This week’s question: What does Romans 8:28 really say?

Romans 8:28 reads as follows in the NKJV: “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.” Many people think that Paul is saying something like God has a plan for your life or all things happen for a reason; however, is that really what Paul is conveying here?

Let’s look at the elements of the verse. First, this verse is directed to “those who love God, to those who are the called.” 2 Thessalonians 2:14 tells us that we are called by the gospel. The gospel is the saving power of God, Romans 1:16-17. The promises of this verse, whatever they may be, are directed to those who have become Christians or who, at the very least, are seeking to become Christians.

Second, the phrase “according to His purpose” obviously indicates the will of God. Those called by the gospel to repentance and obedience are acting in accordance with the purposes of God that all men might be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9.

That leaves us with the idea that all things work for good. Does this necessarily indicate that Gods arranges all things to work for good? Yet all things do not seem to work for the good, at least as far as we can see. Is Paul merely speaking in the grand scheme of things? Is it more likely that he means that whatever happens God can work good out of it? Is it more reasonable to assume that a child who dies died because God planned for him to die? Or is it more reasonable to assume that even in the face of such a terrible thing, God can bring goodness out of it?

Those who believe that God orders all things or has ordered them from the beginning such that we do nothing that He has not already decided make Him a monster and responsible for all the bad in life. If a child dies, God willed it. If a tornado wipes out a town, God ordained it. If a disease wipes out thousands of people, God ordained it. Where does the Bible tell us that all the evil in the world is His doing? It doesn’t.

This verse, then, means to show us that even in the darkest times, God is working to bring good for those who are His. That is a much more comforting thought.

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