“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30 ESV)
Of all the words in this verse, this one is the shocker and contains the main point of the whole thing. Why?
Glorification is the Bible word for the future of the Christian. This includes our resurrection and promised glorified body. It includes our full sanctification to moral purity. This insinuates our future destiny which is heaven until Jesus returns and ultimately our forever with God on the new earth. All the future wonder and blessings that await us are summarized by glorification. It’s all future.
Yet what tense is used in verse 30? The tense we would expect would easily be the future tense. So, the verse would say, Those whom he justified he also will glorify. But that is not what it says. It says, “Those whom he justified he also glorified.” Past tense. Past tense? How can a future promise be described in a past tense?
I remember once doing a wedding. I was in the back with the groom and groomsmen. I was peeking out the door watching the bridesmaids come down, and we were about to walk out when the groom whispered in my ear, just so you know, we got married three months ago. Da, Dum Da Da…. I walked out on stage completely confused and not sure what to do. How do we talk about what it means to get married when you are already married? Single people don’t do that to your pastor.
But it gets at this point. There is a grammatical tense known as the prophetic future tense. A prophetic future is speaking of something in the future that is so certain that you talk about it like it’s already happened. So, the bully on the playground looks at his next victim and says, you are dead meat. What is that? He is exercising a prophetic future tense. I am so confident that I’m going to destroy you that I’m speaking of you as if it has already happened.
Larry Bird famously walked into the All-Star locker room right before the 3-point shootout and told his competitors, You guys are fighting for second. He was speaking of a future reality as if had already happened.
Why does that matter in Romans 8:30? Because our salvation from first to last is so certain to be accomplished that God describes it in the past tense. Those he justified he also glorified.
Who can say that? Does the bully actually know that the skinny kid isn’t secretly a 3rd degree black belt? Does Larry Bird know he’s going to win the three-point contest? No. No human can speak of anything in the future with any actual knowledge. We can pretend, plan, and playact. But we don’t know what our next second of life holds for us much less eternity future.
But with the God who works everything according to the purpose of his will, everything future is as certain as everything past. God doesn’t wish. God doesn’t hope. God doesn’t wait to see how things pan out. No circumstances overwhelm him. No efforts of sinners or Satan confound him our surprise him. There is nothing from beginning to end that doesn’t fall within the sovereignty of our God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Only God can speak of the future as if it’s already a done deal.
What is the point? Everything about our salvation is grounded in the eternal character and purpose of God. We can join God’s certainty that all who call on the name of the Lord were saved (predestination), are saved (justification), and will be saved (glorification).
Where is Romans 8 going? It’s heading into the greatest section of assurance of God’s saving love to be found in the Bible. The very next verse is, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) That’s next week.
Who is the repeated doer of each saving work? He. God. The beginning was God. The end was God. All of it for the good of those called according to HIS purpose. God’s purpose is unchangeable, unalterable, undeniable, invincible. Therefore, our salvation is unable by any power in heaven or earth to be dissuaded, dissolved, or defeated.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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