Preservation and Perseverance: Part IV

leatherbook.jpgNow we’re getting to the really big guns.

Here we go. Romans 8:28-30: “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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

What is absolutely unmistakably clear in this passage is that there is an unbroken chain between those whom God foreknows and those whom he glorifies. It is beyond question and discussion that all whom God foreknows he glorifies. Often times, the Arminian/Calvinist debate gets hung up on what “foreknew” means. Does it mean that God “knew beforehand” who would believe even though they believed of their own ultimate self-determination, or does it mean that God “embraced and intimately knew them beforehand” (in the OT sense of the word “knew”)? For our purposes in this discussion it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is to see that those whom God foreknew inevitably are glorified. In other words, all who come to faith in Jesus Christ are inevitably glorified.

So the key question, then, is: What does “glorified” mean? The word, doxazo, can take two meanings. It can mean, “to influence one’s opinion about another so as to enhance the latter’s reputation,” that is, “to praise, honor, extol.” This is the sense it takes in places such as Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Doxazo can also mean, “to cause to have splendid greatness; to clothe in splendor; of the glory that comes in the next life.” This is the sense it takes in places such as John 7:39: “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

So which one is it in Romans 8:30? Arminians claim it is the first, so that the meaning of the verse would be something like: “Those whom [God] justified he also praised, honored, and extolled.” In other words, God praised, honored, and extolled them for choosing him, loving him, and coming to him. So, Romans 8:30 is, in essence, a ‘thumbs-up’ from God for making the right choice.

The fatal problem with this take is that the word doxazo is never used in Scripture in this sense, with God as the subject and a person as the object. In other words, God does not “praise, honor, and extoll” people in the doxazo sense. Arminians, based on their assumption of ultimate self-determination, have to suggest that Paul is saying something completely original, unprecedented, and uncorrobrated in all of Scripture in Rom. 8:30. It seems that they have to force Paul to be saying something original so that the possibility of a person choosing to reject God is preserved. More than that, it seems to me that the idea that God “praises” us for choosing him means that we receive some of the glory in our own salvation, whereas the tenor of the entire Bible seems to be that God means to receive all glory and honor for the salvation of his people.

In the end, then, the only reasonable way to take doxazo in 8:30 is in the second sense. In other words: those whom God justifies he also clothes with the radiant glory of the afterlife. God inevitably and infallibly brings into eternal “glory” every single person he justifies, without exception.

Another objection that is raised to this reading is that “glorified” in v. 30 cannot refer to our final glorification in heaven because the word is in the past tense. The past tense refers to something that has already happened, and Paul’s final glorification, when he’s writing, has not yet happened. That’s not quite right, actually. The word doxazo is in the greek aorist tense, which does not denote past time. It denotes completion. And there is a sense in which God has already completed and sealed the entire salvation, including the glorification, of believers, and it is in that sense that the aorist tense verb is to be taken in Romans 8:30.

The most cogent reading of the passage, then, supports the idea that God will inevitably preserve all whom he justifies until he glorifies them.


22 thoughts on “Preservation and Perseverance: Part IV”

  1. So how do I respond to a teacher who, last night as we’re studying these terms in Romans (complete with the aorist tense and all), tells me that “many are called, few are chosen” and that chosen means those who have decided/will decide to accept Christ? AND this teacher also believes in the glorification definition #2 you stated above, not #1? I have to think this person is semi-pelagian. At least I’m glad we’ll have several more weeks of this before we move on to the final chapters, but regardless, I’m not sure how to answer that other than to go back to what “chosen” means…

    Any thoughts?

  2. I’m just going out on a limb but could it mean that many are called (by man) few are chosen (by God)? I think you are refering to Mathew 22? Jesus sends out his servants to invite people to the feast yet few accept the invitation. Then in verse 11 the “king” seperates the true guests from the wedding crasher (if I may) and in verse 14 tells them that even though you did as I commanded and asked everyone, not everyone is going to have the ability to hear.

    Agree/Disagree ?

    Do you like me circle yes or no

  3. First off, I have to let you know that I agree with you overall, but I often like to play the “devil’s advocate” in order for iron to sharpen iron.

    In fact, that particular passage was discussed for quite some time last night in my class. See, *I’d* like to say that I agree with your assessment of “not everyone is going to have the ability to hear” but that’s not what the text says. I’m afraid my teacher and others will say that “many rejected the invitation (of their own free will)” and on the surface it looks like they have a real case here. The invitation was given to the first set of people *and they rejected it* – so my concern is that as it stands right now in my class, people can make the case that the calling was not “irresistable”, in which case then, they are trying to make the case that God’s chosen ones are the ones “who believe” (i.e., who accepted the invitation). They make this interpretation based on the fact that since God is timeless, His choices are not bound by time, so they are saying that the “aorist tense” of salvation having been completed covers those who have chosen Christ through their own will (past, present, and future). I have a real problem with this because

    a) I believe salvation is monergistic and not synergistic (God does *all* the work of saving, instead of us working together for my salvation), and
    b) if we can get even part of the way there, then I just don’t see the need for Christ in the equation at all, because if we can get part of the way there then, most of humanity is left thinking they can get all of the way there in whatever way they want.

    Of course, my problem with the teacher and others is that I just don’t think their point of view is even Biblical, much less logical.

