The Golden Chain
Practical Implications

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 41c of 83

29 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. 30 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).

[Over the last two instalments of our exposition of this glorious passage we saw each of the links on this golden chain of our salvation. Those whom God elected, He predestinated, calls effectually, justifies by faith, sanctified and glorifies, all with the objective of confirming us conform unto the image of Christ that we may more fully enjoy Him and glorify Him. In this concluding part, we consider the practical implications of this truth. —JJL]

3.   What are the
practical implications of
this doctrine?

a.   God is directing our lives for our good. Let us trust Him to do what is best without complaining and rebelling against Him.

Today, we shall have many struggles. If you have no struggles, you probably do not know the Lord. But you must not let the troubles overwhelm you.

Remember that your life is not in your hands. It is in the hand our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father is a master painter. He is painting our life’s story. It is a beautiful story of grace from beginning to end. He makes all things beautiful in its time (Eccl 3:11). Everything and every event that occurs in your life is contributing to making your life story a beautiful one.

And not only so, but at the end of your life, you yourself would be perfected. Then when Christ comes again with His holy angels, you will be presented as a vessel of glory unto the whole world!

Today you may not fully appreciate what God is doing for you. But in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will be able to browse the photo album of your memory; and you will see how all things are working together for your good today.

But remember, you need not wait until then to enjoy this truth.

God is already working out all things for your good by making you conform more and more unto the image of Christ. He is doing so not only by the big steps of calling, justification, and glorification.

He is doing so by the small steps of sanctification. He is making you conform more and more to the image of His dear son.

Do you believe God? If you do, will you not live gratefully and confidently for Him?

b.   Those who are saved by grace must walk humbly before the Lord without being puffed up by knowledge and good works.

Man is by nature proud and legalistic. When there is something good, we like to be seen as having contributed to it. Even in the case of our salvation, we like to feel that we have contributed to it. We like to be seen as being in control of our lives. So our pride is hurt when we are told we contributed nothing in our salvation.

But this is essentially what the apostle Paul is telling us. Our salvation from beginning to end is the work of the Lord. Yes, we have the responsibility to believe and to obey God’s Word. Yes, we must faithfully make use of the means that God has appointed for us. But no, we do not contribute one stitch to the garment of our salvation.

This is not my opinion. It is the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It is God who elects, predestinates, calls, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies. We contribute nothing.

If so, how can we be proud? How can we boast of what we have done for the Lord? How can we boast of our knowledge and look down upon those who know less than we do?

Shall we not rather walk humbly before the Lord, confessing that we can do nothing apart from Christ?

I have often been asked: What can I do in the church? Well this is a very noble question and I hope that more of us will ask the same question. But we must be careful that we do not place more priority on doing than on our relationship with Christ.

Remember that we are by nature proud and legalistic. We like to do and to be seen doing. There are many people who do not have a vital relationship with Christ who do not mind doing a lot of things in His name. They are active in church, they are active in giving to missions, but Christ is a stranger to them. They do not care to hear His voice. They rarely read the Bible. They fall asleep in church. They do not care about growing in Christ-likeness. But they think that since they are doing something for Christ, they must be alright! Christ can’t be ungrateful to them. Or so they think because they have not read Matthew 7:22-23.

And they feel good that they are doing something in the church. But their own works are lulling them to sleep, for they are using their works to drown their conscience.  These will make shipwreck of their faith on the rocks of their works.

But beloved, this is not the Christian life. The Christian life is beginning to end a work of grace. Those who are truly God’s children understand that they are saved not because of what they do but because of what Christ has done and is doing in them. When they serve in the church, it is out of gratitude to the Lord. It is never an attempt to climb a rung on the ladder to heaven.

Beloved, what is your attitude by which you serve the Lord? Apart from serving Him in your calling as teacher or engineer or doctor or homemaker or student, you may be serving in the church. It may be as elders and deacons in the church or in the background controlling the PA, duplicating CDs, maintaining the website, printing the Bulletin, arranging tables and chairs, cooking, washing the pots and pans, etc etc. We thank God for your service, for when you serve the brethren, you serve Christ.

But the question we must all ask ourselves is: Am I doing so out of gratitude to God in Christ? Let us not serve Him for any other reason than for this reason: that He has saved us. We are His because of what He has done and is doing for us.

If you will hold to this attitude, you will not be disappointed by man. You will not be disappointed even when no one thanks you for your labours. If gratitude to Christ is the reason you serve, then you know that serving Him is a privilege and a reward in itself.

c.   But finally, if we know that our salvation is entirely in the hand of Christ, let us not fear the devices of the wicked one or anything that may hinder our relationship with God:

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31)

If God elected us, and Christ died for us, shall we be afraid that God would discard us? Shall we be afraid that anything or anyone can make God hate us?

In our relationship with man this sometimes happens. You may be enjoying a friendship with someone. But something happens, and it is the end of your friendship.

But this will not happen in your relationship with God in Christ.

In our subsequent studies, God willing, we shall examine this doctrine in more details as we look at the remaining verses of this chapter.

But for now let us remember that our relationship with God is sealed in blood. Let us therefore serve and worship the Lord with assurance of his love and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies in our salvation and our continue journey towards the Celestial City. Amen.

—JJ Lim