Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Context! Context! Context!


Romans 8:28 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.

Do all things work together for GOOD to those who love God?  The Lord says that they do so they must, but in what sense is this true?  I believe that the all things that work together for good to those who love God are the things that the Holy Spirit does for believers in Christ as mentioned in the chapter. 
The Unwise Use of this Verse
On the news recently a woman was found in her car having been shot.  She has not died but I am certain she does not think getting shot was “good.”  This week, there have been shootings in movie theaters, shootings at Army posts, and shootings in many other places where the inhumanity of man to man has been demonstrated.  I do not think any of these shootings were “good.”  This week a six year old drowned at a recreational beach a few miles from where I live.  The drowning was an accident,  but it will change the life of that family forever.  I doubt that they are thanking the Lord for the death of that child.

We had a committed Christian friend who took care of her husband as he died a slow death from colon cancer.  While she took care of him, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which was apparently cured.  Then after her husband died she remarried and within months of her remarriage, she was struck with brain cancer.  We watched her die a slow death.  This is what God calls GOOD?  No way! 

It would not be helpful and could even be considered cruel to tell all these people that “all things work together for good” to those who love God.  To do so is implying that they don’t love God, and some of these people might not.  In addition, for those who do love God, we are saying that this is the “good” that God has wished upon them.  I strongly urge people to think before misusing a verse like this and thinking that they will be a help and a comfort to those who are suffering.

Ultimate Good!
I realize that there is a sense in which God can use evil for our good.  We would not have known how much God loves us if there had not been disobedience in the Garden of Eden.  But to say that the sorrow that came into this world because of that sin is “good” is not something I am willing to say.  Thorns, thistles, wars, murder, chronic sickness, and sorrow are the result of that disobedience in the garden.  Even though the saved that die in car accidents, and that die in war, and that die from cancer do experience the ultimate “good” of being free from sin and its consequences, I don’t think that is what this verse is talking about.  The normal sense of the words would be taken to mean that all things work together for good NOW and that ultimately good is going to come out of tragedy.  While that often happens, that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes people come to know the Lord because of sorrow and tragedy but sometimes they don’t.  So what does the verse really mean?

The Great Conflict
In the chapter there is a great conflict between the flesh and the Spirit.  The flesh is our nature that we got from Adam and that nature is expressed in appetites or “fleshly lusts” that “war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).”  The Holy Spirit is the indwelling Spirit of God that we are given the moment we trust Christ (Romans 8:9).  The Holy Spirit gives us power over the flesh or carnal mind.  He gives us hope or the promise of a glorious future.  The Holy Spirit helps us pray.  He predestined the saved (those who are called or named saints) to be conformed to the image of the Lord.

The conclusion of the matter is seen in the final part of the chapter.  If God be for us (the true believer), who can be (successful) against us? Romans 8:35 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  And so, yes, ultimately we end up on the winning side if we are truly saved.  But when going through these trials it is well to remember that the Holy Spirit is not engineering these difficulties.  Instead the Holy Spirit is doing good by strengthening us for the battle.

All things in this life do not work together for good because Satan is alive and active on planet earth.  He knows how to destroy that which glorifies God.  But all things that the Holy Spirit is doing for us is good and is for our good.  And that is encouraging.

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of August 9, 2015

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