If God Gave Us His Son, Will He Not Give Us Everything Else?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

~ Romans 8:32 ~

In Romans 8:32, Paul asked this question: If God gave us His Son, then will He not give us everything else He promised us? You may say, “I believe God is sovereign, and I believe God is good. But when I lose my mate, or when I am diagnosed with cancer, or when I lose my retirement savings, how do I know God’s goodness and love are going to be extended to me?” Paul said in verse 32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” If God has given us His Son, then why wouldn’t He give us everything else as well?

When Paul’s audience heard the phrase “He who did not spare His own Son,” that word “spare” would have struck a note of familiarity with them. The Greek word “spare” is the same word used in Genesis 22 in the Old Testament story of Abraham offering his son Isaac. You remember the story. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son. The Bible says Abraham did not spare his son. Of course, God intervened at the last moment. But that was a picture of what Jesus Christ would do one day on that same mountain range of Moriah when He would send His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. Paul was saying, “If God was willing to do that for us, then why wouldn’t He do anything and everything else for us?” Somebody once asked theologian Karl Barth what the most important word in the Bible is. He did not hesitate in answering. It was not “love” or “forgiveness.” Karl Barth said the most important word is “for.” That is the Greek word “huper,” meaning “in place of.” It is the word used here: God delivered His Son “over for [in place of] us all.” That is the gospel.

A few years ago, I watched a miniseries about the life of Jesus. The Jesus figure in the show was meeting with His disciples and trying to explain His reason for His coming death. He said, “The reason I came to die is so that I might die for the goodness that is in every human heart.” That is not what the Scripture says. Jesus did not come to die for our goodness. God did not look down on humanity and say, “Those human beings are such wonderful people. I want to show them how good they are by sending My Son to die for them.” No, He did not come to die for our goodness. He came to die for our badness–for the sickness and evil in our hearts. That is what makes God’s gift that much more unbelievable. God did not give His best when we were His friends. The Bible says that while we were His enemies, He sent Christ to die for us.

If while you were His enemy, God sent you His best and most costly gift, now that you are His child, don’t you think He will give you everything else? If God gave you His greatest gift while you were His enemy, now that you are God’s child, what is He going to withhold from you?

If God Is for Us, Who Is Against Us?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

[Romans 8:31]

Paul asked five questions in Romans 8:31-35 to drive home the point that God’s purpose is going to be accomplished in your life. The first question is in verse 31: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

The phrase “if God” is a conditional tense in the Greek language that literally means “since God” or “because God.” Since God is for us, who can be against us? You may be saying, “Paul, I can give you a whole list of people who are against me. I have a mate who has turned cold toward me. I have an employer who cannot stand me. I have a friend who has betrayed me. And if that is not enough, 1 Peter 5:8 says I have the adversary, the devil, who is prowling about like a roaring lion seeking to destroy me. There are plenty of people who are against me.” Paul was not denying the reality of our adversaries. He was denying the relative power of our adversaries. He was saying, “Since God is for us, what adversary of any consequence can be against us?”

In Romans 8:18, Paul talked about our suffering in this world. He said, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul was not saying that we do not suffer in this world, but that in comparison to the glory that will be ours forever, the suffering we experience right now is light and momentary. In verse 31, he was saying the same thing about our adversaries. He was saying, “Compared to the power of God, the power of our adversaries is nothing.” It is like comparing the power of a firecracker to the power of a nuclear bomb. Yes, a firecracker can do some damage, but nothing like a nuclear weapon. If God is for us, who can be powerful enough to thwart God’s purpose for us?

Let me give you one word of caution: This is not a promise that we are going to win every game. It is not a promise that we are going to get every job. It is not a promise that we are going to avoid every problem. What Paul was saying is that God’s purpose for your life is not going to be thwarted. No one and no circumstance can interfere with God’s plan for your life.

Not long ago, I shared with a friend who was going through a difficult time the truth that God’s will is going to be accomplished in his life, and nothing can keep that from happening. He said to me, “Robert, I have no doubt God’s will is going to be done. But I also remember that God’s will included the torture and crucifixion of His own Son, the stoning of Stephen, and the martyrdom of those five missionaries in Ecuador. Where is the comfort in that?” I think anytime we talk about the sovereignty of God, in the same breath we need to talk about the goodness and the love of God. Nobody with any sense doubts the sovereignty of God. God is in control. But that is a cold doctrine if it is separated from the goodness and the love of God in our lives.

Morning Devotional

More Than Conquerors

No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.

[Proverbs 12:21]

What do you fear most in life? In those quiet, reflective moments as you contemplate your future, what anxiety robs you of joy?

If you are a student, maybe it is the fear that you will never graduate or that you will never be able to find a job. If you are single, maybe it is the fear that you will never find a mate. For some of you, your greatest fear is that you will remain stuck in an unfulfilling job or an unsatisfying marriage. For some of you, your greatest fear for the future is the loss of something important to you, such as the loss of your mate, the loss of your job, the loss of your savings, or perhaps the loss of your health. What is it that you fear most in life? Whatever that fear is, the concluding verses of Romans 8 have wonderful words of reassurance that should remove any anxiety that is draining your life of joy right now.

