Tag Archives: golden chain

Romans 8:30 – Triad of Assurance Complete

This text is often referred to as the “golden chain” of salvation.

  • Like and with verse 29, it is often used to argue for a certain doctrine of salvation.

 

The chain, which begins in verse 29, is this:

  • Foreknew
  • Predestined
  • Called
  • Justified
  • Glorified

 

Today we will try to understand verse 30 in context.

  • Laying aside any baggage we may bring to the verse.

 

Before we begin, it will help to remind us of our paraphrases of verses 28 and 29.

  • “We know that groanings and present sufferings do not negate or thwart God’s purpose of future glory for all believers” (vs. 28).
  • This is “Because God determined before the creation of the world to create by, in and through Jesus Christ – His preeminent Son – ‘a Christ-shaped family’ consisting of both Jew and Gentile” (vs. 29)

 

The question now is this:

  • What is verse 30’s relationship to the point Paul has been making in verses 28 and 29?

 

It seems to me the most likely answer to this is the most obvious.

  • Verse 30 completes what one might call the triad of assurance.

 

Specifically, verse 30 completes a triad that Paul has been building since verse 28.

  • (1) What we know about our future (vs. 28).
  • (2) Why we know this about our future (vs. 29).
  • (3) How the “what” and the “why” have legs (vs. 30).

 

Using our paraphrases, we can frame the third leg of the triad with the following question:

  • Given what we know about our future glory, and why we can be assured of its reality – given that God determined to make it so, not fate – how does God actually connect our “now” to our “not yet”?

 

 

Verse 30:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

Last week we dealt with the first two links of the so-called Golden Chain:

  • Predestined, and the thing that precedes it…
  • Foreknowledge

 

Both of these are wrapped in the fact that before creation God knew…

  • He would create for Himself a people in and through Jesus Christ.

 

With this in mind…

  • Let’s deal with the meat of verse 30 – called.
  • Greek “kletos”.

 

 

Called:

The BDAG defines “called” as follows:

  • Set apart or “choose for receipt of a special benefit or experience”.

 

When we dealt with this word in verse 28, we saw:

  • “Paul’s own audience would think of Israel as the people God had chosen…” – Craig Keener.

 

In other words, “called” is OT, ethnic Israel language.

  • God set apart Israel from the nations to be His people.
  • Israel was God’s inheritance.

 

But in Romans, Paul was turning this limited idea of “called” on its head.

  • Keener says the church at Rome would, “…recognize that Paul’s argument was designed to show that God was so sovereign that he was not bound to choose (with regard to salvation) based on Jewish ethnicity” – Craig Keener.

 

In other words, “called” is about God’s inclusion of the nations with Israel.

  • It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.
  • God has set apart Jew and Gentile to experience the Gospel and its benefits.

 

And importantly…

  • The idea behind this take on “called” is that it is corporate-centered.

 

But there is also a take on “called” that is individual-centered.

  • It sees “called” as really referring to an “effectual call” of a person in the salvation process.

 

An “effectual call” refers to God’s determining that an individual person will be saved.

  • It is a sure thing.
  • God has set apart this person “A” and made sure they respond with faith to the Gospel.
  • (And it is also, arguably, an individually minded idea that is anachronistic to the Bible).

 

Doug Moo thinks we are dealing with an “effectual call” in verse 30.

  • He says, it “…denotes God’s effectual summoning into relationship with him” – Doug Moo.

 

Let’s look at Paul’s use of “called” in Romans prior to our text to flesh this out some more.

  • Romans 1:1 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
  • Romans 1:6 (ESV) — 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
  • Romans 1:7 (ESV) — 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Paul is obviously an individual.

  • And as an individual, he was set apart by God to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

Was Paul set apart in such a way that he would not refuse to follow Christ?

  • We don’t know from this text, but it certainly seems like a possibility.
  • So this could be an example of an individual-centered effectual call.

 

You [in Rome] who are called” and “all those in Rome” are both corporate statements.

  • Corporately they were set apart by God to belong to Christ and be saints (a future promise).

 

These seem to be general comments about God’s purposes:

  • God has set apart Jews and Gentiles – even in Rome – to experience the Gospel and its benefits.
  • They “belong to Jesus Christ” and so will be “saints”.

 

What about our text?

