|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"For it was an act worthy of God....in bringing many sons into glory...." Hebrews 2:10, Amplified].
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn 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." [Romans 8:29-30].
As Paul stated these precious truths he did so with a strong inner conviction of their reality, and so he goes on to say, "What are we to say to facts like these? If God is for us, who can be against us?" [Romans 8:31, Williams]. The revelation of God's purpose being wrought out through the ages, and the definite inclusion of mankind into that purpose, was so real to Paul that he was able to speak of these things as being FACTS. A "fact" has the quality of being actual; a statement of a thing done or existing. The works of God are a reality!
It is significant that the figure of speech is in the past tense, though we still await complete experimental fulfillment. Past and future are both alike unto God, for He dwells in the eternal center of the I AM, the present reality, and therefore "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." [Acts 5:18]. And again, "The works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His works." [Hebrews 4:3-4].
There are two different words used for "foundation" in the Greek text, "katabole"― meaning a casting or laying down; and, "themelios"― meaning a foundation, anything laid. The former speaks of the projection of the purpose, and the latter speaks of its experimental fulfilling. When God first PROPOSED AND PROJECTED HIS PURPOSE, setting the laws into motion to run their course, He knew exactly how it would end, and that the victory was secure, and therefore we can read that He rested from all His works. This does not mean that He withdrew His involvement with His creation, for Jesus plainly declared, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." [John 5:17]. Yet there is a depth of rest implied here, so that one may be occupied in carrying a plan through to fulfillment, and yet be so completely assured of its victory that there is no strain or struggle, but actually a rest and a joy in watching that which was first cast forth as a plan, now become experimental in its outworking.
Praise God, here is victory assured in its fullest measure, for the outcome of the purpose was predetermined before the projection, or casting down of the world, i.e. this present "kosmos" or arrangement. Now, as we are apprehended to become apart of the outworking of this purpose, then "it becometh us to FULFILL all righteousness." [Matthew 3:15], as Jesus declared, and to give ourselves to see its consummation. We have no desire to leave one part undone, let everything be brought to the full, to HIS praise and glory.
Now we come to the beautiful five-link chain, ordained by God, and beautifully executed by His grace. It has for its basis and beginning an attribute of God, followed by four divine acts, which bespeak of His sovereign grace withal. It begins with "whom He did foreknow." FOREKNOW. This comes from the Greek word "proginosko," pro― meaning beforehand, and ginosko― meaning to know by experience, or experimental knowledge. With this key Paul unlocks the mystery of how God did fully know us by experience before the ages began, before the creature was made subject to the bondage of vanity.
The very same word is used concerning Jesus Christ, "Who verily was foreordained (proginosko, foreknown) before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." [1 Peter 1:20]. Here is the beginning of grace, deep in the wisdom of God, His intimate knowledge with the Sacrifice Lamb, and the creation for whom the Sacrifice was prepared and offered. The scope of this is too much for us, it staggers the mind to contemplate it, but it rejoices the spirit to know it is so. God fully knew, intimately, personally, experimentally, the Lamb which was "slain from the foundation of the world." [Revelation 13:8].
Before sin was allowed to exist, before there was a need for redemption, God knew the whole plan and purpose, prepared accordingly for its victory, and as far as God was concerned, the Lamb was slain right then and there, though ages would pass before there was a manifestation of that sacrifice upon the earth.
So also, the scripture clearly indicates that there are those "whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" [Revelation 17:8], and if some were "not", then it is self-evident that some "were." There are those who were FOREKNOWN, and their names were already recorded in the Lamb's book of life before the foundation of the world. Known by experience, God had an intimate knowledge of them, and of how He would CHOOSE AND USE them in His purpose in due time. While we were pre-existent, contained in God, He had full experimental knowledge of all that we would be, when His plan was put into execution and brought to its fulfillment. Then grace went on to a further manifestation with the second link in this marvellous unfolding, for He did also "predestinate."
PREDESTINATE. The Greek is "proorizo", meaning, to mark off beforehand. Again we would first observe how this is spoken of concerning our Lord. When at the proper time in the purpose, Jesus Christ was brought to the cross, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." [Acts 2:23]. Again, "For to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before (predestinated) to be done." [Acts 4:28]. All that the people were allowed to do was according to God's predetermined counsel, He marked it out, and they later came along to fulfill it.
