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 look to this verse to find comfort, hope, and meaning in their lives. And rightfully so, this verse has some powerful lessons for us today.
But, while popular, the Romans 8:28 meaning is often misunderstood. This verse has become one of the most misquoted and misused verses in the Bible. If you take a few minutes to learn what this passage says I think you will be challenged and encouraged by these words.
The Context Of Romans 8:28
One of the main reasons so many have missed the meaning of Romans 8:28 is that the context is often ignored. We need to understand what’s happening surrounding this verse so that we can see how it applies to our lives today.
The book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul to help both Jews and Gentiles understand Jesus’ saving work. This book helps followers of Jesus understand his death, burial, and resurrection, and helps them live in light of what he has done.
In Romans 8 Paul makes some incredible declarations about Jesus’ work on the cross and the security we have in him. There is NO condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). NOTHING can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:28). If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Towards the end of this chapter, Paul addresses the suffering that we face in this life. In this section, Paul is encouraging his readers to trust that God is working all things together. Even though it might not seem like it from our perspective, God is doing things we cannot see or fully understand.
The Romans 8:28 Meaning
Many have missed the meaning of Romans 8:28 and used this verse to claim that God will work everything out how we want it in this life. But we know in the context that this is not the case. Paul is addressing suffering and promises that we will suffer, but that God will bring us through.
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 ours. At least from this side of heaven.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Romans 8:28 meaning actually says.
And We Know That All Things Work Together For Good To Them That Love God
Throughout Romans 8 Paul contrasts 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 encouragement 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.
This was Paul’s story, he faced pain, persecution, and suffering. Things didn’t seem that great from his perspective. But God used those things for good and in the end, all things worked together for good.
To Them Who Are The Called According To His Purpose
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. Therefore, we can live this life according to his purpose, even if that means we suffer.
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 meaning of Romans 8:28 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. Live in the purpose that God has given us.
How Romans 8:28 Applies To Your Life
Let’s end by looking at 3 ways we can live out the meaning of Romans 8:28 in our lives today.
1. God Uses All Things For Good (even the bad)
The Bible teaches us that our trials and suffering produce something of value 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 that God will use to do incredible things.
This requires some faith. In this life, 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, 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.
2. All Things Work Together For Good (for those who love God)
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 purpose 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.
3. 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 and 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.
Now check out: The Meaning Of Romans 3:23 (For All Have Sinned)
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