Romans 8:29-30. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
“To live is Christ” means that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. No, I’m not talking about who you marry, or where you go to college, or what job you choose, or even what ministry you do. I’m not talking about “It’s a Wonderful Life” theology. I’m talking about a much bigger, a much grander cosmic purpose. A purpose that ends in glorification. Romans 8:29-30 explain why “all things work together for good,” even our suffering. Because there is a much bigger plan at work, and it’s not centered in you. It’s centered in Christ.
God’s wonderful plan for your life starts with being foreknown. There can be no doubt, no matter where you stand theologically, that God knew in advance who would love him and receive his offer of eternal life. Are we foreknown because God graciously chose to save us by his sovereign plan? Or are we foreknown because God could see ahead in time who would trust him of their own free will? My answer is yes. No matter where we land on this spectrum, the reality is that God has been working a plan for your glorification in Christ, by your union with Christ, even before you were saved. Before you were born. Before Creation. Before time. That’s amazing grace.
God’s wonderful plan for your life moves to you being predestined. Our destination has been predetermined – Christ likeness. This process has already begun. It’s unstoppable. It will be finalized on the day we see Jesus face to face. Like him! Holy like him. Beautiful like him. Glorious like him. Loving like him. Gracious, tender, and patient like him. In a body like his; he the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. The destination of your life is just the beginning of living.
God’s wonderful plan for your life then moves to your being called. Called by God externally (you heard the gospel) and internally (the Spirit of God convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment). Here again, depending on where you stand theologically, you either could not resist this gracious and effectual call of God, or you chose not to resist this gracious and effectual call of God. Either way, your saved now! Now what God predestined for you, your transformation into Christ’s image, can begin.
God’s wonderful plan for your life next justified you. You are counted as righteous. You are legally declared not guilty. You have the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith (Romans 3:21-26). Apart from this justification, there can be no glorification. No Christ likeness. No Spirit indwelling. No zoe life of God. But WITH justification comes all of this and more. It’s called glorification…
Finally, God’s wonderful plan for your life glorified you. It’s interesting to see this verb, and justified for that matter, in the past tense. Every good Jew knew that you aren’t justified and then glorified until AFTER the judgment. These should be future tense verbs. But here Paul is saying that we have already been justified and glorified. The very thing we are predestined to in the future has already happened to us in the present. How? Because we are in Christ, and it has already happened to him. This is the glory that we are waiting for in v. 18-21. The glory that is yet to come. It’s already here inside of us. Sin is eradicated in us. The New Creation has been born inside of us. We are resurrected to God.
What assurance! What security! What hope! What peace! What love! What grace!
“To live is Christ” means that you are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. Why? Because you are in Christ. And Christ was foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. God foreknew in eternity past the the Son would save the world. God predestined the Son before the creation of the world to take on flesh, to become Jesus and then to die and rise and become the glorified Christ. God called the Son unto this redemption plan before the incarnation, and he guided Jesus the Son through this plan while he was on earth. God justified Jesus, who took our sins upon himself, when he raised him from the dead. God glorified Jesus and exalted him as the Christ when he raised him to life and returned him to glory at the right hand of God the Father. In Christ, this is your same destiny. Nothing can stop it. Not even you. God has a wonderful plan for your life – to image Christ so as to glorify Christ. Do you believe this?