“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. 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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Today, we would like to consider the above passage in Romans chapter 8. It is said that God predestined, called, and glorified we who are in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We will talk about this, and also about how people tend to understand the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctification.
Romans 8:28 says, “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.” We have to think about who “those who love God” are.
Did all things really work together for good? So said God. In the beginning, before God created people, He planned to make us His people according to His purpose and has done so for good in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.
We have to remember that in the Garden of Eden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why did God plant this tree? It would have been better if God had not planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place. Many people are curious about this point.
But there were God’s profound purpose and plan. God created people to make them in His own image. In fact, mankind was no different from the rest of creation until we received God’s righteousness.
Why did God plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
That is why we must know the reason why God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was the reason? It was to keep human beings under the Law of God and to make us His children by redeeming us through Jesus Christ. All the righteousness of God is hidden in the Word, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” Since God said, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), we must find the answer to the question in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by Jesus Christ.
To do this, we must first acknowledge the gospel of God. We will then realize that everything God plans and does is good. But to understand this truth we must be born again by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must look for the answer in the gospel that God has given us.
The reason why God created us, planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, allowed Adam and Eve to eat from it, and let us know the Law was to make us His own children. Our Lord, who delivered us all, allowed all these to happen so that He could give us the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, glory and Heaven. God made man from dust, and the mankind was made and born to be weak. The Bible often compares us to the vessels of clay. God, who is the potter, formed man out of clay. He formed man from dust and breathed into him the love of the water and the Spirit. God has given us the truth of the water and the Spirit so as to make us His own children.
Pottery that is made with clay breaks easily. In this way, God first created man’s body and spirit to be weak in order to make him His child. His purpose was fulfilled by Jesus, who washed away all the sins of mankind and clothed them in God’s holiness, to give them eternal life by making them to be born again with the gospel of water and the Spirit. That was why God made us imperfect and weak from the beginning, rather than flawless.
Why did God create man to be weak in the beginning?
Why did God plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden and then command Adam and Eve not to eat from it? The reason behind this must be understood and believed within the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Why did God say that the seed of the woman would bruise Satan’s head and that Satan would bruise His heel when Adam and Eve fell and sinned? All these things were to make people His own children. It was His plan for us in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.
Who, then, are the “called” according to God’s purpose? They are those who acknowledge their sins and iniquities and seek the love and mercy of God. We must realize that the theological claims of the Doctrine of Unconditional Election and the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctification are wrong. The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is wrong because our God is not the kind of God who would just choose someone unconditionally while deserting others for no reason.
Rather, those whom God elects, and calls are those who despair over their sins and confess that they have no choice but to go to hell—those on whom God has mercy and whom He calls with His gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Among the countless people that are born into this world and returned to God, not a single one is chosen or abandoned by God without any reason. If God did not choose you for no reason, you would protest against God. It would be nonsense to say that God made you or someone the devil’s child without any reason. This is not what God has done.
If you have not been chosen by God, it is because you do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. If you do not believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by God, then God will abandon you, for our Lord said, “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). What the theologians have done, unfortunately, is to turn our God into a bigoted and prejudicial God.
Who are the called according to the will of God?
Those who are called by God are the sinners who are bound to hell. They come to God and confess that they deserve to go to hell because they are weak and have no choice but to disobey His commandments until they die. God called on sinners and purified their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He called on those who had no choice but to be sent to hell and delivered them from their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
God did not come to call on those who are good and obedient to the Law. God calls on those who really try hard to live according to His will, but acknowledge that their weaknesses force them to sin, though they put faith in and depend on God. God’s purpose is to call on the weak, infirm, and feeble to make them righteous, to make them His children. This is God’s call according to His will. All things work together for the good to those who are called according to His purpose.
We must believe in God’s call. We must not say that we believe in Jesus for no reason. Such faith is not the proper faith. The proper faith is to believe in the Lord according to God’s purpose, not your own purpose. That means to believe that God knows our weaknesses well, that He took away our sins once and for all, and that He thus made us sinless. By setting our faith on God’s purpose, the baptism and the blood of Jesus Christ, we can become His children. It is God’s will to make us His sinless children when we acknowledge and accept His purpose—these are the people whom God truly loves, and on whom He calls.
Who are the ones chosen by God?
God does not have people stand in two lines and choose everyone to His right saying, “Come and believe in Jesus and go to Heaven,” and then turn to the left and tell them, “Just go to hell.”
