ROMANS 8:28 (2)
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 7/6/03 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans 8, and let's read verse 28:
Romans 8: (28) But we know that [to] the [ones] loving God all things work together for good, [to] those being called according to purpose;
When I was preparing the sermon for last time, I prepared a sermon that included both the establishment of the fact that God works all things and the establishment of the fact that God works all things for the good of His people. Well, we only got around to the first one because of time constraints. We read a whole lot of Scripture passages to prove that God is in total control of and actually causes everything that happens in His creation, including all actions and events. Because in order to believe that God works all things for the good of His people, we must believe that God works all things PERIOD. If He were not the sovereign controller of the universe, then it could not be said that God works all things for the good of His people, since there could be some things outside of His control that happen apart from His will for the good of His people.
So now that we established that God works all things in the last sermon, let's now think of God's working all things for the good of His people. And what we now need to think about is what is God's attitude, if you will, toward His people. What does God show to His people? God shows love, mercy, grace, compassion, benevolence, kindness toward His people. There is no hatred, no wrath, no unkindness, no malevolence, no hostility, no enmity toward His people. He BLESSES His people. He never CURSES His people. And why is that? Is it because we are worthy in ourselves of this love? No. It is because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, His people. Jesus Christ established a righteousness that would be imputed to His people, including taking on Himself the sins of His people and paying the price in full for those sins. This was the ULTIMATE in God's working all things for the good of His people. When Judas betrayed Jesus, was this outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE this action of Judas for the good of His people? When the Jews cried out for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus, was this outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE this action for the good of His people? When Pilate had Jesus flogged, and the soldiers smashed a wreath of thorns on Christ's head and mocked him and hit him, were these outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE these actions for the good of His people? After all this happened, what did Pilate say to Jesus, and how did Jesus respond? Do you remember? Let's turn over to John 19 and read verses 10 and 11:
John 19: (10) So Pilate said to Him, Do You not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to crucify You, and I have authority to release You? (11) Jesus answered, You would have no authority against Me, not any, if it were not given to you from above. Because of this, the one delivering Me to you has a greater sin.
Jesus told Pilate that it was GOD who gave Pilate the authority to crucify Him. GOD was controlling all actions and events. When Pilate delivered Jesus up to be crucified, was this outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE this action for the good of His people? When they hammered the nails into His hands and His feet and onto the cross and hung him at Golgotha, was this outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE this action for the good of His people? When Jesus Christ died on that cross, and He was taken down and buried, was this outside of God's control, or did God CAUSE this action for the good of His people? Let's turn over to Acts 2:22-24:
Acts 2: (22) Men, Israelites, hear these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a Man from God, having been approved among you by works of power and wonders and [miraculous] signs, which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know, (23) this One given [to you] by the before-determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, [you] having taken by lawless hands, having crucified [Him], you killed [Him]. (24) [But] God raised [Him] up, loosing the throes of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.
Now over to Acts 4:26-28:
Acts 4: (26) The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were assembled on the same [day] against the Lord, yea, against His Christ. (27) For truly both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the nations and [the] peoples of Israel, were assembled against Your holy child Jesus, whom You anointed, (28) to do whatever Your hand and Your counsel before-determined to be done.
God had DETERMINED BEFOREHAND that all this would be done to Jesus Christ. And He CAUSED it to be done as the ultimate act of GOOD for His people.
And now the perfect, sinless righteousness that Jesus Christ established has been imputed to us, so that we are counted righteous - PERFECTLY righteous - in the eyes of God's law and justice. And where there is only righteousness, there is blessing. There CANNOT be God's hatred, wrath, hostility, or enmity. God CANNOT show hatred, wrath, hostility, or enmity toward one who has been clothed with the righteousness of Christ. If He did that, He would not be righteous Himself. God can and does only show love and mercy and grace when the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to His people. "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1 says. "Who will bring any charge against God's elect?" "Who is he condemning?" "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" These rhetorical questions we will see in future sermons, the Lord willing. There is ONLY LOVE, there is NO HATRED. There is ONLY BLESSING, there is NO CURSING. We who are God's people are purely LOVED and BLESSED by God because of the work of Christ.
Let's read some passages of Scripture on God's love and mercy and blessing toward His people.
Exodus 15: (13) In Your mercy You led the people whom You redeemed; You guided in Your strength to Your holy dwelling.
Exodus 34: (6) And Jehovah passed by before his face and called out: Jehovah! Jehovah God! Merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and great in goodness and truth, (7) keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and not leaving entirely unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on sons, and on sons of sons, to the third and to the fourth generation.
