The Great Fact: All Things Work Together for Good to Those Who Love God!
Lord God, our dear heavenly Father, we come before You this day to thank You for Your many gifts of love. You have sent Your Son to save us and have promised to protect us in this life and preserve us unto life everlasting. May we ever return Your love by loving You and keeping Your commandments. To that end strengthen us today through the power of Your Word. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
When God asked the young King Solomon what it was that he most desired, Solomon wisely asked for "an understanding heart," so that he might fulfill his calling with faithfulness. God granted Solomon's wish and gave him much more. May we too pray for wisdom from God, so that we too might faithfully fulfill our respective callings.
Jesus in these parables reminds us of the valuable nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ - that treasure in the field and that pearl of great price. Let us never be hypocrites, pretending to believe, but really despising God and His gospel. Rather, let us listen, learn, and love as faithful children of God!
Text: Romans 8:28-30
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
In Christ Jesus, by whom we have been called, through whom we have been justified, and with whom we have been glorified, dear fellow redeemed:
Is it really true? Is it really a fact that “all things work together for good to those who love God”? Do bad things like heart attacks and cancer, accidents and natural disasters, bankruptcies and family break-ups all ultimately “work together for good to those who love God”? It would hardly seem to the be the case as you look at outward situations, but even then we often do speak of "silver-linings"—good things that occur even in the midst of the most difficult situations. Yet, according to St. Paul, we can say with confidence that “we know” this is the case in the lives of believing children of God.
Before we proceed further, I would have you understand two things. First of all, we are talking about a fact that applies only to believers, namely, “those who love God.” This truth does not apply to unbelievers, who in view of their impenitence and stubborn opposition to God bring down God’s judgment upon themselves in spite of God sincere desire to save them. Nor does it apply to hypocrites—those individuals who claim to believe, but who do not and whose lives at times reveal a lack of love and a refusal to abide by the will of God. The Scriptures very clearly teach that “without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)” (Hebrews 11:6), and that “those who love God” keep Jesus’ commandments (cf. John 14:15,21). Secondly, when St. Paul says, “we know that all things work together for good,” he is not talking about a knowledge we gain from experience, but rather a full knowledge gained in this case through the revelation of God. It is an understanding we obtain when we consider our lives from the vantagepoint of God’s plans and purpose for us. Understanding these two things, let us consider THE GREAT FACT—"ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!" What comfort this fact can bring us in our lives! What a difference an understanding of this truth can make both with regard to our attitudes and in the way we choose to live our lives! But, how do we know that it is true?
We know this to be true, because God has a purpose for all those who love Him! St. Paul writes, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Notice that St. Paul refers to “those who love God” as also being individuals who are “the called according to His purpose.” Whenever St. Paul refers to those who are “the called” in His epistles, he is referring to those individuals in whose hearts the Holy Spirit has created faith. He is talking about believers, and he says that God has a “purpose” for each of them. That “purpose,” while differing in detail in accordance with all of the varying factors of our individual lives, has these two things in common, as St. Paul goes on to state. We are to be “conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus)” and, in view of the fact that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead made Him “the firstborn among many brethren,” our future and God’s purpose extends well beyond our lives in this world. We will experience a rebirth in the form of our physical resurrection from the dead on the Last Day and will live with God throughout eternity! Consequently, as we apply this truth to our lives—that “all things work together for good to those who love God,” especially as we deal with all of the suffering we experience in this life, we will want to keep these things in mind. When suffering enters our lives, God’s intentions primarily are to help us to become more Christ-like in this life and to draw us closer to Himself so that we might experience everything He has planned for us throughout eternity!
How can we be certain of these facts? Our certainty, as St. Paul explains, lies in our God and His attitude and actions over against us. Our God is omniscience, which means that He knows all things—past, present, and future. God’s knowledge of us is always tied to His love and plans for us in Christ Jesus. The Scriptures clearly reveal that God “foreknew” us in connection with Jesus Christ and His redemptive work before the world even began. In connection with Christ, the Bible tells us that God “predestined” or chose us, again before the world began, to become His children both here in time and hereafter in eternity. What God wants us to realize, knowing these truths, is that everything that happens in our lives from God’s perspective and in view of His purpose, He will use for our benefit and in order to achieve His purpose in and for our lives.
