On R. C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries website, we have this simple description of the golden chain of redemption or salvation: “Romans 8:29-30 features the sequence known as the golden chain of salvation, the inviolable order in which our Creator saves His people”. R. C. Sproul himself noted that “ Foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification are the highlighted links to that chain”.
Romans 8:29-30 states, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he also glorified”. (NIV)
In my book, “It’s Pointless Serving A God You Don’t Know”, I opted to refer to the golden chain of salvation as “the Five Principles of Divine Election”. It is my belief that these five principles are meant to explain the reason for and the consequences of God’s election. Much of what I will be saying from this point on is taken from the aforementioned book.
To elect is to make a formal choice, and God chose us, Believers in Christ, out of the whole of humanity, to be His Children. All Believers in Christ Jesus constitute the Elect or the saints. (1 Peter 2:9)
Foreknowledge is the knowledge of something before it happens. The principle of foreknowledge reveals that God had always known us, Believers, even before He created the universe. (Jeremiah 1:5) In His foreknowledge, God identified and chose us to be His own.
According to Merriam-Webster, to predestine is “to destine, decree, determine, appoint, or settle beforehand”. As a theological concept, therefore, predestination is often defined to mean that God had preordained from the foundation of the world all the events on earth, and had chosen the people that would be saved and those that would not be saved. This position has however, generated centuries of fractious debates.
Some Bible theologians appear to have confused the principle of foreknowledge with the principle of predestination. Foreknowledge is a state of awareness, while predestination is an act, like making a decree. God foreknew both the good and the bad events in Creation, but He only predestined what is good for His own Children. (Jeremiah 29:11) God, for example, foreknew the centuries of war in Europe, but He did not predestine any of those wars. Predestination is limited to God’s dealings with His Children. In fact, that principle, as contained in Romans 8:29, clearly specifies what God predestined for His Elect: “…..to be conformed to the likeness of his Son….”
The Lord Jesus, in Matthew 9:13, remarked that He had not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Whenever the Gospel is preached to sinners, Christ is calling them to repentance.
After we have heeded the call and have been purged of our sinful nature through the born-again experience, God justifies us; He declares us righteous. Merriam-Webster defines the word justify as, “to show to be just, right……to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation”. Being purged of our sinful nature means that we have become sanctified or made holy.
When we become born again, we receive the glory of sonship in God’s House (John 1:12), we become members of God’s Family, having access by faith to all the privileges that are available to the Children of God. The process of glorification is a progressive one; we “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory….” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) That process will only climax when we get to Heaven.