Romans 8:28-30

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 9, 2008


Paul has been talking about the frustration, the “groanings” that men and all of creation are experiencing because of the sin that mankind has brought into the world.

(Rom 8:22 NKJV) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

We saw last week that the Holy Spirit groans as well, but His groans actually produce something helpful:

(Rom 8:26 NKJV) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

We mentioned last week that the answer to our “groaning” is the “groaning” of the Holy Spirit – we need to learn to let the Holy Spirit work through us in prayer.

We may feel like life is hopeless. We may feel that everything is falling apart. But that’s not the way God looks at things.

God has two things in mind: Our good and His glory.

:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God

Is this just about being an “optimist”?


It's All In How You Look At It

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks. If on felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold. If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up. Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom & gloom pessimist. Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure. That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly. “Why are you crying?” the father asked. “Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read the all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken.” answered the pessimist twin. Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked. To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

This is more than just about being optimistic.

we knoweido – to see; to know; not necessarily knowledge by experience (ginosko)

Here it’s the idea of seeing with the mind’s eye, a clear and purely mental perception

We don’t always “know” by experience that things are working for the good. But we can still “know” it’s true as we look at God and what He does.

It’s a “perfect” tense, this is something that we’ve done in the past and the results carry on into the present. We have come to this conclusion about God, and we still know it’s true.

In the book Spiritual Discipleship, (pg.95), J.Oswald Sanders writes, “Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare. Do we have eyes that see?

That’s my concept of this word. It’s not seeing in the sense of just observing something, but seeing in the sense of really understanding what’s going on.

to those who loveagapao – to love, to feel and exhibit esteem and goodwill to a person, to prize and delight in a thing.

It is not a love based on emotions, but based on the will. It’s a choice we make to value another person.

In English, word order determines meaning.

If I say, “The dog chased the cat”, then you know that the dog was the one doing the action of chasing towards the cat. You know this by word order. But if I changed the word order and say, “The cat chased the dog”, I use the same words, but the change of order shows the change of meaning.
In Greek, the object of the sentence, the thing doing the action, is known by the little ending tagged onto the word. That means that the word can be put in any place of the sentence, and you still know who was doing the action.

In Greek, word order doesn’t determine meaning, it determines emphasis.

In our text, the order of the words reads like this:
And we know that to those who love God, all things work together for the good…”

What’s the emphasis?

We look at the emphasis as being on “all things working together for the good”.
Paul’s emphasis is on our loving God.


Loving God

The only thing that I have a part in when it comes to having things work for the good is whether or not I love God. That’s my responsibility in all of this.
This needs to be our focus, our top priority
(Mat 22:35-38 NKJV) Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, {36} "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" {37} Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' {38} "This is the first and great commandment.
Get back to your first love. That’s where you’ll find rest in your circumstances, when you’re resting in His love.
It’s like in a marriage. If you’re not actively building your love in your marriage, you’ll find that the problems that come up will divide you. You’ll get mad at each other. You’ll blame each other.
When you aren’t getting along with your spouse, rough times are even rougher.
But when you get back to focusing on how to love each other, serve each other, appreciate each other, then you’ll find that the problems will only draw you closer to each other.

(Rev 2:4-5 NKJV)  "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. {5} "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…

all thingspas – individually; each, every, any, all, the whole, everything

Paul doesn’t say “some things”.  Paul doesn’t say “most things”.  He says “all things”.

work togethersunergeo (“with” + “to work”) – help in work, to put forth power together with and thereby to assist

Present tense – something that’s happening now, continually, not just something in the future.

for goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful; good; excellent; upright, honorable

Not necessarily something that’s beautiful on the outside (Gr: kalos), but something that’s excellent on the inside, at the core.

All things may not work to make you more attractive on the outside. You may end up with some scars. But the work that’s being done on the inside is what’s “good”.


It’s all good

Does Paul really mean “all things”?
I have to tell you that I do have a hard time understanding this.
When a young child is molested by their father, I have a hard time.
When a Christian missionary is put to death, I have a hard time.
What does “good” mean?
I think this is one of our hang-ups.  I think that “good” means that I end up in a comfortable place.  It means I win the Lottery.  It means that my illness is healed.
Our definition of “good” is one of the reasons we don’t get this verse.
Play the Larry King interview of Joni Eareckson Tada.
God works ALL things for the good.

:28 to those who are the called according to His purpose.

purposeprothesis (“before” + “to place”) – a setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view, a purpose

The word is used in:

(Acts 27:13 NKJV) When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.

It’s used to describe the showbread:

(Mat 12:4 NKJV) "how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
“bread of purpose”, “bread that’s placed before”

the calledkletos – called, invited (to a banquet)

The word order is: “to those who according to the purpose are called”

What does it mean to be “called”? Paul will explain this a little further, look for the word in the next couple of verses…

:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

foreknewproginosko (“before” + “to know”) – to have knowledge before hand

Paul uses the word to talk about how the leaders of the Jews knew him before he was a Christian:

(Acts 26:4-5 NKJV) "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. {5} "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

What was it that God “foreknew”?

He foreknew us.  Perhaps He was looking ahead to whether or not we would choose Him.

