Verse 29 expresses God's purpose: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
This says he knew about us ahead of time. How much "ahead of time" is that? From the foundation of the world! II Tim. 1:9, Eph. 1:4. God planned for us in the very beginning, before the first star was created! His plan was to make us like His Son.
This was to be done "that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." See how perfectly this fits in with the reference in Heb. 2:10 to "bringing many sons unto glory." In Romans, Christ is referred to as "the firstborn among many brethren," while in Hebrews He is referred to as "the captain of their salvation." In both cases He occupies the place of pre-eminence among God's sons. Col. 1:18.
Now, notice verse 30: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Does that sound like the issue is in doubt? Is there any hint of "maybe" or "hope it all works out"? No! In fact, the issue is so certain that the whole process is spoken of in the past tense, as something that has already happened! In the mind of God it has! Who can say otherwise?
That's the foundation for Paul's wonderfully encouraging words in verses 31- 39, such a favorite passage for believers. There are many things we encounter in our earthly journey that seem to loom up before us as great obstacles to God's purpose. We sometimes entertain thoughts of doubt and discouragement. Satan is quick to inject thoughts of condemnation every time we come short. We're made to feel our own weakness and inadequacy in the face of seemingly overwhelming circumstances.
But can any of the things enumerated in this passage thwart God's plan?
Can Satan step in and say, "No, God, you can't do that"?
The answer is an unequivocal "No!"
Time For Success
No matter how carefully we plan our time, we'll "now and again" run into some obstacles. They might be interruptions, miscommunications, delays, or cancellations. We have no control over many of these situations, but there's certain hindrances we're able to change.
We can, for example, adjust misplaced priorities. Instead of maintaining a God-centered schedule, we often find we spend time responding to the demands of others. We permit them to dictate our activities without regard to God's plans. We also allow circumstances to determine our schedule. We can't succeed in life if we permit ourselves to be drawn away from what God wants. Investing time in the Scriptures and being instructed in the ways of the Lord...must be an integral part of our schedule.
Another hindrance to reaching our goal is procrastination. All of us experience this at times, but for some of us, putting things off has become a habit. We've many good intentions, but lack follow-through. Success will evade us as long as we "dally".
A third hindrance we can work to overcome...is lack of concentration. To be successful, we need to focus our minds on a particular task and stay-with-it until it's finished! Having a strong motivation to accomplish the Lord's plans is helpful because we work at completing what we value and desire.
Let's ask ourselves..."How important to me is achieving the Lord's plans? Let's align our thinking and our time with His ways, and success---
in God's eyes---will surely follow!
Bringing Many Sons Unto Glory
For God to bring many sons unto glory, it was first necessary for His Son to live as a man in this world and to suffer. By this means was Christ Himself brought to full development and prepared for His role in the Father's plan. (Heb. 2:10, 5:8-9)
Heb. 5:9 says of Him, "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." He was the "corn of wheat" that died in order to bring forth much fruit. John 12:24. Consider the obstacles that Christ had to overcome in order to bring about a salvation that was eternal.
First is the immutability of God's law: God's law is an expression of His holy and righteous nature. He doesn't alter it to suit us. He doesn't lower the standard so that it's within our reach. Its demands are absolute, its penalty certain. There's no way around it. Somehow those unyielding demands must be met and satisfied. God's eternal kingdom has nothing in it but perfect righteousness and holiness.
Second is the utter sinfulness of "our nature". As it's been so often said, we're not sinners because we sin: we sin because we're, "by nature", sinners---rebels against God and His righteousness. Like Adam and Eve, we may try to hide our sinfulness under a cloak of religion as they hid their nakedness with fig leaves, yet it's all in vain. We are what we are.
Third is the weakness of man's flesh---lack of Devine strength. Paul deals with this in Rom. 7. Even if a man becomes convinced of the rightness of God's law and is somehow motivated to conform his life to it, his efforts are doomed to failure because of the weakness of flesh. Sin is too strong for us. We're its slaves. It's the master. Left to our own strength...i.e without Devine strength, we find ourselves in a hopeless situation. God's law serves one purpose: to show us our utter sinfulness before a holy God, and thus to strip us of any shred of hope in ourselves.