28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:28-31
So far in Romans 8 we have seen the major blessings of God poured out on those who put their trust in Him. We have peace with God, union with the Son, freedom from the law and life in the Spirit. These are the gifts that God offers us, not from our own efforts, but from the deepest love of His heart.
It is little wonder that as we come to the end of Romans 8 Paul’s joy and understanding of assurance spills out in these amazing verses of comfort and hope to his readers.
In verse 28 God lists five things that we as Christians can know and be assured of. First of all we can know that God is at work in our lives. For some of us who are use to the translation, “all things work together for good to them that love God,” the NIV translation may seem a bit confusing. This, however, is much closer to the true meaning of the verse.
Let’s be honest, we know all things don’t necessarily work for good in our lives just because we believe in Jesus. Bad things happen to Christians and when it does we often think God has abandoned us or given up on us. The text is not about us, however, it is about God always working for the good of those who love Him. This is an important difference and makes the reality of God’s love assured. Even when bad things happen we can know it is not because we’ve done something wrong or fallen out of favor with God. Instead God is working with us, in us and through us by His Spirit even when problems and pain come our way. We are never abandoned, only comforted by the Spirit who dwells within our hearts.
Secondly, God is at work for the good of His people. This is important for us to understand. It is difficult to comprehend what good is happening when we face cancer or a broken marriage, but we can be assured that God is at work to bring good from these types of situations. The ultimate good that He leads us towards is our salvation. Everything that God does has as the end game, our good as the ultimate goal. And the ultimate goal or goodness that God can bestow upon us is His love expressed through redemption.
Thirdly, God’s goodness towards us works in all things. Notice again the NIV translation of verse 28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good,” is a promise that can’t be broken because He has declared it and shown it at the cross. All things include the sufferings (v. 17) and groaning (v. 23) that accompany so much of our lives. John Stott points out, “Thus all that is negative in this life is seen to have a positive purpose in the execution of God’s eternal plan. Nothing is beyond the overruling, overriding scope of His providence.” Romans, God’s Good News for the World p. 247
Fourthly, God works in all things for the good of those who love Him. Paul is not expressing an overly optimistic view of the world where everyone lives happily ever after because of God’s love. These promises of verse 28 are for those who love Him. The ultimate gift God gives us is salvation, but that gift is only poured out on those who love Him, not the world as a whole. Remember, the first and greatest commandment in Scripture is to love God with all our being. (Mark 12:30; Deuteronomy 6:5)
Fifthly, those who love God are those who have been called according to His purpose. Life is not a random confused mess as it often seems, but has purpose. And that purpose is found in God’s love towards us, and our response to that love by loving God in return. This is God’s call to humanity. His outstretched arms at Calvary was a plea to every man, woman, boy and girl who ever lived to put their trust in His love, His saving power and amazing grace.
Those who love God know they have been called according to His purpose. There is peace and trust in the promise of redemption, an inflowing of the Spirit in the life and freedom from the crushing condemnation of the law. At times life may overtake us with disappointments and discouragements and we may feel a million miles away from God. But, feelings are not the same as trust. There have been many times in my life when I’ve wondered where God is, but I’ve also known that my feelings are not the sum of the matter. In spite of my discouragements God was still at work for good in my life and His plan of redemption in my life was still His ultimate goal.
In Genesis 50:20 Joseph tells his brothers in regards to their selling him into slavery, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.” And Jeremiah wrote to God’s people who had gone into exile in Babylon reminding them of God’s ultimate good. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
These are also God’s plans for us.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…