Calvinists claim that God chose certain people without any reason and decided to abandon the rest from the beginning. But God is not like that. God made all things work together for good to those who are called upon according to His purpose. It is nonsense to think that we were chosen unconditionally for no reason.
Is God then an unjust God? Certainly not. Everybody is equal before both God and His Law. Everybody is also equal before the judgment. We have received the grace of salvation from God, which saved us from our sins through Jesus Christ. The chance to believe in this truth is also equal for everybody. He allows those who accept God’s purpose and know their weaknesses to realize and believe the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
What, then, are the true divine predestination and election? They are for us to be called according to God’s purpose in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that He has given us. It was because God has taken away our sins through Jesus and planned to make us His children that we were born into this world and given a chance to hear the gospel. God has planned all this in Jesus Christ in advance. This was God’s plan. When we come to the presence of God, we must therefore first consider whether we are like Jacob or Esau.
The Scripture tells us that God loved Jacob while He hated Esau. It also talks about Cain and Abel, and that God loved Abel but hated Cain. Did God hate Esau and Cain and love Jacob and Abel for no reason? No. It was because Esau and Cain trusted only in their own strength and never asked for God’s mercy, while Jacob and Abel knew of their weaknesses, asked for God’s mercy, and trusted in His Word.
The Scripture explains God’s predestination and election by using these people as an example. To which side do we belong? Can we meet God if we trust in our own strengths, just as Esau did? No, we cannot! The only way we can meet God is to meet Him through the gospel of the water and the Spirit that is filled with God’s mercy. On which of the two sides do we stand before God? We are the ones who want to be blessed in God’s presence, but always fail to do so because of our weaknesses. Even though we wish to live according to God’s purpose, we are still weak and infirm before God, and so the only thing we can ask for is His mercy.
If we wish to be blessed by God, we have to become like Jacob, and have the faith that Abel had. We have to acknowledge before God the fact that we are weak, infirm, and coward.
Psalm 145:14 says, “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raise up all who are bowed down.” Truly, everyone bows down in the presence of God. We have no courage. We make compromises for the smallest benefit. We are servile. We may at times seem courageous, but that is only for a mere second. If we look into our lives closely, we can find out easily just how servile we are. We submit to the strong and even to untruthful being that compels us to discard the truth. But God has called the servile to love them and to give them salvation in Jesus Christ, and He has made them His children.
We need to realize just how weak and sinful we are in order to be loved by God. We have to ask whether we can really obey the Law to its complete satisfaction. We must then come to the prompt realization that we just are not capable of keeping the Law, and that as such, we cannot live perfect lives.
If I were perfect, I would never need the Savior. If we were perfect, why would we need God’s help and blessings? It is because we are so weak before God that we need His blessings. We need His mercy. God’s compassion on us was so strong that He sent His only begotten Son and made Him take upon all our sins to wash them away. And God passed judgment for sin on Jesus instead of us so that we may be delivered from sin. This is what we must believe in.
Only with this faith can we become the beloved children of God. It is because of this mercy that we are clothed in His love, and not because of our own efforts to achieve our own salvation.
Even though many Christians teach and follow the Doctrines of Predestination and Election, they also feel anxious about these doctrines. This is because they constantly wonder whether they were chosen by God or not.
These two doctrines make up about 90% of the Calvinist theology. The question is whether, despite their faith in Jesus, they have really been chosen or not, and this is what makes them anxious. But it is not whether you are chosen or not that is important. Rather, what is important is for you to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be saved by receiving God’s righteousness. Those who have received this righteousness of God by faith are the chosen ones.
There once was a doctor of theology who was considered as one of the masters of conservative theology. He put great value into the teachings of Calvinism, such as the Doctrines of Predestination and Divine Election.
One day, he was giving a lecture about these topics when a student asked, “Well, are you chosen by God? How can you know whom God has chosen?”
The theologian replied, “Who can know it? We will find that out only when we stand before God.”
So then, the student asked again, “Then what will you do when you go before God and He says that you are not chosen?”
The professor replied, “What can I do about what God has already decided by Himself? That’s why I said that you’ll know only when you stand before God.”
The students thought, “He is a very humble man. Even a great person like him says that he doesn’t know whether he is chosen or not. So it is natural that no one can know whether he/she is chosen or not.”
But the truth in which God’s righteousness was hidden is now clearly manifested. There had been a few things that God had concealed from man, but He has revealed them in due time. How can evangelists preach the gospel when they do not even know whether they are saved and chosen or not? Those who are called by God are the ones who believe in the righteousness of God.
