In His Letter to the Romans (continued)
Hope In a Desperate Situation
How desperately hopeless this situation is! But that is the way in which the Lord established a setting for this tremendous thing that is called "hope". And so we come to the transcendent solution, and I use that word carefully at this point, for here is something very great. This is an immense mountain, this mountain of heredity: but there is something that transcends the whole hopelessness and despair of the natural situation; and that is what is called "the gospel." Oh, that must be good news! Indeed that is why it is called "good news"! Good news! What is it? There is hope in this most desperate situation.
The Gospel In Eternity Past
Now, if we look at this letter again as a whole, we shall find that the good news, or the good tidings, of the gospel is not only in the Cross of the Lord Jesus - though that is the focal point of it, as we shall see in a moment. The good news, or the gospel, is found to be something very, very much bigger even than the Cross of the Lord Jesus! What is that? It is "the good tidings of God ... concerning His Son ... Jesus Christ our Lord". The Cross is only one fragment of the significance of Jesus Christ Himself.
So this letter, what does it do? It takes us right into the eternity of the Son of God. This is wonderful, if you grasp it. If this gospel does not save you, I do not know what will. Here we are taken right back into the past eternity of the Son. "Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). He must have had His Son, the Master Pattern, there in view before ever man was created, the eternal, the timeless, Pattern that the Son was: before there was any need of redemption, atonement, the Cross, the Son was the eternal Pattern of God for man. And, mark you, it is so positive, so definite. It is in that tense which means definite, once-for-all act. "Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained". It is something which was done before time was. That is where the gospel begins.
Yes, we see the Son in His eternity as God' timeless Pattern; and then we have the eternity or timelessness of the redeeming sovereignty. The redeeming sovereignty is included in that. "He foreordained, He called, He justified, He glorified." Now these three remaining things are not subsequent. They all belong to the same time - which is not time at all; it is eternity. It does not say that He foreknew and foreordained, and then in course of time He called and He justified and He glorified. You see what you are committed to if you take that view. Most of us have been called and justified, but we are not glorified yet. But it says "He glorified", in the "once-for-all" (aorist) tense.
This must mean, then, that when He took this matter in hand in relation to His timeless Pattern, the Lord Jesus, He finished it all in sovereign purpose and intention. It was all rounded off then, so that the marred vessel is an incident in time; a terrible incident, a terrible tragedy, that the vessel was marred in the hand of the Potter; but, for all that, an incident in time. God's counsels transcend all that has come in in time. Dear friend, when the Lord projected the whole plan of redemption, it was not because something had happened calling for an emergency movement to try to save the situation on the spot. He had already anticipated the whole thing, and had got everything in hand to meet the contingency. The Lamb was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). The Cross reaches back over all time, right back over all sin, over the fall, over the first Adam - right back to the eternal Son, before times eternal. The Cross goes back there - to "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world".
(continued with # 7)