January 30 - Romans 8:28-34

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Romans 8:28-34 – God Works for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

This is one of people's most favorite passages and sometimes we forget to read it completely in context. While it is a new paragraph in Paul's letter, he is still considering the work of the Spirit in bringing us into a relationship with God through prayer. Those things that we have no words to speak, the Spirit says. He "intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:27b).

It is the Spirit's work in our lives, interceding … helping us in our weakness … that brings us to this moment. It is God who searches hearts who works all things for good. Paul is clearly not speaking of the 'good' in verse 28 as something that is a temporary pleasure or easing of pain. It is not about what we believe is good, it is the final good, the bringing together of all things under the will of God.

In the next verses, we find the foundation for the doctrine of predestination and this space is not nearly enough to discuss the opposing understandings of Paul's teaching. But consider that God knows us all from long before we were born. And, consider that this predestination is not necessarily WHO will become a believer, but that those who do become believers will become like Christ. Those who are justified … saved by grace … are "conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). This was the plan God had and set in place … that we who believe will become like Jesus Christ.

What are we to conclude from this chapter? We have been adopted (v. 15), we are co-heirs with Christ (v. 17), we have received the Spirit (v. 23) who takes our prayers and intercedes for us and lays them before God (v. 26). Through faith we are justified (v. 30) and our future is so certain that it is spoken of in the present tense (v. 30).

With all of this in place – if God is for us, who can be against us? God didn't spare his Son to redeem the world, why would he also not graciously give us all things. And to finish out this verse, Paul asks who is it who condemns us. Not Christ. He died for us and is sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us. If anyone has the authority to condemn the world, it would be Jesus and he refuses to do so.