The Romans 8:28 Sermon
By Bobby Blakey on June 11, 2023
The Romans 8:28 Sermon
By Bobby Blakey on June 11, 2023
Tonight we are here to talk about one verse, one of the most beloved, most quoted, most memorized verses in all of Scripture, Romans 8:28. And so, I want to invite you to open your Bible and turn there with me. Or you can just pull out your handout out of the bulletin there. And you'll see the verse there on your handout, if you don't have a copy of the scriptures. One verse, and we're going to need God's help to fit this, all that we could say about this verse into the time we have together tonight. And so, is anybody else excited to study Romans 8:28 here this evening? I'm excited. And I want to invite you to stand up for the reading of one verse of Scripture. All right, maybe you've got it memorized. Maybe you know it well. But this is a verse hopefully you're going to think more about tonight than you ever have in your entire life. This is Romans, chapter 8, verse 28. And this is the Word of God.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
And that's the verse. Go ahead and have your seat. All things work together for good is the central promise of this verse. And a lot of times this verse is used as a band aid when bad things happen. And I'm hoping that tonight, you can see much deeper than that. This verse tells you what is going to happen. That's what this verse does. It's not like some band aid you would give to a little child. Anybody else have young kids, and sometimes they would get hurt. And they're like crying. And they're like, I've got an owie, I've got a booboo, whatever their phrase is for it, right? And they need a band aid. And what they really want is, you've got some kind of favorite character band aid at your house, you know, and they're like, give me a band aid. And they're acting like they're in so much pain. You can't even see a bruise or a cut or anything. But if you just give me the band aid, then I'll feel better. That's how this verse is often used as a cliche, like, oh, you're having a bad day, something bad has happened. Let me just slap this verse on like a band aid to make you feel better.
Do you realize what this verse just said? This verse just said, “All things work together for good.” That's not just the bad things when those things happen. Literally, it is saying all things. How many things is it talking about, my friends? All things work together for good. Okay, so this is an epic promise that the Scripture is making here. And we want you to believe that promise, we want your faith to increase and for you to be greatly encouraged.
So, if you are ready to take some notes, let's get this down for point number one: “We want you to believe the promise God is working for your good.” Let's start with how this is going to work out for you. Yes, God will work for good in your life. That is a promise, that is true. And it's a promise that you can believe, and it's very good for us to focus on the promises because what we've already learned in Romans is that when we know the promises of God, that's where faith comes from. You see a promise, you see what God has said. And as you believe the promise, your faith increases. We saw this a lot back in Romans chapter 4, if you want to turn back there with me, and this was just about believing to be saved. We saw Abraham as an example of faith, God made Abraham a promise that he would have a great nation, that he would have descendants like the stars in the sky. And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. God makes a promise, Abraham believes it. That's the idea. And at the end of Romans 4, it made it very clear that this phrase that “it was counted to him as righteousness” wasn't just written for his sake, but for ours also. This is Romans 4:24-25, “but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” The promise of the Scripture is that if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, who died for your sins, and rose again from the grave, if you believe in Jesus, then God will count you righteous. He will save your soul is the promise. Okay? So, we found out, hey, here's the promise of the gospel. You believe it and you get right with God.
Now here in Romans 8. This is a different promise in Romans 8:28. This is a promise now building on those who have been saved, not just are you promised to be forgiven for your sin, not only are you promised eternal life in the presence of our Lord, but you are promised that all things work together for good. That is the promise. And what do we mean by good? Well, even though we're talking about one verse, we don't want to take it out of context. In fact, if you just keep reading the verses here, you'll get a good idea of what this “good” is, what is this purpose that God wants?
Now, I'm really excited for us to study Romans 8:28 tonight. This is actually going to be our last sermon from Romans 8 for a while. This week, we have our last week of fellowship groups before summer break. Some of you are already on summer break, there's a few of us who are still waiting for summer break to come. We're all waiting for that summer weather to finally just show up once and for all. Right? But we're not going to keep going through Romans 8 until our fellowship groups come back because we want everybody to talk about these precious verses. But if you keep going in Romans 8, look at verse 29. You can see, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined.” And you might want to write this down under point number one, “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
So, what do we mean by “good”? What if all things are working together for good? Well, God, he's got these people that he's called for his purpose. He's foreknown them, he's predestined them. And the goal of these people that God has is, he wants to conform them into the image of his Son. Good for you is to be less like you used to be and more like Jesus. That is the good that God is working for, to conform you into the image of Christ. Our goal here is to present all men, all women, everybody here, we want you to be complete, mature, to reach your fullness in Christ. That's the goal. And you can see that in Romans 8:30. It says, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” So, if you're called according to his purpose, he's going to save you in justification and declare you righteous, then he's going to keep his work going in your life. And someday you will be glorified. When you see Jesus, you will be made like him.
So, what does it mean that God's working all things together for good for his people? Well, he's working to make you more like Jesus now, because you will be like Jesus later. That's what the promise is. And when it says “all things,” it means “all things.” Look at Romans 8:32. I can't wait till we get to some of these verses here. Romans 8, verse 32, will probably be another verse we'll have to do a whole sermon on. It says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” How many things is he going to give us, everybody? “All things.” So, Jesus is the proof. If you already believe that God loved the world so much, he gave his one and only Son, if you believe that he was willing to give Jesus for you, well, then you should surely believe that he's going to graciously give us all things. The proof is in the down payment of Jesus. If Jesus died, if the father was ready to sacrifice his one and only Son for your sin, is the father going to take care of everything else? It's an argument from the greater to the lesser, Jesus being the greatest thing God could give you. If God's going to give you the greatest thing and his Son, then God is going to give you all things. So, all things are working for your good, your good being to become more like Jesus, and your good being that someday you will be like Jesus when you are glorified.
