|Pic. Credit. Charles Philip|
by Roy Z
The few days of a new year are always filled with promise. We are eager to begin the year with renewed vigor and fresh goals.
Soon, however, that initial thrust loses speed as the days and weeks fly by. We begin to get weary. With all of our job pressures and/ or school activities, we become like the man who decided that having only “in” and “out” baskets on his desk was inadequate. He felt he needed four baskets—and he put the following tags on each one: “urgent.” “frantic,” overdue” and “forget it.”
When we can see our goals clearly and can see the possibility of making them, we are encouraged. But without the goals immediately before us, and the prospect of reaching them diminishing, we begin to lose our perspective.
In our Christian life, as well, it possible to lose our perspective as we press on toward greater spiritual growth. When we do not have God’s perspective clearly defined, we can lose out.
One of the greatest Bible passages on the proper perspective on life is Romans 8:28-39. The reason this passage is so great is that it looks at life an its goals from God’s perspective. I call it the glory passage because verses 28-30 say that we are predestined for glory, and verse 31-39 say we are preserved for glory.
Notice verse 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.” We know—though we may not sense it in our expertise—that God works for the good of those who love Him.
There are many things we do not know, but we do know that God is at work in every circumstance in our life. God is meshing everything together in our life like a giant puzzle. This does not mean that everything is good in itself only that things are working together for our good.
Are you aware of the amazing inclusiveness in this verse? Paul said that all things work together—including the trials mentioned in verses 35 and 36. It does not say some, or many or most—but all The problems we face do not signify that God’s plan; they are incidents that are a part of His plan.
One time a cowboy decided he should have some insurance since he was working out on a big ranch. So he contacted an insurance agent. One day the agent came out to see him and to ask him a few questions to fill out a form.
“Have you ever had any accidents?” the agent asked
“No,” the cowboy answered.
“Are you saying that you have never been hurt here on the ranch?” the agent replied.
The cowboy thought a minute and then said, “Well, a branco kicked me in the ribs last summer and a couple of years ago a rattlesnake bit me on the ankle.”
“You wouldn’t call those accidents? The agent inquired
The cowboy then answered in all seriousness, “No, they did it on purpose.”
In God’s plan, things are not accidents: they are on purpose. And for whom is this true? To those who love Him (the human side) and those “who are the called [converted] according to his purpose” (the divine side).
Sir James Thornhill was completing a painting in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. He was high on a scaffolding, with an assistant working with him to hand him the brushes and oils. As Thornhill stepped back on one occasion to get a better look at the painting, his assistant realized that if he were to take one more step he would plunge to his death below.
The assistant was fearful of shouting a warning to the artist thing that that might startle him and cause him to lose his balance. Instead, he took a brush and made a swath across the painting. Sir James Thornhill ran up to him and said, “What are you doing? Why did you ruin this painting that we have worked on for months?” When the assistant very calmly explained why, Thornhill’s tone changed completely. He realized that what seemed to be bad and undesirable was actually for his ultimate good. How true is this in our Christ life?
But we must not lover look verse 29, 30 when studying verse 28. These two verses take us from eternity past to eternity future.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (v. 29). To foreknow, means that God had regard for, or made a loving choice of. Therefore, whom God had regarded for, Paul said, He predestinated.
Furthermore, the word “predestinated” means “to determine the end result before hand.” And that end result is that we would be confirmed to Christ’s image. We are not just saved by Him. We will be conformed to Him. God is not satisfied that we be like Christ in some superficial way, but that we would have a genuine likeness in sharing His splendor.
Verse 30 speaks of the steps by which this takes place: “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called [saved].” God takes the initiative in the regenerating and convicting work of the Holy Spirit. “Whom he called, them he also justified [pronounced free from guilt and declared righteous by imputing Christ’s righteousness]: and whom he justified, them he also glorified [honored].”
The step of sanctification is not mentioned in this verse because it is considered part of glorification. Think of it this way: Sanctification is glorification begun; glorification is sanctification completed.
Notice the word “glorified” is in past tense. God looks from and through the lenses of eternity. To us these things are steps in time; to God they are as good as completed—and we cannot undo His work.
In verse 31, Paul asked: “What shall we then say to these things?” He answered his own question: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” the idea is that no one can, successfully.
It does not matter who is against us, because God is for us and He is greater than all. Some may try to oppose us, but they will be unsuccessful. Why? Because there is not change in God’s provision (see v. 32), there is not charge against God’s people (see vv.33,34), and there is no separation from God’s power (see vv 35-39).
First, God’s provision was His own Son, the Lord Jesus, the greatest possession He has. And as verse 32 states, God will certainly give us all the other lesser things we need as well. He met our major need for eternity; He will certainly meet our minor needs in time.
Second, there is no charge against God’s people because God has justified us. If someone could indict us, what would that do to the work of God in justification? Neither can we be condemned because Jesus Christ endured our judgment on the cross. We are free. There can be no indictment; the case against us is dismissed.
Third, no one can separate us from God. We cannot be pulled away from that love,. Unbelievers may see us having problems and think that Christ has withdrawn His love from us. We may even agree with them and start to lose our perspective.
So Paul lists seven circumstances—the first is of which he himself had endured (see II Cor. 6:1-10; 11:1-33)—that would not separate a believer from God’s love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (v. 35). Then in verse 37 he answers with a resounding “Nay!”
Even the sword—a picture expressed in verse 36 of sheep being slaughtered—cannot separate us from the love of God. An a matter of fact, Paul said that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (v. 37). Why does he say we can more than conquer? Because we are not only victors, we are also possessors of the spoils. No matter what troubles, hardships, or dangers come, we are conquerors—and then some.
In the final two verses of this chapter, Paul bursts into a victorious crescendo as he lists ten things that cannot possibly separate us from God’s love. “Death” cannot separate us because then we will be in the presence of God. “”life” does not separate us because Christ is living within us. The “angels” will not separate us because they are ministering spirits. “Principalities” or “powers” (demons, or perhaps human government) cannot separate us because Christ is greater than they.
“Things present,” the hardships of today, or “: things to come,” the uncertainties of the future, cannot separate us from God. Nor can “height” and “depth” separate us. Nothing overhead can come bursting down on us suddenly, and nothing hidden can come rising over the horizon and separate us from God’s love.
He concludes by saying, “nor any creature.” There is absolutely nothing or no one able to drive a wedge between us and God’s love for us. There is no chance of separation because of that love.
These 12 verses are a tremendous shout of triumph for the believer. What an exclamation point from the heart of Paul regarding the assurance and security of the believer and God’s perspective on life. It removes the element of fear.
Whatever the problem, God will see us through. Whatever happens this week, this month or this year will simply be part of God’s purpose in continuing what He has started in us (se Phil. 1:6). There is no change in God’s provisions, there is no charge against God’s people, and there is no separation from God’s love. Rejoice in all of these things as you face circumstances and people today.