Romans (LVII)

ROMANS 8:28 (3)

(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 7/20/03 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)

Let's read Romans 8, verse 28:

Romans 8: (28) But we know that [to] the [ones] loving God all things work together for good, [to] those being called according to purpose;

We've spent the past two sermons in Romans 8:28, and the Lord willing, we'll spend one more sermon in this verse. In the second to last sermon, we saw the truth that God works all things, that He is the sovereign controller of the universe. In the last sermon, we saw the truth that God only shows love, mercy, grace, compassion, benevolence, kindness, and blessing toward His people. There is no hatred, no wrath, no unkindness, no malevolence, no hostility, no enmity toward His people. And we saw that when you put these truths together - God's sovereignty and God's love for His people - you get the truth that God works all things for the good of His people.

Let's now take a look at what God's people are CALLED in Romans 8:28. I've said many times that this verse shows that God works all things for the good of HIS PEOPLE, but the phrase "His people" isn't actually found in this verse. We know that it's talking about God's people, but what are God's people actually called in this verse? They're called two things. They are called "the ones loving God," and they are called "those being called according to purpose." Let's take some time to look into each one of these.

First, God's people are called "the ones loving God." There is a very important lesson in this. Further down in this chapter, we see that God's people are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified, and that they are called "God's elect." Yet in this passage, the Bible doesn't say, "But we know that to the elect all things work together for good." The emphasis is on the CHARACTER and ATTITUDE of those for whom God works all things together for good, not on their POSITION. There are many people who seem to speak so highly of the sovereignty of God and of sovereign election and predestination but who TOTALLY MISS the essential truth that God's people are LOVERS OF GOD. Some say that God regenerates a person and then leaves that person in his sins for either a short period of time or for a longer period of time, or even for his whole life, and they say that this exalts the sovereignty of God. But it does no such thing. What TRULY exalts the sovereignty of God is the truth that when God sovereignly regenerates a person, He sovereignly CHANGES that person's heart from a HATER of God to a LOVER of God. And the sovereign God does this IMMEDIATELY when He regenerates a person. A regenerate person does not go for ONE SECOND as a God-hater. God sovereignly causes His people to glorify Him in their hearts.

And what does it mean to be a lover of God? Is it enough to go around saying, "I love God" or "thank you, Lord," like you see so many of these pseudo-Christians saying? Of course not. The only way someone truly LOVES God is if he has a KNOWLEDGE of WHO God is and WHAT He has done. And a knowledge of WHO God is and WHAT He has done is a belief in the GOSPEL. Who is God? God is the sovereign creator and controller of the universe who is both ABLE and FAITHFUL to keep all His promises. He is a JUST and HOLY God who can only fellowship with those who are as holy as He is. What has God done? He sent His Son into the world as the God-man Mediator to live a perfectly righteous life and to die as a substitute and representative of His people, ensuring that everyone whom His Son represented would have everlasting life. In the work of Christ, where God poured out His wrath on Christ instead of on His people, God remained JUST and HOLY while showing LOVE and MERCY to His people. He showed Himself to be both JUST and JUSTIFIER. He showed Himself to be both a JUST God and a SAVIOR. And those who truly know and believe this are the only ones who truly love God. They love God because of what He has done for them. Let's turn over to 1 John 4:19. This is a very short sentence, only eight words, but there's so much powerful truth packed into it:

1 John 4: (19) We love Him because He first loved us.

Do you get the depth of that? "We love Him because He first loved us." Had God not first loved us, we would not have loved Him. Our love to Him is a FRUIT of and a RESPONSE to His love for us. Look up at verse 10:

1 John 4: (10) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [to be] a propitiation relating to our sins.

Our love to God did not come first. The love of God for us PRECEDED our love for God. And how did God show His love for us? By sending His Son to be a PROPITIATION for our sins. He sent His Son to accomplish FULL APPEASEMENT of His wrath for EVERYONE whom He represented on the cross. THAT'S how He loved us. And WE love HIM because of the ACCOMPLISHED WORK of Jesus Christ on the cross. Anyone who does not believe in the ACCOMPLISHED WORK of Jesus Christ on the cross DOES NOT - CANNOT - love God. They do not believe that God is a just God and a Savior. They do not believe that God is just and justifier. Their so-called "love" is a love for an idol of their own imaginations. We love HIM because He first loved US by sending His Son to accomplish FULL PROPITIATION for us and for EVERYONE for whom Jesus Christ died. Our love for God springs from the knowledge of this precious truth. God's people - those whom God has brought from death to life - are lovers of God. Their CHARACTER and ATTITUDE is one of LOVE for God. And how do God's people show their love for God? Is it to close their eyes and wave their hands in the air and say, "Praise God?" No. It is by their OBEDIENCE to God's commands and their LOVE of their brothers in Christ. We've seen in 1 John in previous sermons that love of the brothers is one of the main evidences of love for God. Those who love God will seek to obey His commandments and to love their brothers in Christ.

Let's read some Scriptures on a believer's love for God.

Exodus 20:6:

Exodus 20: (6) and doing kindness to thousands, to those loving Me, and to those keeping My commandments.

Psalm 18:1:

Psalm 18: (1) I love You, O Jehovah, my strength.

Psalm 97:10:

Psalm 97: (10) You who love Jehovah, hate evil. He keeps the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 116:1:

Psalm 116: (1) I love Jehovah because He hears my voice, my prayers.

Psalm 145:20:

Psalm 145: (20) Jehovah watches over all who love Him; but He destroys all the wicked.

