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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 8:28-30 - All, Not Some or Even Most

This certain promise bring comfort or skepticism. The better you understand it, the more comfort you'll experience.



 

Romans 8:28–30 (ESV)


28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

Listen to passage & devotional:


 

Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence


We believe that this good God,

after he created all things,

did not abandon them to chance or fortune

but leads and governs them

according to his holy will,

in such a way that nothing happens in this world

without his orderly arrangement.


Yet God is not the author of,

nor can he be charged with,

the sin that occurs.

For his power and goodness

are so great and incomprehensible

that he arranges and does his work very well and justly

even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.


We do not wish to inquire

with undue curiosity

into what he does that surpasses human understanding

and is beyond our ability to comprehend.

But in all humility and reverence

we adore the just judgments of God,

which are hidden from us,

being content to be Christ’s disciples,

so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word,

without going beyond those limits.


This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort

since it teaches us

that nothing can happen to us by chance

but only by the arrangement of our gracious

heavenly Father.

He watches over us with fatherly care,

keeping all creatures under his control,

so that not one of the hairs on our heads

(for they are all numbered)

nor even a little bird

can fall to the ground

without the will of our Father.


In this thought we rest,

knowing that he holds in check

the devils and all our enemies,

who cannot hurt us

without his permission and will.


For that reason we reject

the damnable error of the Epicureans,

who say that God involves himself in nothing

and leaves everything to chance.

 

Summary


One of the best things about Biblical Christianity is the certainty it provides. We don't just have a really good feeling, an intensely strong desire, or merely want things to work out for the good. No, writes Paul, we know this to be absolutely true: all things - not just a few things or even many things - all things are working together for good.


But not for everyone.


This certain promise is applied only to those who "love God... and are called according to His purpose." This exclusive cohort is cast in rock solid certainty as well. Those to whom this promise applies, who love God, are those whom God foreknew. That is, those who, as Paul explains to the Ephesians, God knew before the creation of the cosmos.


The reason you can know this with such certainty is because of what's often referred to here as the golden chain of your salvation: God wasn't just familiar with you ahead of time He predestined you, meaning He set you apart. He then called you out of the darkness of sin to be justified through faith in Christ (meaning just-as-if-I'd never sinned and always obeyed) so that in Him you've been glorified. Notice all of these verbs are past tense. It's already happened. This is why you can be so certain.



Dig Deeper


This is the kind of providence that we like. An all powerful, sovereign God who is making everything turn out awesome for those who love Him. At least that's the way most people want to understand this famous verse.


How's that working out for you? Is everything awesome in your life? For some it is! But that fortunate group may or may not include you.


But no matter where you come down on that continuum, don't fall into the trap of skepticism. All things absolutely are working together for good for those that love God, but the problem is we want to understand good from the world's perspective: a beautiful home and family, a successful and lucrative career, and fulfilling hobbies and relationships. Then when those 'good' things don't always materialize, it quickly seems like this promise is just hot air.


We've already looked at many of the exclusive qualifications applied to this promise, but the primary qualification is that all things will work together for the good of "those who are called according to God's purpose." And just so we're not confused, that purpose is made explicit in the very next verse: it's to conform those who love God into the image of His Son.


The things that are 'good' in making you more Christlike often look far different than what we tend to think of as being good. Know that in all things - good and bad - God is at work doing exactly what He's intended for you from before the dawn of time: glorifying you as one of the many brothers of Christ.



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who works all things together for good;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be thankful for the good things in your life making you more Christlike, and patient as even the bad things are used by God to fulfill His purpose for you;

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

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