The Book of Romans
God’s Plan - Part 1
The text contains three controversial words foreknow, predestinate, and called. Because all three words relate to the decision making of God there is much controversy as it relates to how much control God has and how does man’s freewill interact or influence God’s decision making. This study of Romans 8:29-31 is not a detail study and does not attempt to answer all the question related to this subject but it does endeavor to stimulate confidence in the certainty that God has a plan and He is working that plan in the lives of all mankind today. My prayer is that when we are finished with this study that the words foreknow, predestinate, and called have a positive influence on the believer’s life. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to live in the confidence that God has a plan. Romans 8:31, What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
I. General Characteristics of God’s Plan
- God’s decisions are consist with His actions. God’s decisions cause to be certain all things that will come to pass. It is virtually inconceivable that anything could happen independently of God’s will and working. Isaiah 37:26, Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps. What is coming to pass is occurring because it is (and always has been) part of God’s plan. Isaiah 46:9-11, Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Because of God’s faithfulness in His avowed purpose, it is futile to oppose it. Isaiah 14:24-27, The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
- Emphasizes what God does, that is, what He wills, rather than what humans must do or what happens to us as a consequence of God’s plan. God is supremely powerful, the creator and sustainer of all that is. God is more than theoretical power He is a loving person. Acts 2:22-23, Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.
- Emphasizes the intelligent dimension of God’s decisions. God’s decisions are not arbitrary or haphazard. God has from the beginning, from all of eternity, had an inclusive plan encompassing all of reality and extending even to the minor details of life. Proverbs 16:4, The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Job 38:3-7, Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 42:1-3, Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
II. Nature of God’s Plan
- Predestination suggests the destiny of someone or something. Best used in God’s plan as it relates in particular to the eternal conditions of moral agents reserved for matters of eternal salvation or condemnation. Within predestination “election” refers to God’s positive choice of individuals, nations, or groups to eternal life. Reprobation refers to negative predestination or God’s choice of some to suffer eternal damnation.
- God’s plan is from all eternity. The psalmist speaks of God having planned all of our days before we were born. Psalms 139:16, Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Paul indicates that God “chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world. Ephesians 1:4, According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. Paul writes that grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. II Timothy 1:9, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
- God’s plan and decisions have no influence outside of Himself. No one has advised God and for that matter there is no one that could advise Him. Isaiah 40:13-14, Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? God plan is not subject to the incompleteness of knowledge and the errors of judgment characteristic of human plan.
- God’s plan is for His glory. This is the highest of all values, and the one great motivating factor in all that God has chosen and done. Colossians 1:16, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: God chose us in Christ and destined us in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace. Ephesians 1:4-6, According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. What God does, He does for His own name’s sake. Isaiah 48:11, For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. The purpose of the whole plan of salvation is the glory of God through the good works God has prepared for His people to do. Ephesians 2:8-10, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. God has provided the means of salvation in order to fulfill His love for the human race and His concern for their welfare. However, this is not an ultimate end, but only a means to the greater end, God’s own glory. We must bear in mind that God is truly the Lord. We exist for His sake, for His glory and pleasure, rather than He for ours.
- God plan is all-inclusive. Ephesians 1:11, In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Psalms 119:89-91, For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants. The comprehensiveness of divine decisions goes beyond what we might expect. From God’s standpoint, there is no division of sacred and secular areas of our life. There are no areas that fall outside of God’s concern and decision.
- God’s plan is successful. What He has purposed from eternity will surely come to pass. Isaiah 14:24-27, The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? Psalms 33:11, The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
- God’s plan relates primarily to what God does in terms of creating, preserving, directing, and redeeming. God’s plan involves the will and actions of humans as the means to the ends He purposes or as results of actions that He takes. The plan of God does not force humans to act in particular ways, but render it certain that they will freely act in those ways. God’s role is to decide that certain things will take place in our lives, not to lay down commands to act in a certain way.
- While God’s plan relates primarily to what He does, the actions of humans are also included. The responses of individuals to Jesus message were the result of the Father’s decision. John 6:35-40, And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Acts 13:46-48, Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
- God’s plan includes what is ordinarily called good acts. Cyrus, who did not personally know or acknowledge God, was foreordained to help fulfill God’s purpose of rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. The good works that believers do were prepared by God in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Evil actions of humans which are contrary to God’s law and moral intentions, are also seem in Scriptures as a part of God’s plan foreordained by Him. The betrayal, conviction, and crucifixion of Jesus are great examples. Luke 22:21-22, But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! Acts 2:23, Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
- God’s plan is unchangeable in terms of its specifics. God does not change His mind or alter His decision regarding specific determinations. This may seem strange in light of the seeming alteration of His intentions with regard to Nineveh and His apparent repentance of having made mankind. Genesis 6:5-6, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Isaiah 46:10, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. We may not understand but God’s will and man’s freewill are compatible.
God is in control. God is working His predetermined plan. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to live in the confidents that God has a plan. Romans 8:31, What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867