Summary: God calls us to a partnership in causing all things to work together for the good He has purposed us for.
“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.”
If this is not the most frequently misquoted verse of scripture it must be close to the top of the list. You’ll hear people say on occasion that money is the root of all evil. If you read your Bible you know how ‘off’ that is, so I won’t go into it now. If you don’t read your Bible enough to know then you need to read your Bible.
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Well, taken out of context those words are in that order, but they are grossly misapplied; especially in movies of the Old West.
Then there are other things said that simply aren’t in the Bible, but many people think they are. “God helps them that helps themselves”. Bunk. Not only is it not in the Bible, the very thought contradicts everything the Bible says about God.
Well, here in Romans 8:28 is one that is said a number of different ways and applied to any number of contexts, most of which are wrong and/or incomplete.
One of my Bible College instructors said that he once spoke to a Pastor’s seminar, and before beginning his sermon he asked everyone in the audience to take out a piece of paper and write Romans 8:28 on it from memory.
The answers he got back were both astounding and a little discouraging, considering the profession of most of the people in the room. He said the wording of the verse, done from memory, varied from paper to paper. But the one thing that was common to all of them was that none of them included the first three words of the verse, “And we know”.
Well, I am years too late for that conference, and I’ll probably never know any of those pastors in that auditorium.
But in memory of that fine instructor who is now gone to be with the Lord and was always careful to stay faithful to the text, I will endeavor here to do some justice to those three words as we enter into the study of this verse today.
AND WE KNOW
William R. Newell, in his “Romans Verse by Verse”, points out that the term ‘we know’ is used repeatedly in the New Testament epistles in reference to those who are saints of God and as such know whose they are and where they are going in the surer, higher sense.
It tickled me that as though he didn’t want to come off harsh or too confrontational in his narrative, yet hardly able to contain himself, he added in a footnote at the bottom of the page:
“As for the ‘Modernist’, his shallow, ignorant, blatant boast is, ‘We do not know; we are not sure’, thus giving continual open evidence that he does not belong to that company of whom John writes: ‘We know that the Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding, that we know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.” Romans Verse by Verse, William R. Newell, Moody Press, 1938, pg 328 (1979 reprint)
What causes me concern though is not the ignorance of the unbeliever, but the evident ignorance of so many professed believers in Christ and the Bible.
In researching for this sermon I checked a couple of different sources for survey results, and since I don’t relish quoting survey statistics I won’t tell you where I looked, nor will I quote them. But I know you’ll trust me if I tell you that according to the stats I did find an alarming number of professing Christians feel that their eternal security must be earned and maintained, and if asked for their level of confidence that they were going to Heaven when they die far too many answer, ‘I hope so’.
That’s pathetic! Should we feel sorry for them? For these poor souls who are born again believers in Jesus and eternity bound, safe and secure in His bosom never to be cast away and yet living in uncertainty because they just can’t be sure?
No. Don’t be sorry for them. Teach them, certainly, if they are teachable and are willing to listen to you. The Bible says ‘we know’ because we’re supposed to know. We have the scriptures and if we’re saved we have the indwelling Holy Spirit testifying to our spirit, if we’re paying attention, that we are God’s and nothing can take us out of His hand.
I was in a discussion on this very topic with a fellow preacher very recently and he agreed with me ~ it’s always nice to have another preacher agree with me, it makes me more confident in my own preaching to know that a respected brother is saying the same thing from his own pulpit…because if someday I’m proven wrong at least I’ll know I’m not alone ~ he agreed with me that if we had no part in our salvation, which we did not, then how could we presume to be able to reverse that process? It is God’s work and it is complete and certain. We will never stand on surer ground about anything than the fact that we are eternally secure in Him.