“Wrestling With Romans”
Three steps to Heaven (Chapter 8: 28-39)
The three steps to heaven, called, justified, and glorified (v30). Step one, God calls. Have you heard his voice? If not, why not (John 8.47)? If there is something essential lacking, I mean pertaining to an experience of God, well we won’t hear his voice, will we? A person who is tone deaf can’t experience the thrill of music. The person who is colour blind can’t experience the beauty of a coloured picture, can they? Unless a person is ‘of God’, that is, born of God, has the Holy Spirit within them they can’t recognise, understand, or hear the voice of God (1Corinthians 2.14; John 8.47). So God not only lovingly knew us in eternity past, but affectionately, and effectively drew us, called us to himself in time (2Thessalonians 2.14; 1Timothy 6.12). There we were going through life minding our own business so to speak, we may have heard God’s message of salvation many times before, and to no effect, but God the Holy Spirit came to us and this time caused us to hear in a different way, inwardly. Now all of a sudden it made sense, we could see the truth of it, we could see how it was relevant to us, we could see how absolutely ‘imperative’ it was that we repented and believed the gospel.
The same grace that charmed and won us, and lit the fire of holy faith in the hearth of our innermost beings (Ephesians 2.5-8), the very second faith began to burn, God dawned the Judge’s cap, down came his gavel along with his declaration ‘righteous’ (Romans 3.24). Did you get it? Not simply ‘not guilty’, no, more than that, ‘righteous’, utterly righteous, no more or less than God the Son is! Free from guilt, and credited to our account is the righteousness of Jesus. Now then you see how God begun the whole process? With his foreknowing us (v29), then calling us (v30a), then still in the same verse, justifying us. And because it was God who begun it all, you can guarantee he’ll finish it (Philippians 1.6). Where? In glory (v30b). But again notice the tense used by Paul, ‘he glorified’. It’s done! The New Testament sees God’s work as being completed, from one end of eternity to the other, from the very first believer called to the last child in through the door. In God’s mind it has already been done, therefore, nothing will stand in the way, his kingdom moves forward, inexorably growing and growing (Mark 4.30-32), and we who are part of it, cannot be loved anymore now than when he foreknew, called, justified and glorified us (John 13.1).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)