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Enjoying God Blog

Today we come to the third truth in Romans 8:28. But we have a problem. All along I’ve been saying that “God” causes or works all things together for our good. But the ESV translation doesn’t contain the word “God.” It simply says, “all things work together for good.” The NASB version includes a reference to God. So which is it? There are good Greek manuscripts that support both the exclusion of the word “God” as well as its inclusion.

So, why do I believe it is permissible to include “God” in this scenario even if we decide he is not mentioned in the best Greek manuscripts? I have three reasons.

First, Paul says later in v. 28 that we are called according to a “purpose.” But what is a “purpose”? A purpose is a conscious intent to accomplish a goal. A purpose, therefore, demands a “purposer” (even though there is no such word), someone who intends to take the seemingly random and senseless things of life and make of them something profitable and lasting. Things in and of themselves do not think or formulate a plan. Yet Paul says that all things work together for our good. How can that be unless it is God who providentially uses those things to accomplish his purpose?

Second, as noted earlier, the basis for Paul’s confident assertion in v. 28 is the reality of the divine plan of salvation in vv. 29-30. The reason we are assured that the things in this life work ultimately for our good is that God is working to bring us into conformity with his son (v. 29). Thus, our faith and hope are in God, not in “things,” be they good or bad.

Have you ever caught yourself saying to someone who is suffering through difficult times, “Hey, don’t worry; I just know things will be all right”? Or perhaps you have consoled them by saying, “Don’t despair; these things just have a way of working themselves out in time.” If you have, you need to go back and apologize and set matters straight. “Things” have no such power. All “things” are subservient to God’s providential will. If things do work out, if in time one’s situation does improve, it is only because of God’s marvelous, matchless, merciful control of every “thing” that exists.

Third, I simply remind you of Paul’s statement in Ephesians 1:11 where he says this:

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).

How does it strike you to know that God is at work for you? What effect does it have on your heart to know that he is not a passive spectator or a disinterested observer but an ever-present providential Lord? If, as Paul says, God “works all things according to the counsel of his will,” then surely the one who has a purpose in all our suffering and labors to cause all things to work for our good is God.


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