All Things For Good
The Beneficiaries of the Promise

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 40b of 83


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).

[We began our study of this most well-known and treasured promise of the Scripture in the previous issue of this bulletin. We saw the promise is that all things, regardless of whether great or small, are working together for the good of those for whom it is appointed. In this follow-up study, we consider who exactly are these unto whom God has appointed His promise. —JJL]

2. The Beneficiaries 
of the Promise

As I mentioned this promise is very well-known. But unfortunately, it is often misquoted and misused. Many remember Paul as saying: “all things work together for good [fullstop].” So whenever anyone,—whoever he may be,—is in any kind of trouble they would try to comfort him by saying “all things will work together for good.” So when a nation is troubled by terrorism then they try to encourage the people by saying, “All things will work together for good.”

But this is a gross mistake. Paul is not a politician trying to sound optimistic. And neither is it true that all things work together for good for everyone. Those who believe that all things work together for good for everyone are simply holding on to a dream that does not tally with reality. They are lulling themselves to sleep with a false optimism that does not stand the test of truth, the facts of life, or the promises of God.

The truth is: The apostle Paul does not say: “All things work for good to everyone.” He says: “all things work together for good to them that love God.” In fact, in the Greek, the qualification is emphatic.

The Greek literally reads:

And we know that unto those who love God, all things work together for good, those who according to plan were called.

What Paul is saying is very clear. Not everyone can claim that all things will work together for good for them. This promise is only for those who love God. It is the privilege of those who love God.

The world, according to the Word of God, comprises ultimately of two kinds of people: Those who love God, and those who do not.

Note that it is not: Those who profess to love God and those who do not. There is a great multitude of people who today claim to love God when they have no right to the claim.

They claim to love God because they have some emotional feelings about God. But they disbelieve God’s Word, or they live worldly and lawless lives without regard to God’s law, whereas the Lord says: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). And did not the apostle John says: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 Jn 5:3)?

Who are those who love the Lord? They are the true disciples of Christ. They are His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him (Jn 10:27). They are those who would keep his commandments out of love and gratitude to Him. They are His elect.

These are those who have been “called according to [God’s] purpose.” They have been called by the Word of God and the Spirit of God to follow Christ.

·     They are, in the words of Luke, those who “were ordained to eternal life” (Acts 13:48)

·     They are, in the words of Paul in Romans 9, “the vessels of mercy, which [God] has afore prepared unto glory” (Rom 9:23).

·     They are in Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, [and] called to be saints” (1 Cor 1:2)

·     They are in Paul’s words to the Ephesians, those who were “chosen… in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that [they] should be holy and without blame before [God]” (Eph 1:4)

·     They are in the words of Peter, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that [they] should shew forth the praises of him who hath called [them] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

They are in other words, the children of God whom God elected, Christ laid His life down for, and the Spirit of Adoption has indwelt.

But what is the basis of the promise?

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim