God has a plan for every Christian, and it is a plan for our good. Romans 8:28 clearly tells us: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And deep down, every Christian believes that about the future – we know there is a wonderful home for us in heaven. We can also sometimes look back at our past and see a little of what God was doing and why; in hindsight we see the “silver linings” of the dark storms we endured. But the tricky part is in the present. It is hardest to believe that our current pain, suffering, and trials are somehow working for our good. And what do we mean when we talk about difficult things turning out for our “good”? Does God use every earthly hardship we face to eventually produce earthly blessings for us or others? We know that Romans 8:28 holds a rock solid promise for every believer. But to fully understand the promise of Romans 8:28, we must also look ahead to Romans 8:29 and Romans 8:30.
God’s will for every Christian is that they be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). That means that He wants to make us like Jesus. And He will do what is necessary to make that happen. He may use good health, great friends, a loving family, and much success to bring us joy and thankfulness and gently guide us to grow in grace and godliness. But He may also use injuries, illnesses, persecution, and family conflict to teach us humility and force us to turn to Him for help. God’s big picture plan is to prepare His people for heaven, to make us ready for eternity with Him in His kingdom. To make that plan happen, God has been at work in the life of every Christian since before they were even born. He chose to set His love and mercy on believers (“foreknew” in verse 29 means an intimate relational knowledge, like you “know” a close friend, not just “knowing” that something would happen), who then at some point in time felt the call of the gospel on their lives and responded in repentance and faith. Thus they were “predestined” or chosen by God to be saved, so that they then responded positively when He “called” them to salvation (Romans 8:30). God “justified” or made His people right with Him through their faith in the blood of Jesus, and one day they will be “glorified” or made perfect with Him in heaven forever. Bible scholars calls this “golden chain of redemption.” In God’s mind, every step of the Christian’s salvation is an unbreakable chain of events that has already happened – He sees the whole big picture all at once. But for us in the here and now, we must trust in the big picture without being able to see it. Our job is not to try to be God and figure everything out, but to simply trust in the Lord, obey His Word, and believe that all things will work for our soul’s good in the end.
Finally, an important observation we must make is that the amazing promise of Romans 8:28 is only for those who “love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” For the worldly person who loves sin and self instead of Jesus, for the one who does not want to know Jesus and do what He says, there is no promise here. If you have never surrendered your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ, then all God’s work in your life up to this point has been to lead you to repentance. If you have hardened your heart, then today’s passage says to you to stop resisting the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and instead bow the knee of your heart to Christ. To know that you are in the hands of a loving Father who is working all things for your good is the greatest of all blessings. But to know that you have chosen to do life on your own apart from God’s grace is the most tragic of all tragedies. Choose the better path in life and eternity and let Jesus be your Lord and Master.
The Text (Romans 8:28-30)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Questions to Think About
- Can you think of some past suffering you faced that you can now see God was using for your good?
- What hardships are you facing right now? Is it difficult to believe that God is working in those trials for your good?
- How do people who do not have the hope of Christ deal with the many difficulties and sorrows of life?