So, I hope that you are excited about this promise. Now go back to Romans 8:28. Because there are two, “for” phrases in this verse. Okay. This is something that we want you to know. It says we do know this. We're trying to make sure we all know this and remind everybody this, because I just think one thing we do way too much is we judge God based on like our current scene in the movie of our life, right? So, right now, our life is a movie, we are somewhere in the middle of it, right? So if you could picture with me, if you're watching a show on your phone or your device or your TV these days, if you're streaming some show, down there at the bottom there's like, here's how long your show is and amount of time, and then there's some kind of red or something moving along, showing you you've been watching this show for forty-five minutes. and you've got like an hour and forty-five minutes left to go. Sometimes I've seen that and I'm like, I'm out right now; I'm saving the last hour and forty-five minutes. That's how some of us feel. We're like, hey, I don't even know how far I am into my story. But right now, whoever wrote this story, maybe they should be on that writer strike, because this story, I'm not liking it. Okay. And this is something you can do for fun later on for dinner. Like, what movie if you stopped it at this scene would be a terrible movie? But by the end of it, it's like one of your favorite movies of all time, right? That's how a lot of us are judging God. We're like, I don't know how good this story is, God, based on the current scene that we are in. And we're prisoner of the moment in the way that we think about this. And Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he said about this, do not form judgments as the process is continuing. Consider the end, keep your eye on the end, the promise is that all things will work together. And in the end, you will see that it is good. You will be made like Jesus, you will be glorified with him. You will live happily and holy ever after in the presence of radiant glory and splendor. Don't judge it based on this particular scene. Okay?
Now it says here two “for” phrases that kind of modify the main promise, the main promises, all things work together for good. But and I really liked the translation here because it says we know that for those who love God. If you were reading this in Greek, it says for those who love God before it makes the main Promise. Okay, so sometimes we point out, I don't know why the translators did this, or I don't know why they did that. I don't know what version you memorized Romans 8:28 in, but it says, “for those who love God,” before it says “all things work together for good.” So, this is a promise made to a specific group of people, the people who love God. Now, this phrase, those who love God is not something Paul writes about a lot. We've got thirteen letters from the Apostle Paul. And he doesn't use the phrase “love God” or “love Jesus” very much in his writing. So, I think when he does bring up this phrase, it has a lot of meaning. It has a very personal, relational meaning. Hey, if you really love God, well, you should know that all things are working together for good. Loving God is, after all, the greatest commandment; loving God is after all, the point of your life. To love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength. This is the greatest commandment number one, that your whole heart would be given to God as a sacrifice, as an offering. Why would you love God? Because you're responding to how he first loved you, how he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for your sin, to rise again, to give you eternal life. Look how God loved me, I'm compelled, I'm stirred up, I'm shaken up. I want to love God in response because look what he's done for me. And Jesus made it very clear on the night before he died on the cross for our sins. Jesus said, if you love me, you will want to keep my commandments; you obey my commandments.
So, this idea of loving God, this gets to the heart of who we are. And see, this will keep us from thinking about this the wrong way. When we make the problem promise, all things work together for good, there's a wrong way that that promise gets taken. And I see people do this, where they want God to be good to them. But they're not really signing up for God's team. They're not really for God; they don't really love; like loving God is not their main purpose in life. Like they actually want God to be good to them so they can go love something else besides God. And they want God to basically just hand out idols and make them happy. Like, where's that promise that God's going to work everything for my good because I'm not seeing my good. Well, maybe the reason you're not seeing my good is you're not for God. See, there's kind of a hypocrisy. There's a contradiction when people want God to do everything for their good, but they're not really for God in their heart. And so that's how this starts, hey, if you are for God, if you've joined God's team, if you can see that God saved you out of your sin, and he's made you alive now in Christ, and now your heart burst forth with love for God. Well, then you can know if you're for God. God adds work in everything for your good.
So, let's get that down for our first kind of sub point under point number one. We can know that the promise is God is working for your good “because you are for God.” You are for God. That's, yeah. See, it's a relationship. You love him, yes, he loves you. And he's working out all things for your good. In fact, he's going to do things that are better than the things you're thinking right now. He's going to satisfy your heart, he's going to do awesome things, he's not going to hold back on any of the goodness. God doesn't want you to lack one good thing in your life. But see, it's a relationship. It's not just you getting good from God, it's you love God, you're for him. You want to give your life up to him; you're no longer really living just for yourself to take and receive and get, you are living now to give your life as a response to God, to worship him. So, don't make this some kind of promise that exists outside of a relationship. Yes, God is for the good of his people. But his people are for God. Can I get an Amen from everybody on this? Okay, this isn't, so you can just go do whatever you want to do. The idea is now what you want to do is lined up with what God wants to do. Now you and God are in a relationship, and it's God's working it all together, and you're for it, you are rooting for God to do his purpose. That's the second “for” statement. And this one comes after all things work together for good. And then it says this: “For those who are called according to his purpose.” And then it goes straight from there to the call of God, and for the purpose of justification and glorification, to conform us into the image of his Son, Jesus.
