Grace For The Journey
This week we are looking at four biblical truths that help us understand and apply Romans 8:28 to our daily lives. Monday we will looked at the first truth: God has an eternal purpose and He is able to accomplish His purpose. Yesterday we looked at the second principle: God’s eternal purpose includes calling to salvation a people for Himself. Today we will look at the third and fourth principles:
- God’s purpose for those whom He calls to salvation is their ultimate, eternal good.
“All things” includes the good things that God gives us, but it also includes “the sufferings of this present time” (8:18), as well as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword (8:35). It includes big catastrophes – tornadoes, tsunamis, wars, plane crashes, and terrible accidents. But it also includes the relatively minor frustrations of life – daily hassles, problems at work, car trouble, traffic jams, relational problems, and discouraging situations.
Does it include our sins? Hear me carefully: “Yes, in the sense that our sins cannot thwart God’s ultimate purpose of being glorified in our salvation and sanctification.” But, we should never sin with the thought, “God will work it together for good for me.” As David’s sin with Bathsheba shows, sin always results in terrible consequences for us and for others. But, if we have sinned and we repent and submit to God’s loving discipline, He can use our sin to teach us not to trust in ourselves, as He did with Peter after his denials of Christ.
We need to be clear that the bad things that happen to us are not good in and of themselves. We shouldn’t call them good or pretend that they’re good. They’re difficult. If someone sinned against us, he did us evil (Genesis 50:20). The death of a loved one is hard. But in His gracious providence, God will work these terrible things together for our good as we submit to Him and trust in Him.
He uses them to show us His grace and love
In ways that we otherwise would not have known.
He deepens our faith in ways that
We never would have learned, except for the trial.
In all of it, He is working for our ultimate good, to conform us to the image of His Son, who learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 5:8). Though we may carry heartaches to our graves, we know that an incomparable glory awaits us for all eternity. The bottom line is:
- Knowing that God is working all things together for our good brings great comfort in the midst of difficult trials.
Paul doesn’t say, “and we feel,” or, “and we hope,” in the sense of uncertainty, but rather, “and we know.” Why can we know that God is working all things together for our good? Because He has an eternal purpose that includes our salvation and He will accomplish that purpose. He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and nothing can thwart His sovereign will.
Some say that the doctrine of God’s sovereign election is just divisive, impractical theology that we should avoid, because it upsets people. But God didn’t inspire Paul to write this to upset us! This truth is intensely practical, especially when you face trials. Whether it’s a minor irritation at work or a major, life-changing catastrophe, you can trust God to use it in His sovereign purpose to conform you to the image of Christ. There is no comfort in the view that God is not sovereign over the terrible things that happen to us. But there is great comfort in knowing that the sovereign God is working all things together for good for His people.
In a message on Romans 8:28 that he gave at the 2010 Desiring God National Conference, Randy Alcorn mentioned Scott and Janet Willis, who were driving behind a truck when a piece of metal flew off the truck and punctured their gas tank, causing their minivan to explode. They escaped, but six of their children burned to death in the inferno. Alcorn interviewed them 14 years later and they both affirmed that in spite of their great loss, God’s goodness and sovereignty are now more precious to them than before.
He also mentioned Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident at age 17. Because of that accident, she has had a powerful ministry with disabled people. But now, in her sixties, she has breast cancer. She told Randy, “I’ve had a ministry to disabled people for many years. But now I have a ministry to people with cancer!” Do you believe that God is working all your trials together for your ultimate good and for the good of those to whom He has called you to serve?
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.”