THE DETERMINATION OF THE SPIRIT LIFE
Intro: I would like to remind you that the book of
Romans was written to believers. It is a book given to
those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Therefore, the message of this book is intensely
Christian. Having said that, let me say that there are
two basic schools of thought that exist concerning the
matter of how we are saved. There are many views
within these schools, but almost all views could be
grouped within one school of thought or the other.
First, there is a school of thought that is known as
Arminianism. This view of salvation receives its name
from a man named Jacobus Arminius. People who hold
to this viewpoint typically believe that man cooperates
with God in his salvation. Salvation is through faith in
Christ, but we choose to believe when we are ready.
Most people who hold to this point of view also believe
that we can stop believing at any time and, thus, we
become lost again. Basically, salvation is based upon
the will of man.
Then, there is a school of thought that is known as
Calvinism. This viewpoint receives its name from a
sixteenth century preacher by the name of John Calvin.
Strict Calvinism says that God selected some people for
salvation and others for Hell and that those selected
have no say in the matter whatsoever. In strict
Calvinism, the will of man is forfeited to the sovereignty
Personally, my view is diametrically opposed to that
of the Arminians. I lean more toward Calvinism,
however, it is a modified view that is held by most
Baptists in this part of the world.
I have said these things because these are the
subjects that are in view in these verses this evening.
And, while we will never solve the puzzle of salvation
completely in this life, some of the answers to our
questions are in these verses.
Tonight, I am titling this message "The
Determination Of The Spirit Life." When I speak of
determination I am referring to the determination of God
rather than to the determination of the saints of God. I
think we will see from these verses that salvation is
something that produced by God and enjoyed by man.
Salvation is one of those things that we had absolutely
nothing to do with it becoming a reality in our lives. I
also think it will become clear that these verses give us
the strongest arguments in the Word of God for the
unconditional, eternal security of the believer.
Let's dig into these verses this evening and as we
do, please remember that we are treading in deep
waters! Yet, I think there is some meat for the saints in
these verses tonight. I only want to consider two
thoughts this evening, but they are so big and so mind-boggling that they will give us plenty to chew on as we
I. V. 28 THE DETERMINATION OF
(Ill. Besides John 3:16, this may be the most
beloved and claimed promise of the New
Testament. And, there is good reason for that! Life
is so filled with trials and troubles, it is good to know
that everything is being worked out according to the
plan of a great God.)
A. There Is A Confidence - Paul's statement is a
shocking statement, but it is one that is
absolutely true nonetheless! Friend, this is the
ironclad promise of God! His reputation rides on
this verse being true, and it is! He did not say
that all things are good, but that they will work for
good. It is a promise that is as good as the God
Who made it!
(Ill. F.B. Meyer, "If any promise of God should
fail, the heavens would cloth themselves in
sackcloth; the sun, the moon and the stars would
reel from their courses; the universe would rock,
and a hollow wind would moan through a ruined
creation the awful fact that God can lie.")
B. There Is A Completeness - Ill. Not "most", not
"some", but "ALL" Webster - 1.) The whole of,
the greatest possible; 2.) Every member or
individual part of; 3.) The whole number or sum
of; 4.) Every; 5:) Any whatever. In fact, every
thing in the life of the child of God is working for
your good! Even the things you don't
understand, or even like! Notice some areas
where God is working out our good and His
1. Sweet Things Work For Our Good - It is
easy to see how the sweet things in life work
for us. (Ill. Home, family, health, wealth,
salvation, etc.) These things are the stuff of
life that make it good and make us feel good
about things. In fact, these blessings from
the Lord ought to cause us to want to be
better Christians, Rom. 2:4. (Ill. We ought to
thank and praise Him for His blessings - 1
Thes. 5:18; Heb. 13:15.)
2. Sorrowful Things Work For Our Good - (Ill.
A Russian invasion and many carried off to
slavery in Siberia. Would it be good? (Ill.
There are several examples in the Word of
God where extremely sorrowful things
happened to people and it all worked for their
good in the end. Ill. Jacob - Gen. 42:36;
Judah - Jer. 24:5; The Psalmist - Psa.
119:71; Joseph - Gen. 50:20; Manasseh -
2 Chron. 33:11-12) Often the sickbed, the
valley of suffering, or the time of sorrow can
out teach the sermon! When God allows a
time of sorrow, suffering or pain in our lives,
it is always for our good and for His glory. (Ill.
He never said we had to like it, but we should
strive to be thankful!) Remember, it is
the eye that is washed with tears that sees
3. Satanic Things Work For Our Good - (Ill.
Paul - 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Ill. Paul endured
Satanic attack and affliction. But, God gave
it to Him!) Ill. God can even use the devil to
work out good things in our lives. Even
Satanic attack is used by the Lord to grow us
up in his image.
4. Sinful Things Work For Our Good - Ill.
Christians ought not sin! When we do, we will
suffer, Rev. 3:19, but God can take the
suffering brought about by deliberate sin and
use it for our good - Ill. Simon Peter - Luke
(Ill. God uses all the circumstances of life for our
good. May not see the good right now, but we
can still take comfort and rejoice in the
completeness of God's promise.)
