to be conformed to Christ’s image (Amos 3:2).
Predestination – The word literally means, to predetermine a person’s destiny. God therefore decided that those whom he foreknew would be be like HIM in glory. Our destiny is to be like Jesus.
2: Calling – The Power for Conformity to God’s Son
Sinners are called to faith through two calls. The first is the general call where the church freely offers salvation to all men. The second is what theologians calls the effectual call where the Holy Ghost literally opens up the person’s spirit and enables him / her to come through faith. We have the power today to be conformed to Jesus Christ because the Holy Ghost has regenerated us and has planted the divine nature deep down in our souls.
3: Justification – The Principle in Conformity to God’s Son
Where Calling deals with the problem of our moral pollution, Justification deals with the problem posed by our guilt. How can God possibly conform sinners to the image of Son when they deserve punishment according to his just law. The only priniple which can make this possible is justification. We are now guiltless, we receive the sinless righteousness of Christ, our stains are covered by the precious blood and we have peace of God. On this account God can move forward and conform us to Christ’s image. Justification literally conforms us to the perfect righetousness of our Saviour.
4: Glorification – The Perfection of Conformity to God’s Son
God planned in eternity, he proceeded in time but the process will be completed when Christ returns and these vile bodies are given new and glorious forms like unto His. Then the work will be finally completed, we will be like Jesus for eternity.
Christ’s life and character is the mould into which our lives are to be poured. Solid substance can only be moulded when it is melted. We need hard hearts softened and proud spirits broken in order that we might be fashioned and shaped into the Christlike people God wants us to be. This is Christianity – to be like Jesus.