When did God’s foreknowledge take place?

Perhaps before everything began:
(Eph 1:4 NKJV) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

The “time-space-continuum”

If you’ve watched any science fiction movies or TV shows, you’ve probably heard that phrase. (PlayDr. Weird” video clip)
I’m not a physicist, and won’t try to pretend I am one.
But there is a relationship between time and space. Einstein theorized that if you travel at the speed of light, time would stop.
When you look at the sky and see a star that’s nine light years away, the idea is that the light from that star started out from that star nine years ago traveling at 186,000 miles/second. If you were to see a star explode (go supernova), and that star was 15 light years away, then the event you are seeing actually took place 15 years ago.
Play Moody video clip excerpt, “Beyond Time Space
If God is everywhere at once, then God is also currently present in all times that have every existed.

predestinedproorizo (“before” + “horizon” or “boundary”) – to predetermine, decide beforehand; to foreordain, appoint beforehand

This word isn’t used in any places except when it is talking about this same concept of God determining something ahead of time:
(Acts 4:27-28 NKJV) "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together {28} "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

Does this mean that we human beings don’t have any free will of our own? Are we just mindless puppets controlled by some mighty puppeteer?

Somehow, though God is Almighty and Sovereign, we still have self will. The Bible tells us so.
(John 3:16 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It’s not those that are “predestined” that don’t perish, but those who choose to believe.

Paul writes,
(Rom 10:13 NKJV)  For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."

Right here in the same book, Romans, Paul says it’s “whosoever” that calls on the Lord that is saved.

How can both be true? How can we both be predestined and yet have freewill? The problem is that I don’t think we can reconcile the two ideas. It’s beyond our ability to understand in this life.

Charles Spurgeon used to explain it something like this: “When we get to heaven, we’ll see those great big pearly gates, with a huge sign overhead that reads, “Whosoever will, come”. And as we pass through the gates into heaven, if we would care to look over our shoulder, we’d see that there’s another message on the other side of the sign. It reads, “Predestined before the foundation of the world”. From the earthly side of heaven, all we can really understand is that we have a choice. God offers us salvation, but we have to choose to accept it and receive it. Yet when we get to heaven, we’ll look back and see that we were chosen by God from the very beginning.

How do I know if I’m one of those predestined or not?

The only way I know is to choose Him. If you choose to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you’ll know that God has chosen you. If you choose not to accept Him, it really doesn’t tell me anything. It might mean that you’re not chosen, but it also just might mean that you’re kind of stubborn.

to be conformedsummorphos – having the same form as another, similar, conformed to; describes what is the essence in character and thus complete or durable, not merely a form or outline; change from the inside, not just on the outside.

It’s not just that we’ll have some of the outward qualities of Jesus in His glorified body – like being able to fly. But even better we’ll have hearts like Jesus.

imageeikon – an image, figure, likeness

firstbornprototokos – the firstborn

What does the “image” of His Son look like?

There are lots of different lists that we could use that describe Jesus, but one of my favorites is:

(1 Cor 13:4-8 NKJV)  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; {5} does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; {6} does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; {7} bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. {8} Love never fails…
If God is love, and Jesus is God, then it’s not that big of a stretch to take the word “love” and substitute it with “Jesus” in the passage. As you read through it this way, it makes total sense. When I put my own name in there, it doesn’t quite fit.  But God is conforming me into Jesus’ image.  This is what He’s making me to be.

Shaping into an image isn’t really a pleasant thought. It means that some areas are going to be pushed and molded. Some things may need to be cut off or trimmed. Some other areas may need to be added. Some areas may need a total overhaul. But this is what God is trying to do in our lives.


“There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone” but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “Not yet, not yet” . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful!”

:30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

All these words are in a past (aorist) tense, including the words in verse 29 (“foreknew” and “predestined”). These are things that God has done in the past.

What may seem an uncertain future for us is something that God considers as already having been completed.

calledkaleo – to call; to invite

This is the verb form of the word used in v.28, we are the “called” ones.

justifieddikaioo – to render righteous or such he ought to be; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be

This is what God does when we put our trust in Jesus. He declares us to be justified, He now calls us righteous. (Rom. 5:1)

(2 Cor 5:21 NKJV)  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

glorifieddoxazo – to praise, magnify, celebrate; to honor; to make glorious, adorn with luster, clothe with splendor; to impart glory to something

This is not our present condition, not as we experience it.

But in God’s eyes, it’s already happened.

How? It’s that “time-space-continuum” thing.  It’s because God inhabits eternity. He is present in the past, present in the present, and present in the future. He is existing at all times right now.

It’s like a He’s in the Goodyear Blimp above the Rose Parade. From the ground we only see one float go by at a time.  But from God’s perspective, He can see the whole parade route at once.


Safe in His arms

Did you notice the connection, the progression?
Foreknown – Predestined – Called – Justified – Glorified
God doesn’t lose a single person in this process. The idea is that if you are “foreknown”, you will be “glorified”.  If you start, you’ll finish.
We have an Awesome God. He knows what’s up ahead. He’s prepared for it. He cares for you. He’ll take you through.