QOTW – All things work together for good?

This is one of the most misused and abused “false doctrines” based on Romans 8:28, in modern evangelical circles. (See Other Resources Below) 

May 1, 2020, 9:23 AM
Question: “What does it mean that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)?”

Answer: When a Christian utters the phrase all things work together for good, he or she is referring to a portion of one of the most quoted, claimed verses in the New Testament, Romans 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.” Or, as the KJV translates it, “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.”

God works all things together for good—both His good and our good. As God is glorified, His people benefit.

In Romans 8, Paul contrasts a life lived in selfish pursuits (the flesh) and one lived in league with, or in accordance with, God (the Spirit). He impresses upon readers that our sovereign God is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful.

Those who love God can trust His goodness, His power, and His will to work out all things for our good. We journey together with Him.

The promise that God works all things together for good does not mean that all things, taken by themselves, are good. Some things and events are decidedly bad. But God is able to work them together for good. He sees the big picture; He has a master plan.

Neither does the promise that God works all things together for good mean we will acquire all that we want or desire. Romans 8:28 is about God’s goodness and our confidence that His plan will work out as He sees fit. Since His plan is always good, Christians can take confidence that, no matter our circumstances or environments, God is active and will conclude things according to His good and wise design. With this knowledge we can learn to be content (see Philippians 4:11).

The fact that God works all things together for good means God’s plan will not be thwarted. In fact, we are part of His plan, having been “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we trust God and His way, we can be sure that He is active and powerful on our behalf (see Ephesians 3:20).

God knows the future, and His desires will be accomplished. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10). Even when things seem chaotic and out of control, God is still in charge. We sometimes worry about what’s happening to us because we do not know what is best for us. But God does.

The principle of God working all things together for good is well illustrated in the Old Testament account of Joseph’s life. Early in Joseph’s life, Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph rises to a position of responsibility. Then, he is unjustly imprisoned and forgotten about by his friends. God gifts him the ability to interpret dreams, and through that ability Joseph is once again raised to a place of honor and power. When drought forces Joseph’s brothers to seek food elsewhere, they travel to Egypt and encounter Joseph, who eventually saves them from starvation and grants them a livelihood in his new land.

Throughout his life, Joseph trusted God no matter his good or bad circumstances. Joseph experienced plenty of bad things: kidnapping, slavery, false accusations, wrongful imprisonment, rejection, and famine. But in the end God brought things to a wonderful, life-affirming conclusion. God blessed Joseph’s entire family through those painful circumstances and through Joseph’s faith. (You can read about Joseph’s life beginning in Genesis 37.)

Paul’s life is another testament to how God works all things together for good. Paul suffered shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, murder attempts, temporary blindness, and more—all within God’s plan to spread the gospel (see Acts 9:16 and 2 Corinthians 11:24–27). Through it all, God was steadfastly working to bring about good and glorious results.

After promising that God works all things together for our good, Romans 8 concludes with the wonderful fact that God trumps everything that comes against Him and those who belong to Him. The Christian is assured that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39). God’s love is everlasting, and His wisdom is infinite. It doesn’t matter who or what attempts to thwart God’s plan; no one and nothing can. God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Our decision to align our will with God’s and to always trust Him will be rewarded.

Recommended Resource: The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson


OTHER RESOURCES:

Frequently Abused Verses: For What “Good” Is God Working All Things Together?

Why All Things Work for Good – Romans 8:28 BY THOMAS WATSON

Effectual Calling – Romans 8:28 BY THOMAS WATSON

All things work together for good – Romans 8:28 Audio/MP3 by Geoff Thomas

 

 

Today in Church History

I have never heard of nor could I find the reference for the remembrance date commemorating New Testament women. That being said this story and that of roles of women in the New Testament is worth remembering.

Commemoration of New Testament Women

The woman walking up the Roman Road hugged a secret. Hidden beneath her robe was the future of Christian theology. For she bore with her a letter to the church in Rome that would spell out, like no other document ever written, the implications and significance of the gospel.