Numbers 14: (18) Jehovah [is] slow to anger, and of great mercy, bearing away iniquity and transgression; and by no means will clear [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons, on the third and on the fourth [generation] .
2 Chronicles 5:13:
2 Chronicles 5: (13) And [they] were as one to the trumpeters, and to the singers to cause one sound to be heard to praise and to thank Jehovah. And when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised Jehovah, [saying], For He is good; for his mercy [endures] forever; and a cloud filled the house, the house of Jehovah;
Psalm 3: (8) Salvation [belongs] to Jehovah. Your blessing [is] on Your people. Selah.
Psalm 5: (12) For You, O Jehovah, will bless the righteous; You will surround him with favor, as [with] a shield.
Psalm 18: (25) With the merciful You reveal Yourself as merciful; with an upright man You reveal Yourself as upright;
Psalm 32: (1) Blessed [is] he whose transgression is lifted, whose sin [is] covered. (2) Blessed [is] the man to whom Jehovah does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there [is] no guile.
Psalm 36: (5) Your mercy, O Jehovah, [is] in the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds. (6) Your righteousness [is] like the hills of God; Your judgments [are] a great deep; O Jehovah, You preserve animal and man. (7) How precious [is] Your mercy, O God! And the sons of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
Psalm 42: (8) Jehovah will command His loving-kindness by day, and His song [shall be] with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 52: (8) But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
Psalm 57: (10) For Your mercy [is] great to the heavens, and Your truth to the clouds.
Psalm 63: (3) For Your loving-kindness [is] better than life; my lips give praise to You.
Psalm 68: (19) Blessed [be] the Lord: day by day He carries a load for us, the God of our salvation. Selah.
Psalm 69: (16) Hear me, O Jehovah, for Your mercy [is] good; in the plentitude of Your tender mercies, turn toward me.
Psalm 84: (4) Blessed [are] they who dwell in Your house; they will always be praising You. (5) Blessed [is] the man [whose] strength [is] in You; [Your] ways [are] in their hearts. ... (11) For Jehovah God [is] a sun and shield; Jehovah will give grace and glory; He will withhold nothing good from those who walk in integrity.
Psalm 86: (5) For You, O Lord, [are] good and ready to forgive, and rich in mercy to all who call on You. ... (15) But You, O God, [are] God, full of pity; and gracious, longsuffering and rich in mercy and truth.
Psalm 100: (5) For Jehovah [is] good; His mercy [is] everlasting, and His faithfulness to generation and generation.
Psalm 103: (8) Jehovah [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and of abundant mercy.
Psalm 111: (4) He has made a memorial for His wonders; Jehovah is gracious and full of pity.
Psalm 115: (12) Jehovah remembers us; He will bless; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; (13) He will bless those who fear Jehovah, the small and the great.
Psalm 116: (5) Jehovah [is] gracious and righteous; yea, our God [is] merciful.
Psalm 117: (2) for His mercy is mighty over us, and the truth of Jehovah [is] forever. Praise Jehovah!
Psalm 119: (156) O Jehovah, Your tender mercies [are] great; give me life according to Your judgments.
Psalm 130: (7) Let Israel hope to Jehovah, for with Jehovah [is] mercy, and with Him [is] abundant redemption;
Psalm 145: (8) Jehovah [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great mercy;
Psalm 146: (8) Jehovah opens [the eyes of] the blind; Jehovah raises those bowed down; Jehovah loves the righteous;
Proverbs 10: (6) Blessings [are] on the head of the just, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.
Proverbs 15: (9) The way of the wicked [is] hateful to Jehovah, but He loves him who pursues righteousness.
Isaiah 30: (18) And so Jehovah waits to be gracious to you. And for this He is exalted to have mercy on you; for Jehovah [is] a God of justice. Blessed [are] all who wait for Him.
Isaiah 43: (1) But now so says Jehovah who formed you, O Jacob; and He who made you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I called [you] by your name; you [are] Mine. (2) When you pass through the waters, I [will be] with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk in the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame kindle on you. (3) For I [am] Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt [for] your atonement; Ethiopia and Seba instead of you. (4) Since you were precious in My eyes, you are honored, and I love you; and I give men instead of you; and peoples instead of your soul. (5) Fear not, for I [am] with you; I will bring your seed from the east, and I will gather you from the west. (6) I will say to the north, Give up! And to the south, Do not hold back! Bring My sons from afar, and bring My daughters from the ends of the earth; (7) everyone who is called by My name, and I have created him for My glory; I have formed him; yea, [I have] made him.