C. There Is A Cause - These things aren't "just
working out" for the believer. They are taking
place because of the personal concern and work
of God in the life of that believer. The cause is
the awesome power of God. He is all-powerful,
all-knowing and He is able to take control of
every situation in life. It's easy to forget that
God is in control - Matt. 28:18; Eph. 3:20; Luke
1:38; Job 42:2. When we get our eyes off Him
and on our circumstance, we are in for a fall - Ill.
Peter - Matt. 14:28-31.
(Ill. Martin Luther was prone to periods of deep
depression. One day, during one of those times,
he came to the breakfast table to find his wife
dressed in black garments. She looked as if she
were gong to a funeral. Luther asked his wife
who had died and she replied "God." Luther
raised his voice and said, "Woman, that is
blaspheme!" She replied, "It is no more
blaspheme to say that God is dead than it is to
live as though He were dead." Luther got the
point and repented of his foolishness! When life
closes in on you, remember this: If you belong to
Jesus, God is behind every circumstance you
face. (Ill. Job 1 & 2). It had to pass across His
desk and receive His approval before it cam to
D. There Is A Condition - This promise is not for
everyone. But, only to those who love God. If all
things work together for good to the lover of God,
the opposite must be true for those who do not
(Ill. Preaching - Blesses the obedient, and
bruises the disobedient.)
(Ill. If you went to a physician whom you didn't
trust, you wouldn't follow his prescription and
treatment and as a result, you wouldn't
experience the blessing of healing. If you do not
love God, and trust His wisdom, you will rebel
against Him and refuse to submit to Him for your
(Ill. How can I tell if I really love God?
1. Are you saved? You can't love Him until you
know Him - 1 John 4:19.
2. Are you obedient? John 14:15; John
(Ill. You have no right to claim Rom. 8:28 unless
you qualify as one who loves Him!)
(Ill. Jesus can be either good or bad. He is the
door - John 10:9. To the saved, He is the door
into the glories of Heaven and eternal life, but to
the lost, He is the door into damnation and
eternal separation in Hell. You see, it is vitally
important for you to "love God", so this great
promise can be yours now and forever.)
E. There Is A Consequence - This is not a verse
designed for your happiness! It is not to be
taken lightly. This verse cannot be divorced
from the verses that immediately follow it -
29-30. As we shall see, God's purpose in
turning everything to good is not to bless you,
make you happy, or make you wealthy. God is
doing all that He does to make you more like
Jesus! God didn't finish with you at salvation.
He will continue to shape you until you reflect His
image perfectly. The whole purpose of Romans
8:28 is to teach us that God has an eternal plan
and that nothing will ever be able to change that
plan! God is busy reproducing Himself in each
I. The Determination Of The Spirit Life
II. V. 29-30 THE DETERMINATION OF
(Ill. As we move into these two verses, I will admit
that they pose questions that I cannot readily
answer. In fact, there are no easy answers to the
problems posed here. If there were, then these two
verses would not have divided the church for these
2,000 years. These verses merely teach us that
God is working in us to reproduce the image of
Jesus in every child of God, v. 29. That is a
precious truth! However, it is how this working is
carried out that poses the problem for many. What
I want to do this evening is not settled ages old
doctrinal disputes. What I hope to accomplish in
preaching the truths contained in these two verses
is to cause each of us to understand that God is
working out an eternal plan in the life of every child
of God. These verses tell us of the "purpose" that
was mentioned in verse 28. Let's see what God has
purposed for each of us!)
A. It Is Based In The Omniscience Of God -
(Ill. There are two basic interpretations of this
verse. One group says that God looked ahead
through time and saw who would be saved and
these are the people He determined would be
conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is probably the most common view. On the
other hand, others say that God looked down
through time and for reasons known only to God
Himself, elected certain individuals to be called
to salvation. Either group poses its own set of
1. If God only predestinated those whom He
knew would believe, then God's sovereignty
is forfeited to the will of man. In other words,
God was forced to accept only those whom
He knew would believe on Him. This forces
God's will to become the prisoner of man's
will. Friends, that can never happen!
2. On the other hand, if God picked some
people and saved them whether they wanted
to be saved or not, then the free will of man
is a joke. It means that people are nothing
more than mere automatons who have no
say in whether they will come to God or not.
This view also paints God as a Creator Who
is cruel because He evidently meant for
some people to suffer in Hell forever.
As you can see, both of these views have
problems. Now, let's complicate things just a
little more. Notice Ephesians 1:4-6. This
passage also tells us that God chose us out
before the foundation of the world and saved us
by His grace.
(Ill. How do we understand this problem? Well,
first I would say that I flatly reject the notion that
man's will carries more weight than God's will.
God will never be held captive to the whims of
men. However, I also reject the idea that God
handpicked a few for Heaven and the rest for
Hell. Let's see if we can untangle this matter by
looking at what the Bible tells us about getting
1. Man does not initiate salvation - Man is
dead in sin, Eph. 2:1. Therefore, he is
incapable of coming to God on his own. As
a result, salvation is dependent upon the
sinner being called to come to God by the
Spirit of God, John 6:44; John 6:65.