Romans 8:29 states, “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.” God the Father predestined to conform us to the image of His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Here Jesus is called “the firstborn.” If we believe in Jesus and in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that He has given us, we are saved from all our sins and become God’s children. Then, what would Jesus be in relation to us? He would be our eldest brother. He is God’s firstborn and we are His younger brothers and sisters.
A long time ago, when I lived in a prayer house, an old evangelist visited me. He had started believing in Jesus when he was in China and then came over to Korea. I overheard him praying one day, and this is what he said: “Brother Jesus and God the Father, thank you so much for saving me. Brother Jesus, please help me.” Jesus is our brother!
We may ask whether God knows everything about us. The answer is yes, He does know everything about us. God the Father knows everything about us. He had planned to save us from our sins through His only begotten Son even before the creation of this world. This was God’s plan. His Son Jesus came to the world, was baptized and crucified to save us from our sins. God had already planned it.
We may say that before the foundation of the world, God called on a “tripartite conference.” The Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—planned to deliver those who believe in His righteousness. His plan was to create the people and make them His children to live together with them in His perfect Kingdom.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all agreed on the plan. Then, in the process of thinking about how He should create man and make the mankind His children, God planned to send the Son, Jesus, to the world and to have Him be baptized and put to death on the Cross, so that they can be conformed to the image of His Son.
What was God’s purpose in creating us? It was for us to become His children. Is Jesus the firstborn of God? Yes, He is, and because we have become the Children of God, we are also His brothers.
While living on this earth for 33 years, Jesus experienced all human weaknesses and infirmities. That is why when we pray, we say, “Jesus, I am so weak. This is how I am. Please help me and protect me. Soften peoples’ hearts to accept Your Word, watch over, give grace, and help them.” The Lord hears and answers our prayers. Praying to Jesus and praying to God are one in the same.
What was God’s purpose in creating us? It was to make us His children. God knows everything about us. He made us to be born into this world and saved us from all our sins through the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross, because He predestined us, even before the foundation of the world, to be adopted as His own sons and daughters. He therefore knows not only our lives and deaths, but our every single movement. He knows when we were born, who we were born to, when we got married, when we bore our own children, and what happened to us in our lives. God, who knows everything about our lives, gave us the gospel of the water and the Spirit so that we may believe in Jesus Christ and become God’s children.
God foreknew us and predestined us. Romans 8:30 states, “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is for us to understand and believe in this passage.
Many people take the above verse to support the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctification. Based on this passage—that God predestined us, called on us, justified us, and glorified us—they claim that this is why even though we have sin in our hearts, God considers us to be without sin, and that after going through a period of sanctification, we will become glorified, as if there were staged through which we become holy.
Did not God predestine all the sinners to call them in Jesus Christ? He called us all, and yet some people do not respond to His calling. They are like Esau and Cain. They are the ones who are sent to hell.
In the mercy of God
God the Father planned to call us in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and predestined us to adoption as His own sons by washing away our sins with the water and the blood. People who still do not go to God even when He called them all are outside God’s salvation. Such people are excluded from His grace, bound for hell. But there are also the people who obeyed God’s call. They say, “Lord even though I’m weak like this, will you accept someone like me?”
God says, “Of course I will.”
“Really? Will you accept me when I am so weak?”
“Of course, I will accept you.”
“God, I don’t have anything special to offer to you and I can’t even promise you that I’ll be good from now on.”
“I will still accept you.”
“I am not sure I’ll get better, and I don’t even have the ability to do so.”
“Still, I will accept you.”
“It’s probably because you don’t know me. You are going to be disappointed at me.”
Do we not usually feel embarrassed, as if we want to hide somewhere, when we know how we are, and yet someone says that he/she really believes in us? Why do we want to hide? We want to hide because we are not able to get better, and we can’t even maintain what we have done so far.
This is why we keep on asking, “Will you accept me even though I’m so weak? Will you really accept me? Am I even allowed to believe in you? Can someone like me receive the forgiveness of sins? Can someone like me become righteous even when I won’t be able to be good in the future either?” But our God has the power to turn a wild olive tree into a cultivated olive tree.
We were originally olive trees, which are wild by nature, but we became cultivated olive trees by the gospel that Jesus has given us. He called on us, who cannot help but sin. Did He call us when we were just a little bit weak? He called us even when we were absolutely wanting in ability. He called us in Jesus Christ despite our very serious shortcomings and gaping weaknesses. He called us who were infirm. What did He do after He called us? He took away all our sins and gave us His righteousness so that we may have eternal life.
