What Does ‘All Things Work Together For Good’ REALLY Mean? (Romans 8:28 meaning)

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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

This verse is one of the most memorized and quoted verses in the New Testament. Christians often pull this verse out to bring comfort, hope, and meaning to their lives. 

While popular, the Romans 8:28 meaning is often misunderstood. When this verse gets twisted and misquoted it can do more harm than good. Well meaning Christians have done much harm by taking Romans 8:28 out of context. 

I think this verse deserves a closer look so we can fully understand what ‘all things work together for good’ means (and doesn’t mean). Let’s start by looking at what it doesn’t mean. 

What ‘All Things Work Together For Good’ Doesn’t Mean

All things work together for good (Romans 8:28) is often misquoted. And I want to be clear, more often than not it’s done with a good heart. But still, when we ignore the context in which a verse is written, we can do much harm. 

Here’s three of the most ways I see this verse taken out of context. 

All Things Will Be Good In Our Life (from our perspective) 

When we hear all things work together for good we often assume that means things will be good from our perspective. And this is often how I see this verse used. As a promise that one day we will get what we are after. 

It’s important for us to note that when God works all things for good, the good is from HIS perspective. What’s good from God’s perspective might not look so good from our’s. 

Further, this verse doesn’t say that all things WILL be good. Rather it says all things WORK together for good. There’s a big difference in those two views. 

The promise of Romans 8:28 is that God will work all things into something good, even the bad things. 

We can have faith even in the midst of trials because one day God will redeem them and make them right.

God Is Making All Things Happen 

Some have taken Romans 8:28 to mean that God is the one causing all things to happen. But that’s not what this verse is claiming. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that God is causing evil or sin. He permits these things, but He isn’t causing them. 

We should be careful to assume that God is the cause of all things. Sometimes life just happens. Tragedy strikes. God is over all things, but He’s not the cause of all things. The Bible is clear that even though God allows bad things to happen in this life, He’s not the cause or to blame for these things. 

God works all things for good, yes. But He’s not causing bad things so He can bring about good. We shouldn’t assume when something bad happens that it’s God; it might just be the state of the fallen world we live in. 

For more check out: God Has A Plan For Me (but how do I know what it is?)

Everything Will Work Out In This Life 

We’ve already touched briefly on this point, but I think it’s important to hit again. 

We often struggle to see past this life. When God says things will work together for our good we often assume that means this life. And while many of our problems are resolved in this life, not all will be. Our full restoration won’t happen on this side of eternity. 

All things work together doesn’t mean it will happen in this life. But it will happen. 

The Real Romans 8:28 Meaning 

Now that we’ve looked at some of the common misconceptions, let’s look at the real Romans 8:28 meaning. 

Throughout Romans chapter 8 Paul is contrasting two kinds of people. Those who live according to the spirit and those who live according to the flesh. 

In essence Paul is arguing for the church in Rome to hold onto the future hope in Christ despite their present struggles (Romans 8:18-21). He’s showing how the spirit helps in times of need and that God will work all things out for their good. 

It’s a message of hope and an encouragements that nothing can keep us from what God has prepared and promised. 

We need to be clear on this, when Paul says “all things” he means just that. All things work together for good. BUT. The good is from God’s perspective. We’ve already seen this, but I think it’s important to mention again. 

Before Romans 8:28 Paul talks about some pretty hard things. Persecution, pain, and suffering are a common theme in Romans 8:18-27. Yet despite all that Christians might face in this life Paul makes clear, all things will work out. 

Many churches and Christians promise that God will work all things out in this life for our benefit from our perspective. But that’s simply not true. When we view the Romans 8:28 meaning that we will have a good life if we are faithful, our faith will falter when calamity strikes. 

Here’s the main message of Romans 8:28. Jesus has paved the way for our salvation. Our home for eternity is secure. Since all things work together for good, for all of eternity we need not worry about what is temporary. 

Paul is arguing that suffering doesn’t matter at the end of the day because it’s temporary. One day we will be in our heavenly home and that cannot be taken from us. 

In essence the Romans 8:28 meaning is challenging us to look at life from a larger perspective. Don’t look at what is seen, look at what is unseen. Don’t look at what is temporary, look at what is eternal. 

3 Important Truths About ‘All Things Work Together For Good’ 

I want to break this down a little further. So far we’ve seen more the textbook answer. I want to give you 3 practical truths from Romans 8:28 that you can apply to your life. 

God Uses All Things For Good (even the bad) 

Our trails and suffering produce something good in us (Romans 5:3-5). What you are going through is not meaningless and will not be wasted. It’s producing something in your life here and now and God will use it to do incredible things. If you will let him. 

This requires some faith. In this life, on this side of heaven, we will not be able to see the fullness of what God is doing. And Paul is telling us we can trust Him. One day we will be able to see how God has turned all things, even the bad things, into something good. 

That’s what God is in the business of doing. Redeeming what was meant to destroy into something we can celebrate. That’s the Gospel message isn’t it? The Son of God dies on the cross. Everything appears to be lost. But the tomb is empty. What was dead has been brought to life. 

The bad things in your life can be redeemed. What’s dead in your life, can be brought back. That’s what God is in the business of doing. 

All Things Work Together For Good (for those who love God) 

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

I underlined that last part of the verse because sometimes we forget it. Romans 8:28 emphasizes that you can’t just go around doing whatever you want and expect it to work out well. No, it’s those who follow God’s propose for their lives. 

When we live outside God’s purpose for our lives things probably aren’t going to work out too well for us. And I’ve found in my life many times that when I’m insistent on having things my way, God gives it to me. But it never ends well. 

Thankfully God generously pours out His grace and allows us to get back on the right track. To step back into His purpose when all things will work out for good in the end. 

God Is Over All Things 

Immediately following Romans 8:28 Paul says that God foreknows all things (Romans 8:29-30). What’s happening in our world in and in your life isn’t a surprise to God. He sees all things and is above all things. 

Our view of life is severely limited. Our control in life is severely limited. Our knowledge about life is severely limited. 

Not so with God. He sees all things. He’s in control of all things. He knows all things. 

We don’t have an accurate picture or understanding. We are finite beings grasping at an infinite God. 

Paul is encouraging us in this passage that God is in control. He has our best interest in mind. We can trust in Him because of that. We don’t need to worry about what we cannot see and control; we can simply rest in Him. 

Closing Thoughts On Romans 8:28  

This is an extraordinary and profound passage. Yet many Christians throw it around callously. This verse isn’t meant to minimize the suffering that one goes through. Rather it’s meant to encourage us and challenge us to hold onto Jesus no matter what happens. 

Quoting Romans 8:28 to someone who is suffering can do much harm if we don’t also have some deep levels of compassion for what they are going through. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He doesn’t just tell us to suck it up and take it. No, he weeps with us and helps us through this life. 

Let’s do the same for those around us. 

You might also like: What “God Will Give You The Desires Of Your Heart” REALLY Means (Psalm 37:4 meaning)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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