Promise for UnderstandingThe promise "we know that in all
things God works for the good of those who love him.
Ones who have been called according to his purpose"
(Romans 8:28) is the one of the best known, best
That passage is a security for us in a time of storm.
It's a passage that we turn to when we're in turmoil,
or in tragedy. It's a passage we look at when we're
wondering why we just don't understand. It takes our
"why" and it turns it into "who." It takes our question
and it turns us to the one who will always provide an
answer. It's a promise for under-standing.
"For we know." Underline those words. "We know."
There's the promise for understanding. Even when things
happen that hurt us, when things happen that level us,
when things happen that leave us absolutely clueless as
to why they ever came about. "And we know that in all
things God." Right after that little prepositional
phrase, "works" That's the key to the whole verse.
We're going to look at it in some de-tail but that's
the key. It's not what you know, it is who you
The key to understanding in life is knowing God and
trusting Him. That's the key. It's not how much you
know, it's not how much you understand, it's not what
your IQ is. The brightest among us don't have the
ability to understand the depths, the mysteries and the
difficulties of life. We just don't have that within
I'm a little amused that in two verses prior to Romans
8:28, Paul says, "In the same way...we do not know what
we ought to pray for." That's the truth isn't it? I
know some things for which I need to pray, but there
are so many needs in my life, there is so many
circumstances going around me, that I don't even begin
to understand, I need God to help me pray. I don't even
know what to pray for, that's how ignorant I am. That's
how ignorant you are.
Thomas Edison said back in 1926, "We don't know one
1/millionth of one percent of all that's happening
around us." Every day is bearing that statement out to
be even truer. With each new discovery that we're
making in science, we're finding how little we
Have you read about the "Black Hole" they found in the
universe? Billions of light years from now, we can't
even comprehend one light year, but we're talking about
billions of light years. I don't understand that hole,
but you know what they say about it? They say it is a
hole that is sucking in, not just matter, but energy.
That the pull of gravity is so strong, that even light
cannot escape. Can you imagine that? They say that the
pull of gravity is so strong in that black hole, that
if you take the entire earth and everything that's on
it, and have that same pull of gravity it would shrink
the earth down to the size of a marble. I can't even
begin to relate to that. I don't understand. But, the
point is the power of understanding doesn't have to be
within us, the good news is the power of understanding
is within the God who made that black hole and made
everything else around us.
The promise we had from Jesus in John 8:32 is, "You
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
free." Who's going to show us that truth? God is going
to show us that truth. So many things the Bible says
Christians know with confidence. We know that we have
passed from death into life. How do you know that? I
know it because God's made sure that I was told that,
and I trust him. We know that when he shall appear, we
shall be like him. How do I know that? I know that
because of what I know about God.
Paul said, "For I know whom I have believed and am
persuaded that he is able to keep that I've committed
unto him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12) You see by
faith in God, He will give us understanding.
Romans 8:28-29 tells us that our understanding will
come from confidence and certain things about God. I
want to share three of them with you from the text.
1. I can
better understand what is going on around me be-cause
of my confidence in his
providence. "For we know that
in all things God works for the good of those who love
him..." The providence of God is his ability to sustain
and to guide destiny. He can do that because
every-thing that happens in this world is either
permitted or planned by God. Have you ever thought
about that? Did you notice the word, "all?" "All things
work together for good." Why? Because everything that
happens in this world is either permitted or planned by
God. Now that doesn't mean that everything that happens
is a direct cause from God. He's not some great
puppeteer pulling strings. A lot of things happen on
this earth that are evil, that are orchestrated by
Satan, but for the time being those things are being
permitted by God.
He is the Creator of the heavens of the earth. The
world exists by the word of his power. Isaiah 40:28
says, "...The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator
of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or
weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." He's
God. Every-thing is watched by his eye, everything is
considered by his mind, everything is ultimately under
his control. He sees, he knows, he cares, and he works,
that's the providence of God.
Remember the old story about the lady who came to the
door in response to the Gallup Poll petitioner, and
after knocking on her door, she came just ragged
looking and all unkept. He said, "Ma'am, we're
conducting a poll on what you think the greatest
problem in America is, ignorance or apathy?" And she
said, "I don't know, and I don't care," and slammed the
door in his face.
I've got great news for you. We've got a God who knows,
we've got a God who cares, and we've got a God who
works. Everything, everything in this world is either
permitted or planned by the great, good, gracious,
giving, and glorious God Almighty. That by the way is
why Paul could say in other places in his writings, "In
everything give thanks." Everything? EVERYTHING? Yes,
in everything give thanks. Why? Because it's all right
here. That's why he could say, "Rejoice in the Lord
always." You mean even when I'm down, even when bad
things happen...Yes, always. Why? Because it's not
outside the scope of his providence.
That's why he could say in Romans 8:28, "God works all
things together for good." If you were to keep reading
down in Romans 8 near the very end about verse 35, 36
and 37, he said, there's some horrible things out
there. There's death, famine. tribulation and
persecution, yes, God will even work those things
together for good. The first thing we're confident in
is God's providence.
confident in God's perspective. To me the
key word in the whole text is the word, "together." The
Bible doesn't say that all things are good. It says
that, "God works all things good and bad things
together," for a good out-come.
