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What does it mean to be called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)?

called according to His purpose

One of the most often quoted and deeply treasured New Testament Bible verses is Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

Sometimes when life gets messy, when we struggle through hardship or suffering, we can start to feel spiritually adrift. We continue to deal with temptations, evil, calamities, pressures, and fears in this fallen world. For this reason, we must reinforce who we are and understand what’s happening to us. In Romans 8:18–30, the apostle Paul encourages believers to hold onto hope and the promises of God in these times. Remember that God is operating ceaselessly in the lives of those who love Him, sovereignly working out His redemptive plan. The Christian life is not a random, unintentional, haphazard existence. As God’s children, believers are beckoned to a new life of realizing His good purposes for them.

The word translated here as “called” specifies a summoning in the original Greek. It identifies someone whose involvement or presence has been officially requested, especially a summoning to which refusal is not an option, as in a subpoena. Many Bible passages speak of the believer’s calling: “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9; see also 1 Corinthians 7:17; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 4:1, 4). Paul explains to Timothy that God “has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Even before He created the world, “God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4–5, NLT). God has called us into a relationship with Jesus Christ for the purpose of being “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God’s purpose in calling us is twofold: for our good and His glory (2 Thessalonians 2:13–14; 1 Peter 2:9).

The noun purpose in Romans 8:28 means “intention; an anticipated outcome that is intended or that guides planned actions.” In the Christian life, God’s purpose is the guiding force, the most critical reality. Sometimes God’s purpose includes suffering and frustration (Romans 8:17). Nevertheless, Paul assures that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

We can rest assured that God is sovereign. He is acting in every circumstance of life. His will and purpose control everything in His eternal plan (Ephesians 1:11; 3:11). Those who love God and are called according to His purpose can know that not one thing in this life escapes Him. When we belong to Jesus, nothing can happen to us outside God’s plan for our good.

God is continuously working in the hearts and lives of people who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Lord is causing everything to fit together for our good and His glory. Standing on this solid truth reframes our difficulties. We can face them with confidence, trusting that every challenge is part of God’s ultimate plan to transform our old nature into what He has purposed for us to be: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18; see also Ephesians 4:22–24; Colossians 3:9–10).

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What does it mean to be called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)?
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This page last updated: August 9, 2022