“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.” -Rom 8:28-30
“Therefore, the apostle teaches that God has destined all his children to the end that they be conformed to Christ (Rom. 8:29)…So Paul himself elsewhere states: when we come to know the sharing of his sufferings, we at the same time grasp the power of his resurrection; and when we become like him in his death, we are thus made ready to share his glorious resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11). How much can it do to soften all the bitterness of the cross, that the more we are afflicted with adversities, the more surely our fellowship with Christ is confirmed! By communion with him the very sufferings themselves not only become blessed to us but also help much in promoting our salvation.”
The doctrine of predestination does not promote a stagnant, unholy, and lethargic Christianity. Instead it promotes conformation to the image of Christ. In other words, it guarantees that all Christians will grow in holiness or Christlikeness. See Romans 8:28-30. Yet this growth happens only through suffering. To be united to Christ by faith means, among other things, that the Spirit replicates the sufferings of Christ in our lives in a unique way. This suffering does not contribute anything meritoriously to our salvation. It doesn’t make you or keep you a Christian, but it shows that you already are one. Death makes way for life. Crucifixion precedes resurrection. Adversities can sometimes cause us to doubt whether or not we are in a state of salvation. But they actually serve to confirm that you are a Christian!
Are you having difficulties in your marriage? All of it is conforming you to the image of Christ. Are you struggling to change a sinful habit? The struggle is part of the conformation process. Don’t lose heart! Are you lonely? The pain of loneliness is driving you deeper into Christ’s sufferings. Your pain and sorrow is real and hurts. And God is using that pain and sorrow for His glory and your ultimate good. It is not all meaningless. There is hope in Christ and in the doctrine of predestination. Suffer well. (Justin)