Romans 8:29 (CSB) 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.
There are many verses that can be used to aptly say what verse twenty-nine so succinctly and definitely says here. I can think of two passages:
1 Peter 1:20-21 (CSB) He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was revealed in these last times for you. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Ephesians 1:3–14 (CSB)
3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him.
5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
8 that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ
10 as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.
11 In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will,
12 so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring praise to his glory.
13 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.
14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
In order to understand God and his love for his people, we can take this little verse, walk through it, and answer the following questions:
What did God see in us in that we would be saved to Him? Many have speculated and theorized that foreknowledge of God simply means that God saw into the future and determined God saw those who would believe in him and not believe in him and pick accordingly.
We teach our kids the story on how God saved Noah:
Genesis 6:5-9 (CSB) When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” Noah, however, found favor with the LORD. These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.
And because of our philosophies born out of the world in which we live today, we surmised that it was Noah, first, that lived a righteous life and it was only then God saved Noah.
But does that line up with any story of salvation that you ever heard in the Bible or is Paul correct when he says:
Romans 5:6-9 (CSB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath.
Notice it doesn’t say,“while we were really good” or “doing our very best, that Christ died for us.”
Let’s go back and look at the passage and walk through it step by step:
God saw the evilness of humankind - The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually
God regretted making mankind and it grieved him - And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
God had a plan to make everything right-standing with him - God So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
And give grace to some - But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
And save them - … Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
Let’s consider all of the Bible. What makes actual sense? Did Noah act right in order for God to save him? Or if we are to read every single account of salvation in the Bible and since the creation of the world, could we logically, theologically, and reasonably concluded that:
- Noah was wicked ✅
- every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ✅
- that God was grieved to the heart because of Noah ✅
- that because of his righteousness and holiness and love and mercy, God saved one family out of many and bestowed unmerited grace upon him ✅
- And because we are only saved by grace alone, it is that Noah was declared righteous and blameless by God and walked with God as he would a friend, (✅, ✅, and ✅).
As old dead white guys would say two hundred years ago, let us lay an axe to our pride and to anything that would cause us to boast before the world, each other, and most importantly, God, that we could say, “I am good, save me!” with the same intentionality as one philosopher would say, “God has to save me-it is what he does”.
Should we be audacious before the throne of grace? As the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirits, then yes! But as a child of wrath with no thoughts or convictions about our own sin or zero affections and love towards the Saviour of the world? No! For the child of wrath is declared by the all-knowing God to be unknowable.
And you might say to me, “This foreknowledge to too much for me to dwell on. How can I comprehend it?” My friend, it is not a belief in foreknowledge of God that would save you but it is faith and belief in the one who lived a life that we could not possibly live, the one who died dying a death that we should have death, resurrected back into life by which we have no power over unto the glory that belongs to God alone. I ask you to comprehend and trust the risen Christ! It is Christ alone who came into the world as a baby and to grow in a man faced every type of temptation just like you or me. But unlike us, he never sinned. For in that glorious work of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are now able to see the Father!
So in all of this, I must concede to one answer to the question of “What did God see in us to save us?”
Before Genesis 1:1, before time and space began, before the formations of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, before the dirt and mountains and sky and birds, and fish, and animals and anything in all of creation, he looked upon me and saw my wickedness, my pride, my sins, my thoughts, and my intentions, and powerfully, mightily, gracefully, lovingly, mercifully, righteously, and justly declared,
“He is mine! He is in my family! And by the power of My Spirit, I will bring in him into my family because my Son will do everything in order to save him to me!”
What kind of love this? The heart can barely contain the amount. Praise God for his love.
1. What kind of love this?
2. How do we comprehend the love of God?
3. Does God see our very best or very worst? What did he decide to do when he saw you?
4. What kind of love this?
Hold on to me. Because I love to wander. I love to flee from your goodness. Don't let me wiggle out--for surely I will perish without you. Save me. Amen.
by John Calvin.
No Condemnation in Christ Jesus: As Unfolded in the Eighth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans
by Octavius Winslow.
Banner of Trust. 1991.
Romans: An Expositional Commentary
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publishing. 2019.
The Letter to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT))
by Douglas Moo.
New Testament Commentary: Romans: Chapters 1-16
by William Hendriksen.
by William S. Plumer.
Romans: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary)
by Robert Mounce.
Holmon Reference. 1995.
Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 6)
Edited by Gerald L. Bray.
IVP Academic. 2005.
Commentary on Romans
by Martin Luther.