Romans 8:28-30 (v28b)
Last week we began to open up this glorious passage from scripture. And we focused in on v28.
28 "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” ()
This is a statement that we are to “know”. We are to comprehend the sovereign control of God over our lives.
The fact that God is in the midst of our trial and sufferings.
He’s not just in the midst, but He’s working for our eternal good.
Which was the character of God’s sovereign control. He’s working for our good.
And that knowing this and seeing the good hand of God in the midst of sufferings,
could actually allow you to pray and sing after being beaten and thrown into prison (as our brothers: Paul and Silas).
It’s the second half of v28 that I want to draw your attention to this morning.
They and they alone have the right to the promise in v28.
They are those “who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”
Today I want to show you from v28 the description of those who are partakers of the promise in this verse. Let’s see first...
What is their CHARACTER? “of those who love God”. This is the mark of a true believer.
It’s only in the case of those who love God is it true that all things work together for good.
There’s many verses like this. Let me give you one from each testament.
9 "Know that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps his gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love him and keep his commands.” ()
12 "Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” ()
This ties right into point two.
Who CALLED them? “who are called according to His purpose.”
The people who were called according to God’s purpose are, therefore, those who were effectively called.
They are those whose hearts and minds were so thoroughly influenced by the Holy Spirit that
they became aware of their sinfulness,
began to understand their need of Christ, and
embraced him as their Lord and Savior.
The introduction of this letter, Paul addresses his readers with this: 7 "To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” ()
Paul felt that it was necessary to add the words, “to those who are called according to his [God’s] purpose,” in order that
the Romans and all who would read this letter or hear it read to them
would realize that no one can ever truly love God unless first of all he is effectively called.
In other words, the apostle to the Gentiles is here expressing substantially the same thought
as did the apostle John when he wrote, “We love God because he first loved us” ().
What Paul is really saying then, here in , is this,
“We know that to those who love God and do so because of God’s work in them, as determined by his sovereign, elective purpose, all things work together for good.”
All things work together for good of those who love God.
What is it to love God? To love something is to see that object as supremely good and evil as something to be separated from and despised.
And before Christ we saw other things as good and paid no real mind to God.
We worshiped and served ourselves all that time and saw other things as supremely good worthy of our affection.
But when Christ came and revealed to love of God to our hearts and our eyes were sovereignly opened, we beheld God as never before!
So why would a person love God?
Consider how excellent God is in Himself.
First of all..
[1.]God is essentially good. This is should make God winsome to us.
The glorious perfection of His nature become the objects of our esteem, which is the ground of love.
We have affections for what we prize and value. This is why we praise Him with songs. Songs help to increase our affection for God as we praise Him for His excellencies.
If we don’t love God, our praise is empty.
Think of the angels in glory and blessed spirits that do admire and adore God for the excellencies of His nature,
not just for the benefits that they receive from Him but as He is
an infinite and eternal being, of glorious and incomprehensible majesty; they cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Now God must in some measure be served on earth as he is in heaven.
Surely we should not speak, or think, or worship the infinite eternal God, without some act of love, holy delight, and pleasure:
1 "Hallelujah! How good it is to sing to our God, for praise is pleasant and lovely.” ()
1 "Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation!” ()
We sing and shout joyfully & triumphantly to the rock of our salvation and we’re filled with thanksgiving why? Because God is great!
2 "Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to him in song. 3 "For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” ()
11 "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May you shelter them, and may those who love your name boast about you.” ()
So we find great delight in God’s essential perfections.
[2.]We also love God for His beneficial goodness as well.
5 "For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.” ()
We should love God that His faithful love endures forever!
When the Lord draws us to Himself for salvation He does so by our own interests and the benefits we have or may have by Him.
5 "For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abounding in faithful love to all who call on you.” ()
When under the load of guilt and shame because of your sin, you are desirous of God’s kindness and forgiveness.
This is what attracts the heart of guilty sinners to seek after God, but once we receive our new hearts, we just see God as altogether lovely in Himself.
SO we should love God because of the excellency of God’s nature shown in
His essential goodness and
His beneficial goodness.
SECOND God does good and has been good to us.
[1.] He’s been good to us, As in creation.
He made us out of nothing, after His own image. May we remember Him as our Creator.
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, p. 281). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
1 "So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the years approach when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;” ()
All that we are and have, we have it from God and for God.
[2.] He’s been good to us also in Redemption. Here’s where we have the greatest representation of the goodness of God.
Manton, T. (1873). The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (Vol. 12, p. 278). London: James Nisbet & Co.
10 "Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ()
[3.] God has been good to us in the mercies of His daily governance over our lives.
“love the LORD your God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. For he is your life, and he will prolong your days...” ().
Especially see the tender care of the Father for His people.
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.”
23 "Love the Lord, all his faithful ones. The Lord protects the loyal, but fully repays the arrogant.” ()
Part of those daily mercies is that He hears your prayers...
1 "I love the Lord because he has heard my appeal for mercy.” ()
[4.] God does good to us in the rewards of the world that is to come.
These rewards are especially provided for them that love Him.
9 "But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived— God has prepared these things for those who love him.” ()
1 "See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him. 2 "Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is.” ()
Thus God is the object of our love.
And those whom God has sovereignly called into salvation are going to respond in certain ways to the One they love.
[1.] They will earnestly seek after God as their supreme enjoyment while here on earth.
They seek and value those mercies which are most valued by God and are nearest to Him, and show us the most of God.
So the saints are described as hungering and thirsting in .
They earnestly desire to be like God in purity and holiness.
