Summary: Romans 8:28
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 purpose.
Great verse. Greatly abused.
People use this verse to suggest that there is a silver lining for them behind every tragedy that occurs. That's not true. What was the silver lining behind Cain killing Able? What was the silver lining behind Israel being annihilated by Assyria because of their idolatry? Sometimes things do not happen for our good. Sometimes a lot of people get hurt, and God gets blamed because of a poor understanding of Romans 8:28
I. THE BENEFICIARIES
Who's the Beneficiaries of this verse?
1. This verse is NOT for everybody.
The person who does not know God or love God cannot claim this verse (and would be foolish to do so!)
Much of the book of Romans, to this point, has been about the wrath of God being poured out. Romans 1:18, "...The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness..." Romans 2:5 says, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." This is NOT good.
2. This verse is for those who love the Lord
Loving God is the essence of what God desires of men.
Loving God is inseparably linked with the keeping of God’s commandments.
Loving God and loving men sums up the requirements of the Law.
God’s blessings are poured out on those who love Him
Loving God is not the natural response of men toward God, but that response which God Himself makes possible through the work of His Spirit.
So... do you love God? Do you treasure God? Desire God? Revere and Adore God? It would be inappropriate to claim the promise of Romans 8:28 if you do not love God.
3. This verse is for those who are called according to his purpose.
The truth is - God's call does not come without purpose (which is to display His glory)
The truth is - we have all been called. It's just that many times, God gets a busy signal, or we just don't pick up.
Joseph is the greatest Old Testament example of Romans 8:28:
hated by his brothers
thrown into a pit
sold into slavery
falsely accused by Potipher’s wife
thrown in prison
For seventeen years, Joseph suffered and paid the price for the sins of his brothers. But then, he sees his brothers who did this to him, and he is able to say to them... "...God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance." (Genesis 45:7) In Genesis 50:20 he says, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Joseph had a great understanding of Romans 8:28 two thousand years before it was written. He had been called. He had purpose. It was good.
II. THE PROMISE
What's the promise?
NOT: "All Things Are Good"
Sin is not good. The way the Pharisees rejected Jesus and tried him in the middle of the night is not good. The way the Romans mocked him, and beat him, and nailed him to a cross is not good. The persecution of the saints is not good.
BUT: The Outcome is Good!
Illustrate: Heresy's Coacoa is BAD!
(It should be illegal! It is false advertizing! It looks like a chocolate bar in a can - but it's not. You must read the fine print that says, "unsweetened" (But no kid reads this!). It should have a child proof lid on it. But it doesn't. This stuff is BAD!) BUT... add a little sugar, and some flour, and eggs, and vanilla. Add some heat... And it's GOOD!
Illustrate: Paul was flogged, stoned, beaten, and imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. This is BAD! But he says in Philippians 1:14, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." This is GOOD!
Life is NOT about our happiness. But our holiness, our salvation, our sanctfication, our adoption as children of God. It's about God's glory. And if we have our minds set on what the Spirit desire (Romans 8:5...), then we can say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9... “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”