Serving Christians Seeking to Live a Holy Life

Romans 8:28,29

A Pillow Upon Which the Troubled Believer May Rest His/Her Head (Andrew Bonner)
God works Personally, Perpetually, Universally, Sovereignly, and Benevolently
Leon L. Combs, September 16, 2001
(Based upon a sermon by Rev. Eric J. Alexander at the funeral of James Boice)

KJV
Rom 8:28 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.
Rom 8:29 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.

NIV
Rom 8:28 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.
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

NAS
Rom 8:28 And we know that [1] God causes <*1> all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are <*2> called according to His purpose.
Rom 8:29 For those whom He <*3> foreknew, He also <*4> predestined to become <*5> conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the <*6> firstborn among many brethren;
1.One early ms reads all things work together for good
*1.Rom 8:32
*2.Rom 8:30; 9:24; 11:29; 1 Cor 1:9; Gal 1:6, 15; 5:8; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Thess 2:14; Heb 9:15; 1 Pet 2:9; 3:9
*3.Rom 11:2; 1 Cor 8:3; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:2, 20
*4.Rom 9:23; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11
*5.1 Cor 15:49; Phil 3:21
*6.Col 1:18; Heb 1:6

Martin Lloyd Jones calls these among the most remarkable words in the whole of the New Testament.

Note Paul is saying that "we know" and not that we hope or sometimes feel, but "we know". This knowledge is steadfast and unshakeable. Paul is not appearing as someone who knows everything that God does, nor that he understands all things that God is doing in the world. Indeed Paul himself said in 2 Cor 4: 8 "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing". So certainly Paul was often perplexed, but he was never despairing. So this verse tells all Christians that we can be assured with a certainty that is promised by God Himself "God causes ." And when we know that it is God Himself who is the cause for all the events in the life of one of His children then we should be filled with the peace and joy that surpasses all understanding.

I. God Works Personally

"And we know that God causes" tells me that it is not some impersonal force that is acting in the world, but it is God Himself that does the causing. What a comfort! This is not what one hears in the world as people in times of great trials and difficulties can be heard to say "Well, don't worry, everything will work out alright." Also we hear "Something will turn up and everything will work out ok". In other words they are saying that there is some impersonal force in the world that will cause everything to work out all right. This secular optimism, which is really usually a "front", has absolutely no foundation in fact. We might also hear that "we have been very lucky and the luck will not run out". But Paul is saying none of this. He is saying that the living God is so ordering my life that even through suffering and trials he will produce what is for the lasting good of my soul. He is at work personally. Our God is a personal God exercising personal care over the personal lives of every one of His children.

II. God Works Perpetually

We can tell this from the tense used for the word "causes" or "works". It is a present tense and therefore a continuous tense. God doesn't work or cause spasmodically or that He only does it in certain circumstances, but that He is continually working. It doesn't affect His work that we don't feel that He is working. He is always working whether we feel like He is or not. We are always being blessed whether we feel like it or not. He is continually, perpetually working toward the end of our great good.

Of course in the world when the weather is beautiful, there are no disasters, no apparent problems in our lives, the stock market is rising, etc. then people think that everything is wonderful and you may hear people say "Isn't God great?" In one of Robert Browning's poems he begins talking about the spring and how beautiful it is and the birds are singing and he writes that "God is in His Heavens and all is right with the world". But what about the times when things are not so beautiful? What about the times when there is war in the world, when the world seems to have gone mad? What about the times when our loved ones die? Such poems have no comfort for such times.

But Paul says that God causes all things to be continuously working for my good.

III. God Works Universally

Note that Paul says "And we know that God causes all things" with the emphasis now on "all". There is nothing that is excluded from this statement made by the apostle. All things. The God that we know through Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings who sits on His throne of Glory and causes every thing in the universe, which He made, to conspire together for the eternal good of His children. We really can't grasp the immensity of this concept. Now this "all" includes things that seem unfavorable and favorable to us in our context, both good and bad, both pleasant and painful. It covers things that we have been able to do for God with which we have some pleasure, but it also covers our mistakes and failures. It even covers the sins of others who wound and hurt us. Remember Joseph and what events conspire toward the end of Genesis as a good example of this. Gen 50:20 says "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

Spurgeon says that God is able to take the angriest, cruelest actions of sinners and turn them into an implement of His grace in the lives of His children.

IV. God Works Sovereignly

The sovereignty of God is a vital implication of what Paul is saying here. Only a sovereign God could take every circumstance and every detail of our life, and every action of others toward us, and every pain and every pleasure and weave it all together for the ultimate good for His children. The very last things in the world that I might think God could use, He can use for good in my life. Even the circumstances that we are going through right now, God will use for the ultimate good for the soul of His children. Charles H. Spurgeon says, "Omnipotence has servants everywhere." What a concept to try to grasp! What a wonder to be a child of such a God!

V. God Works Benevolently

All God does, all that He permits, all He prevents, all He provides, and all He withholds is for the good of His children. Note also that the definition of what is good is His definition, not ours. The devil has always tried to persuade us that God is not good, even starting in the Garden of Eden in his conversation with Eve. But God is good and as Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:18"And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."" This is the God who is working for our good in all things - the only good One.

Also note that Jesus said as recorded in Mathew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

Also in Mathew 7:10 "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?"

Our God and Father has no plans but good for His children. We need to really know this so that we can really trust God, especially when we cannot begin to understand what He is doing.

We need to put our total trust in God for every aspect of our life, every day of our future, every event in the world. Then we will have real security.

But now we need to look at a very important question: "About whom is Paul making this statement?" Is it everyone without distinction? Is it all men and women everywhere? Clearly not! Paul describes these people upon whom the promise is made as clearly as anyone could desire:

"to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

So the people to whom this fantastic promise is made is to the people who love the true God, to those whom He has called according to His purpose. So we need to know what it means to love God. It does not mean that I am well disposed toward God, but that we love Him with a love of commitment. Jesus Christ does not want to be my friend; He wants to be my Lord and Savior. Jesus said as recorded in John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." I am afraid that many people are just trying to keep Jesus as a good friend and don't want anything very serious. We must really love Jesus for these promises to apply to us.

Also the call of God is something that all of His children understand. It was the call of God that stopped us in our tracks and pulled us toward Him for a life of commitment to Him. Please be sure that you have been called like this and that your life is dedicated to the service of God almighty.

Now what about His purpose? Do we have to wonder about what in the world this purpose is? Well, no we don't and that is why I have included Rom 8:29 in this study.

Rom 8:29 "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;"

His purpose is that we should be conformed to the image of Jesus. And that is the work that God is doing in our lives. Remember Rom 12:2.

We don't really understand what is happening in our country now, but we also really didn't understand what was happening a year ago when the stock market was going strong and our country seemed secure from such an awful event. But we don't really need to understand (remember the story of Job). All we need to do is to trust God, and these verses should provide us with the pillow and the everlasting trust that we need to have peace and joy in our lives regardless of how the circumstances seem to us.

God Causes!!!!!!!!


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Web Author: Dr. Leon L. Combs
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