Paul has been referring to the present sufferings of believers, and has enumerated various special topics of consolation.
As he approaches the conclusion of his enumeration, it might be expected that the last of them
would be no longer of a special but of a most comprehensive description.
And so, Paul forms the most complete summing up of his subject.
And to them whom Paul had addressed as heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ,
who is therefore under the guidance of the Good Shepherd, and filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
"... All things..."
People will sometimes agree that life as a whole is ruled by the will of God,
but they shrink from the thought that all things have a place in God's plan.
Paul was not hesitant to claim that nothing can take place,
which does not fit with God's purpose for His children.
Jesus asserted this to be true when He stated
that even the sparrow does not fall to the ground without His Father's knowledge.
The eye of God-given faith sees that there is room for all things in God's overruling wisdom.
On another occasion, Paul uses the very same expression,
"All things," which he adds to a most comprehensive catalog.
"All things are yours, whether of Paul or of Apollos or of Cephas,
or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come;
all are yours, for ye are Christ's and Christ's is God's." (1 Corinthians 3: 21)
And again, "All things are for your sakes." (2 Corinthians 4: 15)
There is a sense in which a human being is related to everything -- all things.
We are related supremely to God, and by that relationship, we touch the whole universe.
Here is a new motive for patience.
It is a great consolation that assures that "All things..."
Before we proceed, let us remember that what is true in reference to the individual Christian
must also be true in reference to the church at large.
"Christ is exalted to be head over all things to His church."
The rise and fall of empires, the setting up and the pulling down of monarchies,
the progress of wars, of commerce, of arts, and the collision of human passions and human interest
-- all these things are working together for good to the church.
"All things" -- whatsoever they be, work together for the good of God's people.
"All things" means exactly what it says.
Everything in every sphere is under the beneficent control of God.
It is the all-inclusive nature of this statement, which is breathtaking.
And because it is so large and comprehensive a phrase,
"all things" -- it brings such great comfort and encouragement to every believer.
"All things" -- all occurrences, and events, and places,
and conditions, whether good or bad, or indifferent -- whatever is done in the world.
"All things" -- bereavement, sickness, disappointment, depressions,
discouragements, blighted hopes, busted dreams, nervous disorders, family problems,
children who are giving concern, lack of satisfaction despite earnest endeavor to fulfill conditions
that should bring success -- "all things."
Surely, these are not working together for good.
Paul says, "Oh, yes! All things... for good."
"All things" -- trials of which we are called upon to bear for Christ's sake.
The ordinary calamities which we are all called upon to endure.
The painful sickness, borne with unmurmuring resignation.
The loss of property, submitted to with the knowledge that we have a higher pressure.
The departure of friends, whom we have given up without rebellion to the will of Him
who had a better right to them than ourselves.
All the trials of life are within the compass of this delightful expression.
All manner of trials for Christ's sake.
Stripes are painful to the flesh, but occasion greater joy to the soul. (Acts 16: 31)
Slander, persecution, etc. -- "All things..."
Even banishment -- every place is near to Heaven, and the whole earth is the Lord's. (Revelation 1: 9)
Death itself only hastens our glory. (2 Corinthians 5: 1)
All the influences of the present, and all the influences of the past:
The objective creation
The perpetually changing events of Divine Providence, both prosperous and adverse,
whether affecting the individual or the family, or the church, the nation, or the world.
All that which proceeds from good and from wicked men.
The visible world and the invisible world.
The world above and the world beneath.
There is nothing neutral in the mighty process; and nothing but whose influence,
blended with all others, is made to work together for our good.
There is no experience of human life that can be regarded
as beyond the permission and power of God,
or incapable of being used by God to promote our truest "good."
Our needs are never absent from God's heart.
Our destinies are never missing from God's hand.
It is quite true that we may not always feel that this is the case,
but what we feel is not the test of what we know.
God-given faith has taught us that the thread of our lives will never slip between His fingers.
People are prone to look at things through the eyes of human sense,
and the result is that they think such things clash in hopeless conflict.
History is marked by a trail of disaster; providence seems to be void of harmony for good.
Trials may tempt men to cry out like Jacob, "All things are against me." (Genesis 42: 36)
But this is not how true Christian faith reacts, nor is it how Paul viewed the situation.
All things work together for good, not by inherent force, not by fate or chance, but by Divine control.
There is no such thing as chance.
Love refuses to believe that God is not interested in every detail of our life.
Everything is permitted and designed by God for wise purposes.
He will not cease His supervision for a moment.
Every adverse experience, when rightly received, carries its quota of good.
Bodily pain and weaknesses cause us to feel our frailty.
Perplexity reveals our lack of wisdom.
Financial reverses point up how limited is our resources.
Mistakes and failure humble our pride.
"All these things work together for our good..."
Late one night, a professor sat at his desk working on the next day's lectures.
He shuffled through the collection of papers and mail placed there by his housekeeper.
He began to throw them in the wastebasket when one green-colored magazine
not even addressed to him caught his attention.
It fell open to an article entitled, "The Needs of the Congo Mission,"
written by a man named Alfred Boegner.
Without knowing why, he began to read it.
Immediately, it captured his interest:
"The need is great here.
We have no one who works in the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo.
And it is my prayer, as I write this article, that God will lay His and on one -- one on whom, already,
the Master's eyes have been cast --that he or she shall be called to this place to help us."
This professor closed the magazine, laid it aside, and wrote in his diary:
"My search is over."
He gave himself to go to that place.
Who was he?
He was a man with a doctor's degree in philosophy, in theology, and in music.
He was an accomplished organist, and the world's most famous interpreter of Bach.
He was a doctor with a degree in medicine.
His name: Albert Schweitzer.
That little magazine -- intended for another -- by accident was put in his mailbox.
By chance was placed on his desk by the housekeeper.
By chance fell open to the article.
By chance this busy man noticed the title, which seemed to leap out at him.
In it all, God's hand was laid upon some reader who would meet the need in the Congo.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer went to French Equatorial Africa and gave his life in service to the people of that country.
He became one of the great figures of this century, and one of the great Christians of all time
in a work almost unmatched an unparalleled in human history.
By chance -- it happened.
By chance, a tired postmen -- what was he thinking as he walked down the street?
I'm tired. It's hot.
By purpose or by accident, the magazine was dropped into the wrong mailbox,
and the housekeeper did not notice that it belonged to someone else.
Was it by chance?
As surely as I stand here, it was not by chance or by accident or by circumstance or coincidence
-- but by the providence of God.
The Old Testament prophet would say that this is God at work in history.
Paul would say, "Here is the answer!"
"We know that all things work together or good to them that love God,
to them that are called according to his purpose."
No verse in the entire Bible offers greater promise and hope to you and me as Christians.
No other verse claims more in a matter of providential care.
No other verse covers more territory than the 28th verse of Romans 8.
Our hearts leap with excitement!
Can it be true?
Some may say, "I wish it were true. I hope it is true."
Others may say, "In all the mixed up circumstances of life, can I believe that all things are working together --
even the most trivial things, the so-called chance accidents of life -- all working together?"
We can know!!
Paul speaks with certainty -- "This thing I know!"
We can know it too --
"All things work together for the good of them that love God..."
God cares for His own.
God is active in this world.
God is constantly caring for you and me.
We are certain that "All things..."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org