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

 

 

How Could a Sovereign, Good God Allow Suffering?

Another perspective on an age old question. 

The Master's Seminary Blog

How Could a Sovereign, Good God Allow Suffering?

by Jerod Gilcher | May 19, 2020

The sovereignty of God is a challenging truth to grasp. It is difficult to accept the reality that God has ordained and arranged every moment of our lives, including those filled with pain and suffering. When we think of the sovereignty of God, our tendency is to remove all responsibility and obligation from man, but the Bible doesn’t allow for such thinking (Rom. 9:19–20). How does this work? The Bible is clear: God does not passively allow things to happen, but instead actively ordains them for His own sovereign purposes.[1]

This is a conversation that has often brought into question the goodness of God. It raises uncomfortable questions. Yet it is helpful to ask these questions not just of each other, but of our faithful brothers and sisters throughout church history. One Puritan, in particular, can help us here. Puritan Thomas Watson looks to Romans 8:28 to help. He sees this verse as a window into the workings of God—that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

Sunday’s Sermon Series

Image result for Romans 8:28

Y sabemos que a los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas les ayudan a bien, esto es, a los que conforme a su propósito son llamados. (RVR 1960)

SERMONS 

Rev. Thomas Manton

All Things Work For Good (1 of 2) by Thomas Manton (Free MP3)

All Things Work For Good (2 of 2) by Thomas Manton (Free MP3)


Also See

Sermons Upon the Eighth Chapter of Romans by Thomas Manton 

You will find the written versions of all his sermons on the Book of Romans including the one featured here and one other SERMON XXXIX. “To them that love God,” on verse 28. 

For What “Good” Is God Working All Things Together?

by Jeremiah Johnson / Wednesday, July 10, 2019

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on September 28, 2015. -ed. (For other articles in this series just type Frequently Abused Verses into the search bar on the right).

You’ve probably heard the proverb “Familiarity breeds contempt.” That’s often true with relationships and institutions, as your close proximity reveals cracks and blemishes you wouldn’t notice in passing. However, when it comes to Scripture, familiarity usually breeds carelessness.

Many of the “Frequently Abused Verses” we’re considering have been maliciously ripped from their context, misappropriated, and misapplied. Their original meaning has been twisted and contorted to serve a foreign purpose and make a fraudulent point.

However, in some cases, the abuse is much more passive. That’s true of the verse before us today—Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

At first glance, it might be hard to imagine how such a simple, straightforward verse could be abused. How could anyone misconstrue and misrepresent this wonderful promise from God?

But in this case, the abuse of this verse is tied to its familiarity and simplicity. Most believers have heard this verse so many times that they rarely stop to consider its larger context, or give any thought to the point the apostle Paul had in mind when he first wrote it. Call it “needlepoint theology”—the great passages of Scripture that most often wind up on wall hangings and throw pillows are the ones we’re least likely to prayerfully consider and thoroughly study.

Romans 8:28 is a prime example of how careless familiarity can lead to corruption. The verse is applied to virtually every hardship, disappointment, and trial that believers encounter. It’s an all-purpose spiritual salve for every situation.

A Better Life

Here’s one example—a devotional reading from Joel Osteen. Romans 8:28 appears to be one of the prosperity preacher’s favorite verses—this is just one of the many entries he’s written on it, titled “When Life Isn’t Fair.”

Everyone goes through things that don’t seem to make sense. It’s easy to get discouraged and wonder, “Why did this happen to me?” “Why did this person treat me wrong?” “Why did I get laid off?” But we have to understand, even though life is not always fair, God is fair. And, He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.

I believe the key word is this verse is “together.” In other words, you can’t just isolate one part of your life and say, “Well, this is not good.” “It’s not good that I got laid off.” “It’s not good that my relationship didn’t work out.” Yes, that’s true, but that’s just one part of your life. God can see the big picture. That disappointment is not the end. Remember, when one door closes, God has another door for you to walk through—a better door. Those difficulties and challenges are merely stepping stones toward your brighter future. Be encouraged today because God has a plan for you to rise higher. He has a plan for you to come out stronger. He has a plan to work all things together for your good so that you can move forward in the victory He has prepared for you! [1]Joel Osteen, https://www.joelosteen.com/Pages/MessageViewer.aspx?date=2013-02-22

With some variation, that represents many believers’ general understanding of what Paul meant in Romans 8:28—“Don’t let life get you down. God’s going to make everything better!”

Of course that oversimplification goes beyond the original intent of Paul’s words. There’s no biblical basis for Osteen’s promise that God always has a better door for us to walk through. In fact, His Word promises that life won’t always be happy, rich, and full—sometimes we’re meant to suffer (1 Peter 4:12).