Now, let us ever be aware of the fact that we are living in a wicked world, ruled by Satan himself, who is utterly opposed to the will of God in general and certainly desirous of undermining God’s gracious and good purpose for our lives. Satan desires the destruction of our souls, and so will attempt through the troubles and tribulations he engineers in our lives to blind our eyes to these truths and attempt to separate us from our God. He will do so, as he always does, by attempting to cause doubt, and anger, and resentment, and fear to overwhelm our hearts and so to separate us, if possible, from our Savior God. Satan wants us to doubt the goodness, the faithfulness, and the trustworthiness of God. Consequently, while he ultimately is responsible for sin’s entrance into this world and, therefore, all of its consequences—the diseases and disasters we experience in life, including the ultimate consequence of death, he will attempt to move us to blame God for the troubles we experience.
If on the other hand, we consistently remember THE GREAT FACT, we will during trouble turn to God, rely upon Him, and seek the good, which He will without fail bring into our lives as a result of our experiences. Will our growth in understanding be easy? Certainly not! A dear friend once told me that, while her husband was in her eyes the most wonderful man in the world, there were times of great frustration early in their marriage. She confided that she would on occasion go out into a grove of trees near their home and simply scream, because she was so frustrated by some of his actions. Yet, while our growth in understanding will at times be difficult, we may rest assured such growth and blessing will come, for the Scriptures clearly speak of the virtues that arise within us as we undergo tribulations—perseverance, character, and hope (cf. Romans 5:3-5). In addition, the Scriptures speak of times of chastening in our lives, which will yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” to those trained thereby (Hebrew 12:11). What are those fruits? Among them, the Scriptures say, are “love, joy, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). My dear friends,THE GREAT FACT is true—"ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD! We know this is true, because God has a purpose for all those who love Him!
We know this to be true, secondly, because God will fulfill His purpose for all those who love Him! Again, how can we be so confident of this truth? St. Paul says, “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Our God is faithful. He will accomplish His purpose and His plans for our lives. Of that, we can be certain, for He is not only omniscient, as mentioned previously, but He is also omnipotent, that is all-powerful, and omnipresent, eternal, and ever truthful!
In order to remove any doubts from our minds and reassure us of God’s determined will on our behalf, St. Paul, speaks of the progression of God actions regarding each of us. St. Paul says, God “predestined” us, that is, He chose us in connection with Jesus Christ in eternity. Having accepted the completed work of His beloved Son, Jesus, He has “called” us to faith through the gospel—many of us by baptism, when we were children, others through the study of His Scriptures. In coming to faith, the Spirit of God “justified” us, that is, declared us personally righteous in His sight in view of the work of Jesus Christ. God, of course, declared the world righteous, because Jesus’ life and death merited the forgiveness of all sins. However, to receive the blessed results of that universal declaration, faith must be created in our hearts, and when we in faith embrace Jesus, we receive personally that blessed assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of life everlasting. Having been “justified” in God’s sight, however, St. Paul makes the rather astounding statement that God has also “glorified” us. The thought is expressed in the past tense in order to demonstrate to us that there is no question that God’s ultimate purpose for us will be completed. While we look forward to experiencing the glories of heaven, St. Paul says, that in God’s eyes, it is already an established fact!
Consequently, when we face the struggles of this life, whether sickness, or physical disaster, or economic crisis, or death itself, we need only turn to our omnipotent and omnipresent God. He is in control in spite of anything we may observe to the contrary. He will assist and aid us, so that His will for our lives will be done. Has He not chosen us from eternity? Did He not send His only-begotten and beloved Son to give up His life, so that we might live forever? Has He not brought us to faith, and so to trust in Jesus as our Savior? Does He not declare to us in the Scriptures that by faith we are and will remain His sons and daughters—heirs of life everlasting? Are we not even in the midst of the trials of this world, as St. Paul says in the verses immediately following our text, “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”? Indeed, there is nothing that can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
Therefore, dear friends, THE GREAT FACT is really true! "ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE WHO LOVE GOD!" Embrace that truth, even as you rejoice in it! God has a purpose for you, who love Him, and He will fulfill that purpose, even as you in faith continue to love Him! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting