Romans 8:28-30 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
This short paragraph is called the golden chain of redemption. Each link precious and necessary, no weak link in the chain. It starts out with a very familiar but often misunderstood declaration – Creator God works all things together for the good of His people. Just as the Spirit of God helps us when we don’t know what to pray, so He helps us in our human frailty by causing all the things we encounter to work for our good. This is not “good” as the people of the world consider things. One of the reasons the apostle has been so determined to point out the two categories of people – the redeemed and the condemned – is so that we, the redeemed, would better grab hold of the different way we view this world than those for whom it is their best life. In this first sentence, Paul was inspired to make clear for whom God works all things for good – those who love God. Not content with this – for there are far too few people who admit they do not love God; many countless people claim to love God and know Him not and are not known by Him – Paul describes further for whom God works all things for good. For those who are called according to His purpose. When you talk to people who say they love God, and move on to talking about His purpose for all He does regarding us, many of them grow disinterested – more willing to talk about their desires, perhaps; anything but what they perceive as God’s demands.
To be called by God in this manner carries the idea of being made new, born again by the Holy Spirit. This call will show up in chapter 10 where the apostle strings together some rhetorical questions to reveal the truth that without God’s call, none can call upon Him. I like to bring up the scene with Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus because this shows the condition of man (dead in sin and trespass), the authority of Christ (at one with the Father), the personal nature of His call (by name), and the power of His call (the dead shall come forth – alive). Called by God, according to His purpose.