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Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Monday, January 23, 2006

The Golden Chain of Redemption

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according go His purpose. 29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30) and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
This text is one of the most amazing pictures of the process of redemption in the Bible. It is typically referred to as a Chain because each link on the change hangs on the preceeding link. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined. Those whom he predestined, He called. Those whom He called, He justified. Those whom he justified, he also glorified.
There are many thing that should be addressed when looking at a marvelous text like this. However, time and space permit only a few observations. I will try to choose relevant observations that deal with things that are typically addressed when these verses come into play.
1) The verse note is that we are dealing here with parallelism. All in category A belong to B. All in B belong in C. Etc. The alternative is to suggest that Some who belong in A belong in B (granted, there is nothing in the text that would lead us in this direction). Some who belong in B also belong in C. Etc. In either case, we must be consistent. If we are going to say "Some of whom he Called, he also Justified" then we must be prepared to claim equally as boldly that "Some of whom he Justified will be glorified (and we would also need to find soemthing in the text that would allow us to do this)."
2) We note that this chain begins with "For whom He foreknew". Some here insist that the text reads, "For whom He foreknew would choose to place faith in Jesus". We must note that the text does not say that, nor does it hint at it. The text simply speaks of a group of people who are foreknown. That is, they were known before. At this point, an Arminian, Calvinist, Molinist, or most other people can readily affirm the text. God knew us (personally) before the foundation of the world. That is all this text teaches at this point and that is all we must affirm.
3) Next, the group of people who were foreknown in the first link are predestined. That is, they were destined/ordained beforehand. English uses the word "Destiny" correctly. When speaking of something that is Destined we are speaking of someone who has a fixed outcome that is chosen based on eternal considerations. We could have naturalistic determinism which says that the forces of nature necessarily determine what will happen. The biblical alternative is God choosing and bringing about His end according to His purpose. In either case, this destining takes place beforehand (Ephesians tells us before the foundation of the world). The act of destining is the people who were foreknown and the result is to be perfectly conformed to the image of His son. So far, I would still say that most Theological viewpoints could affirm this point.
4) However, this is the point in the chain where Reformed Theologians must break with other traditions. The text now states that who whom He Predestined, He also were called. Now, the dagger in the heart of Arminian (and similar) Theology is the next part of the verse. Those whom He called, He also justified. Again, all who were foreknown were predestined. All whom were predestined were called. Now, all who were called were also justified. Now, unless our Arminian friends happen to also be Universalist then they run into a problem here. All who have been called are justified. This, unfortunately, is not what typical Evangelicalism is teaching right now. Most Churches are teaching that God has equally called all people and then they "respond". Those who respond correctly are justified. Those who do not will die in their sins. However, this is not what the text is teaching. We must affirm with the text that those whom God has called He will justify. This now begins to give us a better understanding of what Paul is speaking of when referecing Predestining (here and in Ephesians). This also sheds light on Paul's statements in Chapter 9 where he declares that it is not according to the man who wills but to God who shows mercy. It explains what is happening when Paul speaks of objects destined for glory and objects destined for wrath.
Lastly, those whom He justified, He also glorified. This is the great truth of Salvation. It is God alone who has saved us and it is God alone who will bring us to glorification. All that God has Justified He will also Glorify. Why? Because God has not merely predestined us to be saved and then we are on our own. Rather, we are predestined to ultimately be conformed to the beautiful image of Jesus. Thank God! This ought to bring us great joy.
In Christ alone,


Blogger Daniel said...


Interesting post. Althoug I come from an Arminian/Molinist perspective, I would agree that the word "called" here is definitely effectual. That is being called leads inevitably to final salvation.

However, I think that the word "called" needs to understood in light of other Pauline usages. Some of the most relevant passages are in Romans 9.

Look at Romans 9:24-26.

Even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea:
"I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and, it will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,'they will be called 'sons of the living God.'

Based on this passage, I would argue that the word "call" in Pauline literature means "to name" or "to call by name." So I would agree that the Rom. 8:28-30 only refers to those who God names as his children.

