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Romans 8: All Things for the Good
“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.”
Romans 8:28 NASB1995
When I first read the whole Bible in one year, I started marking verses that stood out as meaningful. This is probably one of the first ones I marked in Romans 8, although many other verses have been marked since that time. This is an extraordinary promise of God’s faithfulness. This verse is so fundamental to the foundation of Christian belief that it is worth seeing it in other Biblical versions besides the NASB1995 that I usually use:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28 KJV (King James Version)
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT (New Living Translation)
As you can see, they are quite similar, although many scholars believe the KJV version is probably closest to the original intent of Paul, writing in Greek. Digging a little further into the word origins, using the Blue Letter Bible, here are three key words or phrases from that verse:
Work together - Synergeo: Power in labor, put forth work together (note that the word synergy comes from this root)
Good - Agathos: Good, useful, salutary
Purpose - Prothesis: A setting forth of a thing (placing it in view), purpose
I believe doing this parsing of a critical bible verse (or even ones that don’t seem critical in passing) helps us deepen our understanding of Scripture, even if it makes your eyes glaze over. I have learned a lot doing this in various Bible studies in recent years and knowledge is power!
So the promise from God is that everything or all things work together for good. The condition is that this applies to those who love God and are called according to His purposes for them. This is not a promise of a fairy tale life or a guarantee that you will win the lottery if you believe, although those things could happen; they also happen to non-believers. This is a promise that even the most difficult or tragic circumstances in your life and my life are working together for our ultimate good, if we trust in God’s love and faithfulness and love Him. This is the solid foundation of our faith! Turning once again to Pastor John Piper on Desiring God, I love what he says about this rock-solid foundation:
If you live inside this massive promise, your life is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Nothing can blow you over inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside Romans 8:28, all is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty and straw houses of deadening drugs and tin roofs of retirement plans and cardboard fortifications of anti-ballistic missiles and a thousand other substitutes for Romans 8:28. Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28, everything changes. There comes into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown over anymore. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an absolutely incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life. No promise in all the world surpasses the height and breadth and weight of Romans 8:28.
Later in Romans 8, Paul reminds us that nothing can come between us and God’s love. We suffer now or are confused or anxious or persecuted or perhaps we even have times that we enjoy His creation and the pleasures of life, but we cannot see the full purpose. All will be revealed and it will be good and we will understand! This is such an important verse in Romans 8 that I challenge my readers to memorize it and reflect upon it daily.
My next devotional will examine Romans 8:29-30 - Secure Salvation
John Piper is one of contributors on Desiring God, a superb resource for the believer.