Grace For The Journey
Last Friday we began to look into the verse in Romans 8:28 seeking to unfold the tremendous truths for life that God has there. This week we will seek to understand and apply this verse by thinking through four biblical truths. Today we will look at the first truth:
1. God has an eternal purpose and He is able to accomplish His purpose.
This truth is foundational to the truth of Romans 8:28. If God doesn’t have a purpose, then He couldn’t work all things according to that purpose. Or, if He has a purpose, but He’s not able to carry it out, then your trials might be sabotaging His purpose. A heretical view held by some professing evangelicals called Open Theism argues that God is not sovereign over the terrible things that happen in the world. They’re trying to get God off the hook for suffering, but they rob Romans 8:28 of its comfort for us in times of suffering. We must affirm three things about God’s purpose:
A. God has an eternal purpose that cannot be thwarted.
If a man is going to do anything of significance – build a house, found a company, or take a trip – he has a purpose and a plan to accomplish that purpose. It’s unthinkable that the Sovereign God created the universe with no purpose or no plan to achieve that purpose. But we don’t need to infer this by logic; the Bible often affirms that God has a purpose that can’t be thwarted.
- In the oldest book of the Bible, after all his suffering, Job replies to the Lord (42:2), “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”
- In Isaiah 14:24, with regard to the eventual downfall of Israel’s enemy, Assyria, the prophet states, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”
- Later, regarding God’s purpose to raise up Cyrus to free Israel from captivity, Isaiah (46:9-11) cites the Lord as saying, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’”
- In Ephesians, after stating how God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestined us to adoption as sons (1:4, 5), Paul adds (1:11), “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
- Also, in Ephesians 3:11, God declares, “According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Bible clearly teaches that God has an eternal purpose to glorify Himself by saving a people through His grace, so that Christ would be preeminent in all things. And nothing can thwart His purpose. This means that…
B. Sinful people are not able to thwart or frustrate God’s purpose.
After speaking of God as the Almighty Creator, who spoke the universe into existence, the psalmist adds (Psalm 33:10-11), “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” So . . .
Rather than sinful people frustrating God’s purpose,
God frustrates their purpose!
This truth is all through the Bible, but let me give you two examples. Genesis 37-50 unfolds the history of Joseph and his brothers. Their father Jacob favored Joseph, which caused his brothers to hate him. They sold him into slavery in Egypt and lied to their father that a wild beast had killed him. In the providence of God, Joseph rose from prison to the position of second in command to Pharaoh. In that role, he was able to save his extended family during a long famine. He later explained to them in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Joseph’s brothers’ sin could not thwart God’s greater purpose for His people.
The New Testament tells of the greatest evil that has ever been committed, when sinful men crucified the sinless Son of God. But did these evil men, acting under Satan’s influence, thwart God’s plan? In Acts 4:27-28 we read the prayer of the early church when they faced persecution, “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, who You anointed, bot Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” The wicked men were responsible for their sin, but their sin fulfilled rather than thwarted God’s plan.
This means that no sinful person can thwart God’s purpose or plan for your life. The sinful mate who left you for another woman didn’t ruin God’s plan for your life. The drunk driver who killed your loved ones can’t frustrate God’s purpose for their lives or your life. The evil person at work who lied about you and got you wrongfully fired didn’t divert God’s purpose for your life.
The Bible is clear that God is sovereign and people make choices for which they are responsible. We must affirm both. But the point is, no choice of the worst sinner, even of a man like Hitler, can thwart God’s purpose to save and glorify His people. Romans 8:28 only works if God has an eternal purpose that He is able to accomplish in spite of sinful people.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”