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And we know that all things work together for them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29)
This will be what preachers call a "sugar-stick" sermon. No apology for that. Shall we not savor the sweet as well as the bitter? This is the gospel, glad tidings! It is not only lawful that such passages as these be opened and expounded for us: it is expedient!
Paul opens this treasure trove of truth with that astounding declaration in Romans eight, twenty-eight and twenty-nine. Do we really know that? Do we really believe that? Ironically, we do not really believe much of what we know. When our faith is on trial, we find ourselves struggling to believe the truth we know! And, sorrowfully we find ourselves believing lies which we know are not true! Those are the days when the devil has a field day with us! He suckers us into believing lies which we know are not true, and into doubting glorious and liberating realities which we know are true.
First, a few observations about views of Romans 8:28 held by great numbers of people who hold the Bible in high regard as good literature, pregnant with high philosophy and wisdom, but do not recognize it as the infallible word of God. The pessimist imputes a nascent evil in everything. Nothing "good" ever happens to them. Everything is working together for evil on their behalf. The view of the optimistic atheist is hardly any better. He thinks there is a nascent good in all things which will work out for good to him. Both are looking at things rather than God.
There is no such thing as good or bad luck. There is only God, Who is the first Cause of all things. And He is not working things together for good to everyone but to those who love Him. You may either love God, be blessed by everything that happens and go to heaven when you die, or you may hate God, be cursed, and go to hell when you die. For the unbeliever nothing works out for good....even when he likes what is happening. Even his so-called blessings are veiled curses. But let us consider these six poignant questions one by one.
What shall we say to these things? Is it incumbent upon us to say something to these things? Do they demand a response? Yes they do! We may not simply put them out of our heads and forget about them. God will hold us accountable for them. We have heard these things and are now conscious of them; we may not now live our lives as if they were not true. We must make them a factor in every decision and response to every eventuality. Let us now consider: If God be for us who can be against us?
Now it is obvious that quite a number of adversaries are arrayed against us. They are generally of three categories:
1. The world. Jesus warned His disciples that in the world they would have tribulation. Shall we be cowed down because of that? Not at all! He has overcome the world!
2. The flesh. Big problem! Our bodies are constituted by flesh and blood. Response? If you by the Spirit do mortify the flesh you shall live. (Rom. 8:13) Sin shall not have dominion over you.
3. The devil. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
End of discussion. There is nothing in us, in heaven, in hell, or on earth that can prevail against us. There is plenty which is arrayed against us, but nothing that can prevail!
He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall not He with Him freely give us all things? God's own Son, Jesus Christ, the Crown Jewel of the universe has been sacrificed to redeem us from death and hell. If God would not spare Him, what lesser power or treasure needed to secure us would He withhold? Nothing! All God's treasure, all His arsenal, all in Heaven, hell and earth are at His disposal to save us, meet our needs, bless us. All, all, ALL!
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? An evil conscience, ignorance and unbelief and impotent flesh may join the accuser of the brethren and answer, "I can!" and "I will!", and "I do!". But none of these have any voice in the Court of Heaven. Such accusations, even though they may be true, will not be heard. Why? God knows quite well when they are true....damningly true! Nevertheless the just Judge of all the earth will justify us. Why? It is Christ Who has died, paid the full penalty for our sins, and risen again! He ever lives to prove that His sacrifice has obliterated our guilt in the court of heaven. He stands at the Throne as our Representative, spotless and blameless! In the words of Wesley's hymn:
Five bleeding wounds He bears, received on Calvary. They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me; "Forgive him, oh, forgive" they cry, "Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"