And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. ‘What then shall we say to these things?’
This is the last link of the salvation golden chain.
Recently I stood with relatives around the open grave of their mother/grandmother on a warm, sunny afternoon. Their loved one had been a Christian for years and had looked forward to being with her Saviour in heaven. Now she was safely ‘with the Lord’. In a brief message, I reminded the family and friends that while their relative was in glory, her body would linger in the grave for an undisclosed period of time ‘to wait, in the full enjoyment of God in Christ, for the redemption of their bodies’ (1823 Confession of Faith). Whether soon or later, the Lord Jesus ‘is coming with the clouds’ in glory with his angels and the redeemed so that ‘every eye will see Him’ (Revelation 1:7). ‘Then’, declares Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:24-58, ‘comes the end’ when the bodies of believers in the grave, although ‘sown in weakness’, will be ‘raised in power’ and at the sound of ‘the trumpet, the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed’ with our bodies ‘transformed’ and ‘conformed to His glorious body‘ (Philippians 3:21). At that graveside I felt excited in declaring: ‘O death where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?’. We rejoiced that it is our glorious God ‘who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Victory. This is an essential part of what it means to be ‘glorified’ but it also includes the renewal of creation described earlier in verses 19-25 of Romans 8.
There are several points to underline in this context:
- remember the inseparable links in this golden chain of salvation. Not one link in the chain can be broken by anyone, and certainly not by the devil.
- our being ‘glorified’ follows the link of being ‘justified’ and is therefore a further reminder that no Christian can ever be lost or fail to enter glory.
- Paul writes as if being ‘glorified’ has already been accomplished. He does so because in the purpose of God it is certain to be accomplished by our omnipotent, sovereign God. He will not fail to achieve all he has planned and promised.
- if you are struggling with indwelling sin, facing suffering and other trials, here is consolation as you anticipate future joy and satisfaction in the immediate presence of the Lord in heaven and at his return in glory to participate in the glorification of the church and the cosmos.
Speechless is how Paul felt after having outlined the truths of the golden chain. Notice that the question in verse 31 begins with a small Greek word translated as ‘then’ or ‘what then’ or ‘therefore’. This word is a reminder that verses 31-39 continue the theme of the chapter – they are a logical inference from what has been written throughout the letter. The phrase ‘these things‘ emphasise this point so Paul is overwhelmed by the amazing message of ‘these things’ in these chapters.
Ponder ‘these things’ with prayer and thanksgiving:
- the phrase ‘these things’ is a reference to the entire scope and wonder of God’s salvation provided in and through Christ.
- it is agreed that ‘these things’ refer back to verse 17 in chapter one: ‘For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, “the just shall live by faith”’. This is definitely not anything we do or achieve for that is impossible, but in the gospel, God has provided a righteousness which meets all the standards of His holy character and justice so we can be saved.
- Our plight in sin and rebellion against God means we are under God’s wrath, deserving to be punished eternally. But we find that God has intervened in the most amazing way on our behalf to save us. Christ by his life of obedience and sacrificial death for our sin has met the punishment we deserve. Forgiveness! Reconciliation to God! Peace with God! These privileges were purchased by the Lord Jesus so when we believe on the Lord Jesus we are acquitted, declared righteous by the holy God on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ becomes our living, organic, federal and ruling head.
- Our union with Christ works out in our experience in terms of being made Christ-like by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately the Lord is preparing the church for its glorification and the renewal of creation at the appearing of Christ in glory as king and judge. God’s purpose, being worked out daily in our lives in providence, guarantees a glorious future for his people. And in the middle of our suffering and discouragements he is working his purpose out for our ‘good’.
Paul’s question is pertinent: ‘What then shall we say to these things?’ Do we find comfort and assurance from pondering God’s redemptive purpose? Do I believe my salvation is secure eternally and that God’s omnipotence will achieve all he purposes for us? In my difficulties, am I trusting the Lord who loves us and done so much for us?
Occasionally in the EMW Bala ministers’ conference over the years, the speaker would be given much freedom in the Spirit to describe the beauty of Christ’s Person and the perfection of Christ’s death on the cross for sinners. Hearing such truths no one wanted to talk at the end of the meeting. We were subdued, walked out quietly overwhelmed by an awareness of Christ’s glory and work for us.
What is your response ‘to these things?’
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)