(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
This is the second Gem about God’s Plan. The first Gem highlighted Jeremiah 29:11 through 14, part of a letter the LORD sent to His people, the Jews, who were experiencing seventy years of captivity in Babylon because of their sins! But it’s application is also apply to us today.
The featured Scripture for this second Gem comes from the book of Romans, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians in Rome. Through the ages this sixteen-chapter letter has grounded believers in the basics of Christian beliefs, and encouraged them to live out those beliefs! Romans 8:28 through 32 gives us special insight into God’s Plan for believers!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justi- fied; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
- Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
✞ This is one of the most quoted verses when we are facing hardships or challenges! And it is usually quoted by other well-meaning Christians. The prob- lem is, this verse is not often received by those to whom it is directed in that same spirit! ✞ I was trying to encourage my Sunday school teacher by this verse. Diane was going through the trial of seeing her mother’s health seriously decline due to bone cancer. I was her pastor, and I had asked her to teach the adult class to give me a break and to occupy her mind on God’s Word instead of constantly worrying about her mother’s health. ➔ I did not just blithely quote Romans 8:28 to her, but was tenderly trying to explain how the Lord was working in hers and several other lives because of her mother’s terminal illness. ➔ Diane listened as I talked, but later told me she was ready to throw her book at me... ....which happened to be her Bible! ✞ The problem is that Romans 8:28 is too often quoted as a stand-alone verse! You have to go on to...
- Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
✞ Here we see the purpose to which God has called us! He wants us, His children, to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ! There are other Scriptures that support this idea concerning the purpose of the Lord: ➔ I Corinthians 15:49 – “...as we have born the image of the man of dust [sinful Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus Christ].” ➔ II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with un- veiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord , are being transformed into that same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” ➔ James 1:2 through 4 – “...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces pa- tience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete [like Jesus], lacking nothing....” ➔ II Peter 1:3 and 4 – “...through the know- ledge of [Jesus Christ]...you may be par- takers of the divine nature....” ✞ The problem is that we are far from the completion of being the image of Jesus! We are sinners, and we need a lot of refining to become like Him! ✞ If we are going to be conformed to the image of Christ, we have to keep in mind what it says in Hebrews 2:10: “...it was fitting for [Jesus]...in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” ➔ If He suffered, and we are to become like Him, then we can expect hard knocks and suffering from life also! ➔ Didn’t Jesus say to His followers in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” The cross is an in- strument of suffering and death! According to Romans 6:6, we are to crucify our old sinful nature so we can reflect Jesus in His resurrection power! And we are to do this daily, that is, moment by moment! (see also I Corinthians 15:31). ✞ One great thing that Jesus’ suffering has accomplished for us is highlighted in Hebrews 4:14 through 16: Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession [of faith]. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Romans 8:30 – “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
✞ There are four steps in God’s plan for us. Three have been accomplished in every Christian, but the fourth is only completed after we are in heaven. ➔ Predestined – Alot of Christians have problems with this idea of predestination. ❏ But God knows everything, past, pre- sent, and future! And He not only knows what was, is, and will be, but He also knows what every possibility could be! This does not mean He causes us to do all things according to what He knows, but there is nothing we can do, say, or think that the Lord does not already know! ❏ In the previous verse above, we are predestined to become like His Son Jesus! According to I John 3:3, this will be ultimately fulfilled at His return: Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed [Jesus, at the Rapture], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. ➔ Called – God has called ALL humanity to come and put their faith in Jesus! But it is only those who respond that “...are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...” (Romans 8:29).” That He calls all human beings to salvation is clear: ❏ For it says in I Timothy 4:10, “...the living God...is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” ❏ And in I John 2:2 it is written, Jesus “...Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” But only a relatively small portion of humanity accepts His call!
- Romans 3:31 and 32:
What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ✞ The omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of all things is for us! He is the ultimate power of the universe and way beyond! In Isaiah 45:5 through 7 (Interna- tional Standard Version), this is what God says about Himself: I am the LORD, and there is no other be- sides Me: and there are no gods....so that from the sun's rising [in the east] to the west [where the sun sets], people may know that there is none besides Me. “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make goodness and create disaster. I am the LORD, who does all these things. ✞ No one and nothing can compare with the LORD! So, “...if [He]...is for us, who can be against us?” No one and nothing! And He has already proven He is for us by giving us His only Son to save us!
As you can see, the Lord’s overriding plan for followers of His Son is to conform them more and more into Jesus’ image! But as He works out that plan, God will also give us whatever we need to make it happen! The best and most costly gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already been given! Anything and everything else we need is a lesser gift! As Paul said in Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need accordirng to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
This is God’s Plan
for you and me!