“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” - Romans viii, 29.
We do not believe that Baptists who deny the biblical doctrine of the Eternal, Unconditional, and personal Election of the Church in Christ, can clearly comprehend the doctrine of Absolute Predestination. To have a view of the doctrine of Absolute Predestination one must comprehend the end that predestination is designed to consummate. And to look to the end we must have a view of the beginning, or the eternal choice in Christ.
The is but the scaffolding that stands round the building. For time with all its varying incidents, and circumstances was brought into existence for the lifting on high of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the manifestation of His glory in the Church “which is His body the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” This testimony shines upon every page of the Divine Record. It opens with the beginning when the earth “was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
It brings forth form and order from apparent chaos, and ever points with unerring precision to the one grand objective point in creation, “the coming of Christ, and the glory that should follow;” the arena upon which this bright display was to be made in the world in which we live, with its time clouds of gloom and sorrow; yea, with all the mighty fabric of its creatures and events. To say that each and all was predestinated to its accurate end, with its shadows and its lights, all defined precisely in each and every varying hue, is most surely correct; but as we have already stated, this is but part of what is comprehended in the glorious, God-honoring doctrine of the Absolute Predestination of all things whatsoever cometh to pass.” Assuredly it is an important part from which we would not, in the least, detract; but there is another part to which we wish to call attention.
The apostle in our text has given us the testimony of this blessed and precious doctrine: “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” “Foreknowledge” itself is but another name for Predestination. For God to foreknow, is but to eternally, accurately, and absolutely prearrange, or predetermine, as embracing the beginning and all the accomplishment, and of course covering all that lies between. It is an eternal purview of time and eternity and from all eternity as well: and it is yet more, as absolutely ordaining to an irrevocable accomplishment.
To this agrees the declaration in the verse preceding our text, which must be denied to limit predestination. That is, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” “All things were predetermined thus to bend, to work together,” link in link, cause and effect, eternally, unchangeably, absolutely and without fail to the grand design named in the text. To deny absoluteness of predestination, one would be forced to deny that God works all things together to any great end, or accomplishment of His eternal purpose in predestination’s grand design named in the text.
The apostle says, “For whom He did foreknow.” Here we have an eternal opening, the manifestation of an eternal purpose purposed in the Lord Jesus Christ, toward His chosen people. This people are the people which He had “formed for Himself.” They were the “unperfect” (undeveloped, in Psalm cxxxix, 16) substance “made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” Foreknown as having been fore-chosen: foreknown as actually and eternally existing in Him who is the Book of Life in which all these members “were written.” - Psalm cxxxix, 15, 16. Foreknown in this eternal choice, as being one with Him who is one with the Father from everlasting to everlasting, and in the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. – John xvii, 5.
“Them He also did predestinate.” This eternal (spiritual) substance was predestinated to a glorious (personal) development. The purpose for which they were called, and for which all time is brought into being is here brought to view. Predestination not only provides the amphitheater in which this grand scene is enacted, but also makes the bright and dazzling display; not only builds the scaffolding, but brings to development with shoutings of grace the heavenly building around which the earthly network stand, and all to the glory of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“To be conformed to the image of His Son.” Here we have the legitimate end, the crowning work, the grand consummation of the doctrine of Predestination. The “many brethren” must be like Him who is the Firstborn. Predestination insures and accomplishes this glorious end. The apostle points out the successive steps to this bright consummation when he says, “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”
When Jesus arose a mighty Conqueror over death, and hell and ascended upon high, far above all principality and power, His people represented in Him and being in Him shared in this wonderful triumph, they were glorified in His glory, for they were and ever were, and ever will be, one with Him, as being one in Him. For “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” . . . .”I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“In heaven the Head the members here,
Ten thousand thousands yet but one.”
But the heavenly testimony completes this glorious conformation in the brightness of immortality. “Brethren, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” – 1 John iii. 2.
This then is the doctrine of Predestination, and this its use in the Divine economy. How important! How precious to the child of God? No wonder that he contends earnestly for it; that he suffers strife, misrepresentation and exclusion for it.
It is the Divine assurance that he shall be made like unto the Son of God. He sees through it the final goal of all his sufferings here, as conformed to the image of his suffering Jesus, he enters forever the portals of rest. He sees through it the Divine working of all things together, and good evolving from the dark way of suffering and sorrow to the glory of God, and bliss unending. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Well might the apostle say, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompenses unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans xi, 23-36.
“For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, of life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; and yet are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.