How did He do all these things? In chapter 3 of Matthew, we are told that Jesus came to the world and was baptized to fulfill all the righteousness that God set for all mankind. Jesus was baptized by John, took upon Himself all the sins of mankind, died on the Cross bearing all their sins, and rose again from the dead the third day to save them from the sins of the world. He gave us new lives, and by doing so, He justified us and washed away all our sins. Jesus called us, washed away our sins with the water and the blood, gave us God’s righteousness, made us sinless, and then glorified us whom He justified, making us the children of God.
Jesus glorified us to enter Heaven and to live eternally as God’s children. Do you understand this? But the religious doctrines teach that, though you are a sinner, if you believe in Jesus, you will gradually be sanctified in time, and that by the time you die, you will stand before God as a perfect person. This is against the truth. This is not the true faith. That kind of faith is for the Doctrine of Sanctification, not for the truth.
The Lord saved us from our sins and God predestined us, called us, washed away our sins with the water and the blood all at once, made us His children, who are sanctified, and blessed us so that we may enter the Kingdom of God in glory. This is the truth, and this is how He spoke of the truth, by putting all the blessings in Jesus Christ together into one sentence. This passage is not talking about the seven stages of the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctifications. It is not saying that we will gradually become perfect after going through the seven stages to become entirely sanctified.
Romans 8:30 does not say that God will call on us after we believe in Jesus or that we will become sanctified as we get older. It also does not say that we gradually climb up the ladder of sanctification step by step until we finally reach the complete sanctification. When we knew Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ called on us, He forgave our sins once and for all with the water and the blood. It is when we come to God with this gospel of truth that we will be embraced in His arms.
Some people say, “I didn’t even know my own sins before, but after hearing the sermon, I’m beginning to realize it. There are one or two sins I remember from the past and I am probably going to keep on sinning in the future, so I don’t think I can believe in God.” But that is not right. We should think like this instead, “Ah! That’s right. I didn’t know my own sins even as I was committing them. All the Word of God is right. I must believe in His Word, but I am not able to live according to It. I am inevitably a grave sinner, who is destined for hell. That’s why Jesus came.”
We are made sinless by believing in Jesus and receiving the forgiveness of sins. We become sanctified and are made the children of God. Since we have become God’s children, we are able to enter Heaven and be glorified. This is God’s righteousness and the truth.
God predestined us, called us, justified, and glorified us. You may think that the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctification is right, saying, “I will gradually change and become a sinless person.” But you become justified and sanctified all at once the very moment you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Your heart does not change in stages. Your heart becomes sinless all at once, and it is your faith that gradually grows as you believe in the Word of God and His church.
Our faith grows gradually as we are fed by the Word of God, to eventually reach a point where we can even teach others. But the assertion that we will become God’s children after we become more complete and more sinless is not based on the Bible. We become sanctified and sinless all at once.
Did God call us according to His predestination in Christ Jesus? Yes, He did. He called us in Jesus Christ and made us righteous and sinless. God justified us and made us sinless through Jesus Christ, took us in as His children, and glorified us to enter His Kingdom.
We became righteous at once by believing in the salvation of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all the righteousness of God. We have been blessed because we obeyed God’s call and believed that Jesus washed away all our sins, to make us, in spite of our infirmities, the sinless and righteous children of God, the people of His Kingdom.
That is why the Doctrine of Sanctification is incorrect. It makes no sense. The Bible clearly tells us, “Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Faith grows gradually, but the forgiveness of sins, becoming the children of God, and entering Heaven—these all happen once and for all. Do you believe in this?
We were able to become God’s children by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God has saved our worthless lives from all our sins through the grace of the water and the Spirit. Did we do anything for God in any way for our salvation? Did we contribute in becoming righteous? There is nothing that we planned, and no one decides to believe in Jesus even before he/she is born. Is there anyone who decides to believe in Jesus while he/she is in his/her mother’s womb?
We happened to hear the truth from those who preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit, realized that it is the truth, and thought to ourselves, “I have no choice but to believe in it; a sinful person like me must believe in it.” From that time on, we started believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, received the forgiveness of sins, and became God’s children.
Only the righteous are the children of God. God forever glorifies them with the eternal riches and honors of the Kingdom of Heaven. That is what being glorified is all about. God has given these blessings to the believers who accept the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Praise the Lord!