Hey, there are a lot of things that aren't good.
Temptations aren't good. I don't enjoy temptations or
succumbing to temptations. James 1 tells us that
temptations come from the devil, they don't come from
God. But God can use temptations to actually draw us
closer to him. Pain is not pleasant, is it? But God can
use pain to reestablish humility and dependence upon
him. Failure hurts. I'm not real fond of failure, but
God can use it in such a way to help us re-look at our
priorities. While we may not see it, we've got to
understand that God has a better and fuller perspective
on our lives.
Let me give you two illustrations of how God acts in
that role. The first thing I think of is an air traffic
controller and the guys in the control tower. All of
these pilots are out there in their plane wanting to
come in and land. Some are wanting to take off. The air
traffic controller has to tell them which runway is
cleared for landing and what the coordinates are for
entry. He gives them the timing, he gives them the
route, he alerts them about field conditions. If every
pilot wanted to come in on their own you would have
thousands of people dying. They would say, "Well, this
looks like the best way to me." Wham! Whoosh! Crash!
What I want you to see is that God is in the control
tower of the airfield of your life. You may think this
is the best way, and he says, "No, I want you to circle
again." You say, "Why?" He says, "Don't ask why, just
circle, I'll tell you when to come in."
I'll give you an even better illustration. He's the
baker of your life. I'm not a baker. I'm not a cook. I
love some of the products of good bakers. For example,
I love German chocolate cake. I don't know anything
about the ingredients, proportions or the baking
temperature. The only thing I have to know is how to
use a fork. But, see God is the baker of my life. He
knows exactly the right ingredients.
By the way, I do know just a little bit about baking a
German chocolate cake. If you were to taste any of
those ingredients individually, they're not real good
are they? Did you ever taste a big tablespoon full of
flour? Do you want that? Is that good? Yuck! How about
some of the salt? Just put salt in it. No! The sugar,
it's pretty good, but it's not all that good,
especially compared to the final product. What about
that raw egg? How would you like to choke that down?
You see the ingredients by them-selves are not good at
all, but the baker of our life, stirs them up in
exactly the right proportion. But that's not all he
does. Then he puts them under heat. He, puts them under
heat for just the right amount of time. The great news
today is, God knows the ingredients, He knows how much
heat we need and for how long. That's his magnificent
I'm confident in his providence, and I'm confident in
his perspective, but there's one other thing that's
really even more important than those two.
confident in his purpose. Look at verse 28
again, we quote it all the time, "For we know that in
all things God works for good for those who love
him..." but look at the rest of it, "...who have been
called according to his purpose." Wait a minute. What
is his purpose for us? What's God purpose for you?
What's God's purpose for me? This is where too many of
us stop reading but keep reading, verse 29, "For those
God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the
likeness of his Son..." There, right there, do you see
that? That is God's purpose for us.
His purpose for you is to be conformed in the image of
his Son, Jesus. That is God's supreme purpose for me.
God's supreme purpose for me is not to believe, repent,
confess, and be baptized. That is the means, a vital
means, but it's not my purpose. God's purpose for me is
not to assemble together. That's the sustenance, but
that's not my purpose. God's purpose for me is not to
win another lost soul, that's my mission, but that's
not my purpose. God's purpose for me is not to go to
heaven, that is my reward, but that is not my purpose.
What's my purpose? He tells me. His supreme purpose for
me is to be like Jesus. That by the way is the best
quick answer I know when somebody asks you this
question, "Why do bad things happen to God's children?"
Do you know the answer? Because we need to be like
Do you know what that reminds me of? 1 Peter 2:21 "To
this you were called, because Christ suffered for you,
leaving you an example, that you should follow in his
steps." How many of you want to suffer? I don't either.
How many of you want to be conformed into the image of
Jesus Christ? I've got bad news for you, it goes with
the territory. We cannot be con-formed into the image
of Jesus unless we also suffer.
Christians really should have a sign across their
chest's that says, "Construction Underway." God is
working on us and he's working around us to make us
more like Jesus. Do you see his promise? I'm not going
to understand everything that happens to me. Sometimes
I'm not going to understand it at all. I'll be so
confused that I'll fall on my knees and beg for
understanding. But I can understand that the God who
loves me enough to die for me and has a providence, a
perspective and a purpose for all of it. Now that
leaves me with one last thing. What do I need to
Him. This text has one key
responsibility. Look at it again. "...We know that in
all things God works for the good of..." What does it
say? "...those who love him..." This is a promise for
people who love God. It's not a promise for every human
being. It's not a promise for the unbeliever. Sadly,
it's not a promise for those who only believe. It's a
promise for those who love the Lord.
If I want understanding, what do I need to do? I don't
have to worry so much about working things out. I don't
have to worry a lot about figuring things out, that's
God's responsibility. Here's my responsibility. My
responsibility is to love God more. The more I love
God, the better I'll understand. I don't know how, but
that's the promise, and it works. Adapted from Amazing Grace #1163 -
Steve Flatt, June 12, 1994