Proverbs 8:17:

Proverbs 8: (17) I love those who love me, and those who seek me early find me.

1 Corinthians 8:3:

1 Corinthians 8: (3) But if anyone loves God, he has been known by Him.

Ephesians 6:24:

Ephesians 6: (24) Grace [be] with all those that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruptibility.

Philemon 4-6:

Philemon 1: (4) I thank my God always making mention of you in my prayers, (5) hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints, (6) so that the fellowship of your faith may operate in a full knowledge of every good thing in you for Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:21-5:3:

1 John 4: (21) And we have this commandment from Him, that the [one] who loves God also loves his brother. (5:1) Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been generated from God. And everyone who loves Him who begets also loves the [one] who has been born of Him. (2) By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. (3) For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not heavy.

2 John 6:

2 John (6) And this is love, that we should walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from [the] beginning, that you should walk in it.

Thus far we've seen that God's people are GOD-LOVERS. Let's now turn back to Romans 8:28 and look at the second phrase in this verse that describes God's people. God's people are "those being called according to purpose." The Greek word for "called" is klay-TOSS, which implies a summons or beckoning FROM something TO something else. In this case, God's people are called FROM darkness TO light, FROM death TO life, FROM being servants of sin TO being servants of righteousness, FROM bondage TO liberty, and we could go on. We have been CALLED to newness of life. But this calling is not according to the works of man. It is a calling according to PURPOSE, specifically, GOD'S eternal purpose that He planned before the foundation of the world, as we will see in verses 29 and 30, the Lord willing. God the Father planned the call in eternity past, and the Holy Spirit carried out the effectual call in time. This is an IRRESISTIBLE call. When the Holy Spirit sets out to CALL a person from darkness to light, that call has been planned from eternity past to accomplish what God intended it to accomplish. When God calls the dead to life, the dead come to life, no exceptions. The dead cannot come to life by themselves. It is a calling according to PURPOSE.

Let's now read some Scripture on the effectual calling of God's people.

Psalm 110:3:

Psalm 110: (3) Your people [shall have] willingness in the day of Your might; in the majesties of holiness; from the womb of the dawn, to You [is] the dew of Your youth.

Jeremiah 24:7:

Jeremiah 24: (7) And I will give them a heart to know Me, that I [am] Jehovah. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God. For they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Ezekiel 11:19-20:

Ezekiel 11: (19) And I shall give to them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them a heart of flesh, (20) so that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments, and do them. And they shall be to Me for a people, and I will be to them for God.

Ezekiel 36:27:

Ezekiel 36: (27) And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do [them].

John 6:37,44:

John 6: (37) All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the [one] coming to Me I will in no way cast out. ... (44) No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day.

John 10:3:

John 10: (3) The doorkeeper opens to him, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls [his] own sheep by name, and leads them out.

Romans 1:1-7:

Romans 1: (1) Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated to the gospel of God, (2) which He promised before through His prophets in [the] holy Scriptures, (3) concerning His Son who came of the seed of David according to flesh, (4) who was marked out [the] Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by [the] resurrection of [the] dead, Jesus Christ our Lord; (5) by whom we received grace and apostleship to obedience of faith among all the nations, for His name's sake, (6) among whom are you also, called-out [ones] of Jesus Christ; (7) to all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called-out saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-5:

Ephesians 2: (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love [with] which He loved us, (5) even we being dead in deviations, [He] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are being saved),

Ephesians 4:22-24:

Ephesians 4: (22) For you have put off the old man, as regards the former behavior, having been corrupted according to the deceitful lusts, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (24) and to put on the new man, [which] according to God [was] created in righteousness and true holiness.

Colossians 2:11-15:

Colossians 2: (11) in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) being buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from among the dead. (13) And you, being dead in the deviations and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all the deviations, (14) blotting out the handwriting in the ordinances against us, which was contrary to us, even [He] has taken it out of the midst, nailing it to the cross; (15) having stripped the rulers and the authorities, He made a show of them in public, triumphing [over] them in it.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14:

2 Thessalonians 2: (13) But we ought to thank God always concerning you, brothers, beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to salvation in sanctification of [the] Spirit and belief of [the] truth, (14) to which He called you through our gospel, to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 6:12:

1 Timothy 6: (12) Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and confessed the good confession before many witnesses.

2 Timothy 1:9:

2 Timothy 1: (9) the [One] having saved us and having called [us] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to [His] own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before eternal times,

1 Peter 2:9:

1 Peter 2: (9) But you [are] "an elect race," "a royal priesthood," "a holy nation," "a people for possession," so that "you may openly speak of the virtues" of the [One] who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Peter 5:10:

1 Peter 5: (10) Now the God of all grace, the [One] calling you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, [you] having suffered a little, Himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen, establish [you].

So we have seen today that God's people are LOVERS of God and are CALLED from death to life according to God's eternal counsel. You can't have one without the other. You can't have a called one who doesn't love God, and you can't have a lover of God who hasn't been called. BOTH are true of EVERY believer. I'd like to read one verse that shows how these things are inseparably linked to each other. Let's turn to Deuteronomy 30:6:

Deuteronomy 30: (6) And Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.

God regenerates His people, calling them from death to life, circumcising their hearts, so they will what? So they will LOVE God. They LOVE God because God has caused them to believe the GOSPEL of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. And they desire to SHOW that love to God by being obedient. Let us who have been CALLED from darkness to light be zealous to show our LOVE to God by obeying His commandments. Amen.