Summary: The Bible fully accepts the free agency of man, but interacting with the free will of man is the overruling hand of a sovereign God. Those that love God and follow His purpose are assured that all things are working for their eternal good.
ROMANS 8: 28
GOD'S OVERRULING SOVEREIGNTY
"And we know that all things work together into good for those who are loving God, for those who are being called according to His purpose."
IT'S IN THE HOLY WRIT
This verse in Holy Writ I see
Has very often puzzled me;
And many have been led to doubt
Just how this could be brought about.
How trouble as a blessing could
Work out for our eternal good,
Was more than sight of man could know.
And yet I sense it must be so.
"All things" include both dark and bright;
It means the sunshine and the night;
It means my sickness and my health;
My poverty as well as wealth.
This world is full of toil and care,
Both joys and sorrows have a share;
But One there is, a present Friend,
Who knows my life from start to end.
The next (4th) consideration to show that "the sufferings of this present time" (8:18) are not inconsistent with a close relationship with God is the most comprehensive of any that have preceded it. In fact, it is one of the greatest promises in the Bible.
Romans 8:28 is the old rocking chair. When things seem to be going wrong, afflictions and problems abound, we just climb by prayer into the lap of our Father and rock back and forth quoting this verse. And there the Spirit reminds us that God is using any and all things to make us like Jesus.
The Bible fully accepts the free agency of man, but interacting with the free will of man is the overruling hand of a sovereign God. Those that love God and follow His purpose are assured that all things are working for their eternal good (CIT)! Whatever befalls this Christian contributes directly or indirectly to the promoting and securing of his eternal welfare. Everything will ultimately prove to be for his eternal benefit.
[OUTLINE: I. WORKING FOR GOOD
A. We know by faith and practice God's stories come out right.
1. Sacrificed Isaac
2. Lesson from handicapped child.
B. All things.
1. Thank God cottage burned
2. Good from bad - All knowing and all able God.
C. Together for good.
1. God's handwriting
II. WORKING FOR WHOM
A. Them that love God
1. From His Hand (poem).
B. His purpose
1. All things for best - broke his leg.
2. God rules and overrules - African mission - interior.]
The precept of God's Overruling Sovereignty begins with a solemn affirmation. "And we know" expresses the knowledge of faith and practice. How do we know (oldanen -intuitive spiritual perception)? We know of God's Overruling Sovereignty by the testimony of Scriptures, we know by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, we know by the testimony of prayer when God speaks to our life, we know by the testimony of the faithful, and we know by reflections on our own past life. We know that God's overruling Sovereignty is working in our lives.
[We know because God bears witness to us of Overruling Sovereignty in His Word. Gen. 46:30, 48:3f; Deut. 5; Josh. 24:1-15; 1 Sam. 7:1-12; Isa. 63:9; Acts 26:1f; Gal. 2:19f. In the life of Joseph, his father Jacob, Moses, etc.]
With dramatic skill, a Sunday School teacher was TELLING THE STORY of Abraham and his obedient preparation to sacrifice Isaac. As the story neared its climax, a little girl pleaded, "Oh, please don't go on! This story is too terrible!" Another girl interrupted, "Don't be silly, Mary!" This is one of God's stories, and God's stories always come out right!"
God rules and overrules and causes everything to come out right for His children who love Him. The Christian life bears witness to God's providential watch-care. Those that are loving God and following His purposeful calling know that all things work together for their good. Those Christians have learned through their pilgrimage to the celestial city that this is correct. One does not need to be very old to look back and see that things he once thought were disasters worked out for his good. Things we thought were disappointments worked out to become great blessings.
The MOTHER OF A BRAIN-INJURED CHILD wrote these words: "We would have called our daughter's handicap the greatest tragedy of our lives if it were not for the fact that through it we came to know the Lord much better. Words cannot fully express our keen disappointment when our little girl failed to experience normal mental development. Yet her condition made us understand just a bit how our dear Savior must feel when His children do not mature spiritually. The Lord knows that heartaches, if properly accepted will enrich our lives in a way that could not happen otherwise. Strengthened in the inner man we come through our trial bigger and better Christian, with a fresh and brighter testimony."