Romans 8:29 says, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son."
Wow. Does that mean that God "foreknew" certain people? And what about predestination? Are we to understand that only certain individuals are picked out beforehand to be saved?
Apparently so. Jesus says in John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should bear fruit." In fact, the doctrine of election, or being especially chosen by God, is woven throughout the Bible.
It is also one of the most hotly debated mysteries of the Christian life.
There are two basic positions (excerpted from pg. 1984 of the Nelson Study Bible) :
- Some understand foreknowledge to mean God's knowledge in advance of those who would repent of their sin and believe the Gospel. In other words, in eternity past, God looked down the corridors of time to see all who would one day accept the offer of salvation through Christ. Those who accept salvation are the elect. The fact that they would eventually believe in Christ was the condition that prompted God to choose them or predestine them to eternal life.
- Others understand foreknowledge as a 'relational' term. In other words, foreknowledge refers to God's intimate knowledge of and love for His elect before they came into existence. It is God's sovereign choice, and not a person's exercised faith, that determines who the elect are.
Got that? In the first view (known as Arminian), election is defined as: the conditional choice of God that is the result of our faith. In the second view (known as Calvinism), election is defined as: the unconditional choice of God that is the cause of our faith.
Regardless of one's stance on the matter of election, this much is clear: God is infinitely wise, powerful, and good. We cannot accuse Him of being unfair in His dealings with humans. It was our own sinfulness that has entrapped us and condemned us. Yet God, out of His infinite mercy, chooses to save us.
The ultimate inconvenient truth is this: Not everyone is chosen.
Go back and reread Romans 8:29, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son" (emphasis added).
If we are not being conformed to the image of His Son, odds are we haven't been chosen. If our "salvation" hasn't had a profound impact in the way we live our life here on earth, it probably hasn't actually taken place. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father" (Matthew 7:21).
Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:1). If we don't know or love the Scripture, we can't know or love Jesus. We can't be conformed to His image if we have no knowledge of who He is. In other words: Knowing Jesus = Knowing His word. Because Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should bear fruit", shouldn't we be careful 'fruit inspectors'? The fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These attributes describe Jesus. And over a lifetime, they should begin to describe us, too, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us. In other words: No spirit = No salvation (Romans 8:9).
"So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are His children. Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God--who chose you to be His children--is holy. For He Himself has said, "You must be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:13-16).
A wise man once said: "If you haven't chosen God, He probably hasn't chosen you. But if you are blessed to be among the chosen, leap with joy and follow hard after Him." -- unknown
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