It's definitely not talking about a general call to get saved. Although the gospels often use the word in that way.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...


I think it might produce interesting discussion to speak of this "general call" that is present in the Gospels. For that we'd probably have to look at the word "draw" as well. In that case, as I argued in another recent post, the word is not used in a sense of "wooing", "enticing", etc. Rather it is something that God is solely bringing about and the proper translation (as it is rendered most often in the NT) would be "to drag".

However, right now we are discussing Paul's use of "calling". You appealed to Romans 9:24ff to examine the word "called".

This is where English gets a little confusing because we can use the same english word (viz. called) when the greek uses different words.

There are at least two Greek words that are going to be rendered "called". We have Kaleo (which is used in 8:30) and chapter 9. We also have Kletos which is used in 8:28, for example.

Kaleo is a broad term very much like the English "called" which can at times be used as "name". Kletos is going to be the more narrow term that is used as like an inward summoning, ordaining, etc.
It is interesting that Paul uses both words in the Romans 8:28-30 passage. However, we can discuss that further, but allow me to suggest that for the time being, that called in verse 30 is a broad term and there are probably several options for how to render that.

However, I did notice that you appealed to Romans 9:24-26 to examine the term more fully.
This is very interesting (at least to me) considering the three verses that lead up to this.

Examine what the Apostle says:

21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Now, verses 24-26 then go on to describe a group of people who have been called. You are correct in noting that in this passage at least one instance is used as "to name [them as] sons' of the living God". However, we must ask what this calling/naming is based upon? In this passage, we simply look at the context (which is actually the entire chapter) and see that it is based upon God's predestining, preparing beforehand. It is chosen not according to the "man who wills" but to God who shows mercy.

So, while you are correct in that the calling described in verse 24ff is a naming, it is a naming based upon God's choosing.

In either case, we can now turn back to Romans 8. As stated earlier, the word in verse 30 (kaleo) is the broad definition. I don't think that it is a good use of time to argue for one way of translating that over another.

However, what I will point out is verse 28. God is working "all things out" according to those who are "called" (narrow use of the word that does not mean "to name) according to His purpose. What does he mean by all things? At the very minimum he means the next 5 thigns that he mentions (v. 29-30). What does this include? The entire process of Salvation.

From this, I think we can (and must) contend for monergistic regeneration. Accordingly, when discussing a "general call" (as you mentioned) we cannot word it as something that is equally offered to everyone and people then choose based on their own self-autonomy. Rather, God is the sole person bringing about the entire process of Salvation.

In Christ alone,

11:29 AM  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Great Post Mike. You would think that you wouldn't need to go to so much trouble to define such a simple scripture however just this last week I heard the verses around these scriptures being distorted in the ways you describe from the pulpit.


May I ask you to go to your closest cemetery and call the dead out of their graves and see what sort of a response you get? Unless the Lord Wills otherwise I can guarantee the dead bones won't be able to fulfill your request.

Now look around you at the spiritually Dead. Sure you can make them become a proselyte which I see happening in many churches but Romans 9:24-26 is talking about these Spiritually dead being transformed to being Spiritually Alive.

Just like the physically dead could not fulfill your call so is true with the Spiritually Dead save they are foreknown, predestined, Justified and glorified by a mighty Savior.

Isn't it marvelous that the Lord uses the foolishness of the gospel as a means to raise the spiritually dead into newness of life in His Son.

Now if you would think this to be a general call. Can I ask you how many people that Jesus called from the grave decided to stay in there? Did they have a choice? Same is true for the Spiritually dead of which we formally walked.

Ephesians 2:1-2
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins. In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

Hey Puritan,

You said:
You would think that you wouldn't need to go to so much trouble to define such a simple scripture however just this last week I heard the verses around these scriptures being distorted in the ways you describe from the pulpit.

Well, I was a Christian for quite a while before I was a Calvinist. In fact, before being a Calvinist, I used to argue with them. I've been guilty of all of the same things.