    There’s another blog I have been commenting on a little where there was a woman on there that was semi-pelagian, I believe, and she has been incredibly thoughtful to painstakingly go through the verses for free will, etc. and lay them out. I’ve started going through them and so far still do not see enough of a case for interpreting free will from them, but it’s been interesting. My teacher made a statement last night that probably is the strongest argument I know of for free will, the verse that says that God wills that no one should perish. Lately I’ve been thinking that God can feel various emotions and wills at the same time (the other ABF at 9:30 went through that last Sunday in John 11:33 – perfect example of this), and sure enough, the blogger there gave me a link to go through through – one by John Piper, so that should keep me busy for a couple days! See Bryan’s link below for “Reformed Theology” if interested. The link is to Piper’s article is (sorry, I don’t know how to add a link):

    Anyway, I’m chomping at the bit to bring up the story of the potter and juxtapose it to the story of the wedding banquet. It’ll be interesting to see what the teacher says. I’m having to really mind-warp back a ways to remember what I used to believe in order to speak the same language and not go past each other!

    So to answer your question, overall I probably agree with you, but on this particular parable, I would say it’s too sticky to say just yet. I’m not sure that I can extrapolate out of it what you did (as much as I would like to though!)


  4. D’oh! Another mistake. I have no idea how I got to this blogger’s site other than indirectly through Bryan’s site. It’s probably not anywhere in the Reformed Theology link I stated below, not sure how I got there! It’s a fun site, but intense… Poor guy’s got a new baby, so I’m gonna let ‘im off the hook for a while – the people there gave me more than enough research to last me for a while! 🙂


  5. hmmm. As a want-to-be-but-unsure free-determinist I can grant everything you say and still have room for human agency as a part of the salvation equation. It’s sets. It is possible that the set of those God foreknew (whatever that means) is smaller than the set of those who are saved. Everything written about the set of those foreknown/justified…glorified still holds without preventing others from being glorified (brought into heaven/sealed/saved etc) as well.

    What I find disturbing in posts like this one above B, (and in Piper et al) is the *seeming* flippancy with which any other considerations are treated. The pervasive tone of the majority of Piper’s works is very similar to the post above – it *seems* to be talking down to folks “who just don’t get it”.

    There are too many good and well reasoned arguments on all sides of the when/who/how are we saved question to dismiss the side(s) with which you personally disagree.

    After all, we’ll *all* have eternity to debate how we got there.

  6. Billy,

    Is there something in particular that I said that sounded “flippant.” It’s easy to accuse someone of flippancy without saying why. It’s also a bit… well… flippant, I suppose.

    As to your argument, are you suggesting that God justifies some whom he does not foreknow? You seem to be offering a hypothetical just so that you can preserve the concept of ultimate self-determination. What is it that is so necessary to you about that principle. I just don’t understand why some want to preserve it so badly. What drives that desire?!

    Please say something besides, “Love and love cannot be genuine if it isn’t free.” Or, if you do say that, please provide some biblical evidence of that idea.

  7. Billy,

    What I would say is that I *think* I somewhat understand where you’re coming from! Before my revival several years ago when I began to understand some of this stuff, well, I downright “didn’t like” Piper, and I’m being nice…

    Yes, there are arguments from scripture for both sides of the debate, but as I’m reviewing the ones that Cindy put out on the reformed blog I linked above (not John Piper’s), I’m so far just not finding they hold enough weight to make a solid enough argument for the case of free-determinism.

    Billy, quite honestly, my flesh wants to believe I have the power to choose Christ all on my own without God’s help, but I cannot deny the scriptures that say otherwise, and there are many. I would actually flip this debate around (no pun intended :)) and submit to you this: The Bible says everywhere for people to come and repent – does that *necessarily* mean that free-will is assumed here? Or, since God’s determism is mentioned all over the Bible, is it *possible* that the call for repentance is made, *even though* God is the one who grants it (2 Tim. 2:25) and the road is narrow? We don’t know who will be saved, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make the call to whoever so that even the few will come.

    As for the topic of glorification, I haven’t really seen any verses anywhere in the Bible that even suggest that anyone but those who have been justified can be glorified. Please tell me verses. Also, are you saying that there are other paths to heaven besides Christ then?

  8. Great topic boys and girls. I had a three hour conversation on this last night and my brain still hurts. Let me Leave you with “this”. “People”, in my “opinion”, should use “less” quotation “marks”when they write!
    Have a nice “weekend”.

  9. Well, with one comment, I assumed it was an attempt at humor while possibly letting me know he was annoyed, but with 2 comments, I’m not sure what to think (although there must be an inside joke with the “Monkey Kickoff iniquities” statement, I didn’t quite get that one…)

    Will bolding or italicizing the emphasized words be satisfactory (more work for me)? Or do you prefer CAPS so that it looks like I’m yelling? It’s a personality thing, but if emphasizing words offends you let me know and I’ll stop. It certainly was in no way my intention to offend anyone, rather, just emphasize words I felt were important to stand out for comparison’s sake.

    Anyway, just checking with you, because I don’t know if you’re really offended or if you’re just joking…


  10. Ugh, alright, partial egg on face (and I’m not emphasizing partial, or not :)), now I’m curious – what does Monkey kickoff Iniquities mean, Darius* ? 🙂 What am I missing?

  11. CDJ, the asterisk is by my name for using performance-enhancing code on the Monkey Kick Off game that Bryan put on his blog a few weeks ago. I do still own the legitimate record for the game (shared with Steve), but prior to that I had a little fun with the game’s codes.

    Bryan, time heals all wounds.

  12. Thanks for that bit of education there, Darius*, I do appreciate you filling me in, wasn’t sure what was going on and I should have given the benefit of the doubt like I usually do (I slip up every once in a while). So I’ll try to keep my ” ” and * * only when talking to Jesse, then… (maybe…)

    DJ 🙂

  13. Ah, so if Jesse hadn’t said anything, we’d have been fine…

    I’ll try to curb the temptation to use them when emphasizing words I think are important, but it’ll be hard! I reserve the right to use them when writing to Jesse though… ha!

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