Finally Saved...Always Meant To Be Saved
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  Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Predestination! Big word! Big point of theological debate. How many times have you heard the statement, ďOnce saved always saved!Ē  What do you do with such a flippant remark?
On one hand it sounds so true. Yet we know that many have departed from the faith. And the Bible is full of warnings against letting our love of God grow cold.

Jesus warned the Ephesians in the book of Revelation that they had lost their first love and if they didnít repent, He would remove their lampstand...they would lose their salvation.

He told the Laodiceans, because you are lukewarm I will spew you out. They were once with Him, once a part of Him, but they were running the risk of being ejected.

We are told to ďwork out our salvation with fear and trembling? Well if we were once saved always saved...why bother?

You see, there is something wrong with that statement, and it would be especially troublesome for Lutherans to buy into it. Unfortunately it seems that many Lutherans have bought into it. We bring our infants to be baptized as Godís Word clearly instructs us. We have no doubt that in this gracious act, God grants salvation.

Well, if we hold to the doctrine, ďonce saved always saved,Ē then why bother with anything else after we have baptized?  Unfortunately some teach this to be true and others certainly act like itís true, as they bring their children to be baptized and thatís the last you see of them.  

Or others may continue attending church but only out of a sense of duty or doing a good work to earn salvation. Their lives void of any demonstration of love for Christ.

I hope that by the time we finish here today, you will see the fallacy of ďonce saved always saved,Ē and that you will restate the true doctrine of predestination this way: ďFinally saved...always meant to be saved.Ē

Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Letís start by asking, Do you love God? I donít know of too many people that would say no to that question. But, ďHow do you know you love God?Ē  Do you keep His commandments? You know thatís what Jesus said the test is, He said if you love Me, keep My commandments.

 Joh 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Remember, the idea of keeping is to ďput a hedge around,Ē is to treat them as something very valuable, and it stands to reason then that if you value them, if His word means anything at all to you, you will seek to obey them and live under them. Those who love God, will love His Word and seek to surrender to it.

Donít tell God you love Him while you choose to ignore His Word. Heís not falling for it. When you love God, you love His Word, and your love of God flows from the fact that He first loved you.

 1Jo 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us. (NKJV)

This love was demonstrated on the cross. You donít need to question Godís love for you because of your lifeís circumstances, all you need to know about Godís love is found on Calvary.
 Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)

If you continue in your love of God, then all that collectively happens to you while you live this life will work out for good. Everything will work toward making your salvation a success. Everything will work toward your name being in the Book of Life on that final day...and that is the ultimate good that Paul is talking about!

How can Paul say that with such assurance? As we have mentioned the last couple of weeks, he was one of the few individuals who actually got a glimpse of heaven. He saw what awaits those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And he saw that it was very good. All things work to good.

We may realize some of that good this side of heaven like Joseph did. Remember Joseph? All the junk and unfair things that happened to him? Sold into slavery, imprisoned unjustly, but Joseph never stopped loving God, and as he was able to say at the end of his happy story, What his brothers meant for evil, God turned into good.

That was Joseph, we have no guarantee that we will experience the good of our struggles in this life, but it doesnít matter, because in the end, all things have been worked out for the great goodness of  salvation for those who love God.

What does it mean to be ďcalled according to His purpose? His purpose from the very beginning was to call us back to a personal relationship with Him through the Gospel. The preaching of the Good News that even though we are sinners and deserve death, Christ died for our sins and God offers us forgiveness and restored fellowship freely, if we just receive Jesus  as our Lord and Savior......this is how God calls us.

The reception of this Good News, a positive response to this call, brings with it a supernatural love for Him and His Word. If you do not have a desire to keep, to treasure, His Word, then you do not love Him and you have not yet responded properly to His call.

Those who love God are those who have been called and have responded to His free gift of unmerited salvation. The proper response to His call can be summed up thusly, ďnot my will, but ThineĒ Your way, not my way.  For this is the love for God.

29 For whom He foreknew,

What does it mean to ďforeknow?Ē It means simply that God is all knowing. He sees the whole picture. He knows before the end comes, those who would love Him and continue to love Him because they responded to His call. He can see it....we canít. Finally saved...always meant to be saved!

God foreknew the prophet Jeremiah. He said, in Jeremiah 1:5,
 Jer 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." (NKJV),

God knew what Jeremiah was going to be even before He formed him. He could see when he was going to born, when He was going to be set apart for ministry, when he was going to speak as Godís prophet...He saw all that, because He sees the whole picture.

