GOD’S WORK FOR OUR GOOD by Servants of Gracefor
The privileges of being justified and reconciled to God have been a central theme in Romans 8, as Paul has moved from the fact that we are no longer under condemnation in Christ to the indwelling Spirit who gives us new life to our adoption to the guaranteed inheritance of the new heaven and earth (vv. 1-25). Suffering with Jesus, however, is part of what we undergo as we await the final and full consummation of all things (vv. 16-17). In the midst of our suffering, we have hope because of the surety of the world to come and the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit (vv. 24-27).
Our inheritance in the world to come is assured, and that is the highest good imaginable. Because that is certain, we know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (v. 28). This verse certainly ranks among the most comforting verses in all of Scripture. It assures us that all the suffering we endure, every circumstance of life, every success or failure—all of these God works together for our final good. Nothing is excepted. From the worst things that ever happen to us to the very best, the Lord is using it all for our good.
Note that the Apostle does not say “all things are good.” Paul would not have us deny that horrible things are horrible things. Instead, our assurance is that God works in and through these horrible things for an everlasting good. That includes evil. Although many Christians recoil at the thought that the Lord has anything to do with the evils that occur in this world, Scripture will not allow us to confess that evil is not a part of God’s all-encompassing plan and eternal decree. He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). Sin and wickedness are part of what He ordains (Prov. 16:4; Amos 3:6). That does not mean He is morally responsible for evil. God cannot be tempted with evil, nor can He ever sin (James 1:13). Nevertheless, evil is no accident, but a part of the Lord’s overarching plan for creation. There is great mystery here, to be sure, but we cannot deny what Scripture says about God’s sovereignty and evil simply because it makes us uncomfortable.