In Romans 8:28-30, we have perhaps the briefest, yet most comprehensive, revelation of God's eternal purpose of Grace in the Lord Jesus Christ that can be found anywhere in the Word of God. I like to think of it as God's wonderful "Blueprint of Grace," because it reveals God's Plan of Redemption -- His Planned Remedy for Man's Ruin. The scope of the passage is exceedingly broad, reaching back to ETERNITY PAST, before God spoke the universe into existence, extending down through TIME AND SPACE, and then reaching out into ETERNITY FUTURE, which is yet to come, when time as we know it shall be no more. God is the Infinite, Eternal One, which means that He is not limited by time or space; He created and transcends time and space, and with Him all things, including time, is the eternal present (Isaiah 57:15). There was never a "time" when God did not exist, and there shall never be a "time" when He does not exist. See Isaiah 43:13; Hebrews 1:8-12; Psalms 45:6,7; Psalm 102:25-27. Surely there is no passing of time, no past or future with the eternal God -- the past and the future are always equally present with Him. But we will use the terms "Eternity Past" and "Eternity Future" -- only as an accommodation to our own limited, finite understanding (Psalm 90:2).
This wonderful text of Scripture deserves our undivided attention, and therefore we want to study it very closely. Here is Romans 8:28-30:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."
In these verses, we see an unbreakable chain of five links. The first two links in the chain are anchored in eternity past, before the creation of the world, and before any created being had existence. The first link refers to those persons whom God foreknew, or elected. As we have already seen in our study of Romans 9:1-24, God's sovereign election, or choice, of persons to salvation was unconditional, and took place before the foundation of the world. Then, in the second link of this unbreakable chain, we find that those same persons whom God unconditionally chose to salvation before the foundation of the world, were predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. This predestination also took place in the mind and purpose of God, before the foundation of the world. For the third and fourth links of this unbreakable chain, we move into the realm of time and space. In the third link of this unbreakable chain, we find that these same persons who were foreknown or fore-chosen, and predestined before the foundation of the world, are now viewed as being actually in existence, and they are now called. This calling is an effectual calling; it cannot fail because it is the outworking of God's eternal purpose. Those whom God has chosen and predestined before the foundation of the world are now effectually called by His grace into the New Birth, and to fellowship and faith in His beloved Son, which results in the fulfilment of the fourth link of this unbreakable chain: Those same persons who were chosen, predestined and called are now justified by faith in Christ, which means that by virtue of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus in their behalf, they are declared righteous in Him. And finally, for the fifth link of this unbreakable chain of grace, we move into the realm of eternity future, where these same persons shall be glorified, which means that they shall at last reach the final goal of God's eternal purpose for them -- they shall be perfectly conformed to the image of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The chain is pictured in the illustration below:
Ephesians 1:3-7 provides additional support for the great truths expressed in the chain illustrated above:
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
(4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
(5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
(6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
(7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;