So, the call, according to his purpose is God has a plan. God has a goal that he is working towards. And really what it's saying is all things, every single thing, good or bad, what you might think is somewhere in between, every single thing that happens in human history, in your life, all things are working together for good because God has a purpose. And everybody, who's been called according to his purpose? Do you see how good the purpose of God really is? Okay. So please, we’ve got to stop using this verse. Hopefully, we can see it. This isn't just when something bad happens. I can remember God's working it for good, all things, the bad things, the good things, the really awesome moments in your life, and the tragic moments in your life, and every other moment, the daily moments that happen in between the big moments, all things are working together for good because God has called you according to his purpose. See, this is a key concept.
Go over to Ephesians chapter 1. Let me show you a couple of other verses that describe where Paul gives us this idea of being called according to the purpose of God. Ephesians chapter 1, verse 11, would be a great verse for you to write down here for this idea of for those who are called according to his purpose. I'm going to start reading a little bit in verse 9, Ephesians 1:9, and this whole run-on sentence here is all to the praise of God's glorious grace, because God has adopted us, and Jesus has shed his blood to redeem us. And then it says here in Ephesians 1:9 that God is making known to us the “mystery of his will.” God has, I mean, if time is a train, and the train is going from the beginning to the end, God has a purpose in what he is doing, and his will is now going to be revealed here. He's making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose. Well, what is his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things? There it is, there's the key phrase of the night, how many things is God working together for good, not just bad things, all things? There it is. You're getting, he's doing all things. Look at this. He's uniting all things in him. All things will be united in Jesus, the spiritual things, the physical things, the heavenly things, the earthly things. It's all going up for the purpose of Jesus. Ephesians 1:11, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Okay, so basically on a macro level throughout, all from the beginning in Genesis to the end in Revelation, God has a purpose. To make everything for Jesus and now that you have been saved, now that you love God, now that you have been called, now you are a part of this epic purpose of God. And so, as God is working, not just your little life, but my life and your life and all of our lives and people's lives all over the world. How can he work so many different people's lives and so many different situations? Well, because on his macro purpose, where everything goes toward Jesus, you're now a part of that plan. And nothing can stop God's purpose from happening. There will come a day where every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, Jesus is the Lord, that is the ultimate purpose of God; that day is going to happen. And you have now been called according to that purpose.
So, let's get this down for our second little sub point under number one. Yeah, all things work together for good, you can believe the promise that God is working for your good, “because nothing can stop God's purpose.” Nothing can stop God's purpose. God is working all things according to the counsel of his will. That is his purpose. He has a plan that leads to everything, you being united in Jesus, and you are a part of the plan, and you are now with God in a relationship. And so, as God works, all things for his purpose, you now are in sync with what God is doing.
Go over to 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 9 and you'll see that same idea of the purpose of God, and how you and I in our humble little lives are now a part of this epic, grandiose work that God is going to do in Jesus. So, we're going to 2 Timothy 1:9, another verse here, where Paul's writing, and he says, this is what he says God does. In 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 9, God saved us. “And he called us to a holy calling, not because of our words, but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus, before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” And so you can see there in verse 9 that God has called us to this holy calling, not because of anything we did. No. Because he is working all things together for good. And now his purpose is for us to be in Christ Jesus. And you know what he had this purpose before time even began, and we will see the fulfillment of this purpose as time comes to an end. And the purpose is revealed to us now through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because in the gospel, we can see a way out of death into eternal life. So, the purpose is a macro purpose. Okay? This verse is not so much a life verse as in my life verse, but it's a life verse, as in all of life verse, that all things work together for good, because God, you're now a part of the purpose. And God is working all things, according to his purpose, according to the counsel of his will, according to what he is revealing to us in Jesus, God is working all things for the glory of Jesus. And if you're now on board with the glory of Jesus, if you've now been saved for the glory of Jesus, then now you are going to work according to his purpose. And so, you are now in line with all things working together for good.
So, I want to now kind of give you two examples of how this could play out an individual example, how can this play out in our lives, and then kind of a macro example of how this plays out in the entire nation of Israel? Because I want us to really try to, let's talk about when I would share this with a friend, my friend is going through a hard time, and I want to quote to them Romans 8:28. First of all, before you ever share Romans 8:28, try to really think about what your friend is going through. But sometimes when you know a Bible verse and you know, oh, something bad happened to you? Well, I know a verse where all things work together for good. Sometimes, before you slap that band aid on your friend, try to really feel their pain for a moment. Okay, because this isn't just some quick fix verse. This is like a totally mind transforming heart enlarging verse that says God is doing all things for good, and you are now a part of it. It's not just about this one thing, it's happening on a much bigger level. But sometimes we're quick to say a verse like this, but we don't really empathize with the person's pain. And we don't really have compassion for what they're going through. People at this church, people around us in this world are going through absolutely terrible evil things. Let's think about some of the worst case scenarios. Let's think about some of the downright hideously evil things that have happened to people here in this room tonight. Some people in this room have been mistreated by their own families, the family that's supposed to nurture you and raise you and love you. The mom that's supposed to raise you up, the dad that's supposed to be there to provide and care. That's not what happens in some people's families. In fact, some people, they are outcast by their own family, they are abandoned by their own family, they are abused by their own family. I mean, evil is happening to children all over the world. I mean, these are terrible, hideous things. Some people, they're going to work, they're trying to do the right thing. And there are people who lose their job for doing the right thing, that now they're like, how am I going to provide for my family? What's going to happen to me here? I was doing the right thing. And then they get completely mistreated in the workplace, they get taken advantage of like, oh, well, let's just use that person for all they've got. And then we'll fire them for no reason. That happens to people. People just taken advantage of. I mean, there are people maybe you've seen some of these shows on TV, there are people who go to jail for years of their life for a crime that they did not commit. People who are there, not just family problems, work problems. How about people who are mistreated by their own government, people who are accused of, convicted of, and put away for crimes that they are completely innocent? Are we here tonight saying that even evil things like this work together for good? That is a very bold statement. Let's think about how hurt some people are. And wow, to say that things like that work for good.
