Pastor Dennis Smith
I know that Romans 8:28 is super-familiar to all of us: “All things work together for good to them…” — you undoubtedly could finish the verse yourself. It is so familiar that there is a danger that it can seem almost trite at times. (Forgive me for suggesting such a thing.) But let’s pause for a moment to consider Paul’s basis for making such a claim. Perhaps that will help refresh our perspective on the verse.
In the next two verses Paul explains or gives the rationale for what he just said. He writes, “For whom he did foreknow…” (please read vv. 29–30). What he means in these two verses is that God in his infinite wisdom and boundless power had purposed from the very beginning to bring people to a saving relationship with Christ that would culminate in their ultimate glorification. And that process involves “all things” working together. As those who have been called to be saints, all of our experiences are used of God to mold and shape us to become more and more Christ-like. God uses both the good experiences and the bad times to teach us many things and re-form our character. So through it all we learn thank to God, to bless his name, to lean on him and trust him. We learn patient endurance as we experience trials. As I spoke with one of our older saints recently, I was blessed by her testimony of how God has shown himself over and over to be entirely trustworthy and good. And that is in no small part due to both what she has seen over her many years as well as her blessed hope of one day being in his presence, justified and glorified.
Now, this all leads to what I believe is Paul’s ultimate point in v. 32 — “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” I think the verse scarcely needs commentary, but I would make two brief points. First, God delivered up his own Son for us. He “delivered him up” — the idea in that phrase is that God handed over his Son to be mocked, tortured and crucified. Let that sink in: God handed him over. Second, “all things” here provides an interesting contrast to “all things” from v. 28. There, Paul means every experience, every circumstance, including all of our trials, difficulties, and disappointments. Here by contrast he means everything that is good, everything that is needed and beneficial. God will surely give us all we need and more if he gave his own Son for us.
Finally, after listing in v. 35 some of the kinds of trials and tribulations we might face in life, Paul gives this assessment: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Indeed we are more than conquerors because we are in Christ, the one who has overcome, that is, conquered the world (John 16:33).