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All things work together for good to those who love God (Part I) (PDF) PDF version

"All things work together for good to those who love God" (Part I)

One of the first passages I read when I started to study the Bible, was Romans 8:28. There it says:

Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God"

Two things I would like to point out here:

i) This passage is addressed to those who love God. If therefore you love God it is addressed TO YOU as well.

ii) According to this passage ALL THINGS, i.e. everything that has happened, happens or will happen, WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to those who love Him. The phrase "work TOGETHER" implies the combined work of more than one member. Even if one of these was missing, this "working together" would be incomplete. In other words, EVERYTHING in the life of a man that loves God IS NECESSARY for the good, since it is the combined work of ALL that give it. As we read in Proverbs 12:21:

Proverbs 12:21
"There shall no evil happen to the righteous"

As the Companion Bible translates it: "Nothing in vain shall happen to the righteous". Nothing in the life of a man that loves God is evil, random, or vain. In contrast, EVERYTHING, even those things that we do not accept pleasantly, is a part of God's recipe for the good. It is not accidental that the Word says: "All that want to live godly will be persecuted" (II Timothy 3:12) and "many are the afflictions of the righteous" (Psalms 34:19) while at the same time states that "there shall no evil happen" to him, thus implying that even the afflictions are NOT evil or vain. Also, it is not accidental that it says:

Ephesians 5:20
"Giving thanks always for ALL THINGS to God even the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

And I Thessalonians 5:18
"IN EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you"

God tells us to thank Him in EVERYTHING. We usually thank someone for his part in something that concerns us. Many of us deny to thank God in EVERYTHING, for the simple reason that we do not believe that God has a part in EVERYTHING. But as His Word says:

Lamentations 3:37-38
"Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?"

Even the devil cannot go beyond the boundaries that the Lord has set. In Job 1-2 we see that he could not try Job without having a permission, and he could not go beyond this permission. In Luke 22:31 we see that in order to "sift [the disciples] as wheat", he had to ASK first [Greek: "exaiteo", "to obtain by asking"1. See also NIV, The Interlinear Bible etc.] In John we see that he could not touch Jesus because "his hour had not yet come" (John 7:30, 8:20). In I Corinthians 10:13 we see that we will not "be tempted beyond what we are able", not because the devil does not want it, but because "GOD [who] is faithful will not allow us". In Matthew 4:1 we see that it was "BY THE SPIRIT" (i.e. God) that Jesus was led up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. When Job said "Shall we accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10), the Scripture says "Job did NOT sin with his lips". When he said: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD" (Job 1:21) he again spoke the truth: "In all this JOB DID NOT SIN NOR CHARGE GOD WITH WRONG" (Job 1:22). What Job said was RIGHT AND ACCURATE.

If you wonder why you are still unemployed, or why you are still alone, or why you have not been healed, or why the such and such happened, do what the righteous Job did: GLORIFY THE LORD FOR THESE. For "ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE THAT LOVE GOD." What you now may consider as infliction, it is NECESSARY FOR THE GOOD. Otherwise, be sure you would not have it. Glorify the Lord and trust Him. THANK HIM IN ALL THINGS. You may consider some of them as "evil" but we just saw it: "There shall no evil happen to the righteous" and YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS (Romans 3:21-26).

As Paul said in a similar situation:

II Corinthians 12:7-10
"And lest I should be made haughty by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I not be made haughty. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NKJV-Interlinear Bible)

Paul BOASTED in his infirmities. The reproaches, the needs, the persecutions and the distresses were for him but opportunities through which he saw the power of the Lord. The "thorn in the flesh", did not come all alone. IT WAS GIVEN TO HIM, so that he not be haughty. Certainly, that thorn was painful and he wanted to get rid of it, yet it prevented him from haughtiness. Paul might have wondered going third time to the Lord, why the previous two times his prayer was not answered. We may also not understand why some of our prayers were answered immediately, while others NOT, even though we devoted much heart and time to them. However, we are not asked to understand BUT RATHER TO BELIEVE. To believe that since we love God, all things work together for good. As He says:

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts"

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end." (NKJV-KJV)

And Romans 1:17
"The just shall live BY FAITH"

What we need to live is FAITH. We need to trust Him and be surrendered to Him completely. It is not necessary our will to be done. What is necessary is HIS WILL to be done, for it is much higher than ours.

1. "All things work together for good to those who love God": Some examples

We will see now some examples regarding what we just read. To start we will go to Philippians 1:12-18. There we read:

Philippians 1:12-18
"But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chain, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."

Paul was in the prison. "Naturally" speaking one would expect that his time there would be unproductive for the gospel. But see what he says: "the things which happened to me have actually turned out FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL" and "most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chain, are MUCH MORE bold to speak the word without fear". Not only Paul's chains were not a hindrance to the gospel but they also worked for ITS FURTHERANCE. They really became the power for a bolder proclamation of the Word of God by the other brethren. It may appear as negative for the gospel that Paul was in prison but it was not. In contrast, it had positive effects on it as it worked for its furtherance. The same effect had also his presence in the same place - i.e. in prison - but in Philippi this time. Really, in Acts 16:22-25 we read:

Acts 16:22-25
"Then the multitude rose up together against them [Paul and Silas]; and the magistrates tore off their clothes, and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."

Paul and Silas were not arguing with God about their situation, but THEY WERE PRAYING AND SINGING TO HIM. Because of their stand, all the prisoners heard the Word of God that night, spoken via these hymns and prayers. Would have they ever heard it, had no-one been there to speak it to them? I do not think so. But let's read further:

Acts 16:26-34
"Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and immediately he and all his family were baptized. And when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household."

Would have all these ever happened if Paul and Silas were not imprisoned? Would we ever see the prison keeper and his family in heaven, had not Paul and Silas been there? I don’t think so. We hear "prison" and we say "evil", yet His thoughts are not our thoughts but immeasurably higher than ours.

2. Conclusion

From the above, that in no way exhaust the subject2, we can conclude that if we love God, whatever may happen in our lives, pleasant or unpleasant, work together for good. Many get disappointed and offended when "tribulation or persecution arises because of the word" (Matthew 13:21). However even the tribulations and the trials, WORK ALSO FOR GOOD, if we love God.

Romans 5:3
"And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation PRODUCES patience"

II Corinthians 4:17
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, IS WORKING FOR US a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"

James 1:2-4
"My brethren COUNT IT ALL JOY when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith PRODUCES patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (NKJV-KJV)

Hebrews 5:8
"though he [speaking of Christ] was a Son yet he learned obedience BY the things which he suffered"

The afflictions are "WORKING FOR US". They work patience. They work eternal glory. They work obedience. Nothing in the life of a man that loves God is random or vain. In contrast, "ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD TO THOSE THAT LOVE HIM".

 

Anastasios Kioulachoglou

 

 



Footnotes

1. See "The Companion Bible", p. 1501.

2. For more example see Joseph, Ruth Esther and Mordocai, Daniel, to refer just a few that came now into my mind.