Tuesday, September 27, 2005

All Things Goodward - Without Exception!

Preaching Romans 8:28 this past Sunday, I had one of those "pry-my-head-open-and-stretch-my-brain" thoughts. I think we often view the promise that "God works all things together for good" in a much too localized way - as if it was all about ME in my glorious, post-modern, self-focused life.
The fact is, God is working toward good "all things." Reminiscient of the staggering thought of Ephesians 1:22 that Christ was put over all things for the church... here in Romans God is described as wisely connecting one thing with another in such a way as to secure the desired result of "good" for the church ("those who love Him" and "those called according to His purpose").
Fine. But consider for a moment the sheer volume of exigencies, decisions, thoughts, emotions, responses, words, directions, and contingencies that must interplay with one another in one second of time! Our God is directing every "random" fall of the dice and the choice of every world leader. And all of these events in real time are careening goodwards!
This is so much more than a mere "look for the silver lining in every cloud." This is a mind-stretching, glorious revelation of the Divine that suffering Christians can hang on to in the midst of "tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword."
Praise be to God for being so utterly other than us - and so utterly kind towards us!
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So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Read and ponder...

7 comments:

  1. This very thing has been on my mind since I heard you preach it on Sunday. You are right! It is a very mind stretching truth. It makes me stand in awe and love Him more to think that He eternally intertwines the trials of my children, family, friends etc. for HIS good and mine.

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  2. Amazing!! I have to admit I never thought of 'God works all things together for good' to mean thoughts, dicisions, words, emotions etc I thought the verse ment in a general 'good things' way rather than the 'negative'(or sins done against us) aspects of our lives. It is so humbling to realise that God is working all things together for good...we are so weak and we need Christs' grace and mercy to see Him as He truly is. To God be the glory!! I have been thinking over the past couple of days how fighting sin and sin in my life relates to God working all things in our lives together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. My mind is still pondering how the two ideas fit (or held in tension?) I abhor my sin and God is working all things together for good... God is sovereign..I guess the truth that as we put to death sin, we glorify Him because its all His work...I am so small and He is so other..aahh my brain hurts...any thoughts on how the two ideas relate? (fighting sin/sins I commit and God working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes). God Bless,

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  3. T2 -
    How about this quote from John Murray's Commentary on Romans:
    "Some of the ablest expositors maintain that 'work together' does not mean that all things work in concert and cooperation with one another but that all things work in concert with the believer or with God. But it is unnecessary and perhaps arbitrary to depart from the more natural sense, namely that in the benign and all-embracing plan of God the discrete elements all work together for good to them that love God. It is not to be supposed that they have any virtue or efficacy in themselves to work in concert for this end. Though not expressed, the ruling thought is that in the sovereign love and wisdom of God they are all made to converge upon and contribute to that goal. Many of the things comprised are evil in themselves and it is the marvel of God's wisdom and grace that they, when taken in concert with the whole, are made to work for good. Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot." (Murray, Epistle to Romans, p. 314). (Emphasis mine.)

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  4. T2 -
    Or this from John Brown:
    "This is the triumph of the wisdom and the power of Divine providence. Man finds it difficult to make one thing, in its nature evil, produce good. God makes innumerable evils so modify each other, that out of them all He brings a good"

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  5. T2 -
    One more... since it was so good!
    “Without exception, everything is working together for the benefit of God’s people. This is true even of our sins, though we must not conclude that we can therefore sin willfully, as chapters 6 and 7 have made plain.”
    Stuart Olyott, The Gospel as it Really Is: Romans Simply Explained, 80.

    By the by - I highly commend this little volume from Evangelical Press. It is part of the Welwyn Commentary Series and is very useful!

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  6. kerux
    Thanks very much for the quotes :-) very, helpfull and much appreciated! Those thoughts helped clarify what I was thinking (I think). I especially was taken by the thought by Murray "Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot." As well as the last quote..it brought together well the idea of sin and our hatred of it as well as all things working together. I think that was what was at the heart of my thinking, how to coincide our hatred of sin, that we still sin and God using it somhow for the benifit of His people...that blows my mind even more(in a good way). Thanks Pastor...

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  7. I won't offer any quotes, but I know a man whose daughter was killed in a car accident; she was driving. Within a couple of years he had three abdominal surgeries relating to bowel cancer and 7 months of chemo that took alot out of him. He was a little beat up by the time this had all played itself out.

    He was a firm believer in the Sovereignty of God; though now he would say he's been taught the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. And as painful as these things have been (he'd far rather have been killed than his daughter), he would say, though its hard to say, there's a sense in which, as wierd as this may sound, he'd not want to not have experienced these things...he'd argue that there's an aspect to Christian maturity that demands hard things...

    And as trite as Romans 8:28 may have sounded coming from the lips of people attempting to comfort him, who'd experienced very little in life, there is now a very real power to that passage...

    This truth maybe cannot be taught as much as it needs to be learned.

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