It’s in the midst of that suffering that Romans 8:28 is most often deployed. We want to trust that God is working, even through our trials, to bring about His will. And there’s plenty of biblical evidence to back up that hope. The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is one of the clearest examples.

Joseph was severely beaten and sold into slavery by his brothers. He endured the illicit advances of his boss’ wife, and was thrown into prison after she made false accusations against him. He lingered in prison for years before he was released and brought in to council Pharaoh himself. He was given a position of leadership, in which the Lord used him to spare Egypt and countless surrounding communities—including his own family—from famine. At the end of his story, as he reconciles with the brothers who kick-started all his suffering, he acknowledges God’s sovereign hand working through it all: “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” (Genesis 50:20).

Stories like Joseph’s give us confidence that God is always working behind the scenes to bring about His will. But He might not have such monumental purposes for our suffering. Sometimes it’s simply for our own spiritual growth that the Lord allows us to suffer through trials (James 1:2). The Spirit’s refining, sanctifying work is often painful, but the spiritual fruit it bears is well worth the struggle.

In his commentary on Romans, John MacArthur explains that God is working out

our good during this present life as well as ultimately in the life to come. No matter what happens in our lives as His children, the providence of God uses it for our temporal as well as our eternal benefit, sometimes by saving us from tragedies and sometimes by sending us through them in order to draw us closer to Him. [2] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991) 473-474.

But is our spiritual growth and temporal blessing the ultimate “good” Paul describes in his words to the Romans? A careful look at the context of verse 28 points us to an even greater promise from the Lord.

A Certain Eternity

In the immediate context of Romans 8, Paul is not dwelling on our current suffering, but looking forward to eternity. In verse 18, he mentions the “sufferings of this present time,” but only to say that they cannot compare to “the glory that is to be revealed to us.” From there he explains how creation groans to be free from the curse of sin (Romans 8:19-22), and how believers likewise long to see the fulfillment of their faith (vv. 23-25). Then he describes how the Spirit intercedes on our behalf according to God’s eternal purposes (vv. 26-27).

The theme continues in the verses immediately following:

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; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

In the context of the believer’s eternal glorification, we need to understand the “purpose” for which God is working all things together as not merely our temporal good, but our eternal good. In that sense, Romans 8:28 isn’t merely a promise that God is watching out for us in this life; it’s a guarantee that He is working out all aspects of our lives toward His ultimate goal of our future glorification. It’s a promise that our eternity with Him is secure.

In a sermon on this passage calledGroanings Too Deep for Words,John MacArthur explains that powerful promise this way:

The point is this: Because of the plan of God and the provision of Christ and the protection of the Holy Spirit through His intercessory ministry, God is causing all things to work together for our final, eternal, ultimate good. Not everything in this life works out for good—far from it. Oh, you might draw a good lesson from it. You might draw a good outcome from it. You might be drawn to the Lord. It might increase your prayer life. It might strengthen you. It might give you patience. It might perfect you, mature you. It might make you able to counsel other people and strengthen them because . . . you’ve been comforted by God in the same struggles.

All of those are wonderful realities, but that’s not the good that’s being spoken of here. The good that dominates this passage is that ultimate, final good that is the glorification of true believers. We are secured to that final good, that which is the best.

In His providence, God is sovereignly orchestrating all events according to His will, for His glory and our good. But we’re not guaranteed that all our struggles will be turned into blessing. Sometimes He will rescue us from tragedies; other times it’s our suffering that brings about His desired result. Our perspective on His sovereign goodness cannot be bound to our own circumstances—if Joseph had remained in the Egyptian jail for the rest of His life, would God be any less good, or His will less than perfect?

What we are guaranteed in Romans 8:28 is that regardless of what we have to endure in this life, our eternity with Him is unassailable. Nothing can stand in the way of His plans for our future glorification.

And in the midst of life’s struggles, what better promise could we cling to?

SOURCE

Some Practical Implications of Calvinism

| May 11, 2017 Founder’s Ministries

Calvinism’s doctrine of God’s sovereign rule over all things is far from an abstract teaching with little if any effect on the lives of ordinary believers. Rather, Calvinism has many practical implications. While they may not automatically follow from simply holding to Calvinistic doctrine, they do follow naturally when Calvinism is truly believed and embraced from the heart. This list is not intended to suggest that non-Calvinists deny any of these truths, only that Calvinism certainly implies them.

Continued at Source: Some Practical Implications of Calvinism