Thursday, June 08, 2006

Is Romans 8:28 for Everyone?

To answer the subject line quickly: No, Romans 8:28 is not for everyone. There are two qualifiers in this verse that warrant investigation. The promise of Romans 8:28 applies to this type of person:

1. One who loves God.
2. The one called according to His purpose.

The first one we can delve into without moving past 8:28, the second will take a few more verses to unpack. It is enough here to note that if one does not love God, then the things that befall this one in life are not working out for their good, but rather, I believe, we may be able to say:

For we know that all things work together for evil to those who hate God.

Now, this may not be a true statement, and it certainly isn't Scripture. However, it does serve to make a good point, and I will try to explain why this is true, at least on some levels.

How is it possible then, that all things work for the hurt of those who hate God? Seemingly, the wicked seem to prosper greatly in this life. The apparent success of the wicked provoked the Psalmist Asaph to jealousy. He wrote, "For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the propserity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:3). Think of the many wealthy and powerful that you know of who have no love of God. Do things seem to be working together for their hurt? It may not look like it, but I am afraid that they are, and horribly so.

A Christian can find peace in suffering because he knows that God is working things out for their good. He can find peace in prosperity because he knows that blessing is a gift from God. To the Christian, God is the ground of joy through which they may hope in times of good and bad. The God-hater does not have this foundation, and so no joy can last.

In blessing, there is no peace for the pagan heart. Their hope is cast entirely upon worldly things, and they innately know that such treasures are fleeting. Money, fame, beauty, and power are truly here today and gone tomorrow. Even in the birth of a child, the joy is fleeting. They cannot keep a child truly safe, nor make it live, nor can they keep it forever. Lasting joy cannot be found in things that are not lasting.

In bad times, there is no peace for the pagan heart. When strength fails, and beauty leaves, and riches vanish, their treasure and hope flees with it. At the loss of a loved one, they have no solid hope that they will see them again or that they are taken care of. So despair is the only natural course for the fleshly heart in either blessing or cursing.

As if these things were not enough, blessings will haunt the pagan in eternity. For every breath that God gives, for every love that they experience, for every sunset, for every meal, they will give an account for why they spurned God's graciousness in these things. If God, in His mercy toward the wicked, grants a gift to a pagan that He withholds from His own beloved people, how much shall they be held accountable for not giving thanks for such a precious gift? How many Christians long for children, never to receive that blessing? How many God-despisers are given that gift and never acknowledge the goodness of the Giver of life? In the end, their blessings will be turned to cursings because of their ingratitude and idolatry. The gift is still good, it is the attitude of the recipient that will draw the ire of the Almighty.

More blessing means more worry and higher accountability for the wicked. Worry comes because they cannot hold fast to the fleeting pleasures of this life. Accountability comes because they have been profoundly blessed by a generous God and have never acknowledged this fact. They become arrogant because of their blessings, and they curse God when they lose their worldly treasures. How miserable is the pagan heart who can find no peace or hope in God's graciousness because of unbelief!

So sadly, I say that Romans 8:28 is not for everyone. The promise of all things working together for good only applies to those who love God and no one else. Indeed, the opposite may be true if I am right; everything is working together for their ruin.


Even So... said...
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Even So... said...

It is only by His grace that we are all not now consumed, both those whom are the objects of His saving grace, and those who are vessels of wrath.