Do All Things Work Together For Good?

Many Christians would instantly say “Yes!” And a quick look at
Romans 8:28 in many Bible translations seems to confirm their
answer.

But is that what Romans 8:28 really means?

ROMANS 8:28 NASB
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for
good to those who love God, to those who are called according
to His purpose.

ROMANS 8:28 NIV
28 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.

While several translations can give us a different view on this
(like both of those above), it is not necessary for us to judge
translations or learn the meaning of Greek words to realize
some basic facts.

First, if everything that happened was good for us, then God
would never tell us to resist or refrain from anything. (And He
does!)

Therefore, everything is not God’s will for us. Neither can we
consider everything to be good.

So this verse cannot be saying that everything that happens is
good, or that it will cause good in our life. Instead, as the
translations above reveal, God is working to cause things to
end up good.

Yes, God is able to bring good out of bad situations. But God
should be given the credit, not the bad things.

If you believe God is working everything out for your good, He
will. But that does not mean God planned or desired bad things
to come into your life.

The Bible teaches that some things are bad. Sin is bad.
Sickness is bad. Poverty is bad. Selfishness is bad. Pride is
bad.

Is God able to turn things around and produce good, even after
bad things have happened? Yes!

God is always working to cause good. But that does not mean
everything that happens is good.

I know this verse is a cornerstone of many people’s faith. For
some it is really almost all they believe. This has been their
comfort in times of trouble when they did not understand.

But we need to grow in understanding. Just because we required
a pacifier as a baby does not mean we should always use one.

If all things work for our good, then why would God tell us to
resist the devil, or to refrain from certain activities?

God is working all the time to make things turn out good for us
who belong to Him. But that does not mean everything that comes
along is good for us. No! There are things we should refuse.
There are things we should resist.

Everything is not good and we should not accept everything as
being God’s will. The Bible instructs us so we can know God’s
will and resist all that is not God’s will.

Some may think bad things actually cause good, but that is not
true. We all know stories of people who, in the midst of great
trouble, turned to the Lord. Many use such accounts to claim
that everything works out for good. But that requires you to
ignore the greater number of people who turn away from the Lord
because of trouble.

Some have been told that suffering bad things is God’s plan for
them so that somehow others may be helped. But the Bible
teaches that Jesus already suffered all that was required for
people to be blessed.

The final end result for a believer who loves God and trusts
Him is that all things will work out for their good. Even the
bad things that come into their life will turn out to be
stepping-stones to a higher level instead of stumbling-blocks.
But it is dependent on that believer keeping their trust in the
Lord, loving Him, and allowing God to work things out. It is
not automatic.

Note that Romans 8:29 (the next verse) is a continuation of the
same thought. What is being said in Romans 8:28 is only part of
the statement. To get the right understanding, you need the
whole thought. Romans 8:29 starts with “For” or “because.”

ROMANS 8:29 NET
29 because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be
conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the
firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

The plan of God is that we become like Jesus. Bad things are
happening on earth because mankind allowed the devil and his
ideas a place here. Those bad things give us an opportunity to
overcome, to walk in love, and to grow into more Christ-
likeness. But bad things do not make us more like Christ. It is
only when we turn to the Lord (even in the midst of trouble)
and allow Him to work in us, that we are transformed into being
more like Him.

Multitudes of people experience bad things in life, who instead
of getting better because of them, get bitter and worse.

So do not take this one short phrase “all things work together
for good” out of context. It does not include everyone, only
those who love God, and it is only true in relation to God’s
purpose in making us more like Jesus. And that does not happen
because of bad things, but only when we love God and trust Him
even when bad things happen.

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