Everything I just said to you, all happened in one man's life. And it was Joseph. Go with me to Genesis 37 and let's let him be our case study for how God can take many evil things, and God can work them all these things, he can work them together for good. Joseph is 17 years old when we meet him here in Genesis 37. And Joseph has many dreams. Maybe you know the story that Joseph has some dreams. And in the dreams, it's like his father and his mother and his 11 brothers. He's got some famous brothers. They are the 12 sons of Jacob, who eventually become the 12 tribes of Israel. And because Jacob also means Israel, and so his dad is literally Israel. And he's like his dad's favorite. And his dad gives him a special colored coat, which parents is a terrible idea, by the way, and he has dreams. So, here's kind of the favorite younger child coming and telling all his older bros his dreams about how they're all going to bow down to him in the future. And so, look with me at Genesis 37, verse 18. And let's see some evil things that happened in the life of not your ordinary Joe here. This is Genesis 37, verse 18. His brothers see him coming from afar. It says they saw him from afar and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. I don't know if you've ever had anyone conspire to kill you, to make a plan to murder you. But here this is his own family deciding, his own brothers deciding that they would be better to end their brother's life than endure him as a brother. And they said to one another, here comes this dreamer. Come now let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. And then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams. I don't know what your family was like growing up, but that is about as bad as it gets. Your own family people that we would think even even just naturally even without the love of God. You would think people would love their own family. But these guys want to kill their brother and lie about it. Because they’re so sick and tired of these dreams that he's having now. It's really good news in verse 21, Rubin heard it and Rubin, he decides to rescue him, hey, I got a great idea. Let's not take his life. We'll just sell him into slavery. How about that bros? Right? Okay, so he doesn't end up dead. But he gets sold into slavery. We're talking about trafficking a human being. That's what his own family does to Joseph.
Go over to Genesis 39, verse 7, maybe you know he ends up in Egypt, he ends up in Potiphar’s house, and the Lord is with him. His family may have sold him into slavery, his brothers may have abandoned him, but God, he's with Joseph, and God gives him favor and part of his house. He becomes the manager of Potiphar’s household. And then it drops this dubious line here right before Genesis 39:7. “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.” Whenever it says that, you know, we're going down a bad direction right here. “And after a time, his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph, and said, ‘Lie with me.’” Here's now a temptation for Joseph to enter into evil and what an evil approach for this lady to put Joseph in this situation. And look at his response in Genesis 39:8. “But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, because of me, my master has no concern about anything in the house. He has put everything that he has in my charge, he is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” There's a great line. Next time you encounter temptation right there. “How can I do this great wickedness,” I would be sinning against God. And so, this lady, she keeps speaking to Joseph day after day, and he's not listening to her. She keeps trying. And so, Genesis 39:11-12, “But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” I mean, what a terrible situation. He left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. And if you know the rest of the story, what is she going tell everybody? Hey, everybody, uh, Joseph is doing this inappropriate move towards me. And so, Joseph gets fired from his job as the manager of Potiphar’s household, and he ends up in prison for a crime that he did not commit. You already got sold out by your family. Now, you lose your job where you're doing a great job, you're being loyal to your boss, you're doing everything you could possibly do. You lose your job, and you get convicted of something that you did not do. Everybody thinks you're now this bad guy when you were not the bad guy in the story. So, he's now his whole new start his whole fresh life that God gave him in Egypt. Now he's behind bars.
