And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose

(Romans 8:28).

These words teach believers that whatever may be the number and overwhelming character of adverse circumstances, they are all contributing to conduct them into the possession of the inheritance provided for them in heaven.—ROBERT HALDANE.

How do we know? From the character of our God and Father as he is revealed in Christ; from the recorded experience of the servants of God (Joseph, Job, Moses, David); lastly, from what we have observed about ourselves. Have we not lived long enough to detect the marvellous adjustment and combination of events by which our spiritual education is being carried on? Yes, we do not conjecture, we do not merely hope and believe—we know.GORDON CALTHROP.

The whole world seems to contradict their hope of future glory. All things visible, especially the hatred of the hostile world, seem to oppose and gainsay their faith. And yet this fearful appearance can have no force, since all things are subject to the omnipotent and wise administration of God, on whose loving counsel their confidence is established. Still more, if all things are subject to God’s supreme authority, and this authority is exhibited in the development of his loving counsel, they know, with the full certainty of faith, that all things work together for their good.—J. P. LANGE.

St. Paul believes, then, that there is a purpose, an end, to which events are tending. It is a faith rather than the conclusion of an argument. Reason alone, it has been said, might arrive at an opposite conclusion. How can we see a providential guidance, a divine plan of any kind, in the bloody game which chiefly makes up what we call history? How can we trace it in the conduct of generations and races who successively appear upon the surface of this planet, to make trial, one after another, of the same crude experiments, as if the past had furnished no experience wherewith to guide them?… It is true enough that the purpose of God in human history is traversed and obscured by causes to which the apostles of human despair may point very effectively. Yet here, as always, where sight fails us, we Christians walk by faith, and we see enough to resist so depressing a conclusion as that before us.—BISHOP LIDDON.

All Things

The reference here is a wide one, but especially refers to events or agencies which are deemed adverse. As after each inundation of the Nile the soil is more fertile and rich, so the members of the Church of Christ, whether in their collective or individual capacity, should emerge from the waves of adversity with a greater fulness of strength. “Mowed down, we yet increase,” is the testimony of Tertullian in the days of martyrdom.—CHARLES NEIL.

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If all these things work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, is not that good? Present bitters will render future sweets still sweeter. Heaven would not be that to us which it will be, were we not prepared by the chequered scenes of life for its enjoyments. Canaan would not have been so pleasant a rest, had Israel gone immediately to it without the circuitous course through the wilderness. God gives us every good by way of contrast; we should not enjoy our food, if strangers to hunger; nor the waters of life, if we were not athirst; we should not know the pleasures of rest, if strangers to toil; nor the joys of the upper world, if strangers to the sorrows of the present.—ANDREW FULLER.

Lovers Of God

God’s children, although to the world they may seem to be miserable, yet having communion and fellowship with him, they are always happy. The very worst day of God’s child is better than the very best day of the wicked. The worst day of Paul was better to him than the best day of Nero was to him; for the wicked, in the midst of their happiness, are accursed; whereas the godly, in the midst of their miseries, are blessed.—RICHARD SIBBES.

The love for God is the magician which extracts the ore, alike from failure and success and makes all promote man’s final and absolute good. No life is made up of such commonplaces that they cannot be made by the love of God to sparkle with the highest moral interest. No troubles are so great that they cannot be built into the steps of the staircase by which souls mount up to heaven. Aye, stranger still to say, no earthly prosperity need perforce enchain the soul and dull all its finer sensibilities, and kill out of it its sense of high destiny, if only the love of God be there to extract whatever is of lasting value and to cast the dross away.… The same set of circumstances may chisel out the finest lineaments in the saintly character or the darkest traits of the desperate criminal. That which makes the difference is the presence or absence of the love of God in the soul.—BISHOP LIDDON.

And this love to God, or delight in him, as it entitles such to that his care and concern for them which is expressed in this promise, so it doth in its own nature dispose their hearts to an acquiescence and satisfaction therein; for love to God, where it is true, is supreme and prevails over all other love to this or that particular good.—JOHN HOWE.

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The Called

It implies that God had a plan, purpose or intention in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or haphazard. God does not convert men without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does, he always meant to do.—ALBERT BARNES.

That their calling here mentioned is the effectual call of God, which is answered by faith and obedience, because it consists in the bestowing of them on the persons so called, taking away the heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh, is not only manifest from that place which afterward it receives in the golden chain of divine graces, between predestination and justification (Rom. 8:30), whereby the one hath in fallible influences into the other, but also from that previous description which is given of the same persons, namely, that they love God, which certainly is a fruit of effectual calling.—JOHN OWEN.

The Christian may be called to bear the heaviest afflictions; but they shall bring him to consideration, stir him up to prayer, wean him from the world and lead him to seek his rest above. He may be assaulted also with the most distressing temptations; but these will show him the evil of his heart and the faithfulness of his God: they will also teach him to sympathize with his tempted brethren: even death itself will be among the number of the things that shall prove beneficial to him. This is the most formidable enemy to fallen man: it cuts him off from all means and opportunities of salvation, and seals him up under endless and irremediable misery; but to a true Christian it is a most invaluable treasure. It puts a period to all his sorrows and temptations, and introduces him to the immediate, everlasting enjoyment of his God.—CHARLES SIMEON.

Even the sins of believers work for their good, not from the nature of sin, but by the goodness and power of him who brings light out of darkness. Everywhere in Scripture we read of the great evil of sin. Everywhere we receive the most solemn warning against its commission; and everywhere we hear also of the chastisements it brings, even upon those who are rescued from its finally condemning power. It is not sin, then, in itself that works the good, but God who overrules its effects to his children,—shows them, by means of it, what is in their hearts, as well as their entire dependence on himself, and the necessity of walking with him more closely. Their falls lead them to humiliation, to the acknowledgement of their weakness and depravity, to prayer for the guidance and overpowering influence of the Holy Spirit, to vigilance and caution against all carnal security, and to reliance on that righteousness provided for their appearance before God.—ROBERT HALDANE.

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For Good

How do all things work out for good? (1) By developing Christian character and excellencies; (2) increasing Christian reward; (3) advancing the interest and glory of God’s kingdom.—CHARLES NEIL.

They work together in their efficacy, in their unity, and in their connection. They do not work thus of themselves: it is God that turns all things to the good of his children. The afflictions of believers, in a peculiar manner, contribute to this end. “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.” “Tribulation worketh patience.” “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”—ROBERT HALDANE.

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