Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

All Things or All These Things?
Romans 8:28 (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.
Context, Context, Context
Based on Romans 8 29, If you love God, everything that happens to you is for your good;  and since God is in control of all things (according to this argument), He is actually causing the things in your life with which you are struggling.  Those Christians who are dying in the Ukraine are supposedly dying because God is working things out for their good or for the good of their loved ones (according to this argument). When a true believer is murdered or is a victim of theft or other acts of violence, God is working all of this out for the good of that person who loves God (according to this argument).  I have trouble with the general statement that God is always in control and that no matter what happens to a Christian, God is doing this for our good.   We need to distinguish between what God allows and what God causes.
God is omnipotent, that is He is all powerful.  God could micromanage everything that happens on this earth, but He doesn’t.  He has given mankind instructions (the Bible) and then He has delegated authority to mankind.  Mankind has the option of doing what God wants or He has the option of disobeying.  When mankind is disobeying, is God in control?  In the sense that He allows disobedience, I suppose the answer could be YES.  In the sense that He causes the disobedience, the answer would be a definite NO.  
God has given man the ability to walk according to the spirit and to walk according to the flesh.  If that were not true, it would not have been necessary for the apostle Paul to write Romans 8. Disobedience is a theme in the Bible and when the unsaved or the saved walk in disobedience, I am not going to say God is in control just as I am not going to say that a parent is in control when their two-year old throws a temper tantrum in the grocery store.  However, I am going to say that God is not surprised by the disobedience and He has allowed it, but never will I charge God with having caused it.
But while everything that the Holy Spirit does is done for our good, I personally do not believe that all things work together for good to those who love God.  There is a real adversary called the devil who hinders us from trusting the Lord before we are saved and who puts a bullseye on our backs after we are saved.  Nothing he does is done for our good and often we “walk in the flesh” and fall into his traps.  That is why there is a practical exhortation in this chapter to walk after the spirit and not after the flesh (see vs 12-13).
For Example
I am convinced that both Adam and Eve loved God.  However, the serpent (the wiley, deceitful, clever liar) convinced Eve to disobey and Adam followed along.  Was God in control of Adam and Eve when that happened?  Their sin has led to our whole society being born with a sin nature.  That led to Eve having a first born son who was a murderer. Obviously, God knew this was going to happen and provided a plan of salvation for us.  But to say that this has worked together for good to them that love God is using words in a way that they are not usually understood.  Death which resulted from Adam and Eve’s sin is considered to be an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26).  I personally would have loved to live in the unspoiled Garden of Eden rather than living in the present fallen world that resulted from their disobedience..  
In the context of Romans 8, I think it would have been better to have translated verse 8 this way:  And we know that all these things that the Holy Spirit does work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Remember the first rule of Bible interpretation is context, context, context.
It is common place for Christians to say, “God is in control” when bad things happen.  I wonder what an unsaved person hears when he hears a Christian say that.  While we know that God knows exactly what is happening in our lives and in our world, I would hope that we would make it clear that by saying “God is in control” we are never saying that God is the cause of the evil in this world.
No, all things do not work together for good for those who love the Lord, but all the things that the Holy Spirit does for us do.  It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and draws us to the Lord for salvation.  It is the Holy Spirit that intercedes for us in prayer in ways we hardly understand.  We can be thankful for all that the Holy Spirit does in our lives.
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the weeks of March 20 and March 27, 2022

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>