Romans 8:28,29 Some reflections – It’s all about Jesus

Posted: December 8, 2012 in Bible
Tags: , ,

I’ve been doing some thinking about Romans 8:28, 29. It’s amazing how you can look at a passage for so long and overlook something. Romans 8:28 is one of those passages we all know. It is often used as a source of comfort for those who are going through difficult times or when things aren’t working out well for us. Therefore we keep reminding people that things will always work out for the better according to Romans 8:28. Of couse the temptation is to read into the idea of “better” our own materialistic interpretations. eg. If I loose my job then there is probably a better job around the corner. If i loose my girlfriend there is probably an even better one living down the road that God will lead me to. In short there is always a silver lining behind every dark cloud.

However later on someone pointed out that Paul actually defines the “good” for us. That good is to make us more and more like the Lord Jesus. In other words we often stop short of vs. 28 and miss the important explanatory note in the following phrase.

“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

In other words what Paul is talking about is that all things are working to make us more and more like the Lord Jesus. Holiness and Godliness of life is what God is on about, not giving us a better job, a better marriage or anything like that. When you think about this is so much more in keeping with the whole tenor of Scripture. Our sanctification is our good.

But as I reflected on this passage again I came to realise that even that answer was still a bit off the mark. Again we stop short of the last phrase and miss a crucial point.

“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

In other words the goal goes far beyond my own well being or even my own transformation. The end goal is the glorification and exaltation of the Lord Jesus. Again this is so in sync with a large theme of scripture. Salvation is not about us. Our sanctification is ultimately not about us. It is all about Jesus. It is the exaltation of Jesus that lies at the heart of God’s creative work. What better passage to speak on this than Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

You have a similar idea in Ephesians 2:7. The end goal of salvation is not us but God’s glory through the cross.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7, NIV.

People keep wondering, even Christians, why God created all things and why strange things happens in this world. People keep asking why bad things keep happening to good people. If God knew what the world was going to be like then why create it in the first place? Surely there must have been a better way? Commonly we  try to find the answer in ourselves ie they try to see how things are working out for US yet struggle to find it. This should not surprise us because, as Paul’s tells us that the purpose and meaning in life is not to be found in what God is doing for us but in what God is doing for Jesus. All things were created for him. Our salvation and sanctification is part of that great creative work of making Jesus the centre of attention.

What does this mean for us? Very simply. It means that we need make Jesus the centre of our life. It means that we need to aim to be like Jesus. It means we need to proclaim Him. Evangelism is not just about bringing the saving work of Christ to lost sinners. It is also about exalting Jesus through the preaching of the cross.

In short, it’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus, from beginning to end.

Does this mean that we can’t use Romans 8:28 as a word of comfort any more? I dont’ think so. Paul does say that all things works FOR THE GOOD of those who love Him. So Paul does reaffirm that for God’s people there is a good purpose behind all things. It simply means we can’t make the empty promises that I often hear – “There is probably a better job around the corner!”, or “He has a better woman for you!” etc etc. God has our good in mind and this is something we can comfort God’s people with. Spelling out what that good is may best be left to another day when a person is in a better frame of mind.

  1. Ken says:

    Great observation. We have a strong tendency to make it all about us, when the Bible tells us that it’s all about Him.

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