And His sanctifying Spirit is the surest pledge of God’s love:
5 "...because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” ()
And He is the One who helps us the most to love God again:
15 "... you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”” ()
And things that would pull us away from God that please our flesh, like:
wealth and the praise of man, and the pleasures of this world are abstained from because they divert us from God!
But saving grace, as it comes from God, so it carries us to Him.
So they earnestly seek Him.
[2.] They delight in God. So far as they enjoy God, believers delight in God.
6 "Many are asking, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of your face shine on us, Lord. 7 "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound.” ()
His favor is life to us. His displeasure is death to our souls!
7 "Lord, when you showed your favor, you made me stand like a strong mountain; when you hid your face, I was terrified.” ()
They earnestly seek Him and delight in Him and are so satisfied in God that they make it their aim to please God.
9 "Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.” ()
So God has been and will be eternally good to us and His people know that, and by grace
they earnestly seek God and delight in God and seek to live in a way that pleases God which how they love God.
This is the nitty gritty now. God works all things together for God to those who love Him!
What’s our love for God look like?
[1.] It’s not an emotional or sappy love. It’s practical love.
True love for God is seen in obedience.
15 "“If you love me, you will keep my commands.” () 3 "For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden,” ()
Our love is a love of the privilege of loving God. The obligation and charge to every man, woman, and child is to love God.
We, those saved by the sweet grace of Christ Jesus in the gospel, get to (not have to) get to, are privileged to be those on earth who love and adore God!
We’re the ones who have the deepest sense of His majesty. We’re the ones seeking His favor, that we’d rather not do things that will
make a breach of our privilege, or
do anything that will grieve His Spirit or
dishonor His Name!
It’s not a temporary, flash in the pan, love. It’s a fixed love.
Because of the transformation of our new hearts beloved, we are now inclined towards God.
When God speaks to His children, it moves them. He leaves deep impressions upon their hearts.
Our minds actually thing about way in which we can glorify God and desires to do His will.
Then bent of our minds, brothers and sisters is Godward! It’s towards God in heaven!
Some who sit in church have good inclinations but are as unstable as water, being divided between God and the world.
He’s like the man who prays but has doubts.
6 "But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 "That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, 8 "being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.” ()
God’s people are always fighting to keep God first.
That He has no rivals and no competitor that stand in between God and our souls.
25 "Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you.” ()
[3.] This isn’t a cold love but a fervent love. We’re not to love God any ol’ way.
We’re to love God with the greatest vigor and intensity of all of our affections!
37 "He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” ()
The Holy Spirit heaps these words together to increase the sense that our love may be a
growing love, made alive and increased to higher degrees!
FIRST. It’s God that is loved, not the creature. You love your neighbor as yourself but you love God with all your heart!
Human psychology says that we need to love ourselves more and better. Which is just selfish and completely against what God says.
Love God supremely, love your neighbor, then you’ll know how to love yourself.
If you don’t love God and love those around you, you’ll run in circles!
Because our starting point for love is with God not ourselves! So the whole “we need to learn to love ourselves more” mumbo jumbo isn’t true!
I can show you boat loads of verses on loving God and other, but loving our selves? NONE!
In Scripture, you find nothing of this.
So everyone gets a trophy in T-ball so that we don’t feel bad about ourselves isn’t the right approach.
Teaching children how to love God and love others teaches them about themselves.
We never have to be taught to love ourselves. Paul’s words will do:
That we should be "...demonstrating utter faithfulness, so that they may adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,” ()
Grace is personified in its task of educating us in the skill of living.
Teaching us from the negative: Grace says that we are to deny godlessness and worldly desires
And grace teaches us positively. We are to live sensible, righteous, and godly.
This triad of adverbs becomes the expression of a believer’s ideal behavior towards himself, his neighbor.
But we are to love God supremely, that’s fervent.
Consider the nature of God, or the nature of the object loved.
God is infinitely and eternally good, therefore we are to love God without any exceptions or restrictions.
A greater good must be loved more. No thing or no person is more good than God.
The goodness of people is fine, but their goodness is finite and limited.
God alone is a sea of goodness. He’s a sea w/out banks and w/out a bottom so our love for Him isn’t limited by Him
it’s limited by our own ability to grasp who the infinitely and eternally good God is.
Think about this and what this means for the absolute necessity for their to be nothing but sound doctrine every time we gather.
God (from our view in life) is seen only dimly and so He’s only loved dimly.
Because our love does not and can not exceed our knowledge!!
So we want to pray according to Scripture, we want to sing according to Scripture, and we need to hear sermons that are according to Scripture so that we love God more!!!
And as long as we live here on earth, separated from the fulness of His presence, this will always be our defect.
God always deserves more.
So we press forward, week after week, line upon line in Scripture.
Every chorus we sing, learning about God and praising Him and loving Him more.
Consider the 10 Commandments. The focus on one half is on loving God and loving others in the other half.
The commands create a fear of God, it stirs our regenerated hearts towards obedience to God, and excites our hope in God.
I don’t stress this very often but I want to stress this today.
We’re going to sing our last song but before we sing I’d like for you to really contemplate with me this morning.
Do you love God? The proud heart arrogantly answers, “Yes I do!”
The converted man or woman says, “Yes I do, but I want to love Him more!”
That’s who God is speaking to today. The one who knows that he’s infinitely loved by God but he falls miserably short in serving God and is smitten to the heart about it.
I’m going to ask you to come forward and kneel down at the altar and get before God and ask Him to kindle your heart for greater love to Him.
As God leads, you come.
May you love the One who first loved you at your worst. May He grant to you the power, together with all of the saints, to grasp how deep the Father’s love for us is.