  • Is it individually-centered or is it corporate-centered?
  • Romans 8:30 (ESV) — 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

It not only seems to be a corporate-centered use.

  • It seems to be even more broad than the “called” in Romans 1.
  • Paul’s message here is to all believers.

 

In fact, I think a context observation brings clarity.

  • Is Paul’s point in 8:28-30 to give assurance of individual salvation – we are effectually called?
  • Or is his point to give full assurance that “already” believers will be glorified?

 

I think it’s pretty obvious.

  • It’s the second.

 

BTW – The critique I would make is…

  • How can there be assurance if there is no effectual calling?
  • Great question.
  • In verses 28-30, I don’t think he addresses this question – so why read it into the text?

 

So why make Paul say more than he is saying?

  • Especially when he is not obviously saying anything more.

 

Moo and others do this because they have a certain presupposition about foreknowledge.

“If, then, [foreknowledge] means ‘know intimately,’ ‘have regard for,’ this must be a knowledge or love that is unique to believers and that leads to their being predestined. This being the case, the difference between ‘know or love beforehand’ and ‘choose beforehand’ virtually ceases to exist” – Doug Moo.

 

Moo’s presupposition is that foreknowledge equals predetermined.

  • Though he does hedge a bit when he says the difference between the two “virtually ceases to exist”.

 

We saw last week that foreknowledge does not necessarily lead to being determined.

  • And so the difference would not “cease to exist”.

 

Furthermore, given the fact that God knows all true facts – even the ones that don’t obtain (counterfactuals)…

  • God has knowledge of people that He had “a knowledge or love” for in a possible world, but who aren’t believers in the actual world.

 

Just like he had knowledge of David being handed over to Saul in a possible world that didn’t obtain.

  • This goes against Moo’s “must be a knowledge…that leads to their being predestined”.

 

We have also seen that the context here is not how person “A” is “saved”.

  • The context is why God’s people can have full assurance of a glorified future in the midst of sufferings.
  • And how this full assurance is grounded, generally, in the Gospel.

 

So, I just don’t see how our text can be taken as an effectual call.

  • Our text is concerned with how “already” believers can be sure that verses 28 and 29 will be an actual and real experience.

 

Given all this, I would paraphrase Paul’s use of “called” as follows:

  • The predestined were also “set apart by God to participate in, and experience the benefits of” the stuff of verses 28 and 29.

 

 

Rest of the Chain:

…and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

Paul then completes the chain by referring back to Romans 1-4’s emphasis on justification (Moo).

  • Romans 3:23–24 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

 

An emphasis that is summed up in 5:1.

  • Romans 5:1 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Notice, just like last week’s emphasis:

  • The grounding of justification is “in Christ Jesus” and “through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 

So those who were called are also justified – made right with God – in and through Jesus Christ.

  • A necessary reality, or “what”, to have the assurance of future glory.

 

And fittingly, Paul ends where he started off his Triad of Assurance.

  • …he also glorified
  • He also gave a new nature and new status.

 

So back to our question:

  • Given what we know about our future glory, and why we can be assured of its reality – given that God determined to make it so, not fate – how does God actually connect our “now” to our “not yet”?

 

Answer:

  • God connects the believers’ suffering “now” with the glorified “not yet”…
  • By making a way for those who love him to be made right with Him through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

 

To wrap this triad of assurance up, let’s finish up once again, with a paraphrase.

  • We know that groanings and present sufferings do not negate or thwart God’s purpose of future glory for all believers” (vs. 28).
  • Why? “Because God determined before the creation of the world to create by, in and through Jesus Christ – His preeminent Son – ‘a Christ-shaped family’ consisting of both Jew and Gentile” (vs. 29)
  • How? “Because God saw to it that His ‘Christ-shaped family’ was set apart to participate in, and experience the benefits of their future glory, by making them right with Him in and through our Lord Jesus Christ – not leaving their future up to fate or ethnicity” (vs. 30).

 

I think these paraphrases get at the meat of Paul’s meaning.

  • You will be glorified.
  • It is a certainty because God has made it a certainty.
  • Your future does not depend on you.
  • Your future does not depend on your current suffering and groanings.
  • Your future does not depend on fate.
  • It is Jesus Christ who secures your future.
  • This was always God’s plan.