One of the things that holding to Reformed Theology has taught me is that I could convince someone of the validity of the Gospel by hundreds of "proofs". However, this will not cause regeneration. Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten the mind of the unregenerate and breathe life into their soul.

Similarly, I believe this is true in the realm of Theology between Christians. I might explain something perfectly (Makeing no claim of that here!!); Even if I were able to do so, the Holy Spirit must open the mind of the person and impress the reality upon their heart.

Just like it took many faithful witnesses to preach the truth to me, I must attempt to do so with others. Therefore, I must always be prepared to give a defense but I must never leave out the last part of that verse, "yet with gentleness and respect". I've fallen into that at times and it does nothing but greive the Spirit. Accordingly, I must press on faithful preaching the truth and leave the rest of the work to the Spirit.

In Christ alone,

6:20 PM  
Blogger delete said...

Mike, you have an outstanding blog! The issue regarding who does what in salvation is an important one. The Lord brought me to repentance in a Pentecostal, word-faith church; so as you can imagine, I was very Arminian. The Lord graciously brought to the Reformation, and to the realization that God is actually sovereign (which means is sovereign in salvation as well).

Daniel is a dear brother. I’ve been doing a series on Arminianism over at my blog (I’ll be posting on Unlimited vs. Limited Atonement on Thursday), and he’s stopped by. In our correspondents he’s been very gracious, and even reminds me of myself just before I became a Calvinist (sorry, Daniel!) Thank you for reminding us that—especially?—when we disagree we must do so in a way that honors our Lord. (Not to say that you weren’t, Puritan Belief—I appreciated your comments!)

Thanks again—and keep up the good work!


7:40 PM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

Shawn and Puritan (sorry, haven't learned your name yet),

Thanks for the comments and encouragement.


7:53 PM  
Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Thanks Mike and thanks David.

Spurgeon once said. "God did not send us into the world to win arguments but to proclaim the truth."

I do respect Daniel. He searches the scriptures and brings up some great points.

I appreciate what you both had to say to me.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...


I don't generally spent too much in cemeteries, but I'll try giving the dead a holler for you. I hear that the Chadron cemeteries are beautiful this time of year. :)

By the way, I understand the total depravity in the traditional Reformed manner. I have no problem with the T. It's the other 4 points that I'm not sure about.


Interesting response. I wasn't refering κλητός. My comments were directed toward καλέω.

I'm pretty convinced that in Pauline literature that καλέω means to name or to call by name. That's why it is effectual.

I need to examine κλητός. That may very well mean "to summon." I'm just not sure. I haven't studied it.

I understand Romans 9 in a different manner than you. I've posted on it a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks for the patience with the Arminian.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

Thanks Mike. Really insightful and thourough.
one question though.
I get the cain nature that this passage is using. the only place i dont get it is the forknew bit. I may be wrong but doesnt God forknow everyone, elect or not. im not getting at the "do we chose our salvation or is it only up to God question?" but as a God who knows everyone and everything doesn't He know everyone from the begining of time?
i get that the rest of the verse is about the elect though.

5:34 AM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

Hey Modern Day Magi,

It seems to be that the word being used is in a more intimate sense. As you are probably aware, the bible often uses the word "to know" when referring to intimate relations. For example, a proper rendering of Genesis Gen 4:1 would say that Adam knew his wife (older translations still have it like that, while knewer translations spell it out for us and say that he had sexual relations with her.

Whatever the case, knowing and loving go together. Consider Romans 8:28 and we see men who love God and are called according to His purpose. He then moves into this bit.

I would suggest that this is not using "foreknowledge" in the broad sense of God being omniscient, but rather the predestining comes from a special love that he has for the personal elect.

In other words, those whom God knew in an intimate way, namely his elect, he predestined... called... justified...glorified.

I am just about to the Romans 9 part that talks about "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated" before they had done anything of there own. I would suggest that this is the same type of thing.

In Christ alone,

11:04 AM  

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