Well go over to chapter 40, verse 23, because good thing this guy knows dreams and Pharaoh’s baker and Pharaoh's cup bear, they end up there. They have dreams, he interprets their dreams. One of you is going to die, one of you is going to live as they get out of prison and happens justice Joseph said one dies, and one lives and then it gives us this, this encouraging word here in Genesis 40 Verse 23, “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Chapter 41 verse 1, after two whole years, here you are in prison where you don't deserve to be, abandoned by your family, lied about in public, everybody has the wrong impression of you now, well, here comes some guys who can use your skill in interpreting dreams and you can help these two guys. And you do one of them a solid and then after he gets forgiven by Pharaoh and he gets restored to his position, the guy forgets about you for two years while you're chilling in prison. I mean, this is a terrible movie. This is terrible. So, who is writing this story? Go to Genesis 42 Verse 21, Genesis 42:21, maybe you know that Pharaoh ends up having a dream and Joseph is actually the only person who can interpret the dream. And so now instead of being the right-hand man of Potiphar’s house, he ends up being the right-hand man of Pharaoh, the biggest house in all of Egypt. Now he's basically managing the entire country of Egypt because even if the whole world and every other person is against you, if God's working all things together for good, see, you end up being Pharaoh's right-hand man. And Pharaoh's dream is that there's going to be seven years of famine. And so, Joseph is going to store up the food. And he's going to help everybody get through these lean seven years. And as we get into these lean years, guess who shows up in Egypt, needing some food? Oh, it's Joseph's brothers here. Genesis 42:21. “Then they said to one another,” as they're coming now to Egypt to get food, look at this conversation the brothers have amongst themselves, they said to one another, “in truth, we are guilty concerning our brother, and that we saw the distress of his soul when he begged us and we did not listen,” oh, let's go back to when your own brothers threw you in a pit and sold you into slavery. Can you imagine if you have a younger sibling? Could you imagine the squeals and the screams of your younger sibling as you exchange them for money, and they are taken away from you by who knows who to go who know where, and they're screaming here, these guys can still hear Joseph’s screams, and the guilt of what they did to their brother is still upon their hearts. And they're like, Oh, now we're in a bad situation. We don't have food. Now. We're trying to talk to this guy here in Egypt. Why would he give us food? Oh man is this all because of what we did to our little brother? And so, you can see their guilt here. Well, eventually Joseph reveals himself. Go over to chapter 45 Verse 5, and look at this amazing statement, as Joseph eventually he wants to find out if his brother Benjamin, the youngest brother, wants to find out what's going on with him. He wants to find out if his father Jacob is still alive. And eventually this scene breaks forth, where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. And he says, I'm your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. This is Genesis 45:5-7. “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” So, it was not you who sent me here, but God, all things work together for good. You guys thought you were doing something. Let me tell you what God was doing.
Case study number one, “Looking at this from the individual perspective.” Even if people mean evil, God works all things for good. Even if people mean evil against you, if people in your family, people in your workplace, people in your country, even if they have evil actions towards you, God is working all things together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. If you are one of God's people, all things, it may not seem good, but God is sending you for his purpose. Even when it seems like everyone else has abandoned you, God is working for your good. And in fact, eventually he gets to see his father, Jacob and when he sees his father, Jacob. Eventually they moved down there. And Jacob the father dies, the brothers have a moment of panic if you're familiar with the story. They all go to Egypt, and they all live there with Joseph. And when Jacob dies, the brothers are like, wait a minute, is now the time he's going to come at us? Was he just being nice to us in 45? So, we would bring our father and he wanted to really see our dad, is he going to now give it to us like we deserve? I mean, now he's in the place where everybody's bowing down to him, now his dreams have come true. Now our dad is dead? Is he going to now give us some kind of punishment because of how we sold him into slavery? And look, go to Genesis 50 with me. And here's the famous quote, this is kind of in the Law of Moses. This is the laws version of Romans 8:28 right here. This is Genesis, chapter 50:19-21, “but Joseph said to them…” I mean, here's a guy who got sold by his brothers into slavery, and now his concern is he wants to set his brothers at ease. And he says to them, “‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Do you see? Do you see what, from Joseph's own words, not only is Joseph now the second most powerful person in Egypt, but Joseph realizes that God's working all things together for good. And Joseph's not just saying, hey, guys, don't worry about it, because it worked out for me. Do you see here Joseph's heart that Joseph realizes his life isn't just like for its own self purpose. His life exists for the purpose of God, and God wanted you guys to sell me. So, our whole family could end up in Egypt, so we could become in Egypt a great nation.
So, the whole wide world could know the story of how God sets his people free out of Egypt, see, Joseph is seeing the much bigger picture, Joseph, he's actually able to see that God is not just doing things in his life. But all things work together for good. Do you realize how many lives have been saved from this famine? Do you realize how God's already setting up the next book, The next scene, I'm just one part of a much bigger story, Joseph says. See this guy, he gets it. It's not just that God's going to work for good in my life. God's doing something way bigger than me. And isn't it great that I get to be a part of what God is doing, because he's saving many people. And God's working for the good of many souls, many survivors. That was true in the famine of that day. And that's true in the way that God is working today. So, you could not really identify a worst case scenario than the life of Joseph. And yet look at how God worked together for good. All things. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? So, I don't know what's going on with your family, or what's going on with your work, or how you're feeling about your government. I don't know what the evil things I don't know where you've been sitting for two years, feeling like the whole world has passed you by. But I know that God works all things together for good. And that's what Genesis 37 to 50 is meant to prove to us once and for all. Yeah, people, they can be out there doing their worst, they can mean it for evil, but God, he means it for good. And it's not just good for you. It's going to be good for all of God's people good for the glory of the Lord, Jesus.
Now, go back to Romans 8:28 because I want you to really see that, this phrase, “all things” is really the key phrase, okay, so we use this verse, that God's going to take the bad things, and he's going to work them to be good. But it's not saying that. All right. So, the core of the promise, if you're looking back at Genesis 49:28 with me, the core of the promise is that God is able to do, he is working together, all things. In fact, some people if you get into the Greek of this precious promise, some people would even argue that “all things” is the subject of the verse: “All things are working together for good,” that's what God is able to do. So, you’ve got to get it, it does apply to your life. It is a precious promise for I don't know how many years you've got, how many days you've got, what God's got for you from the scene you’re in right now. And if you're at the scene where you just found out that Darth Vader was your father, before he cut off your arm, there's going to be way too many more movies after that scene. All right, so don't base it all on that scene alone. Okay, I don't know how much more you've got. It is true that God's going to work whatever you've got left in your life. He's going to work that together for good for you.
