Romans 8:29-30 is typically referred to as the “golden chain” of salvation. It is easy to see why:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
This chain is an affirmation from Paul that what God began in believers, he will bring to completion at the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6). There is great certainty and assurance in Romans 8:29-30. God is presented as the initiator of salvation as well as the perfecter and finisher of that salvation. God foreknew persons and predestined those whom he would “call”, “justify”, and “glorify”.
In these verses, Paul “traces God’s good and saving purpose through five stages from its beginning in his mind [election] to its consummation in the coming glory [final perseverance].” Paul states in verse 29 that God predestined those who would believe in Jesus based on his foreknowledge of those individuals (“those whom he foreknew”). The emphasis in verse 29 is God’s initial act of grace in salvation.
This clear summation of the whole experience and work of salvation in Romans teaches that from the first step to the last, salvation is all due to God’s good pleasure and grace. In this passage, salvation is traced from God’s decision to save a remnant of sinners through his divine and effectual call, on to his justification of such sinners, and then to the final glorification of these sinners. Therefore, one must attest his or her final perseverance and final glorification to the God who predestined, called, and justified him or her. Since God is shown to have foreknown individuals in verse 29, it seems quite clear (at least to me) that the Calvinistic interpretation of individual unconditional election is being taught by Paul.
God has indeed chosen individuals, but this is not due to any merit found in them (Rom. 9:11, 15-16; 1 Cor. 1:28-30), so that no man can boast (1 Cor. 1:29), except in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31).
Romans 8:29-30 presents an unbreakable chain of salvation that is initiated and completed by God. God receives ultimate glory for both his electing grace and his preserving grace. No one can thwart the purposes of God, particularly his purpose of salvation. And once God has chosen us and called us, we will willfully believe in Christ and be justified before God. From here, no one can separate us from the love of Christ and we will be glorified (Rom. 8:37-39). Our salvation carries a level of certainty and surety because it is entirely a work of God. God will complete what he began (Phil. 1:6). In the same way that God initiates our salvation by choosing us (predestination), and we choose him by a desire for him installed in us by him (“called” and “justified”), we remain in Christ by God’s work of preservation in us and our work of perseverance by continued faith in Christ (“glorification”).
Bottom line, God will be faithful to complete what he has begun. “God gets all the glory, for salvation is wholly his work.”
Romans 8:29-30 gives us a great certainty and confidence in our salvation, since it is clear that God is in control and is the primary actor at each step. Our hope in final perseverance is rooted in our hope in God’s election; for if he has predestined us, he will glorify us. We will be able to “face the most nightmarish future on earth with triumph in our hearts.” Paul then reasons after giving such firm certainty in v. 29-30 that God will give us all things (v. 32) and then he exclaims, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn” (v. 33-34)? Answer: No one (Rom. 8:1)! “The true believer could never ultimately fail to overcome.”
J.I. Packer states it well:
And as the Christian surveys this unfathomable, free, almighty, endless love of the Father and the Son that laid hold on him before time began and has ransomed him and quickened him and is pledged to bring him safe through life’s battles and storms to the unutterable joys which God has in store for His children, so he finds himself longing more than anything to answer love with love…
From this glorious passage, we can confirm the Calvinistic view of unconditional election as well as the Calvinistic view of final perseverance. This is because salvation belongs to the Lord—all of salvation (Psalm 3:8; Jonah 2:9). So, not only is it logical that final perseverance stems from unconditional election, but it is also biblical according to Romans 8:29-30 that final perseverance must follow unconditional election. There is double joy to be found in the sovereign grace of the God who works from eternity to eternity in his immeasurable love to save sinners through Christ. In the words of John Piper,
“The plain point of this passage is that God is working infallibly to save his people, from foreknowing in eternity past to glorifying in eternity future. None is lost at any stage of redemption along the way…God really accomplishes the complete redemption of his people from start to finish.”
 Stott, John R.W. The Message of Romans. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994, p. 248
 Ibid., p. 249
 Schreiner, Thomas R. and Caneday, Ardel B. The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001, p. 321
 Packer, J.I. 18 Words: The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2008, p. 162
 MacArthur, John. The Gospel According to Jesus. Revised and Expanded Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988, 1994, p. 229
 Ibid., p.162
 Piper, John. The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 1991, p. 140, 143
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.