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. (ESV)
There are those who will read this verse and get fixated on the word, "predestination." In fact, the study of this biblical truth has been the cause of many a theological debate. I have heard some say, "I do not believe in predestination." To which I respond, "That is a heretical statement." It is one thing to disagree about what predestination means. But to disbelieve it entirely is to reject Scripture.
In fairness, what people mean when they say they do not believe in predestination is that they do not agree with a particular viewpoint concerning predestination. At the heart of the debate is not whether or not we are predestined, but rather what is the basis of our predestination. Is it based upon God foreknowing our future choice of him? Or is it based on God's sovereign will.
In today's verse Paul mentions nothing of God looking through the portal of time and knowing what our decision would be regarding salvation, and us, of our own free will, choosing to follow God. It simply is not stated that way at all. Additionally, we have just looked at preceding chapters in Romans which imply man's most natural disposition to choosing evil, not good.
The great late R.C. Sproul said: "Does God glorify everyone? Does God justify everyone? No. Clearly then, in terms of what this passage is dealing with, God does not call everyone, does not predestine everyone, and does not foreknow everyone. In Romans 8:29-30, "foreknowledge" must have the sense of intimacy and personal calling, and can refer only to God's elect."
The beautiful truth that we find here is that God knew us first! He loved us before we knew the wonder of his love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Predestination is not an easy doctrine, but it's truth is a rock to those whom he has called.