But can we get beyond just looking at it from our own life perspective? And can we see what it's actually saying? Is a verse for all of life, that your life and everybody else's life and not just your family, but everybody else's family, and not just your workplace, but all the workplaces and not just your country, but all the countries? All of it is working together for good? Like the fact that yours works for Good is interesting and impressive. But if you haven't considered, I mean, people get so excited about what artificial intelligence can do. Have you really considered what divine intelligence is doing right now? Have you considered that you could plug in anybody's name, anybody's family, anybody's workplace, anybody's country at any time in human history, and God is working it together for good, according to his purpose for everybody who loves him? See, we’ve got to stop making Bible verses about me. See, how does it apply to me? What can I go and do with this aid? This first one hundred percent applies to you. And this first is hundred percent about more than you at the same time. And you’ve got to see that the all things here, if you start really seeing that God, our God is able to do all things he can't just well, Oh, see, yours is the way we think about is like, Oh, something bad happened. Like some almost the idea is like something that wasn't supposed to happen just happened. How do we correct it? How do we fix it? How do we get it right? Oh, no, what just happened is like one little piece got moved on a massive chessboard, where you can't even see all the pieces that are being moved at the same time. And you can't even see how all things work together for good. It's not just like we're watching one movie. It's like there are so many different movies playing at the same time. And they're all going to the same conclusion.
Go to Psalm 115. Let me just try to get us thinking deeper here together about what this all things working together for good really means in Psalm 115. It says, I don't want it to be all about me. I want it to be about God and his glory, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Look at the love you have for us in Jesus, for the sake of your faithfulness, that all you've promised us in Christ is yes. And you're going to do everything according to your purpose. So, let's give God the glory. And then look at this big picture. Why should the nation say where is their God? Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens. He does all that he pleases.” Circle it, underline it there, God is doing all things. God is doing all that he wants to do. God is accomplishing his perfect will, the counsel of his will, according to his divine purpose. God's up there, he sees the whole story. And he is working all things for his good for the glory of Jesus. And yes, it does work for your good, too. But can you see what he's doing whatever he wants to do? He's doing something beyond even your comprehension. Can you imagine what God's seeing from heaven and the big picture of what he's trying to do? We only know the mystery as it is revealed to us. We know it's all about the glory of Jesus, it tells us even some significant things that are going to happen. But God is doing this on a worldwide level from heaven. And then, and then look at what it says in Psalm 115:4, the end, let's talk about these nations that act like there is no God and he's not doing anything. Well, then they're all these other nations, “their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.” And so, what it's going to do here is it's going to make fun of idols. This is something that Scripture likes to do. Scripture likes to trash-talk other gods. And it's like, look at those people worshiping that God, that God can't see them, that God can't hear them, that God's not looking after them, that God is doing nothing for them. In contrast, we have a God who's doing all things. They've got a God who's doing nothing. That's the point. Psalm 115 wants to make that.
In fact, turn over to Isaiah 44, where that same point is being made. Let's go over to Isaiah, chapter 44, and let's try to really hear from God and get his big picture. What are all these things that God wants to do here in Isaiah 44? And now we're getting to the prophet Isaiah. And we're talking really about the whole nation of Israel. Okay, so here in Isaiah 44, you can see here that Israel is the Lord's chosen, you can just see that there about the heading. So, this is now a prophecy from God through Isaiah to the entire nation. So, this isn't just God's plan for one man, like Joseph, the son of Jacob, this is like the God's plan for the whole group of people, the whole nation of Israel, the whole, like Jacob's descendants coming from his twelve sons. Here's a prophecy that God wants to make to the whole nation. Look at Isaiah 44:1, but now here, oh Jacob, my servant Israel who might have chosen and he's going to now give them his purpose for them, God's going to now show them how he's working all things for the good of the entire people of Israel. Now in Isaiah 44:9 you can see it gets into the folly of idolatry. And we're going to start making fun of the fact that they’ve got some piece of wood or they’ve got some piece of stone or something. And with half of that piece of wood, they make an idol that they worship. And with the other half of that piece of wood, they make a chair or a toilet or something like that, right? Like, how can you worship half of the piece of wood, and then you're sitting on the other half? And so, it's just going through, it's just beautiful trash-talk, if you want to go through it, line by line. And so then in Isaiah 44:21-22, he says, “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
Now if you know what's going on in the history of Israel, the prophet Isaiah is pronouncing woe on the people, that they're going to be judged. Isaiah is getting it warmed up, Jeremiah is going to continue it. And then who is going to come in and wipe out Israel eventually? What's his name? Does anybody know his name? King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, right? So eventually, because of God's people's disobedience, the people are doing evil, and they are going to be judged for their evil, just like God said, If you don't believe me, if you don't listen to me, if you don't do what I say, This is what's going to happen to you. Another nation will come in, and they'll take you out of this land. Well, that's going to happen. But even when the nation is evil, and even when they're going to be judged for evil, God still is working all things together for good for his people. Okay, look what it says in Isaiah 44:24, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb.” Hey, I knew your whole story before you were even born. I am YHWH, who made how many things did he make there, everybody? All things? Like see, do you see how we're looking at one scene or maybe just even our own movie, and we're coming at God, like, hey, we've got a crisis point in this scene or this movie right here. And God's like, I already wrote the script of all these movies. I already knew your whole story. I already had this purpose. I already knew I was going to call you before the ages even began. You’ve got a problem with my story. I've