Paul had turned to her out of need. While in Corinth he had written a letter to the distant Roman church. He could not slip the letter into an envelope, lick a couple stamps and drop it into a mailbox; there was no postal service. Instead, he must find someone to carry the letter. As F. W. Boreham points out, Paul could write the letter but at that time could not carry it. Phoebe could not have written the letter, but she could carry it. As Christians we need one another.

What do we know about Phoebe? Not much. Paul mentions her in just one place (Romans 16:1, 2): “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea [the port of Corinth], that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.”

This day, January 27th, is remembered in honor of Phoebe and two other early Christian women, Dorcas and Lydia. All three shared one pre-eminent quality: they helped others.

Dorcas was known for her assistance to the poor. So highly regarded was she, that when she died, the saints of Joppa appealed to Peter. He prayed over her and God raised her from the dead.

Lydia was a seller of purple cloth. After Paul shared the gospel with her, Lydia and her entire household were baptized–his first convert in Europe. She insisted Luke and Paul stay at her house. Her prosperous home became the original church at Philippi.

As these three individuals of the New Testament show, middle class women were already beginning to play an important role in the Christian world.


The Biblical Portrait of Women: Setting the Record Straight

The New Testament Church—The Role of Women

 

Saturday’s Military Devotional

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

CONTEXT:

Paul is confined in a Roman prison while writing this letter to the church at Philippi. He begins chapter 4 with greetings to his fellow co-laborers in the work of the ministry. then he sets forth the prelude to our main text: 

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. v. 4-7 (AMP) 

Note how Paul even in very difficult circumstances begins with Rejoice in the Lord always! Next he says Do not be anxious or worried about anything this from a guy facing probable execution. Finally he invokes the peace of God. 

How can someone in his circumstances write of such things? it is simple and he lays it all out in our main text think on the things of GOD.


Today’s Questions

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What verse(s) strikes you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful verses?

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I apply it to me today?


John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Biblical Contentment

Logos.com

This may seem like a strange verse to begin a look at biblical contentment but I think it captures the essence of what it is not. So first let us look at what it should be.

Contentment is usually considered being “in a state of happiness and satisfaction.¹”  Interestingly in a “2017 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, shared exclusively with TIME; only 33% of Americans surveyed said they were happy.²

What makes this number so dismal is the fact that as we have noted in the past depending on who’s poll numbers you use (and that depends on what year 2015 or 2017) between 70% and 75% of Americas self identify as Christians³. The conclusion is simple and unavoidable, many of the Harris Poll participants who responded as unhappy, had to also self identify as Christians.

Haggai 1:6 there are many reasons for this unhappiness in America and it begins with the same problem Israel had as a nation. Yes, we have turned our backs on the Lord and He (in my humble opinion) has lifted His hand of divine providence from this nation. We are more and more going to a two tier or class system of folks, the have and have not’s. We have rich and plentiful fields to plant yet harvest little, we had factories and jobs galore greed sent them overseas. We eat and drink gluttonous like and are never satisfied. Then there are the Have not’s (I am not talking beggars here) who are the working poor of this nation, scraping by paycheck to paycheck hoping to to somehow not get evicted and to have food to feed the kids. 

What is the problem? “In God We Trust” means nothing! Even the so called Christian majority in the country, fail to call upon, depend upon and be content upon the sovereign God of the Universe. 

So what is Biblical Contentment. First we must accept that God is truly in control of all things. Without that you WILL NOT and CAN NOT have contentment in this life. Biblical Contentment is being satisfied with what God has given us materially, spiritually and physically. In other words what we have, do and the path we are on. 

Jesus in His sermon on the mount tells us to be content, Matthew 6:25 (ESV) “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” He continues this thought in verses 32-33 when He describes that true contentment is not found in earthly or human things but in those of heaven. 

One of the greatest testimonies in the Bible of contentment is the Apostle Paul’s in the Book of Philippians 4:10-13:

 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Paul at this time is locked in a Roman prison yet He is content knowing God is sovereign, totally in control of the situation and nothing outside His will is going to happen to him. Paul understood what the write of Hebrews put in ink (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

I could go on but suffice it to say if you self identify as a “Christian” there is NO EXCUSE for you not to also self-identify as Biblically Content.

 

¹ = Contentment 

²= Harris Poll 

³ = Gallup Poll