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To Those Who Love God!
Romans 8: 28
This text is a tonic.
It is clear, mountain air.
Continued and consistent conflicts with self, Satan, the world, adversities and sorrows,
often leave us discouraged.
Therefore, we need this invigorating truth.
It changes the outlook of every conflict of life.
This truth inspires courage, kindles enthusiasm, and girds with strength.
- We shall not be injured, but benefited.
- We shall not lose, but gain.
- We shall not be defeated, but conquer.
When Paul speaks of the Christian in this text, he uses a characterization which deserves notice.
He says: "To those who love God, all things work together for good."
What makes this expression noteworthy is the fact that Paul usually seems to
avoid talking of man's love to God.
With the exception of this verse, it is found only twice in his writings.
(1 Corinthians 2: 9; 8: 3; compare Ephesians 6: 24)
So, here is one of the very few places where Paul speaks of the Christian's love to God.
Of course, it would be a misunderstanding to think that Paul, in any sense,
intends to thrust aside the reality spoken of in this expression, "love to God."
Even if Paul does not speak about the Christian's love, he always speaks in love.
And the Christian does love God, and to Paul that is something which is so characteristic that the expression,
"Those who love God," is sufficient as a name for Christians.
So, what does Paul mean when he says, "Everything works together for good to those who love God?"
On what do we, as Christians, rest our certainty that all that comes to us must work together for our good?
Does Paul mean that we are to let our confidence rest in ourselves -- in our love to God?
That would be in conflict with all that Paul has always affirmed.
It is, as if Paul realizes, that there is the possibility of misunderstanding here.
So, he adds another expression which definitely excludes any such interpretation.
He adds: "Who are the called according to his purpose."
So here is the situation.
Christians love God; and that expression ("those who love God") can be used
as a name for the Christian, and also characterizes the inner status of every Christian.
But it says nothing as to why all things must work together for our good.
The reason for that is not found in us, but in God -- in God's eternal purpose.
We, who love God, have not brought that about.
It has been given to us through the calling that has come to us from God, and which
has its basis in His eternal purpose.
This assurance is the peculiar privilege of the Christian "who loves God."
Love to God is the distinctive feature of the Christian life.
Once at enmity with God, but now we love Him.
And we must never lose sight of the source of this love: "We love Him because He first loved us."
What is said of all things working together for good is limited to those who love God.
All believers love God, and only believers love Him.
People of various descriptions may boast of loving God, but the Word of God is that only the believer loves God.
It is only through Christ that we can love God.
The natural man is absolutely unable to conceive "What God has prepared for those who love Him."
(1 Corinthians 2: 9)
God knows those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 8: 3)
And one is accursed if he "has no love for the Lord." (1 Corinthians 16: 22)
No ungodly man loves God.
An unbeliever may love a God, such as, the god of nature, and the god of self,... pleasure, money,
business, family, and other things.
But the God of all ages, no one can love, unless the grace of God turns him from death to life;
from darkness to light.
So, "All things work together for good to them that love God."
And all things, worth mentioning, are against those who do not love Him,
or His holiness, or His justice, or His power, or His eternal judgment.
But those who love God; those who rest in His grace, can be sure of His loving care in the night,
as well as in the light.
And we can know that through all the mysteries and sufferings of life,
God is perfecting a plan of eternal joy for us.
When Paul uses the word, "love," he uses the Greek word for the highest type of love.
It is more than the love of affection.
Paul has called us "saints," and now he calls us "lovers of God."
We must not think that we are saints, because of our love.
We are saints because of what the love of God did for us.
Our weaknesses, that are so evident to us and to others, do not constitute us lovers of God.
We are saints, children of God, because of His love.
We could do nothing to earn that position as children of God.
It is the gift of God.
It is the gift of His grace.
Love is impossible apart from God.
It is the love of God that changes all things.
This "love for God" is the highest love.
Such love is submission.
- It is not a passing, sticky, sentimental affection, but a permanent, predominating force.
- It is the love of gratitude, awakened by the contemplation of God's wonderful love and care.
- It is a love of esteem, awakened by the view of His holiness.
- It is the love of His nature, awakened by a God-given faith and belief
in the universal goodness of His purposes.
Love thanks God for what He has done.
- When adversity and loss come, the one who loves God says,
"The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away."
- When a calamity overtakes us, the Christian learns to say,
"I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
- When persecution pushes us to the limit, the lover of God says,
"Not my will, but Thine be done."
Love adores God for what He is.
Love truly prays that His will be done.
Our love towards God is a humble love -- well aware of our nothingness -- our death -- our terrible sins.
And we, no longer, claim our rights for we have none.
That Spirit shall quicken our mortal bodies.
- It is a love that is so intense that it has already tasted its fulfillment, and therefore, it is a love
that cannot be disturbed or extinguished.
- It is a love that is peaceful, so deep and restful that no other rest is equal to it.
- It is a love that awaits a great and total redemption,
and so great that it need not wait for any time or event.
- It is a love that observes there is no condemnation to us who are in Christ.
- It is a love that is assured that Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.
- It is a love that walks no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- It is a love that is aware of the Spirit of God dwelling within.
We are led by that Spirit, and by that precious Spirit we are assured that we are children of God.
"And we know that all things work together for our good to us who love God
- It is by that Spirit that we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;
but we have received the spirit of adoption.
- It is that Spirit who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
We will suffer with Him, and we will be glorified together.
- It is that Spirit who helps our weakness and makes intercession for us
because we don't know how to pray for what we should pray.
and who are the called according to His purpose."
And listen to this wonderful truth: He will conform us to the image of His Son.
And nothing! Nothing!
Nothing shall ever separate us from His love and from His presence.
"All things work together for good to them that love God."
The question is not, "Am I strong enough to conquer the forces of life?"
The question is not, "Am I wise enough to foresee and prepare for whatever comes my way?"
Of course, I am not wise enough because I'm always overmatched in life.
And of course, the question is not, "Am I good enough to change everything in the good?"
-- for when God, Who alone is good, looks down on me, it is still true that "none doeth good."
The question is this: "Do I love God?"
Do you love God?
God's Spirit witnesses with yours and mine -- and you know!
Does the storm blow?
Love Him who makes the storm into a peaceful calm, and will keep you safely
within the sure and certain haven of His care.
Is it night?
Love Him to Whom "the darkness and the light are both alike,"
but Who, knowing well that they are not alike to us, has promised that weeping and night shall pass away together,
and that joy shall come in the morning.
Are you in pain?
Love Him Who, although He is the "ever-blessed God,"
suffered once for us, and still has the touch of all our pain on the nerve of His own infinite sympathy,
and Who writes over the portals of the heavenly gates, "There shall be no more pain."
Are you poor?
Love Him who, to sanctify poverty, was born among the beasts in a stable, and lived with the poor.
Can you look up at Him, and complain that He, Who has given you "all things," has left you poor?
"My Jesus, I love Thee,
I know Thou art mine,
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer,
My Saviour art Thou
If ever I loved Thee,
My Jesus, 'tis now.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow,
If ever I loved Thee,
My Jesus, 'tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first love me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou givest me breath;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org