Therefore, salvation always begins with God.
He takes the initiative.
2. The death of Christ on the cross was for
the sins of all men - When Jesus died, He
was dying for the sins of the world, 1 John
2:2; 2 Cor. 5:21.
3. But, only those who receive the atoning
death of Christ by faith are saved through
His blood - Eph. 2:8-9; Acts 16:31; Rom.
10:9-10; John 5:24; John 3:16.
4. There is also no escaping the fact that
believers were chosen by God before the
world began - Eph. 1:4-6.
5. But, wait, the Bible says "whosoever will"
may come, Rev. 22:17; Rom. 10:13!
Doesn't this mean that anyone can be
saved? Yes, but only if they have been
called by the Spirit of God.
6. The bottom line of the whole matter is this:
Jesus died for the sins of the entire human
race. His gift of salvation is freely offered to
all men everywhere. However, those men
will not want the gift unless they are
specifically called by the Spirit of God to
receive it. When God calls someone to
salvation, He moves in their life in such a way
that they come to want what He wants. God
is absolutely Sovereign in the matter of
salvation, just as He is in every other
matter of life!
(Ill. Imagine it this way: Two men are playing
a game of chess. One is an accomplished
master of the game and knows thousands of
ways to start a game, strategies to use during
the game and how to play the end game.
The other person is a novice and he just
blindly makes each move playing the game.
As the game progresses the master skillfully
uses every move his opponent makes to
bring him into a position where there is no
other alternative but for him to surrender his
king to the master. The master of the game
has brought his opponent to a place where
they share the same will. That is a crude
analogy, but it makes the point that God's
sovereign will is fulfilled while the will of the
human is not violated. God works in our lives
to bring us to the place where we will
surrender to His will for our lives. Why
doesn't He do this with all men? That is a
mystery that cannot be solved. Salvation is
for all men, but no man can be saved apart
from the call of the Spirit of God.)
(Ill. Here is where we must put this matter to
rest. Let it be stated that no one can be
saved apart from the call of God. And, those
who are called were chosen in Christ before
the world began. Let is also be said that God
has chosen out no one specifically for
condemnation. God gives all men light, John
1:9; but the elect are extended an "effectual
call'. They respond to this call and they are
saved according to God's eternal purpose.
These two things may seem contradictory,
but they are not! They are merely mysteries
that we cannot solve, but which by faith we
know to be true. I will end this discussion
with this statement: Salvation is a mystery! A
mystery that will not be solved until we are
home in glory!)
B. It Is Based In The Omnipotence Of God - Now,
the end result of all this is God's desire to make
us like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 29
tells us that we have been "predestinated" for
this great honor. The word "predestine" comes
from a word that means to "mark off the
boundaries ahead of time." That is, before we
were even born, God had already determined
that we would be saved, and that we would bear
the image of the Lord Jesus in our new Heavenly
home! God's overarching purpose in salvation is
to remake the image of His Son in every person
(Ill. Jesus is called the "firstborn". This word
comes from the same word from which we get
the English word "prototype." A prototype is a
perfect model that is made before a product
goes into mass production. Jesus is our
prototype. Just as He is so shall we be! Just as
He conquered death, so shall we. Just as He is
glorified, so shall we be. Just as He is holy, so
shall we be. Just as He inhabits Heaven, so
How do I know this? Because of verse 30.
Here, we are told that He "foreknew" us and that
He "predestinated us". These things we have
already dealt with. Now, those He predestinated,
He "called". Those he called He "justified".
Those He justified He "glorified". The whole
point of these verses is this: In Jesus, we are
absolutely secure! Why? Notice:
1. Verse 28 tells us that God is working out His
purpose in us. What is that purpose? He is
making us in the image of Jesus. Why do all
that work and then throw us away?
2. Verse 29 tells us that God has already
decided that we will be like Jesus some day.
It is a done deal!
3. Verse 30 uses several words to speak of our
journey. And, every one of them is in the
"aorist tense" in the Greek and this tense is
roughly equivalent to our past tense. Notice:
A. We were predestinated - Past tense.
B. We were called - Past tense
C. We were justified - (Ill. To declare
righteous!) - Past tense.
D. We were glorified - Past tense - In the
mind of God, we are already with Him in
Heaven, Eph. 2:6, and we are already
sinless, and we are already glorified. We
are as good for Heaven as if we were
Conc: The final word here is this: If you are saved, you
are saved forever. Nothing can or will derail the
purpose of God concerning you. If you are saved, you
will be saved forever. If you are in Jesus, you will be in
Jesus forever. A good way to end this message might
be to look at the question asked in verse 32. "What
shall we say to these things?" I think the best answer
would be to say "Glory! Hallelujah!" Or, we might just
answer it by standing in pure amazement at the power
My friends, we will never get the workings of
salvation figured out while we are in this world, but we
sure can enjoy the end result. If you are saved, praise
God and know that you will be saved forever and one
day you will be like Jesus. If you are not saved, know
this, if you have the desire to be you can be. That
desire is the Spirit of God calling you to come. If you
feel that tug tonight, then come to Jesus and be saved.