Sunday, January 8

Called According to Paul: Romans 8: 27-30

An explanation of this series of posts can be found here. You'll find the previous six posts in the series listed under Current Series in the sidebar.

Here's the text using the word called that we're examining in this post:
He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:27-30 NASB)
I've quoted more than just the verses with the word called in them because having all four verses helps to show the gist of the passage. If I were going to explain it, my explanation would be something like this:
The Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints, asking for what is in accordance with God's will for them. And God works in all things to bring about his will for them. This means that all circumstances bring about good results for those who love God (or the saints, or the called), fulfilling God's will for them--a will which has as the ultimate good or final result their likeness to Christ's image, in order that Christ will be the firstborn with many siblings who bear his image. To this end he foreknew and predestined the saints, and as a result of his foreknowing and predestination, he calls them, justifies them, and eventually glorifies them. This calling, justifying and glorifying are part of the process of working Christ's image in them, part of the process of fulfilling God's will for them, part of the process of working good for them, and part of the process of bringing to pass what the Spirit intercedes for on their behalf.

What we can learn about the way Paul uses the word called in these verses?
  • In 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14, we saw that being called is associated with our being loved by God, while in these verses, being called is associated with our loving God. Those who love God are those who are called. Being called is also related to being a saint or being holy. We've seen this idea in previous passages as well. So being a saint and being called and loving God are all closely connected in Paul's thought.

  • Once again, just as it was in a couple of our previous passages, the calling is grounded in God's will or purpose--a will or purpose that has been determined beforehand: "called according to his purpose..." and "whom he predestined, He also called..."

  • As we've also seen before, the calling is closely related to salvation, although the strength and nature of the relationship is spelled out for us here in a way it may not have been in previous texts: "...these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Calling is a result of God's foreknowing and predestining; calling results in justification and glorification. Verses 29 and 30 aren't called the golden chain of salvation for nothing. Each thing--foreknowing, predestining, calling, justifying and glorifying--is firmly linked with the others, and each link pulls the following link along with it; and the whole cart, right up to our final salvation when we are glorified and become complete image bearers of Christ, necessarily follows. So calling, as it's used here, is a calling with power: the power to bring about the whole of of salvation.

  • We are called so we will be like Christ. This is a calling that is an appointment to be something. We've seen elsewhere that Paul says that God's calling is to righteousness and holiness, or "so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." * This is the same idea expressed differently.
What do you see that I missed? What can you see in this passage about the meaning of the word called when it is used by Paul in regards to the call of God?

*2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

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