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All Things Work Together For Good

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This Promise Is Not To All People

Not Valid For the Unbeliever

This promise is only for Christians. We must be careful not to use this as a means to comfort those that are unbelievers. This promise is made to those “who love the Lord”. The reason that it is not meant for unbelievers is that sometimes the good to come does not happen in this life-time. Sometimes the good that comes from a tragic situation comes from our eternal home. Unbelievers do not have eternal life, so the promise that good will come to them is invalid.
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This is why it is so vitally important to lead a person to faith in Jesus Christ using the tragic situation. There are some things in life that humanly speaking, no good can come from.
When the police officers show up at your door on your son’s prom night, is it true that all things work together for good? When you lose your job, your marriage of thirty years begins falling apart, or your stock portfolio takes a dive right before you retire, is it true that all things work together for good? Where do you find the good when the doctor says, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do but make her comfortable”? For many people, merely seems like an unkept promise, or worse, a flat-out lie.
Bargerhuff, Eric J.. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible,Surprising Ways God's Word Is Misunderstood (pp. 64-65). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
This is because for the unbeliever the thought that everything is going to be alright is a fantasy not a reality.

Always True For the Believer

For the believer this promise is always true. We find the truth of this in that the suffering and persecution we face has a purpose. The purpose for our suffering and persecution is found in verse 29. It says that the believer is predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. This is huge! The sufferings that we face in this life are meant to make us more Christlike.
Our suffering often breaks our will and brings us to a point where we must lean and trust in Christ just to survive the situation that we are in. It is the turning to Christ and allowing Him to work through us that teaches us to be more Christ-like.
I remember when I graduated from AUM and didn’t know what I was going to do next. I knew I had to start a career because Rachel and I were married. I had a degree in finance, so decided to work with Prudential Preferred Financial Services. I was a 21 year old recent college graduate tell people much older than me how to invest their money. I’m sure you can see how this worked out. It was an utter failure. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to the Lord and asked for help and guidance. An opportunity opened with Colonial Mortgage Company, which was my gateway to the bank. I had a successful career in banking. It wasn’t as if God spoke to me audibly and said to go into banking. It was God providing a way for me to have a career that I enjoyed and provide for my family.
You see my failure as a financial advisor caused me to go into an industry that would prepare me for my next adventure as a pastor. I had a no win situation at the bank. I set interest rates. My loan rates were never low enough and deposit rates were never high enough. This taught me how to communicate and deal with people in matters of conflict. As a Pastor I have the opportunity to do this on a much larger scale.
You see God took something that was bad in my life at the time and has caused it for His good.

Work Together For Good!

What does this actually mean?

What it doesn’t mean

Sometimes we think it means that if you have enough faith God is going to give you what you want. He will fix the problem in a way that will bring you health, financial prosperity, and happiness.
We often use this scripture to help comfort others that are going through difficult times. I understand that there is a caring heart behind using this passage of scripture, but if it is used or construed inappropriately, it can do more harm than good.
I remember a time when I was helping a couple that had significant marriage issues. I told them that everything was going to be okay because God works all things together for good. Things got better for about 2 years and then they split up. The words that I shared came back to haunt me because not only did the marriage end, but the husband began to question God. He ask me, “if God works all things for good, why did he not save my marriage and where is He in my time of pain?”
I used this passage of scripture to give them a false sense of hope. This can happen when we use this passage of scripture inappropriately.

What it does mean

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. ()
There you have it. That’s the ultimate good for which God is weaving and working all things together. The good of making us more like Christ, or as Paul said it, being “conformed to the image of his Son.” This means that we as Christians have to junk our superficial fleshly definition of what’s good as defined in modern-day terms and trade it in for a theologically robust definition of good.[9] In other words, in this instance, our definition of good should be God’s definition: “to be conformed to the image of his Son”—being made more like Jesus.[10] In this sense, “all things” that happen in the Christian life are designed for this purpose—the ultimate good of bringing glory to God, of advancing his kingdom purposes, and making us more holy, filling us with love, bringing about humility, developing our patience, cultivating our trust in God . . . the list could go on. God is using these circumstances (remember, “all things”) to grow us spiritually and make us more like him until the day he calls us home to heaven or he returns to earth, whichever comes first (the day we are “glorified”—see verse 30).
Essentially then, God is weaving the great triumphs and terrible tragedies all together for his sovereign purposes in the world, which include changing us. The most dramatic example of this is found at the cross of Christ. Here is where Satan, the Evil One, thought he had won, but God had purposely woven together the actions of sinful men into something that was for our greater good (our salvation).
Bargerhuff, Eric J.. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible,Surprising Ways God's Word Is Misunderstood (pp. 66-67). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Called According To His Purpose

The ultimate good that God speaks of is His good and perfect will being accomplished. I would like to close with 3 examples of tragedy that ended with the goodness of God being accomplished.

Job

Job was a righteous man that loved God. Satan took his children, his possessions, and his health. His wife was bitter at him and God. His friends told him all this happened to him because he was engaged in sin. He questioned God. None of this seems fair for a righteous person to have to endure.
After Job questioned God’s goodness based on his circumstances and God gave Him the answer as to why He is good. Job says:
Then Job answered the Lord and said,
“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job realized that God was using him for His purpose and that God can be trusted no matter what happens in our lives.

Joseph

Joseph was also a righteous man. He was despised by his brothers. His brothers through him in a cistern and was going to let him die. Instead they sold him as a slave and told his father Isaac that he was killed by a beast. He was successful as a slave and put in charge of Potifer’s household. Potifer’s wife accused him of raping her and he was thrown in prison. While in prison he succeeded to the point of being the overseer of the jail. Two of the kings servants were thrown in jail and He interpreted their dreams. He only ask that they remember him so he could get out of jail. They forgot about Him. Eventually Pharaoh had a dream and one of the prisoners remembered him. Joseph interpreted the dream and put Joseph in charge of the kingdom to manage the prophesied famine.
You see God had to take Joseph and put him in some undesirable places, situations and circumstances to get him where he needed him. We see Joseph’s understanding of this when he spoke to his brothers that had mistreated him in As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

Jesus

Jesus is God’s son. He is perfect and without sin. He deserves majesty, honor and respect. He lived a life of poverty, persecution, and betrayal. Ultimately he would be murdered on a roman cross by the very people He came to save. This doesn’t seem right!
This was all God’s plan to defeat Satan, bring salvation to man and restore His creation.
Read Isaiah 53
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