Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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Second, is our salvation an accident or a purposeful act of God? Is God’s salvation like giving two pennies to a beggar that one happens to come across in the street? Or is God purposefully seeking to find a man to whom He can give money? Is God’s salvation an accident, or is it according to a definite plan? Those who do not understand salvation may think that God’s salvation is an accident. But all those who understand the Bible and who know God realize that His salvation is not an accident. Instead, it was planned long ago according to a definite plan. Romans 8:29 says, "Those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son." Verse 30, a parenthetical word, says, "And those whom He predestinated, these He also called; and those whom He called, these He also justified; and those whom He justified, these He also glorified." The salvation that we are talking about involves all the things covered in verses 29 and 30. The history of our salvation began with justification in verse 30. We were saved at the time that we were justified. We only know that we have believed in Jesus and that we have been saved and justified. We think that justification is our first encounter with God. We think that the first time we touched God in our life was when we were justified. But the Bible says that God touched us long ago. He knew us long ago. Our justification came afterwards. God’s knowledge of us came first.

Some have said that Romans 8:29-30 is the only chain in the entire Bible. It is a chain of different rings linked together. This is a most precious and complete chain. The first ring of this chain is God’s foreknowledge of man. The second ring is our predestination to be conformed to the image of His Son. The third ring is the calling of those who have been predestinated. The fourth ring is the justification of those who have been called. The fifth ring is the glorification of those who have been justified. It is a series of rings linked to one another. We think that we first knew God when we were saved and justified. But the Bible says that before we were saved and justified, God knew us already. Those whom God knew long ago, He marked out. To be marked out means to have a check mark put by our name, indicating that He has claimed us for Himself. For what purpose were we marked out? It is so that we would be like His unique Son, Jesus Christ. He not only wants one Son, Jesus Christ; He came to mark us out so that we would be identical to His Son. Those who were marked out are called. The ones who are called are known by Him. He called the ones whom He knew and marked out. After He called them, He justified them.

If justification is the first step in a Christian’s relationship with God, it does not matter much for us not to be justified again in the future. If I pick up two pennies today and throw them into the fire tomorrow, it does not matter much to me. Not to be justified is, of course, a loss on man’s part. But God suffers no loss. However, we have to know that the history of our relationship with God does not start from justification and salvation. Rather, it starts from God’s foreknowledge. God’s foreknowledge is the beginning of everything. To be marked out is the second step. To be called is the third step. Only after the third step do we have justification. If we were to lose our justification and become sinners again, we would put a question mark on God’s omniscience. Since God foreknew us and marked us out, how can we still perish after we are saved? A person predestinated by God can never be thrown into hell and burned like a piece of wood.

(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)