This week we continue examining some of God’s promises to Christians. Last week, we looked at what I call an “if/then” promise. God promised that if we would do this, then He would do that. Today, we are going to examine a blanket promise—one in which God promises to do something without requiring anything of us.
If you have not read the earlier posts on this subject, find the “Categories” list in the right-hand column of this page and click on “Christianity 101.” This will pull up all the previous posts so you can read through them in order.
Our text for today is Romans 8:28 & 29, which read as follows in the New American Standard Bible:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
This is one of those passages people love to misuse for their own purposes. How often have you heard someone say, “God causes all things to work together for good” without finishing the quote? The feel-good preachers would have us believe God is some kind of Santa Claus or sugar-daddy just handing out candy to us regardless of who we are or what we do.
It’s always dangerous to pick certain parts of a scripture to quote without considering its context. God is not speaking to all people here. He’s speaking to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. In other words, to Christians—or to those He, in His foreknowledge, knows will become Christians.
Say what? People who will become Christians?
Yes. That’s what verse 29 is saying. God foreknew before the foundation of the world who would and who would not accept His Son as Savior. He doesn’t spend His time and energy on those He knows will never accept Jesus. He concentrates His effort on those He knows will. He knows exactly what set of circumstances will cause each individual to come to Jesus, and He works in that person’s life to bring about that set of circumstances.
In my case, He knew He had to overcome an enormous pride and glibness to get my attention. Although He is not a fan of divorce and He doesn’t desire financial ruin for His people, He knew I had to suffer through both before I would surrender myself to the saving grace offered by Jesus. Some forty years ago, He allowed me to screw up badly enough in both my personal life and my finances to come to that point. Then He saved me.
He knew before I was born what it would take to get me to come to Jesus, and He worked to lead me into that set of circumstances. He brought me to salvation so He could begin the life-long process of conforming me to the image of His Son. By doing this for me and countless others throughout history, He made Jesus the first-born among many brethren.
But verse 28 doesn’t cease operating just because we accept Jesus. Our Salvation is the first step. It’s the door-opener that begins the process of perfecting us, conforming us to the image of His Son. Just as He causes all things to work together for good to get us saved, He also causes all things to work together for good to perfect us.
We will not attain that perfection in this life, but He is constantly at work leading us toward it. When things happen in our lives that seem to be bad, we need to remember that God is using those very things for our good. Joseph’s brothers intended ill to him when they sold him into slavery, but God took that and used it to bring about good for Jacob’s family and their descendants. He is still doing that today—in my life and that of every other person who either is or will become a Christian.
What things have happened to you that seemed bad at the time but which, in retrospect, you can see as good?
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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