Romans 8:28: 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.
Growing up in a Christian home, attending church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and numerous occasions in between, as well as my 20 something years in the Gospel ministry, I have heard Romans 8:28 quoted and used for almost everything you can imagine. Someone lost a job, a home, a family member, a husband, a wife, a child, some money, their health, etc…and someone will say to them “well, the Bible says all things work together for good.” Then they look at them with pity and walk away like that is supposed to bring some kind of comfort...
Needless to say, the above scenario has always bothered me. I want us to look at this passage of Scripture for what it really says and what it really means.
The Book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul and was addressed to believers that lived in Rome. Paul’s desire was always to go to Rome and he eventually did go there as a prisoner, however, at the time he wrote this Epistle he had not been there. He had led a number of the members of the Church to Christ, so he had a personal connection with them. His purpose for writing the letter was for doctrinal instruction, theology, and to give them a discourse in Christian faith and living. In other words it was an all-purpose Christian hand-book.
By the time Paul gets to Romans chapter 8, he is providing great detail on Christian faith and how God works in a believer’s life and heart. So, when he gets to verse 28, he is referring to all of the things that he has mentioned in the previous verses; being spiritually minded, not minding the things of the flesh, having patience, putting forth our first-fruits, not living in sin…
Romans 8:28 makes the promise that all things work together for good. This is not referring to carnal and fleshly wants and desires that you may think are good. It isn’t referring to temporary good such as happiness, getting your way, everything working out for you the way you want, keeping your job, restoring your health, etc…It is talking about being good for your Christian walk, your faith, your testimony, your patience, it is for your Spiritual good.
Also, this promise is only for those that love God. It is not for those that are living in sin. In John 14:15 Jesus says: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” If you are living in habitual sin, you clearly are not keeping His commandments; therefore, you do not love him and the promise does not apply.
The promise does not apply to the unsaved. It is ridiculous to tell a lost person that “all things work together for good” unless you add the next part which says “to them that love God.” Clearly a lost person does not love God and the promise does not apply, neither could it apply because, remember, the good is Spiritual good. A lost person cannot have spiritual goodness.
The promise does not apply to those that are not called by God. God calls us to accept Him as our Saviour, he calls us to live a holy life acceptable to Him, and He calls us to fulfill His Great Commission, just to name a few. If a person has not been called by God and has not accepted the invitation, the promise does not apply.
The promise does not apply to those that are not in God’s will and fulfilling His purpose. Look at the verse again: Romans 8:28: 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. If your setback, problem, conflict, tribulation, pain, misunderstanding, accident, etc.. was not part of God’s purpose, then the promise does not apply to you. Someone once told me; “I just don’t love my husband anymore, I think God wants me to divorce him and marry someone else. I know it’s going to be hard but all things work together for good…” I’m sorry, but that is not God’s will or purpose. If what you are doing is contrary to God’s will or purpose then the promise does not apply.
To sum it all up we can say “All things work together for good…”
- To those that love God
- To those that are saved
- To those that God has called
- To those that are living in God’s will