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Salvation…Can You Be Sure? – Romans 8:28-30

There are Christians who live in fear that you can lose your salvation. They live with the guilt of their sin and worry that they may not make it to heaven. As we continue our study through Romans 8, I want you to see that you are more than saved. You are saved and secure because God loves you with an unconditional love (Rom. 8:35). You are a Christian not because of what you did, but because of what God did. Let’s look at verse 29, but look at it in context (with the verses before and after):

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.  

God will accomplish His purpose. What is His purpose? It’s that we be conformed to the image of His Son. God did not save you just to keep you out of hell. He did not save you to make you happy. It is impossible for a person to be saved and not be conformed to Christ. It is impossible to be justified and not one day be glorified. Let’s take a look at what some call the “golden chain of salvation.” There are five links in the chain. It is not a matter of you holding on to God. God is holding on to you!


Foreknowledge is where we get the word prognosis, meaning to predict beforehand. Meteorologists and doctors all make prognoses. Sometimes they are right but sometimes wrong. God is always right! When we read about foreknowledge, it means that before you were born or anything was created, God loved you and chose to have a personal relationship with you. Revelation 13 says the Lamb’s book of life was written before the foundation of the world. The word is foreknowledge not foresight. It is true that God sees everything. He is omniscient. But it is more than God foreknew those who would believe and chose them knowing they would chose Him. Jesus said, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you” (Jn. 15:16). In adoption, children do not choose the parent. The parent chooses the child. The word “know” indicates relationship. Genesis 4 says Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived. He knew his wife again and she bore another son. In Amos 3, God said about Israel, “You only have I known among the families of the earth.” God obviously knew the other nations, but He chose to be in a covenant relationship with Israel. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that on judgment day many will tell Him of things they did in His name, but He will say, “Depart from me I never knew you.” It means He never had a relationship with them. God chose to love us. God sought us. The initiative is with God. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).


This word troubles a lot of people. I was shocked in my study of how many commentaries talked about foreknowledge, calling, and glorification, and skipped right over predestination. You have no need to fear a word or teaching in the Bible. The Bible is God’s love letter to His people. God is love! Paul did not use this word to start a theological argument. He’s not saying, “I’m a Calvinist.” Calvin was not even born when Paul wrote this verse! Paul used this word writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to give you assurance. Blessed assurance. The word means to mark, appoint, or draw a circle around. There is nothing in the Bible that says people are predestined to go to hell. Predestination is to salvation not damnation. Hell is where man sends himself because of unbelief.  Anyone who wants to go to heaven can go to heaven if they will repent and believe. A helpful verse is Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!” Our finite minds cannot understand an infinite God. The Bible teaches God has predestined people from every tribe and tongue to be saved. When God predestines something to happen all the demons of hell and the devil himself cannot keep it from happening! God’s purpose cannot be stopped. Ephesians 1 is a great parallel to Romans 8. It reiterates that salvation is all of God. He took the initiative. That is why we pray for the lost. We pray for God to open their blinded eyes (2 Cor. 4:4). We pray for God to draw them to Himself (Jn. 6:44). We pray for them to have a personal relationship with God and know God as Abba Father. Somebody once said, “Try to explain predestination and you may lose your mind. Try to explain it away and you may lose your soul.” God didn’t choose you because of your righteousness. He chose you just because he set His love on you.


To call means to summon. There is a general call and an effectual call. Every time the gospel goes forth there is a general call. “Whosoever will may come.” But there must also be an effectual or personal call where an individual responds to God’s call. The idea that a person can desire to believe but is turned away is foreign to scripture. Everyone knows Jeremiah 29:11, but do you know Jeremiah 29:13? “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” Jesus said, “The one who comes to me I will never cast out” (Jn. 6:37). The church is made up of the “called out” ones. Called out of darkness into His marvelous light. I caution you to remember that blessed are the balanced. Most people go to one extreme or the other when it comes to the doctrine of election and the free will of man. Both are in the Bible. Someone said, “God cast his vote for you. The devil cast his vote against you. You cast the deciding vote.” The only problem with that is obvious. The devil and you are not equal with God. When people first discover the doctrine of election in the Bible they sometimes react with a fear of evangelism and missions. They feel that somehow they might “mess it up” by calling or inviting someone that God is not dealing with. If you really believe in the sovereignty of God, you can’t mess it up!


The blog is longer this week because I really want to make sure to help you understand. I’ll be shorter in my explanations of the last two points. To be justified means to be put in a right standing with God. We are justified not by our righteousness but by Christ’s. All our sins were charged to Jesus’ account and all His righteousness was put on our account.


Glorification means to be glorified. All of these verbs are in past tense. It is a future event, but in Christ it is a done deal. Glorification is the end of this journey of faith. Sanctification is a process to get there. In the end, all of the effects of our sin will be removed and we will live in perfect communion with God.

I encourage you not to get caught up in arguments about the links in the golden chain of salvation. Some people love their theological position to the point that they love to debate. If Wesley and Whitefield did not agree over the issue, it is doubtful all Christians today will either. Godly people have disagreed throughout history. Somehow God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together, but we all must have a spirit of humility and charity towards one another. We want to maintain our unity in Christ and spend our energy working together for Him rather than arguing with each other over secondary things. Let me illustrate the point with a line from Allister Begg that was circulating on social media a few years ago. He said, “If the thief on the cross had been asked, ‘What do you know about foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, or glorification?’ He would have said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about. All I know is the man on the middle cross told me I could come.’”

Security is not found in a place. It is found in a person. If you had to do something to earn your salvation, you could do something to lose it. The good news is you can’t work or earn your way to heaven. Salvation is the free gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). God took the initiative. He made the first move. God finishes what He starts! Hebrews 12:2 says He is the author and finisher of our faith. It is that simple! The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. He wants you to be more than saved. He wants you to be sure that your salvation is sealed forever.

Works Consulted:

Saved without a Doubt, John MacArthur, Jr

Eternal Security Can You Be Sure, Charles Stanley

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