already known it from before time, and we will be celebrating it for all of eternity. You think I made a mistake in my story? I am YHWH and I made all things. Like God's just trying to realize you're not the one sitting in the director's chair. You're not the scriptwriter of life. You are just actually a brief cameo appearance. Maybe we'll see you in the big movie. Maybe. If we look quickly, you might be in the big movie. That's actually the perspective. He said, You guys are worried about what's going to happen. I formed you in the womb. I am the Lord who made all things, who alone stretch out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself. And then I can frustrate the signs of liars. I can make fools of diviners, I can turn wisemen back, I can make their knowledge foolish. All these people want to do evil I can shut them all down. Who confirms the Word of his servant? Who fulfills the council of his messengers? Who says of Jerusalem she shall be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, they shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins. Do you realize what God is actually saying to Israel? Is he saying you're writing your destruction and I'm already working on the sequel of how I'm going to rescue you. That's what God's saying. You're working your way towards judgment. And I'm over here working all things together for good. And then God does something here that is one of the biggest flexes in world history. When he says in Isaiah 44:28, “who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my” Keyword: “Purpose”. Cyrus is the guy who leads the Medes and the Persians, the Empire after Babylon, maybe you know the story of the Medes and the Persians, how they come in one night and they wiped out Babylon and then eventually Cyrus, he is the leader of the Medes and the Persians. Guess what Cyrus does, and this is now being prophesied over way before it ever happens, before there are the Medes and the Persians, before Cyrus is even born, God lets his people know that it will be someone named Cyrus, who will let them come back to the promised land. You guys are working for your own judgment, you're going to get kicked out of this land. I already know the name of the guy that I'm going to put the words in his mouth to send you back to this land. You right now are working for evil. I'm actually the one working all things together for good.
Let's get this down from our national case study. Even if the people are evil in the entire nation, and the nation deserves judgment, God works all things for good. You want destruction, God's already getting the remnant ready. You want exile, God's already planning the return. He's already letting you know. In fact, he continues it in Isaiah 45:1, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed.” See, Cyrus would be the kind of guy that on planet earth seems like a big deal, a president, a king and emperor, someone who actually would get talked about in the history of planet earth. Cyrus, he is like a big guy around here powerful, mighty authority ruler, God’s like, yeah, I took that guy by the hand and showed him the way to go. You think the nations are doing things, you think that presidents are doing things? You think the governors are doing things? God says, I'm working all the things. These are all my puppet rulers. These are all the people that are just accomplishing what I'm doing, the big council, that I have my purpose. Here’s God saying, I'm going to tell that guy Cyrus, what to do Isaiah 45:4-7, “For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” That's what God wants you to know here tonight. That God does all things. Light and dark, well-being and calamity, he is working it all for your good and the glory of Jesus Christ. It is all going according to his purpose as what God wants. This is a precious verse. But it's way beyond me and you right here right now.
Point number two. Let's see if we can see this now about Romans 8:28, “You need to believe God is sovereign over all the things.” Believe God is sovereign over all the things. So when we say that God is sovereign, we think of Jesus saying all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. The idea of being Lord, the idea of being ruler if you want to know what sovereign means. It's right there in the word; it means that he reigns that he sits on a throne, that he does whatever he pleases, that he has absolute authority, that you can try to question but you cannot stop his purpose from taking place. You can think you have somehow stopped God by not believing in him. But God reigns and he is doing all the things. Every single thing is what he is doing. I mean, hear God say this to you today. I form light and create darkness I make wellbeing and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things. So, I mean, wow. That means behind every action, behind every nation, behind every governing authority, behind every evil group of people or evil person, behind all the things that they seem to be doing, God is working all things together for good.
Go over with me to Ephesians 1:22, because it doesn't just say this about God, the Father, it also says this about our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the ultimate purpose that God is working towards. It's not just you and me, experiencing goodness and glory forevermore, but it's actually establishing the kingdom of Jesus and giving all authority that's why that's such a big announcement when Jesus tells us to go and make disciples equals, when Jesus tells us to teach them to obey everything that I command you, and I'll be with you to the end of the age. Jesus starts all of that by saying, hey, God, the Father who can work all things, he just gave me authority over all things. Jesus is saying, I've been given the keys to the kingdom, I am the Lord, I am the absolute ruler, I call the shots, I am the boss, Jesus is saying, so go out there and do my work in the world, because I'm the one who has authority over the world. In fact, in Ephesians1:22, look at how it says it here that God put all things under his feet, that's God, the Father putting all things under the feet of Jesus. And he gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. So, everything that's going on in the world right now is under the feet of Jesus. And Jesus is the head over all of us in the church. And Jesus is going to make sure that, yes, it's all working for all of our good, but it's actually working for the good of his church on some kind of level that we can only get glimpses of. So many people are going to be saved. So many nations and tribes and tongues are going to be represented like there's something that's happening in your life right now, that may seem very bad could be about somebody else, being rescued out of the famine in the land about somebody else, finding the bread of life and living water for their soul. Like you don't even know how God's going to use something bad with you to reach this person over here that you haven't even met yet. But you might be best friends in eternity. Because the bad thing that happened to you, the bad thing that happened to you led to that person's eternal soul being saved forevermore. See, all things are under his feet, and he is the head over all things in the church.
