One of the most beloved verses in scripture, quoted by anyone and everyone who’s been a Christian for any length of time, is Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” It’s one of those, what I call, “Christian fortune cookies,” that we all pull up and refer to whenever things aren’t going well. The only problem with quoting this verse is that we often forget that it’s not the whole verse. We leave out the most important part.
“All things” do not “work together for good,” if you do not understand the context of the little article “for,” between verses 28 and 29. The verses are intricately connected and need to be quoted together. Romans 8:29 reads, “for those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” What are you saying, Steve?” I’m saying that all things don’t work together for good, unless you understand the next verse. Let me explain.
In the foreknowledge of God, He chose you and me to be His beloved sons and daughters, (read all of Romans 8 for further context). He is “Abba, Father,” lovingly forming us into, not our image, but His own image. Most often He uses difficulties, even extreme pain in our life, to form His image within us. This is the point, and the only point, of all things working towards our good. He’s forming us, purifying us, through His extreme, refining heat.
Abba wants refined sons and daughters of the kingdom that increasingly look like Him.
Like real silver in the refinery vat, heated to 1,764 degrees Fahrenheit, for the process of perfectly refining the silver. He is doing the same thing in our lives. He takes us through the refining heat of marriage, job, parenting, singleness and adverse relationships, to conform us into His image. It’s hard; it’s difficult, but when we have been trained by it, when we have been surrendered to His process of refining, He forges us to look more like His Son. Then and only then, do all things work together for good.
Steve Holt M.A., D.D.
My newest book, WorshipperWarrior, can be found at www.steveholtonline.org