And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, Rom 8:28. NET2.
Romans 8:28 has always been one of my most favorite passages in the Bible. And if I had to give a reason why, I would say that, “it’s my verse of hope.” It does not matter what the situation or circumstance – whether caused by others or self-inflicted – God gives me hope when I remember that passage. It says to me, Hold on, Change is Coming!
But as true as that is, I’ve always managed to neglect the rest of the story – verse 29 – because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Rom 8:29. NET2. Verse 29, without any effort from me, guarantees the hope that I have.
When I read both verses together, three phrases stand out – for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son – and are worthy of deeper exposition. Let’s examine each:
Who are called according to his purpose refers to something that God did. He exercised His Devine characteristic of love and called/elected us –believers – to be members of His family. That priceless act was an example of His mercy and grace. But notice that the calling was in accordance with his purpose. He adopted each of us for a special purpose.
For those who love God refers to those who are believers. The Apostle Paul reaches out to those who have not confessed belief in the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Christ and offers them the plan of Salvation in Romans 10:9. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Rom 10:9 NIV. Well, if we are making a list, I’m good on that one.
Predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son is the purpose for our calling/election. God’s plan is for the believer to be conformed/changed to the image of His Son.
When I put the phrases back together and focus on their meaning, Romans 8:28-29 takes on a new meaning. God is working things out in my life because He is bringing about a change in me. He is doing the same thing for you. Dr. Thomas Constable further explains this passage of text in his commentary “Constable’s Notes” by including the following paragraphs from Bibliotheca Sacra 148:590 (April-June 1991):182:
This blessed hope—that believers will be conformed to the image of His own Son—explains God’s dealings with them as His chosen sons in this present age. He is ever at work to reproduce the moral image of Christ in them. All that now comes into their lives He uses for their good to further that glorious goal. His aim for them now is not to make them happy, materially prosperous, or famous, but to make them Christlike. He now uses ‘all things,’ the sad as well as the glad, the painful as well as the pleasant, the things that perplex and disappoint as well as the things they eagerly strive and pray for, to further His eternal purpose for them.
When I read those words and take Romans 8:28-29 to heart, I realize that a lot of changes must occur in me before I come close to conforming to the image of His Son. You may even be thinking the same thing about yourself. Well, if you are, Hold on, Change is Coming.
Over the past two years America and the world have been living under the grips of a global pandemic. Social injustice, political turmoil, world hunger and homelessness, climate change due to global warming, war, immigration policies, unemployment and numerous other issues continue to have an unwanted and unsolicited impact on our personal and home life. Adding our self-inflected failures and personal problems to the list only intensifies the heat of the melting pot.
However, the fix, the change that we all seek is not in the system or the politics. The change lies in us – the people. God’s plan addresses this by conforming/changing us to the image and characteristics of His Son.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Although I continue to fall short of what God has predestined me to be and often incorrectly interpret why “all things work together for good,” I remain confident that change is coming.
For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6 NET2
God will perfect the good work He began in us because that is purpose for our calling.
Hold on, Change is Coming!
Written by Henry Hopson