And Hebrews chapter 1, verse 3, we’ve got to turn to this Hebrews 1:3, I couldn't believe this when I was studying this this week. Here's an epic description of Jesus and, and really how that God's purpose is to exalt Jesus. And because you've been saved by Jesus, because you love Jesus, because you're now living for Jesus, all things in your life are going to work for good because you're now on the purpose of Jesus. Jesus getting the glory as Lord is the ultimate purpose that God is working all things for. It's the ultimate good is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, the master who loved his servants so much he bled and died for that. And when it's given the glory here in Hebrews chapter 1, and it's saying that God has spoken to us, God is revealing himself to us, God's telling us what he's about in Jesus. And then it says this, Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” I looked this up in the Greek because I was following this little Greek word Panta, I was following in the accusative plural all over the Scripture, because that's the word Romans 8:28. And it took me here to Hebrews 1:3, and I was like, wait a minute, that's not all things. That's universe. And then I looked it up in this Greek reference, and this Greek Bible, and I found out that they put the word “universe” because that's how they wanted to translate “all things.” That Jesus, right now, by just the Word of his power, by just what Jesus says, he is sustaining the physical universe that we live in. I mean, all things down to the atom, to the cell to the molecule, all things down to that to that very little detail of your life, Jesus, and all of his radiance, in the exact image of God, Jesus is right now sustaining all things. And they're all working for a purpose. They are all working towards the plan. Sometimes people like, what they're judging a scene in the movie, and they're like, that was a terrible scene. That was a really bad thing. I don't like how this is working out. I don't like how my life is working out. I don't like this plot twist. I don't like this character development. I don't like where my story is going. Like, you just got to realize you're being short sighted. And there's things beyond what you can see. There was a scene once, where a father killed his one and only son. That seemed like a very bad scene. But the one that was going to be the Chosen One, the Messiah, the Savior of the nation, the answer of all the prophecies, the deliverer of God's people, and there he is naked, bleeding out on a tree, being mocked by all his enemies. You could call that the worst scene ever if you want to, but I see it as the most glorious thing that ever happened in the whole story of humanity. See, it's all a matter of perspective. You think it's bad that Jesus died, I think it's victory that Jesus died. You think it's bad that this is happening to you, but you don't know how God is working. He's working all things.
We had a memorial service here earlier today. It was very sad because a brother of ours, Brian Spielman, passed away over Memorial Day weekend, and I've gotten to know his parents a little bit through this. And you can just feel they were sitting right here in the front row. And you can just feel the sadness. Some of us as parents, we can only even imagine. How sad would you feel if one of your children died in front of you, and there was nothing you could do about it? Can you even imagine maybe some of you have experienced that grief of being a parent who loses a beloved child, maybe it was your only child. That's not something we would ever want to happen. That's not something we would wish on anybody. That seems bad. Kids shouldn't die before their parents. That's terrible. That is the greatest story ever told that the son died. And the father actually killed him so that this son could be raised, could be exalted, and could someday be glorified in front of everybody’s eyes. And now God, through that son dying, has saved you. And he's called you according to his purpose. And he is working all things towards that moment of the glory of Jesus Christ. It may look bad, but I promise you, God will make it beautiful in his time. God makes all things work together for good.
Father, we really need to hear this because we can't see this. And we want to know this. So, we pray that Romans 8:28 would not just encourage us in our own lives, so not just encourage our brothers and sisters, who are going through grievous trials here at our church. Father, I pray that everyone would be encouraged by Romans 8:28, that we would all see that you're working together for our good, I pray that we would all know that promise is true. And I pray for those who are going through life and death situations right now in our church family, people who right now feel abandoned by their family and feel like they're losing their job, or they're getting blamed for something they didn't do, or their body is going to stop working, or they're going to run out of money or they're going to lose that person they love. Father, I pray for everyone who is hurting in our church, that they could hear the promise that you are working all things together for good. And I pray that they would believe it, not because they could see it, but because you said it. Not because they can feel it. But because it's real. It's the whole story of our life, the whole story of our planet. It's all according to your purpose, but from before the age began. To the end of time, all things are working for the glory of Jesus and all of us who have been saved by Jesus, we will experience that glory that you can take even death and work it together for good. So, Father, I pray that we would believe it for ourselves. I pray that our hurting brothers and sisters would believe it. But I pray that tonight we could see so much more than just our own lives, or our own families, or our own church, or even our own country in the United States of America. Father, we're so concerned about what's happening in our country. We can't believe this is happening on our watch. We can't believe the evil and now people are turning away from you. And it seems all bad God. Help us to see all things work together for good. Even what is happening in America will be made beautiful in your time. Father, give us the faith to believe what your word says, open our eyes to see things that we cannot see. Let us be people who really trust that you are God and have and you do whatever you please. Father, thank you for the promise that everything, all things, will be made beautiful in your time. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.