Romans 8:28 is, without question, one of the most oft-quoted scriptures from the New Testament. It assures us that even though some of life’s events appear to have no rhyme or reason, they will work together for good. We just don’t know how. However, if we read through the rest of this verse and include the next, Romans 8:29, we will have our answers. We’re not meant to be left in the dark.
During a 2002 Billy Graham seminar in North Carolina, Pastor Adrian Rogers addressed this very matter. “Many times, this promise has been trivialized. For example, someone may be driving down the road and a tire will blow out. The person may say, ‘Oh, well, the Bible says that “all things work together for good.” Maybe there’s a sale on tires.’ However,” Rogers continues, “That isn’t what this verse means. The ‘good’ is not to make us necessarily healthy or happy but to make us holy, to make us like Jesus.”
I believe the reason this scripture is so easily trivialized is that we stop reading too soon, causing us to miss the overall context. For these two verses tell us that we can know the mystery behind puzzling circumstances and how they work together for good.
- 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.”
- 29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” NKJV
To break it down:
- “All things working for good” indicates a plan, something being worked toward.
- The plan is addressed to those who love God.
- Those who love God are the called according to His purpose (or plan).
- Those same people are foreknown by God.
- Those whom He knew ahead of time were predestined for something.
- The “something” was to be conformed (made to be like) His Son.
It is clear throughout the New Testament that God the Father plans for us to be Christ-like.
But as with the potter and the clay, we come to Him in raw condition. An unformed “lump ” you might say. He, then, as the Potter, can only accomplish this transformation by pushing, pulling, forming our clay into an image (likeness of) His Son. During the early days of the church, the Apostle Paul told the Galatians that he would labor with them until Christ was formed in them (Galatians 4:19).
James 1:2 encourages us to “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” In the words of Adrian Rogers, “God can take things that are bad and put them in the crucible of His wisdom and love. He works all things together for good, and He gives us the glorious, wonderful promise that He will do so.”
That good, is being conformed to the image of Christ.