(093)Thesis: The reasons we can be solidly confident begin with "foreknowledge".
Introduction: In our study last week we saw that the most fundamental characterization of those for whom all things work together for good is that they are "the called according to purpose". The issue of "purpose" is, at root, the reality that God has never done anything that did not have a "purpose" in view and that there are as many "purposes" as there are actions, but there is only one ultimate "purpose". It was for that "purpose" that God "called" individuals into His kingdom and glory.
Now, as we move into 8:29-30, we see that Paul is giving his rationale for why we "know" that all things work together for our good as "the called" who "love The God".
I. The "Because" of 8:29.
A. It is what Logos calls "a causal conjunction" because it introduces the "causes" for the antecedent concept (we know that all things work together for good).
B. It means that we are going to be presented with certain linked concepts that build that knowledge that all things work together for our good.
II. The Structure of 8:29-30.
A. There are five actions of God that underwrite the reality of the inevitable "good" (foreknow, predestine, call, justify, and glorify).
B. In the center of the five with two preceding and two following is the central issue: calling.
1. It is "the called" who "know" that God is totally "for them" (8:31).
2. Thus, it is the "calling" of God that opens the door to our understanding of the other four activities.
III. The Elements of the Concept of "Calling".
A. At root, "calling" is simply God issuing a summons to a person at a point in time and with an undeniable conviction that it is God Who is issuing the summons.
B. But, God does not "call" out of a vacuum; He "calls" out of what Paul calls "foreknowledge".
1. Technically, with God there is no such thing as "foreknowledge".
a. The omniscience of God precludes the idea of some "knowledge" being "before" any other kind of knowledge.
b. However, omniscience is as big a mystery to human beings as are all of the other attributes of God.
2. The concept of "foreknowledge" is a divine accommodation of the time-bound condition of human beings.
a. For men, who live within a perceived "flow" of sequential events in respect to "time", there is a real "knowing ahead of the present"; i.e., "foreknowing".
b. But, as both Acts 26:5 and 2 Peter 3:17 clearly indicate, "foreknowing" does not necessarily mean possessing an unrevealed knowledge of the future; it simply means that those who "foreknow" were exposed to certain realities that a future development might call into use.
c. However, men do clearly recognize that to be able to foreknow future events before they come to pass is a seriously significant issue in relation to "The God".
1) Isaiah 46:10 says that the problem of knowing which of the multiple claimants to the title of deity is resolved by what men call "foreknowledge".
a) Knowing how things are going to ultimately turn out before the first action is taken requires "omniscience" and only one "God" has that.
b) All of the issues of any kind of relationship with The God begin with being able to identify Him in the messiness of many who claim to be "The God".
2) Thus, Paul pulls "foreknowledge" into his reasoning as the beginning point of God's beneficent working of all things together for the good of "the called".
a) By "foreknowing" "the called", God has begun that which will end in all things being "for the good" of "the called".
b) To be confident in the face of many "things" that are significantly unpleasant, believers have to begin where God does.
i. By His prophecies and promises, God reveals to those who believe that He is The God Who has "good" in mind for them.
ii. And, since Romans 8 has a strong focus upon "hope" as the stabilizing force for believers, it is imperative that we know that God has always known.
3. The concept of "foreknowledge" is even more profound than simply knowing the future before it is the present.
a. The word translated "foreknow" is a combination word that takes the preposition "before" and the verb "to know" that typically indicates interactive, experience based "knowing" so that the claim by Paul is that God had an interactive, experience based, knowledge of "the called" before they even existed.
1) This presents the obvious problem of how anyone can have a relationship with someone who does not exist as of yet.
2) However, there are two biblical arguments to weaken the strength of that problem:
a) The first is Revelation 17:8 where we are pointedly told that God had the written names of "the called" into the Book of Life before the creation was established in its time-bound condition.
i. Naming someone is a significant relational action; and biblically naming someone was typically a description of that person's character and/or actions/impact.
ii. Since God has declared that this was done before there were any persons in existence, He has an interactive, experience-based, knowledge that leaves us scratching our heads.
b) The second is Romans 4:17 where we are pointedly told that the "faith" of believers is such that they accept God's declaring things to be though they are not existing at the point of His declaration ("a father of many nations I havecalled thee").
i. In the Romans 4 context, the entire issue is making the promises "sure" for those who are to "believe" them.
ii. Thus, in some way God "experiences" what is not as though it already "is" in human history.
b. The point, then, is that we get our confidence that all things will prove to have worked "good" for us if we are willing to start with "The God" and His omniscience.