He knows each and everyone of us in the same way and because God can see the whole picture the psalmist can say,  

 Ps 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (NKJV)

God foreknows all things. There is a problem with our concept of Godís foreknowledge, and the problem is brought on by our  misunderstanding of eternity. We are so locked into our dimension of time that we just canít see how this all works. And so we say things like,

ďOnce saved always savedĒ and ďWhy bother, God knows the outcome already anyway.Ē and  ďWhatís the use everythingís already been determined.Ē Let me try to show you what that looks like.

20(2a+2)=5-75=10 The final answer is 10. But look what happened along the way to arrive at 10. Is that the way you wouldíve done it? Probably not, but all those things in the equation worked together to make sure number 10 was there at the end. All those things worked together for the good of the number 10.  

This is how it works for those who love God and who have responded affirmatively to His call. No matter the stuff that comes along in the equation, those who love God, will be in the final answer called the Book of Life and that is very good.

All sorts of things happened along the way, but because they responded to Godís call and loved Him and His Word til the end, they made it! Finally saved, always meant to be saved.

So it does matter what we do. prayers matter, witnessing matters, loving others matters, because it just may be part of the formula that prompts the number 10 to respond to the call of God and love Him, and make it into the Book of Life.

We donít know the end! God does. What we do know for sure, what we have Godís faithful word on,  is that all who have responded to the call of God and demonstrate an affirmative response by their love for Him by treasuring His Word, will be standing on the last day. And that is all we really need to concern ourselves with.  Finally saved...always meant to be saved!

Godís call goes out to all men, for His purpose is for all men to be saved. But God knew in advance, from the foundation of the world who would be won by His call. This call is identical for all men, and in it is contained the power to accept the call. The call is the Gospel.

 Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (NKJV)

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.! Incredible! Not only does God call in His Word, but He uses the word to empower us, to open our ears to respond to the call!  

What else does He do for those He foreknew?

ďHe also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

This was also part of His eternal plan, He wants us all to be just like our big brother Jesus. Believers are predestined to be in glory with Jesus and be just like Him.  

 1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God; (because we have responded to His call and love Him) and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, (we havenít arrived yet) but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (NKJV)  

 1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (NKJV)

This conformation is already underway for those who love God, because as we respond to His Word, He uses it to shape us and mold us into the image of His Son.

Ps 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!  (NKJV)
You can see the conformation work in progress in such an attitude toward the Word.

Ps 119:47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. (NKJV)
Love of God = love of His Word, there is no way around it!

 Ps 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.
No matter what befalls this person, they remain steadfast in their love for Godís Word, because they know God has called them through it and in responding they will have life!

Not so for those who stray from Godís Word!
 Ps 119:21 You rebuke the proud-the cursed, Who stray from Your commandments. (NKJV)

Love His Word or you will be cursed.

So we are being conformed by His Word and how we apply it in our lifeís circumstances, but our conformation will not  be complete until Judgement Day. And though we shall not have the pre-eminence of Jesus for He is the firstborn, everything else that is His will be ours!

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Hereís how it works: Those who will one day be like their big brother Jesus in heaven (the pre-destined) get there by responding to the call of God, whereby they immediately obtained the justification that Jesus won for them on Calvary. God looked at me and it was ďjust if IídĒ never sinned!

Those responding to the call, those who love God and His Word to the end, will be glorified. This glorification is so certain that it is already written here as being accomplished. When we are fully glorified, we will be given our heavenly bodies and finally and completely be conformed to the image of Christ.  Finally conformed, always meant to be conformed!

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

How can we respond to such a wonderful truth? If God is for us, if our name is in the Book of Life, who in the world can change anything or cause anything in this life to have it removed? Itís final! Itís there!
All those who have responded to His call, (demonstrated by a persevering love for Him and His Word) have there names in the unerasable, eternal,  Book of Life.

Is your name in that Book? I donít know. I know that what happens here today could have a bearing on whether or not it is. Because you are being called even as I speak. You have an opportunity to respond to that call, to surrender to Christ and His Word.

Want further proof that those who love God will be found in the Book of Life?

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (The things that work together for our good salvation.)

The death of Godís Son, Jesus Christ, was part of His plan from the very beginning to redeem our lost souls! This was His only Son, this was what He was willing to part with in order to ensure that your name could  be there in the Book of Life.

