How Do All Things Work Together For Good?
This question comes from Romans 8:28. It states: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Some falsely believe that Paul is saying all things that happen in this earthly life will turn out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Do all things that happen to us turn out for good? There are consequences that result from free moral agents who choose to make evil choices. For example, a child is killed by a drunk driver in a car accident and a preacher decides to use this verse for the grieving Christian family. Is this appropriate?
The truth is that all things do not turn out good for the Christian while on the earth. Some things turn out very badly. There are consequences associated with evil choices that many times cause innocent people to suffer. That does not mean that God is not there (Hebrews 13:6), nor that He does not care (1 Peter 5:7). It only means that sin has entered our world (Romans 5:12) through the evil decisions of people and suffering has been with us ever since. We should not use this verse out of its context.
The "all things" in this passage refers to what God has been doing in accordance to His plan of redemption (Ephesians 1:3-14). All of God's redemptive activity has been undertaken for our good (for those who love God and are called in accordance with His purpose). The focus is on what God has done. This continues to play out in verses 29-30: "For whom He foreknew , He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called ; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified ." The whole them of Romans 8 is present suffering for the faithful Christian, but future glory (that is, in heaven).
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