Online Bible Commentary
God Works All Things Together for Good
Romans 8:28 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. 29 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. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (NKJV)
Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, Greece during a three month visit to the church there in late 56 and early 57 A.D. The letter is heavy with Christian Doctrine, Christian teaching.
The teaching for chapters six through eight is sanctification. Sanctification can be defined as the process of being made holy.
Chapter six introduces positional and practical sanctification. Paul then elaborates on positional sanctification in chapter seven and practical sanctification in chapter eight.
In chapter six, Paul taught sanctification as being positional, meaning our standing with God, and as being practical, meaning how we work out this standing in our lives.
Referring to positional sanctification Paul wrote: “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10). On the cross, Christ finished the work of sin. Sin died and Christ was risen to “live to God” a new life as the Resurrected Christ.
Next, he wrote “Just as Christ died to sin, likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin” (Romans 6:11a). Positionally, Christ’s death on the cross put sin to death and we Christians died to sin with Him. Practically, Paul commands us to “be dead indeed to sin”.
Christ has declared us dead to sin. Positional sanctification says that we are dead to sin, we are unable to sin. When we become a Christian, we become a new creation, dead to sin and alive to righteousness, “alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (v. 6:11b).
But there is still a problem, positionally, that Paul details in chapter seven. He writes “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” (v. 7:25b).
We serve the “law of God” with our spiritual selves. But we still serve “the law of sin” with our physical selves.
So, we, as Christians, still have a sin problem, positionally. We must work out this problem practically.
That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells us. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “indwell”, theologically, as meaning “to be permanently present in someone’s soul or mind: to possess spiritually”.
In this passage, Paul continues to write of the work of God in the practical sanctification of Christians. As mentioned previously, Christians are commanded to “reckon themselves to be dead indeed to sin”.
This is our practical sanctification. But God did not command us to do this and then leave us powerless to do so.
The resurrected Jesus ascended back to Heaven forty days after His resurrection. But before He left, He told the apostles to not do anything until He sent them a Helper, One who would give them the power to do God’s work on earth.
Ten days later, on the first Christian Pentecost, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to do the work of God on earth. The Holy Spirit was sent to indwell every believer at the moment they become a Christian, and the church was born.
This Helper, the Holy Spirit, is the One who helps Christians to reckon themselves to be dead to sin. When Christians allow the Holy Spirit to control their life, they can live a Godly life. As they continue this practice day after day, they are becoming holy. They are becoming sanctified.
So, the Holy Spirit does the work of God on earth. And the Bible tells us that Jesus loves us. God, who is faithful, is able to do all things and wants good for our lives.
In this passage, Paul continues to write how God is working in our lives to provide positional sanctification. Paul writes “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.” (v. 28).
Those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose are Christians. The Bible says that we show our love for God by obedience. His purpose for all Christians is to do His will.
So, God works all things together for good for Christians. God is working in our lives to bring good out of everything that happens to us.
The progression of God’s good in our lives began before we were ever born. There were five stages to this progression.
The first stage was God’s foreknowledge. Paul wrote “For whom He foreknew” (v. 29a). Through God’s foreknowledge He knew who would become a Christian.
The second stage was God’s predestination. He actively “predestined” those whom He foreknew to become Christians. Paul wrote “He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (v. 29b). These are the called.
Jesus was the “firstborn” of many who would follow Him and become Christians. Paul wrote “that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (v. 29c).
The third stage in this progression of God’s good in our lives was God’s calling. God called the predestined to become Christians. Paul wrote “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called” (v. 30a). Whenever God calls, He equips.
The fourth stage in this progression was God’s justification. Paul wrote “whom He called, these He also justified” (v. 30b). Christians were justified by God. They were judged innocent by God and God’s righteousness was imputed upon them.
The fifth stage of this progression of God’s good in our lives was God’s glorification. Paul wrote “and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (v. 30c). God completes our glorification when we reach Heaven, but it is such a sure thing that Paul writes of it here in the past tense.
So God is good, to us Christians. Since God is for us, no one can succeed against us. Paul wrote “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v. 31).
Also, God the Father and Jesus gave us the greatest gift, our salvation, and continue to freely give us all things. Paul wrote “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (v. 32).
In conclusion, God loves us greatly and works all things together for our good. Whatever happens to us in life, God will work good out of it, in His own way and in His own time.