One of the greatest promises in the entire Bible is found in today’s passage of Scripture. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, which I think must be linked back to the Spirit interceding for us according to the will of God.
Read Scripture- This is the Word of God
All Things Work Together for Good (28)
The Apostle discussed the current situation in the previous verses where we learned that, though people are weak, the Holy Spirit helps. What a great promise! And it appears that there is a link between that promise and the promise of verse twenty-eight…The Spirit helps us by interceding for us AND, by God’s working, all things work together for good.
In verse twenty-eight the people that the promise is made to are described in two ways:
1. From a Human Direction- “those who love God”2. From the Divine Direction- “those who are the called according to His purpose”
Now the human perspective is simply a way of naming God's people. It is in no way a qualification of the promise. Paul does not mean that God only works good for the believers who love Him enough. This is just one way that Paul describes God’s people. After all, this promise pertains to our weakness and we are most certainly weak at loving on many occasions.
That God work’s good for people is not an uncommon theme in ancient literature, both for pagans and Jews. Yet, Paul probably had in mind that the believers in Rome knew this fact because of their intimate relationship with God in Christ. There is no knowledge of God’s working good that is greater than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. See Rom 5:8; 8:32. We have the knowledge of the Gospel and we know that Christ and all of the Scriptures have even promised that we will face trials, we will be persecuted.
How can Paul say something like all things work together for good to those who love God? The Biblical principle is that no matter our circumstances, God can and will work out good for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Despite our trials, temptations, Satan’s destruction, and living in a fallen world God still works out good for us who believe. I would even boldly say that though we sin, God can continually overcome that and work out good for us. The problem that Christians in America have with this is that we expect all things to work out for good immediately. We do not cope well with temptations, trials, tribulations, and an uncertain future. We want this verse to mean that we can peacefully and quietly go about making our plans for our futures and that God will then bless them and ensure that those plans are perfectly and smoothly fulfilled. That is not what the verse says. There is no hint of a bed of roses in this promise. Yet, we should have full assurance and courage from this statement. We may be confused, broke, trapped in a sin, exhausted, persecuted, or any of the like, but God still hears us, looks upon us, and works out good for us. Is that not the Gospel message anyway? If God can and does save us from the miry pit initially, will He not do the same for us as His children?
Conformed to the Image of His Son (29-30)
vv29-30 probably support v28 as a whole, but at least the promise “all things work together for good.” Despite our circumstances, God is working for us if we continue in the faith of the Gospel. The most controversial word here is “foreknew.” What I am about to teach is what I believe to be a correct interpretation, but many Christians take this argument much farther. I will go to a certain point with my understanding and not any farther. I will also quote some others who can say this much better than I can. It wouldn’t make sense for Paul to mean that God knew something about Christians beforehand, that is a given. We would all agree with that without question. We are people who believe that God knows the past, present, and future perfectly. The simple definition of “foreknew” in both Greek and English is “to know ahead of time."
“The verb would have to suggest that God ‘foresees’ something peculiar to believers – … their faith. In this manner the human response of faith is made the object of God’s ‘foreknowledge’; and this foreknowledge, in turn, is the basis for predestination: for ‘whom He foreknew, He predestined.’” This has been a controversial subject (and verse) for hundreds of years. There are many interpretations and I will give you just two which I think are incorrect:
1. Open Theism (Conditional, Corporate Election)
God does not know the future, but works it out with us.
2. Calvinism (Unconditional Election)
God chose some to be saved and some to be condemned.
* To again summarize what I teach (Conditional Election)
God chose to save those who choose Him by faith in Christ.
So in eternity past God saw that you would believe and He in essence said, “I will save him/her.”And so you can see how the process works out. We were predestined, called, justified, and then strikingly Paul says that Christians are glorified. Something that has not yet happened, something in the future, Paul refers to with the past tense. I think when this occurs it is appropriate to say that there is such certainty of this coming to past that the past tense is used of the future. To be “glorified” is most likely “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (v30). That is God’s “purpose” (v28) in us.
Conclusions and Applications
Persevere in the faith. "All things" work together for good includes good, bad, difficult, ugly, and painful. We have been told repeatedly that we will face trials and tribulations. We should not be suprised when tough times come. We trust in a God who works out all things for good. We are those who love Him (because He first loved us), and we are the called according to His purpose. Let me assure you, He does not fail in His purposes. All we must do is persevere in the faith until the end. Our reward is not here, not now, but when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. May each of you be among those who have trusted Him when that day comes.