Lesson 1 – From Eternity to Eternity

From Eternity to Eternity

Romans 8:28-30

Lesson Aim: To reveal a panoramic view of God’s plan for mankind.


The Bible contains a revelation of our Creator and His purpose for His creation of this world and mankind.  The letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome contains a key part of God’s revealed plan.  In fact, it contains so much basic information that a seeker of God’s plan would be uninformed without this letter.  A Christian could not hope to have God’s will work in his or her life without faith in the content.  If the occasion for this letter had not arisen these doctrines would have surely been revealed in another way.  The doctrines Paul stated in the Roman letter play an intricate part in God’s desire for mankind’s wellbeing now and in the hereafter.  We must see the overall plan before we will appreciate our total dependence on these teachings.

To reveal a program the first step is to present the broadest view of the boundaries in which it is encompassed.  For instance, should we seek information about the purpose of an elementary school system we would probably hear a statement like, “An elementary school is designed to receive a child who cannot read, write or do arithmetic and within six years they will be able to perform all three.” There is a lot more to this program than contained in the statement; however, this gives us the broadest possible view of an elementary school.

In Romans 8:28-30 we have the broadest possible view of God’s plan for man that could possibly be revealed.  Paul’s statement reaches from eternity to eternity.  He uses four key words to put together a message that transcends all panoramic statements.  They are predestined, called, justified and glorified.  The following are the definitions of the original Greek words from Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible:

Predestined – to mark off first or beforehand.

Call- to call – to name.

Justified – to make or declare right.

Glorify – honor.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  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; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30

This scripture traverses time.  It begins in eternity with God’s predestined plan “for those who love Him” and follows the plan into eternity when time shall be no more.  The writer uses the word glorified to describe the results for people of faith in eternity after time has “run out.”  This leaves two words: called and justified.  Each word describes a specific condition for mankind “in time” as we know it in the present world.  These two conditions are described as the “dominion of darkness” and the “kingdom of the Son” in Colossians 1:13.

God has a purpose for those who love Him.  “God causes,” that is, God is actively working with Christians today for His purpose.  God’s purpose is for all people because it is His will all love Him.  Read II Peter 3:9.  His eternal purpose is, and has always been, that mankind would conform to the image of Jesus Christ in personality and character.  Christians enjoy a brotherly relationship with Jesus (Heb. 2:11-13).  We are sons of God Almighty (Rom. 8:16).

Let us consider each of the four words used by Paul in his panoramic statement of God’s purpose for man.  Our study of the Roman letter will help us understand why Paul used these words.  Each word presents a concise concept of the age (aeon) it represents.  Please study the chart below:


Before time, that is, before the present cosmos existed there was God.  Jesus Christ was also there with Him in eternity.  In fact, this world and everything in it were created by and for Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  See Col. 1:15-20.  God had a predestined plan.  We can assume the results of this plan was His purpose in creation.  This present world will cease to exist but Jesus will have brought God’s children home to glory.  Surely this was God’s predestined plan.  Read II Pet. 3:7-13 and Heb. 2:10.  God wants more sons in His eternal kingdom and He shall have them.

God’s new covenant, when accepted in faith and repentance, will prepare these people to be His sons and daughters now in time (Heb. 10:16, 17; II Cor. 6:18).  As we focus on time, the Bible reveals a concept in which Adam stands as the head of all who have been born in the fleshly body.  Jesus Christ stands as the head of all who have been born again in the spirit.  We will discuss this in detail in the next lesson.  Therefore, we will only say here that the word “called” best sums up God’s plan for people “in Adam.”  He calls people through the gospel.  Read II Thess. 2:14.

Likewise, the word “justified” is the best word to describe the life of the man “in Christ.”  All people are sinners and will continue to be as long as we are in the fleshly body.  This is true because we received the knowledge of good and evil as a result of Adam’s transgression (Gen. 3:22).  We cannot make the right choice in every life experience while in the flesh; therefore, we will always be sinners.  One definition of sin is to miss the mark; however, God has a plan by which we can be declared right.  This is the meaning of the word “justified.”

All people have been born by natural descent in the nature of Adam.  If we accept God’s call we are born again into Christ’s body, the church.  See John 1:12, 13; Eph. 1:22, 23.   It is “in Christ” where God’s predestined plan becomes a reality.  We accept God’s new covenant and we begin the process of re-developing our personality like Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:22-24).  We are invited to join God in eternity as a son.  We walk by faith.  We have “justification that brings life.”  Rom. 5:18.  If this is where we stand right now, and we remain faithful until our spirits leave our bodies, then the following scriptures describe our individual glorious future.   

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.  Phil. 3:20, 21

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.  For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.  We know that, if He should appear, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.  I John 3:1, 2

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.  Hebrews 2:10

Glorified is the best word in the Apostle Paul’s vocabulary to describe our relationship to God’s plan for man after time has come to an end.  We must accept God’s plan by faith now, if indeed, glorified will describe our eternity.  There will be a different word for the ones who do not accept God’s new covenant.  It is identified as the “second death.”  Rev. 20:6.

Questions for Discussion

1.  Why is a good understanding of the letter to the Romans a “must” for Christians?

2.  To best reveal any given program, what is the first thing that needs to be presented?

3.  Describe the diagram that has been presented to illustrate God’s plan for man.

4.  Give your understanding of the following words and the scene the writer meant for them to call to

      our minds:

                A.   Predestined                B.   Called

                C.   Justified                       D.   Glorified

5.  What is God’s eternal purpose for man?

6  What is known to exist in eternity before time about mankind?

7.  Who are the two heads of all people in time?

8.  Why does “called” best fit those who belong to one group and “justified” best fit the other group?

9.  What has God given Christians to help us get ready to be glorified?

10. Memorize Romans 8:28-30 and be prepared to pass it on.

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