Monday, June 15, 2009

All Things for Good - 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.” (Romans 8:28)

Here is the sixth privilege in this long list of blessings that are ours in Christ. It is the certainty, hear me - the CERTAINTY of the providence of God in working all things together for our good! "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."

Even in the midst of all these wonderful privileges – no condemnation, life, adoption, eternal inheritance, the Spirit’s intercession on our behalf in prayer – life is still hard. That's the understatement of the year, eh?! Afflictions abound. Suffering is real. Trials hit and hurt. The fall comes home to us all in manifold ways.

Yet, in the midst of that we see that the Spirit’s intercession for us is working because, for the believer, the good will of God is being accomplished in all things. Look at verse 27b and 28 together. “…He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 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.” Mr. Henry, in looking at these verses as a united whole, reminds us that “the Spirit’s intercession is always effectual” for all things are working together for our good.

What a phenomenal privilege. It gives pain purpose. It gives hope to that which seems hopeless. It grants tenacity in the midst of trials and temptations. It was the Spirit who led Christ into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mt 4) and it is the Spirit who intercedes perfectly for us while we are there. It is He who marvelously knits our circumstances, God's will, and eternal purposes together into a quilt of providential beauty and usefulness. Our lives truly are a tapestry of grace. On this side of eternity the threads look like knots and stick out in ugly, seemingly unconnected bumps. But not so from God's omniscient and eternal perspective. Some of the most attrocious knots are forming some of the most beautiful designs.

"And we know that God is causing all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His pupose." This is a great privilege. It is also a conditional privilege. However, this conditional privilege comes with an unconditional promise. This promise of providential goodness being born out of even the most horrific badness is reality for a particular, specific, and conditional group of people. It is for those to whom all the other privileges have been given. It is for those who are in Christ – the not condemned, life-given, adopted, heirs who have the Spirit of Christ dwelling within. As the verse puts it, it is for “those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.” It is for them and none other.

The people to whom the privilege is imparted are a particular group. This promise is not for all but only for the elect of God – as the text says, “the called according to His purpose.” Therefore, let us pursue Christ, love God, be filled with the Spirit in order that it would be applied to us. Do you see your sin? Do you see your inability to reach this just and holy God on your own? Then flee to Christ in faith and repentance.

“He was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Who will set me free from the wretched body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. Through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away. For there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. It shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” (select verses)

If, by grace through faith in Christ, you are numbered among those who love God then this promise is yours to hold near and dear. It unconditionally applies to you in ALL things. God is causing ALL things to work together for our good. Not some things, not only the good things, not only the pleasant things – ALL things. Everything has good purpose in God’s economy.

For the adopted children of God “all the providences of God are theirs – merciful providences, afflicting providences. They are all for good; perhaps for temporal good, at least, for spiritual and eternal good. Either directly or indirectly, every providence has a tendency to the spiritual good of those that love God. They work together, as several ingredients in a medicine concur to answer the intention.” (Matthew Henry)

This privilege, this promise is not a “hope so” for the Christian it is a “know so” clearly proclaimed by God. Paul begins this promise with the words “and we KNOW.” The promise is certain - because of the One who promises is certain!

Perhaps one of my favorite quotes of Charles Spurgeon comes from this verse. In Morning and Evening he writes:

"Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows too that God is always wise, and knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest things that could befall to me if God ordains it." We know that all things work together for good to them that love God. The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everythign has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from Thee; never came there an ill portion from Thy table to any of Thy children."

Friends, what are you facing? Are you in the midst of merciful providences or frowning and afflicting ones? Take God at His word, O you chosen children. “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.” Take Him at His word and trust the interceding work of His Spirit to melt your circumstances perfectly into His good and perfect will. Know that it is all - ALL - for your good and for His glory.

Resting in the knowledge of the promise,

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