Isaiah 63: (7) I will mention the mercies of Jehovah, the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah has benefited us, and the great good to the house of Israel, [by] which He benefited them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His loving-kindness. (8) For He said, Surely they [are] My people, sons that do not lie, and He is their Savior.
Jeremiah 31: (3) Jehovah has appeared to me from far away, [saying], Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love! On account of this, with loving kindness I have drawn you.
Matthew 5: (3) Blessed [are] the poor in spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of the Heavens. (4) Blessed [are] the [ones] mourning! For they shall be comforted. (5) Blessed [are] the meek! For they shall inherit the earth. (6) Blessed [are] they who hunger and thirst after righteousness! For they shall be filled. (7) Blessed [are] the merciful! For they shall obtain mercy. (8) Blessed [are] the pure in heart! For they shall see God. (9) Blessed [are] the peacemakers! For they shall be called sons of God. (10) Blessed [are] they who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (11) Blessed are you when they shall reproach you, and persecute [you], and shall say every evil word against you, lying, on account of Me. (12) Rejoice and leap for joy, for your reward [is] great in Heaven; for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Luke 1: (50) And His mercy [is] to generations of generations to those fearing Him.
John 3: (16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
2 Corinthians 13:11:
2 Corinthians 13: (11) For the rest, brothers, rejoice! Perfect yourselves; encourage yourselves, mind the same thing, be at peace; and the God of love and of peace will be with you.
Ephesians 1: (3) Blessed [is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies with Christ, (4) even as He elected us in Him before [the] foundation of [the] world, for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love, (5) predestinating us to adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (6) to [the] praise of [the] glory of His grace in which He favored us in the [One] having been loved,
Ephesians 2: (4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love [with] which He loved us, (5) even we being dead in deviations, [He] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are being saved), (6) and raised [us] up together and seated [us] together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, (7) that He might demonstrate in the ages coming on, the exceeding great riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17:
2 Thessalonians 2: (16) But may our Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, and our God and Father, the [One] having loved us and having given everlasting comfort and good hope by grace, (17) encourage your hearts, and may He establish you in every good word and work.
Titus 3: (4) But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, (5) not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through [the] washing of regeneration and renewal of [the] Holy Spirit, (6) whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior; (7) that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life.
James 5: (11) Behold, we call those blessed who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and you saw [the] end of the Lord, "that the Lord is full of tender mercy and pity."
1 Peter 1:3:
1 Peter 1: (3) Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He according to His great mercy having regenerated us to a living hope through [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ from [the] dead,
1 John 3:1:
1 John 3: (1) See what manner of love the Father has given us, that we may be called children of God. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
1 John 4:9-10,19:
1 John 4: (9) By this the love of God was revealed in us, because His Son, the Only begotten, God has sent into the world that we might live through Him. (10) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [to be] a propitiation relating to our sins. ... (19) We love Him because He first loved us.
Revelation 1: (5) even from Jesus Christ the Faithful Witness, the First-born out of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him loving us and washing us from our sins by His blood, (6) and made us kings and priests to God, even His Father. To Him [is] the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen.
Is it clear from these passages what God shows toward His people? Grace, mercy, love, blessing. All because of what Christ has done for us.
So we've seen two things: One is that God works all things, which we saw last time. The other is that God shows nothing but love toward His people. Now let's put those two things together. If God works all things and shows nothing but love toward His people, then NOTHING that God does will be for the BAD of His people, right? He LOVES His people and thus only does what is GOOD for them. So our sovereign, almighty God, who controls every single part of the universe, works everything for the GOOD of His people. It can't be any other way! EVERYTHING that happens is for the GOOD of God's people! In the context of our passage in Romans, our present suffering due to persecution is for our good. And even our indwelling sin and our struggles with it that we saw in Romans 7 are for our good. But we can also go much broader than these things to include EVERYTHING that happens. The times of plenty are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of want are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of peace are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of war are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of ease are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of hardship are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of life are for the GOOD of God's people. The times of death are for the GOOD of God's people. EVERYTHING that happens, ALL actions of men and of beasts, everything that happens in nature and in the universe, are for the GOOD of God's people. Even the evil actions of wicked men God works for the GOOD of His people. Even the disasters such as tornadoes and floods and earthquakes, the death and destruction, the disease and famine, are for the GOOD of God's people. Do you believe that? Do you believe that God works ALL THINGS together for the GOOD of His people? Even when you get sick or get hurt? Even when your plans are ruined? Even when disaster strikes? Even in all these things, God is working for our GOOD, because he LOVES us. Think about what God put Job through. We just got finished reading the book of Job not too long ago in our Scripture reading. First the Sabeans came and took his oxen and asses and killed the men who were tending to them. Then fire fell from the sky and burned up his sheep and the men who were tending to them. Then the Chaldeans came and took his camels and killed the men who were tending to them. Then a great wind came and blew down the house where his children were and killed all of them but one. Then Job was struck with burning ulcers from his head to his feet. And we saw that all this calamity was for the GOOD of Job. God works ALL THINGS for the GOOD of His people. This should be a great comfort to us.