Just think about what God gave up here. Letís say I had an incurable disease. Letís say your only child had the only blood type that could save me. Letís say that I needed all of his blood, that he would have to die in order for me to live. Would you do it? Would you allow your son to die for me?

Címon Iím your pastor, Iím a good guy, I have one of the most important callings in the world!
What if I told you that your son not only had to give up his blood but that his death would be very painful? Would you do it even knowing that three days after his death he would be brought back to life.  Even knowing that you would have to watch his tortuous death. Even though he might cry out, ďMom, Dad, why have you forsaken me? Would you still do it?

You may answer with a gallant yes, but I guarantee you it would be reluctantly, even for good old Pastor Matz.

Now what if I told you to do this for people you donít even know:? What if I asked you to give up your son for people you despise? Would you give up your son for Jeffrey Dahmer? Adolph Hitler? Joseph Stalin? Would you do it then? Well thatís what God did. He delivered Him up for us all. Even for some people who honestly could care less about God.

And He called them. He called us, you and I  through that death, He called us and continues to call us to love Him because He first loved us.

You or I could not possibly be in the Book of Life without the death of Jesus. It was in the plan from eternity just as the names of those who love Jesus were written in the Book from eternity. Nothing will be withheld from them that  is necessary for their salvation!

33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? (Who will say, ďthat name doesnít belong there?Ē No one dare say such a thing because it was put there by God from eternity because somewhere along the time line that person responded to Godís call and demonstrated that response by persevering in loving God and His Word.

It is God who justifies. (God sets the rules for whose name is in that Book and therefore no one can question His judgement.)

 34 Who is he who condemns?  (I condemn that name to hell! I donít think it belongs there!Ē) Well good luck pal, condemn until you are blue in the face, it wasnít you who died for that saint it was Christ!

It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

 Heb 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (NKJV)

He saves to the uttermost, He saves completely and finally, and no one shall snatch them out of His hand.

Friend, listen. God knew you before He formed you. He knew whether or not your name would be in the Book of Life. If He would have not acted on our behalf through the atoning work of Jesus Christ we would all be lost for we were conceived in sin.

Something was wrong with us from the very beginning. It would not do for us to remain in sin and become a part of Godís predestined plan to be a brother of the glorified  Jesus Christ. So God sent His Son to the cross to die for our sins and then He called us.  

The word ďcalledĒ means to incite by Word. Godís Word, spoken or read is the agent that God uses to incite our souls to surrender to Him and love Him.

The Law shows us our sinful state, the Gospel shows us how to fix it. You know, I look back on my life now and I realize more and more how He never stopped calling me, pursuing me. He did everything possible to get my attention. to get me to listen to His calling Word.

Finally, one day, by His grace, His Word got through and I believed. I was now justified and now the work of conforming to His Son began in earnest. He gave me a love for Him and His Word that continues to this day.

This Word and the circumstances He brings into my life work to continually conform me to His image. An image that is glorified, and though I am not realizing itís fullness yet, I look forward to the day when He comes again and conforms all believers.
In the meantime I will rest and rejoice in the fact, that if my name is written in the Book of Life. There is nothing that can erase it, and I will rejoice in the fact that God has called me and empowered me to respond to His call, and I know that as long as I am baptized and continue to love Him and treasure His Word my name is there!

Finally saved...always meant to be saved.

Let me close with this.

 Mt 18:11 "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.  12 "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  13 "And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  (NKJV)

Have you ever seen the picture of Christ climbing in treacherous rocks and reaching out with His nail scarred hands for a sheep that was apparently lost and in great danger? Oh the lengths that He will go through to find the missing sheep.

Perhaps now you know why. This sheep had itís name written in the Book of Life! This sheep had to be found! Maybe it was through prayers, maybe through witnessing, maybe just reaching out in love, but the sheep was found, it heard the call of the good shepherd and responded and was saved, just as it was known through all eternity.

Maybe youíve fallen in a crag. Maybe you feel like you are lost and without hope. Oh you are never without hope! You are here today and you are hearing the call of the Shepherd. Respond to it! Run to Him! Even as He runs to you! Let Him scoop you up in His arms and rescue you!

Just honestly admit to him that you have made a mess of things doing it your way, ask for and receive His forgiveness. Tell Him that you are ready, with His help, to do it His way! Respond to the call to be His, state your love for Him, and demonstrate that love by treasuring Him and His Word from this day forth. If you do, even though you canít see it, He guarantees that your name will be written in the Book of Life!

Finally saved....always meant to be saved.