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The Eternal Purpose of God

 Where is God at work in your life? Are you going through some deep hurt, pain or suffering? Could God perhaps be doing a special work through your present circumstances?

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes” (New International Version). The New American Standard Bible reads: "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."

There have been many times in my life when I have paused and stood back in amazement and reflected on how God works in all things of our good and His glory.

The New Testament scholar, F. F. Bruce observes, “Grammatically ‘all things’ may be either subject or object of the verb ‘works together’; it is more probably the object. The subject will then be ‘he.’” The subject is God. Therefore the translation preferred, “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” (NASB). Goodspeed translates, “We know that in everything God works with those who love Him . . .” RSV, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him . . .”

“We know” by the knowledge of faith in God’s Word.

In the context Paul has been addressing giving assurance to Christians who are enduring persecution and sufferings that “are not worthy to be compared with glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18). Why? God is at work in all these circumstances causing them to work together for the good of those who love Him. Everything will work together for our good to achieve His purpose.

“Everything” or “all things” refers to all our sufferings and trials, persecutions, calamities to which we are exposed. Paul has in mind the sufferings of believers. 

Paul does not say this promise is true for everyone. He clarifies it by saying God does it for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is true only of those who love Him. What is that purpose God has in mind? His goal is that we be conformed to the likeness of His Son. This is not a promise that “all things” work together for all people everywhere. It is for believers in Jesus Christ alone. Only those who love God realize that all things work together for their good.

The “good” is not health, wealth and happiness. The “good” thing God is after is Christ-likeness. He works in all things to present us complete in Christ Jesus. When we keep this goal in mind we can see how God works in our sickness, suffering, persecution, grief, etc to achieve His purpose in our lives.

There are a lot of bad things, evil that we encounter. It is by nature evil, but God brings good out of the evil. I have watched God use the murder of missionaries, the persecution of believers, death of a child, etc. to accomplish His goals in people’s lives, including my own. The “good” and perfect goal is to conform us to the character of Christ.

A friend of mine often says, “Keep your heart tender toward God.” What is my attitude toward God? What is my attitude toward my circumstances? Do I color God by the circumstances, or do I see Him at work for my “good” through those circumstances?

The apostle Paul tells us that all things that have happened to us or can possibly happen to us are ordered and controlled by the LORD God so that His eternal purpose will be accomplished in and through us to His glory. Even the worst things that we can imagine are used by God to conform us to the likeness of Christ.

No, I may not feel like that is happening in my life when I am suffering. But Paul does not say we are to feel “good.” He says, “but we know” that God is at work in these things.

Most of the time we don’t see it all working out for our good until it is all over and perhaps years later we see it all coming together so that others are impacted with the gospel. Sometimes the working together is for the good of other people. Often, people we are not even aware of others who are watching others their lives.

The reason this promise is so precious is that there is nothing that can come into our lives that can defeat God’s purposes—nothing. That is what Romans eight is all about. The chapter comes to a grand climax reinforcing this great truth. Shall anything come into our lives that shall separate us from the love of God? Nothing (vv. 31-39).

Mere things do not work together for our good, but “God works all things” to accomplish His eternal purposes. God is sovereign and He is at work in our lives. In the sovereign hands of God they are made to work toward that goal. Even things that are inherently evil in themselves, when taken in concert with everything else that occurs, are made to accomplish His goal. “Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot.”

C. H. Dodd says, “There is no situation however desperate, in which a man can find himself where he cannot find God, and have His aid and interest.” 

In the sovereign love and wisdom of God “all things” are made to converge and contribute to God’s eternal purpose.


Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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