Yet to the natural eye, what happens to the righteous and the wicked all looks the same. Times of bounty happen to the righteous and the wicked. Natural disasters strike the righteous and the wicked. But in God's plan, the working of all things is for different reasons for different people. The sun shines on the righteous and on the wicked. Yet it is a blessing to the righteous and a curse to the wicked. Calamity happens to the righteous and to the wicked. Yet it is a blessing to the righteous and a curse to the wicked. War and peace, plenty and famine, life and death all happen to the righteous and the wicked, yet they are all BLESSINGS to the righteous and CURSES to the wicked. There's no such thing as "common grace." God is gracious toward the righteous and is wrathful toward the wicked. He loves the righteous and hates the wicked. I don't want to go further with this in this sermon, since we're focusing on God's working of all things to the good of His people, but it is an important truth to mention. The same exact thing can happen to a righteous man and to a wicked man, and it is a blessing to the righteous man and a curse to the wicked man.
Thus far, we have focused on the sovereignty of God and the love of God working together in the glorious truth that God sovereignly works all things for the good of His people. The Lord willing, in our next time in this text in Romans 8, we will take some time to focus on what God's people are called. They are called "the ones loving God" and "those being called according to purpose."
Let's end by going to a passage that really sums up the truth I've been trying to convey this morning. That passage is Psalm 136. Notice how this Psalm is structured. Each verse has two parts. And it's not just some cute way of writing poetry. There is doctrine behind the way these verses are structured. In verses 1, 2, 3, and 26, the first part of the verses are the giving of thanks. They begin the song and end the song with thanks. Now pay close attention to the body of the song. The first part of each verse talks about God working things in His sovereign providence, and the second part of each verse repeats the fact that these acts of providence are for the GOOD of His people, out of His mercy toward them. You could look at it in this way: the first part of each verse is "God works all things," and the second part of each verse is "for the good of His people." We see that God has made the sun, moon and stars for the good of His people, out of mercy for His people. We see that God killed kings for the good of His people, out of mercy for His people, and so on. This Psalm is the essence of Romans 8:28. It is the Psalm of God's working all things for the good of His people. I'd first like to read it in the LITV, and then I'd like for us to sing it from our Psalters:
Psalm 136: (1) O give thanks to Jehovah, for [He is] good; for His mercy [endures] forever. (2) O give thanks to the God of gods; for His mercy [endures] forever. (3) O give thanks to the Lord of lords; for His mercy [endures] forever; (4) to Him who alone does great wonders; for His mercy [endures] forever; (5) to Him who by wisdom made the heavens; for His mercy [endures] forever; (6) to Him who spread the earth on the waters; for His mercy [endures] forever; (7) to Him who made great lights; for His mercy [endures] forever; (8) the sun to rule by day; for His mercy [endures] forever; (9) the moon and the stars to rule by night; for His mercy [endures] forever; (10) to Him who struck Egypt in her first-born; for His mercy [endures] forever; (11) and brought Israel out from among them; for His mercy [endures] forever; (12) with a strong hand and a stretched out arm; for His mercy [endures] forever; (13) to Him who divided the Sea of Reeds into parts; for His mercy [endures] forever; (14) and made Israel pass through the middle of it; for His mercy [endures] forever; (15) but shook Pharaoh and his army off in the Sea of Reeds; for His mercy [endures] forever; (16) to Him who led His people in the wilderness; for His mercy [endures] forever; (17) to Him who struck great kings; for His mercy [endures] forever; (18) and killed majestic kings; for His mercy [endures] forever; (19) Sihon, king of the Amorites; for His mercy [endures] forever; (20) and Og, the king of Bashan; for His mercy [endures] forever; (21) and gave their land for an inheritance; for His mercy [endures] forever; (22) an inheritance to His servant Israel; for His mercy [endures] forever; (23) who remembered us in our low estate; for His mercy [endures] forever; (24) and has rescued us from our enemies; for His mercy [endures] forever; (25) who gives food to all flesh; for His mercy [endures] forever. (26) O give thanks to the God of Heaven; for His mercy [endures] forever.