The Vertical Eternal View
Horizontal Temporary Workings of Time
By Pastor George D. Cutler
GRACE GOSPEL MINISTRY
As we begin in this context we open
with the reading of Romans 8:28 from the (KJV) "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." Now from the Greek text "And we know that to those loving
God all things do work together unto good, to those being called according to
his purpose". Before moving to the actual exegesis of this verse, we will take
the liberty of expressing what we believe is the most direct translation, even
though it is probably not the most fluid conveyance in English: "And we have
known (and do know) that (He) does work (and is working) together all for good
to (for) those loving God according to (His) purpose, the called are." As we
note the actual reading of the opening Greek phrase ee·
thah· mehn theh oo· tee,
we observed the translated expression, "And we know that." Here the apostle Paul
affirms that we as the elect have and do know, not on the basis of
experience but through Divine Revelation that He (God, the Holy
Spirit) does work and is working all things together unto good.
The inference is that the designed end of all things is unto good for
those called (elected) and loving God. Even though it is not specifically
stated in this verse, the context as well as the antecedent (prior) content
verses, makes it clear that God is the one who caused all things to work
together unto the end of that which is good.
In this verse Paul is addressing a specific group of individuals and thus identifies them two-fold: 1) those loving God and 2) those being called according to his purpose. As the chronological events are unfolded, they are arranged in the following order: first and foremost, the focal point is God’s purpose and second, the individuals who are being called are summoned in accordance with this purpose and third, those who have been called are caused to love God (Romans 5:5).
Here the questions are: who are those loving God? Is this referencing those who have a professed emotional relationship with God, which is exemplified through the flesh? According to the conveyance outlined in the context, this couldn't possibly be the intended expression. It must be thoroughly understood that natural men in the flesh are dead in sin to God, thus the only way a relationship can be established is that God must initiate it (1 John 4:7-11).
The context before us thoroughly documents that this is exactly what occurred, i.e., God devised His pro· theh· seen rendered "purpose." This purpose is a predetermined plan based upon His love in accordance with which God restores elect sinners into fellowship with Himself (Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 2Timothy 1:9).
A part of this plan entails God sovereignly calling chosen ones unto Himself by means of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). In this verse (28), Paul refers to these as klee•tos oo•seen rendered, "Being called" or "the called ones" who, having been called, constitute those who are caused to love God.
Thus having established to whom, for whom or in whose behalf does God act, we now examine the action-defining clause, "All things work together for good." Note the Greek verb seen•ehry•ee rendered "work together", is derived from the Greek preposition seen prefixed to the verb ehrg•o, denoting "to work with", or "to work in conjunction with" or "cooperate with". It is at this junction that the Greek manuscripts severely differ as to whether the noun pahn•dah translated "all" or "all things", should be in the nominative case (denoting it as the subject) or the accusative case (denoting it as an object). In either case, the grammatical construction would be dominated by the general contents, which clearly identify God as the one producing the actions in this clause.
Now the questions arise as to what do "all" or "all things" refer to? Does it denote the general meaning, which would include every detail in the lives of those whom He calls? Does it entail the seemingly adversive and disappointing occurrences or the devastating events in our lives? Does it entail those things that seem to be detrimental unto us? And most importantly, does it entail the element of Satan and his forces, in his workings to render evil in the lives of believers? (Eph. 4:27; 6:11; 1Tim. 3:7).
The answers to questions of this type can be ascertained only from the realm of the eternal vantage point rather than the viewpoint of time or the temporary state in which the occurrences transpire. Regardless of whether the incidents of this life are viewed as intended for good or evil, we are instructed to be, "Giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God even the Father" (Eph. 5:20; Col. 3:17).
The essence of the matter is that our understanding of the eternal purpose of God is realized in the scripture wherein "all things" involve the workings "all together," which culminate in the realm of God's purpose. According to His purpose He chose us (the elect) as sinners and in each occurrence works together unto good until we are ultimately glorified with Christ (Eph. 1:4; 1Peter 1:20). Accordingly, God's eternal sovereign purpose indeed is good, i.e., the design of transforming some depraved sinners into glorified saints.