Among God’s greatest gifts to us is one of the most-loved verses in the entire Bible—Romans 8:28.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28
It would be impossible to know how many Christians all over the world and throughout the past two millennia have found hope and help through these words as they anchored their trust in the God who promised them.
Over the past few months, as our world has reeled under the unfolding events of a global pandemic and now hurt, anger, and civic unrest, I have gone back to this verse over and again. As R. A. Torrey said, “Romans 8:28 is a soft pillow for a tired heart.”
Understanding and believing these twenty-five words can make the difference between despair and hope, fear and peace, anxiety and confidence.Understanding and believing these twenty-five words can make the difference between despair and hope, fear and peace, anxiety and confidence. Click To Tweet
Above all, this verse gives us a promise of God’s sovereignty, which, biblically understood, brings contentment and peace to the hearts of those of us who know Him to be good and trustworthy.
So what does Romans 8:28 tell us about God’s sovereignty, and how does it bring rest?
He Comforts Us with His Promise
Romans 8:28 is God’s absolute guarantee to guide every event and aspect of our lives for our good and God’s glory.Romans 8:28 is God’s absolute guarantee to guide every event and aspect of our lives for our good and God’s glory. Click To Tweet
Each phrase of this verse is rich with meaning and assurance:
- And we know—We don’t hope, hypothesize, speculate, or wonder. We know based on the affirmed promise of God.
- That all things—There are no exceptions. Every event, trial, blessing, or heartache is included in “all things.”
- Work together—Although not everything in our life is good by itself, God makes all the things work together for His good and wise purposes.
- For good—Sometimes in the midst of suffering, we believe it can only bring ruin. But God assures us that He will bring good from it.
He Gives Hope through His Purpose
The last half of Romans 8:28 tells us that this promise is “to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Only a true believer—someone who has placed their trust in Christ alone as their Savior—would love God. And to those of us who do love Him, He assures us that He has called us “according to His purpose.”
Salvation is not the end, but the beginning of God’s purposes for us. He doesn’t save us just to rescue us from Hell and then leave us to flounder through the adversities of life. Life is not a continuous trail of meaningless and out-of-control events. Rather, we have the promise that God is working all things according to His good purpose.Salvation is not the end, but the beginning of God’s purposes for us. Click To Tweet
The nineteenth-century Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
He Guides Us through His Process
To understand how God’s sovereign will is accomplished in us, we read on from Romans 8:28 to verse 29: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
In God’s foreknowledge, He has planned that every event in the believer’s life will work together for the good of molding us into the image of Christ.In God’s foreknowledge, He has planned that every event in the believer’s life will work together for the good of molding us into the image of Christ. Click To Tweet
God’s foreknowledge is an amazing aspect of His sovereignty. In Isaiah 46:10, God describes Himself as “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
He knows today when the Coronavirus epidemic will end. He knows now how the current events in our nation will unfold. And He already knows how He will use all of this to bring good into your life and mine, as well as in what ways we can be more like Christ when this is all over.
As God conforms us to the image of Christ, He gives us the tools to cooperate with Him.
- We are conformed through His Word. Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
- We are conformed by our prayers. Even as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10), so prayer helps shape our desires into alignment with God’s desires.
- We are conformed by the trials of life. The puritan pastor Thomas Watson once said, “A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon.” During trials, our hearts are more tender and dependent on the Lord, and we learn the greatness of His grace in ways we don’t even know we need during times of ease.
Thus, in all things and at all times we can rest in the truth that God is sovereignly working all things for our good and His glory.In all things and at all times we can rest in the truth that God is sovereignly working all things for our good and His glory. Click To Tweet