A very encouraging verse in the New Testament is Romans 8:28, where Paul speaks of God working all things together for good. Is God really working all things for good? What if it means something different than what is commonly preached about today? Let’s take a deeper look at Romans 8:28.
How does this verse play out for the person who lost their job and about to lose their home? How true is this for the one stricken with stage 4 cancer? How ‘good’ is it for a parent to lose a child? Maybe it means something altogether different than good health, financial prosperity, or social status. Let’s look a little deeper, and see the eternal value of Paul’s words.
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. – Romans 8:28
Now that we have read the verse in its entirety, let’s dissect each section to gain a better understanding of what Paul is really trying to say, and how it applies to your life.
And we know
Even though Paul presents the model of the renewed mind a few chapters later in chapter twelve, this particular verse in chapter eight actually begins with it at the forefront.
Just before this Paul tells us the Spirit helps us in our weakness. When your mind is weak the Spirit helps us to believe that victory comes from the Lord. What you tell yourself in the theater of your mind becomes what you believe in your heart, and then is lived out through your speech and actions.
that God causes
Many versions of this verse use the term “works” in place of “causes.” In either sense we can see that God causes it to happen. The result is based on nothing you do. Under the law of the Spirit, you are free from the bondage of works.
In The Crucified Life (pg 64), AW Tozer talks about the Israelites being a prime example of this from the Old Testament. When they were going to the Promised Land they were not to usurp the land, or take it by force. They were told to occupy the land. God would do the work.
Victory in the difficulties of this life does not come about by your own strength. Your willpower in striving to gain victory will fail in trying to accomplish only what the law of the Spirit can. The more you strive under your own willpower the more you are hindering the law of the Spirit of Life from operating.
all things to work together
Read that previous line again. God is working all things together. That means every step, every minute, every interaction, every detail and intricacy of your life is being knit together and composed like the notes of a symphony.
Attending a symphony is mesmerizing: the highs and lows; the crescendos and diminuendos. The notes draw you in and you can feel the emotional movement of the music. If you only heard the flutes or the clarinets the symphony would make no sense at all, but when you put all the instruments together it is amazing.
Your life is like a symphony. When we look at only singular events they make no sense at all. God is causing every note and detail of your life to work together like ever instrument in a symphony. And every detail of your life is being worked together in cooperation with the notes and details of the life of every other believer.
You are being built together as living stones to build the house of God. Not only are we the Body, the Bride, and the House of God, but we are also God’s symphony. The music He is making is reverberating throughout eternity.
What is good? God is good. His eternal purpose is good. Since before the foundations of the Earth were laid, He has been moving creation towards the fulfillment of that purpose. He is making every thing be in agreement with that purpose.
The Spirit has victory by living through the life of every believer. Sometimes that victory leads to material, financial, or positional gain in the worldly realm, but sometimes it may not. A falsity within the prosperity Gospel wants to make you believe this is the ultimate “good” that Paul speaks of, but the good He really speaks of is making you into the image of Christ and fulfilling God’s eternal purpose.
to those who love God,
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this scripture used to encourage the masses. The problem lies in the fact that these last two portions of the scripture are the caveat to the whole.
This scripture isn’t meant to encourage the unbeliever. This scripture is directed to the body of Christ. God is working all things together for good for those that love Him.
How do we know if we love God? Scripture says that if we love God will obey his commands (John 14; 1 John 2).
How do we know if were obeying his commands? David says it is because we have hidden His word in our heart so we don’t sin against Him. If we love Him we will be following Him and moving in the right direction. Once again in The Crucified Life (p46) Tozer says,
Any arrow toward the target must be going in the right direction. It is the direction and motion that matters.
We can’t love God and obey His commands if we are moving in opposing directions as to the Spirit. The most important thing to remember that we discussed earlier though, is that going in the direction of God and following the Spirit in your own strength will only get you so far. Remember God does the work.
Victory comes through submission, not through striving. Eventually your strength will fail you. The Law of the Spirit of Life will sustain you.
to those who are called according to His purpose.
What is His purpose? His purpose is to mold you and shape you into the likeness of Christ. If you are submitting and following Him, every minute detail of your life is meant to make you more into His image. It is meant to perfect His glorious bride.
Every believer is called to fulfill the eternal purpose of Christ. Following Christ is not just a checklist of good deeds you fulfill, and someday get to go to heaven. It is far more than that; involving a Body, a Bride, and a Home.
For more understanding on God’s eternal purpose check out: From Eternity To Here.
God is working out all things for good. Sometimes the details of it don’t make sense, just like the flute from a symphony playing by itself. When the notes of each instrument come together in the symphony all of creation will be moved. Don’t look for good to be only fulfilled in earthly gain, God has so much more in mind.