by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 5 February 12, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
1901 ASV Translation:
28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.
I. Paul's Deliberate "Limitation".
A. It is clear that "all things" do not work together for the good of all men. Some end up in the Lake of Fire.
B. It is clear that "all things" do not work together for the good of all believers. Some end up losing at least a portion of their reward (2 John 1:8) and are to be ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28).
C. But this text says that all things do work together for good for those who are loving God.
1. The significance of the present tense participle ("loving") has two elements: first, the necessity of "loving"; and, second, the "on-going" necessity of "loving".
2. It is never true that "all things work together for good" for those who "hate" God, so if "love" ever turns to "hate", this supreme statement of victorious confidence will turn into vanity. Alternatively, even if "hate" turns to "love", the things done while "hating" are not declared to "work together for good".
II. The Central Question: How Do All Things Work Together For Good?
A. We live in a very real cause/effect universe that extends to "quality of Life" issues. Paul made this as clear as he could in Galatians 6:7-8 where he took the "farming" metaphor of sowing and reaping and applied it to the "Life" realms of "sowing to the flesh" and "sowing to the Spirit" and, thus also, "reaping corruption" or "reaping eternal life".
B. There is no way that "sowing to the flesh" can work for "good" or God is mocked. All sin leads inexorably to Death is some form or fashion without exception.
C. Therefore, for "all things" to work together for good, there must, of necessity be the limitation that Paul put forward before he made the declaration: for those who "love God" and, therefore, are not sinning "all things" work together for good.
D. This is not to say that by divine sowing into a sinful field "good" cannot come. It always does -- for the law of sowing and reaping includes God's activities, which are always good and always lead to a "good" harvest. Therefore, if a man sins and Death becomes a factor in his experience and if God responds in grace so that Life can become a factor, "good" can arise even within a context of sin, but not because of it. If, by the imposition of judgment by God upon a man for his sins, that man is brought to humility and repentance, he is brought to "good" by divine action, not his own.