Then Paul also writes of "that wisdom which has been kept secret which God foreordained (predestinated) before the ages with a view to our g1ory." [1 Corinthians 2:7, Wuest Explanded].
Wonderful! God marked out before the ages began that wisdom which in due time would be revealed, resulting in our glory. Truly, "it was, and is an act worthy of God" in bringing many sons unto glory. His omnipotence, His omniscience, and His tremendous love and grace are all under-girding this act, and we bow low to worship Him for all that He is.
"Having predestinated us into adoption through Jesus Christ into Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, into praise of glory of His grace." [Ephesians 1:5-6, Interlinear].
Herein is love overwhelming, for He hath marked us out for the placement as sons into Himself, through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the result that we should be into the praise and glory of His grace. This is the positive application of true predestination. All other operations of His will, in the interplay of good and evil, are only subservient to this cause, that we are to be brought into vital union with our Creator, to be a part of the continued outworking of His purpose.
All of this betokens the sovereign grace of God, for it was before the foundation of the world that He knew those whom He would mark out to be apart of that first fruits of His new creation, and they are truly "being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." [Ephesians 1:11]. Thus two links of the grace of God were forged in this chain before ever we tabernacled in these bodies of clay. The next three links are brought into view during our "time," and He begins to work out and fulfill that which was predetermined and marked out beforehand, for these "He also called."
CALLED. From the Greek word "kaleo," meaning to name, to call. What a precious operation of God. His grace already foreknew us and marked us out long ago, and now, after the creature was made subject to the bondage of vanity, turned towards destruction, gripped by the passions and desires of this flesh, then comes the CALL, to awaken us to the higher realm to which we truly belong. I do not know when you first became aware of your call-but blessed is the man that knows that he has been called! Nor can I personally ever forget those years when I began to be conscious of that INNER SPIRIT CALL. The mind did not understand what it was all about, but there was a stirring in my spirit that could not be satisfied with natural things. An inner yearning for God and truth, righteousness and life, and an inner response to the wooings of the holy Spirit.
"That the purpose of election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth." [Romans 9:11]. The call of God is not placed upon our life because of all our good works which we accumulate, and finally we become worthy to be called. NOT AT ALL! It is not based upon works, this call is the third link of the chain, vitally connected to, and dependent upon the previous ones, namely His foreknowledge and His marking us out for this hour. Then, when the proper time comes, the CALL comes into focus, and we are made aware of that sense of destiny placed upon us.
Paul wrote, "But it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace." [Galatians 1:15]. Looking back over his life, Paul could acknowledge that it was the HANDIWORK OF GOD from the beginning, and that the separations began from his mother's womb, although it was years later, after dashing down the wrong path, and ending up kicking against the pricks, persecuting the truth, that suddenly rhe CALL came through, penetrated the density of the darkened mind, and he was turned towards God. And even that hour, of the glory of the call, had to be followed by much purging and preparation before he realized what the purpose was all about, namely, "TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME." [Galatians 1:16].
"Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." [2 Timothy 1:9]. Let it be clear, it is all according to HIS OWN PURPOSE AND GRACE, and yet so freely given to us in Christ before the world began. There is nought that we have to boast of in ourselves, but we would glory in the Lord, and praise Him.
Gideon heard the call of God to him, but it surely wasn't based upon the man's faith and expectation of doing great things, for he immediately responded, "If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." And when he was assured that he would be the vessel used to bring salvation to Israel, he could only respond the more, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." [Judges 6:13, 15]. Ah, but it was this very condition which God could use to reveal HIS GRACE, and how gloriously the purposes of God were fulfilled.
The call of God is placed upon us, not because of what we are in ourselves, measuring our natural abilities, but because of what HE shall be in us. When we become aware of this GRACE working in our lives, and then begin to trace back to where grace might have had its beginning, we discover it is pure, solid grace back past our mother's womb, back into the obscure re aims of "before the world began", when God knew us, marked us out, and gave us this graee in Christ Jesus. Who can presently comprehend such grace?
"The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." [1 Peter 5:10].
"Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." [1 Thess. 5:24]. The God of grace who gives the call is also the same God of grace who shall fulfill it, bringing it to a successful conclusion at the appointed time. Praise God, we are to be a people with a purpose, and there is sufficient resource for the whole purpose, because it is out of His boundless grace. The inflow of this grace progresses while we suffer awhile, it progresses while we are being strengthened, and it continues to unfold while we are being stablished, and will redound to His glory when we are settled. Yes, the suffering process is a part of the call, as much as all the victory to follow. But God knew way back before the world began that you would be able, BY HIS GRACE, to endure this suffering, and He placed His mark upon you because of that foreknowledge. Trust and rest in Him, HE knows full well all that He is doing, and He will not lose you in the process.
JUSTIFIED. "Dikaioo", meaning ―to make, declare right, "whom He called, them He also justified." With the CALL OF GOD unfolding in our lives, this then becomes the point of our present process, of being experimentally justified. There has to be more than just an imputed justification, where we are declared to be righteous because of what Christ shall be doing in us. There must be an outworking of that process to make it a personal reality by experience. What we have positionally by faith in Christ does not absolve us from going on to make it an experimental reality, in fact it is this position already declared in Christ which makes it both essential and unavoidable that we do pass through the process, until it is established.
The basis for all expanding of the process is that of revelation, for every advance must be preceded by a Divine revelation, else there is no support for the advance.
In the throes of beholding good and evil, and not yet quickened by the Spirit of God to walk in His life and light, men have become a law unto themselves. "For when the nations, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another." [Romans 2: 4-15].
We justify or condemn one another according to our own law making, of how good and evil appear in our sight. We might, for the most part, do those things contained in the law because it is a part of our nature to do so. But there is also another part of our old Adamic nature which prompts us to do evil. So there follows the battles of the mind-if others break the law which according to our nature is to do right, we accuse them. But if we do certain things, which to them is wrong, but in our own nature to do, we find an excuse for it, and seek to justify our actions. But this kind of justification does not make it right.
A certain lawyer stood up, to test the Lord, and asked what he should do to inherit age-abiding life. So Jesus simply asked him, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" [Luke 10:26]. Jesus could have very easily quoted to this man the law, but He let the man tell it in his own words, and according as to how he "read it." An interesting Greek word here for "read," being "anaginosko," which implies, how have you gained an experimental knowledge of this law? In what way do you read this? How do you relate your knowledge and experience to this? So the lawyer proceeded to quote the law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
The lofty principles of such complete love to God, because they are so great, become lost to our senses oftentimes, and simply become beautiful words to utter. But when it came down to the last phrase, "and thy neighbour as thyself," there was an immediate reaction in the lawyer, for this part he well understood, and when he measured his experience and practice, as against what he knew the law declared, he went into a protective action. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" [Luke 10:29]. Self had not measured up to what he knew was the law, so he sought for an excuse, a justification. And I daresay, by the time the Lord had explained to him who his neighbour really was, there was not one particle of defense left to justify himself.
And He said unto them, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts." [Luke 16:15].
"If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am prefect, it shall also prove me perverse." [Job 9:20]. How true! And the more words we utter in self-defense, the more we give ourselves away, proving our own guilt. Now remember, we are not just dealing with natural things here, but spiritual conditions of the inner man. Self-defense is simply that, a defense for SELF, which proves that self is not yet fully "crucified," so that HIS SELF becomes our new life. Jesse Penn-Lewis once wrote to the effect that, if you become disappointed in yourself, it is evident that self is not yet dead, or else it could feel no disappointment. These might be hard words, and yet we rejoice to see how the Spirit quickens truth to enable us to overcome. Again the words of a song come to mind:
"Caught up beyond ourselves, into His glory,
Beholding the unveiling of our God,
Entered in beyond the veil,
From the earthlies, into the heavenlies,
There to live, and move, and have our being,
Made alive to God alone,
Quickened to stand before His presence,
Arisen to new life above in Him."
Justified, to be declared right. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." [Romans 3:20]. The law can define what is wrong or right, but it was unable to impart the power to do the right, hence it could not declare us in right standing, but rather, having declared to us the right standard, it served to condemn us because we could not measure up to that standard. That which makes you sin-conscious cannot justify you from sin.
"Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." [Romans 3:24]. Praise God! Herein lies the power for a right standing, HIS GRACE, and the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus. The word redemption here comes from a Greek word meaning "a loosing away." It is the inworkings of His grace, which looses us from our wrong doings, that brings us into a place of rightness. What a Saviour! And while it is true, that the sudden burst of His light might expose to us our sins, yet He does not come to condemn us for them, and though we might feel "convicted of our sins" and therefore ask for forgiveness, this is freely given, and He continues to just bathe us with His light, insomuch that we begin to gaze upon HIS holiness and beauty-and as this fills our vision, we become what we see. And knowing full well what we are becoming in Him, He can make the declaration of our right standing, for HE shall make it so.
"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more, they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ ...by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." [Romans 5:17-18].
It is GRACE ALL THE WAY! Grace in the foreknowledge of God which went on to mark us out for His purpose. Grace in the callings which became known unto us in due time. And then grace in the process of our being justified to have a right standing before Him, thus enabling us to reign in life.
Yet there is another verse which must be' included in these thoughts, for it is most challenging. Romans 6:7, "For he that is DEAD is FREED from sin." The word "freed" is actually the word "justified" used elsewhere. This is grace in action, enabling us to be completely free from sin, and to be declared righteous, by our experimental conformity to His death. Death to self is actually apart of the PROCESS OF BEING JUSTIFIED. And when we are totally dead to all sin, we shall also be totally in a new right standing with God.
Then, "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? it is God that justifieth." [Romans 8:33]. It was God who led us down through the valley of the shadow of death, not always "to be dying," but when fully dead to one realm, we might become fully alive to another realm, into the fulness of HIS LIFE. And this freedom from sin pre-supposes freedom from the consequences of sin, which is death, or literally, carnal mindedness. To be free from the minding of the flesh, and all that pertains to this realm, is to have the life and peace of the spirit. Thus justification leads INTO LIFE, and though the process of being justified includes "dying," until we are dead to the former, it is for the purpose of LIVING, into the fulness of His more abundant life, the life of the ages.
GLORIFIED. "Whom He justified, them He also glorified." And the Greek word here is "doxazo," to glorify, to honour. "So Christ g1orified not Himself...." [Hebrews 5:5]. Answered Jesus, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. There is my Father who glorifies me." [John 8:54, Wuest Expanded]. Jesus received only whatsoever the Father gave Him, He did not seek for Himslf, but to glorify the Father, and in so doing He was glorified.
It is more of the sovereign inworking of the grace of God, and thus we do not take to ourselves positions, to decide that we will be some great apostle, prophet, etc. but through complete yieldedness to Him, He will exalt in due time those who have humbled themselves before Him. It was GOD who highly exalted Christ Jesus, and it will be God who places us in whatever position of honour and glory for which He has prepared us.
"For I have come to a reasoned conclusion that the sufferings of the present season are of no weight in comparison to the glory which is about to be revealed INTO us." [Romans 8:18, Wuest Expanded].
Interesting that the Hebrew word for "glory" means weight, heaviness, thus speaking of SUBSTANCE, and not just something nebulous. Wonderful! As heavy as the present sufferings seem to be, they are of NO WEIGHT in comparison to the true weight, the glory which is to be revealed into us. 1 Corinthians 11:7 states that "man is the image and glory of God." Not man just in his unfinished state, but the NEW CREATION MAN, fully conformed to the image of Christ― and this new state of being is a glory in itself. It shall be a reality, a substantial thing which the world shall behold.
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us afar more exceeding and age-abiding WEIGHT OF GLORY; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are age-abiding." [2 Corinthians 4:17 -18].
O grace of God that antedates
The course the ages run,
Yet ever present in this hour"
To see the vict'ry won.
Thy way is most untraceable,
And merged in love divine,
Our minds can scarcely comprehend
Thy wisdom's pure design.
For in His great eternal realm
God did His own foreknow,
And thou, in Christ, was given then
His mercy to foreshow.
And sovereignly was manifest
To then predestinate
The vessels whom the Lord would choose
To now illuminate.
And thou art in the calling, too,
Of these, the christed ones,
For nought but grace could ever win
To manifest the sons.
Whom thou didst call, thou did inwork
To freely justify,
For only by thy inner strength
Can man to selfhood die.
'Tis grace in action, grace divine,
That sets the sinner free,
Conforming man unto the death
That births new liberty.
No present suff'ring can compare
To glories that shall be
Revealed in those who have become
What grace caused them to be.
Writings in This Series: