Those Whom He Foreknew - The "Golden Chain" Explained
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Calvinists and some non-Calvinists refer to Romans 8:28-30 as proof that once a person is saved, he can never be lost again, either through the teaching of absolute predestination (Calvinism) or the impossibility of apostasy even if the believer becomes an unbeliever. This is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Chain” of salvation, since, some argue, those who are presently justified are already glorified, or more accurately, their glorification is "so sure" that is is as good as done. However, not all Christians have viewed these verses in this manner, and for good reason. Follow this link to read a commentary by Dr. Leighton Flowers in which he shows that many Christians have believed that Paul was referring to saints of the past, that were called, justified, sanctified, and glorified as an encouragement to his readers that just as God did not forsake the saints of the past, he will not forsake them either. He begins with the following:
"Many have reduced the interpretive options of the term ‘foreknew’ in Roman 8:29 to either the classical Arminian concept of “foreseen” or the Calvinistic concept of “foreordained.”
Foreseen = God saw through the corridors of time who would believe and chose those individuals based on their “foreseen faith.” (Classical Arminianism)
Foreordain = God set his love on certain unconditionally pre-selected individuals before the world began (“foreloved”) and effectually works to change their hearts so that they want to come to Him for salvation. (Calvinism)
But there is a third and much simpler option that is often overlooked in some modern theological circles:
Formerly Known (known before) = As in Romans 11:2, Paul is simply referring to saints of old in former times who loved God and were known by Him. Paul said, “The man who loves God is known by God” (1 Cor. 8:3). And men like Elijah and those who refused to bow a knee to false gods did love God and thus were known by him in the past. They were foreknown (previously known) by God, as in they had an intimate personal relationship with God in the past. There is no reason to add all the esoteric theological baggage of God looking through corridors of time or making arbitrary “sovereign” choices about who He will and will not love before the world began."