Last week, we looked at what I call the greatest promise in the Bible–Romans 8:28, which says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” That verse is not saying that all things are good, and it is not saying there is good in everything. There are some things that happen to us that are absolutely terrible and evil. But God has the ability to cause all those things to work together for good. And the “good” is not our happiness, our fulfillment, or the achievement of our potential. The “good” for which all things are working together is God’s purpose.

What is God’s one purpose for which He is working together all things in your life? Romans 8:29 tells us, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” God saved you to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that while Jesus will always be the first, He will not be the only child of God; there will be many men and women who thought like Jesus thought and acted like Jesus acted. That is God’s purpose for which He is molding all things in your life. God is using everything in your life, including those terrible tragedies, to make you like Christ.

Proverbs 12:21 says, “No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.” That verse does not mean nothing bad ever happens to the righteous. That phrase “no harm befalls” in Hebrew literally means “nothing without purpose happens” to the righteous. That is the promise of Romans 8:28. You cannot be assaulted by adverse people or adverse circumstances except by the will of God, and He is working those things in your life to make you more like Christ.

Morning Devotional

The Condition Of The Bible’s Greatest Promise

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son … and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

[Romans 8:29-30]

Romans 8:28 is the Bible’s greatest promise, but it is not a promise for everyone. Notice the condition: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The Bible says there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who love God and those who hate God. The only people who can know that God is working all things together for good are those who are properly related to God through faith in Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, Romans 8:28 does not apply to you. You do not have any assurance that all things are working together for good. The promise of Romans 8:28 is limited to those who know God, who are called according to His purpose.

Paul explained what he meant by that in verses 29 and 30. These verses have been called the five golden links in the chain of salvation. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son … and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

First, notice the word “foreknew.” In the Old Testament, “foreknew” meant to enter into a relationship with. Before the foundation of the world, God chose to set His affection on you. His choice had nothing to do with your good looks, your good works, or your potential. Second, the Bible says whom God foreknew, He predestined. That word “predestined” means to mark out the boundaries of. God set a pattern for your life. He determined your destiny. Third, the Bible says whom God predestined, He called. There was a moment in time that God called you to salvation. Fourth, when God called you to salvation and you responded in faith, He justified you. Justification is the judicial act by which God declares a sinner not guilty before Him. The moment you trusted in Christ as Savior, all your sins were forever forgiven. Fifth, those whom God justified, He glorified. Glorification is the time when God will give His children new bodies free from sin, sickness, suffering, and sadness. Notice that while our glorification is yet future, in this verse it is in past tense, as if it has already happened. Remember, God is not limited by time like we are. God treats our glorification as a done deal. You have already been glorified.

A final word I want to look at in this promise is “together.” The Bible does not say that God uses each thing individually for good but “all things together for good.” Like the ingredients in a cake, God takes the good things, the not-so-good things, and the terrible things in your life, and He blends them together in the right proportion, for the right amount of time, to produce good in your life. Together, they mold you into the image of His Son. Aren’t you grateful for a God who is able to do that? That is why Romans 8:28 is the greatest promise in the Bible.

Morning Devotional

The Author Of Your Life Plan

In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

[Psalm 139:16]

What does God mean when He gives this promise in Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good”? He is not saying everything is working together to make you a star athlete. He is not saying all the disappointments in your dating life are working together to bring you a perfect spouse. He is not saying the hardships you are facing at your job are working together to make you more successful. Then what is this promise saying?

First of all, God has a purpose for your life. People usually only quote the first portion of this verse: “God causes all things to work together for good.” But it goes on to say, “to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The word “good” is related to “purpose.” This verse is saying that all things work together for God to accomplish His purpose in your life. What is that purpose? Paul said in verse 29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Out of billions of people in the world, God chose to save you. And He chose to save you for a purpose: to mold you into the image of His Son. God wants you and I to love what Jesus loved, to think as Jesus thought, to do the things that Jesus did. The Bible says God uses all things in your life to make you like His Son, Jesus. The word “good” is not a synonym for “healthy,” “successful,” “admired,” or “fulfilled”–that is not what everything is working together to accomplish. Instead, everything is working together to make you like Christ.

Second, God’s purpose for your life includes “all things.” God causes all things to work together to make you like Christ. When you have a steady income, when you are in a fulfilling marriage, and when your health is great, it is easy to say, “Yes, all things are working together for good.” But it also means that unwanted divorce, that undeserved termination, and that unfair accusation–all those things are also working together to accomplish God’s purpose in your life: to make you like Christ. In fact, have you noticed it is those mighty blows from the Master’s hammer, those hard things, that forge the character of Christ in your life? It is not the easy things that make you look like Jesus; it is the difficult things. God uses all things, especially the hurtful things in your life, to mold you into the image of His Son.

Third, God is in control of all that happens to us. People say, “Things just have a way of working themselves out.” But that is not what Romans 8:28 is saying! Things do not work out for good by chance. On the contrary, if things are left on their own, they usually work out for bad. The law of entropy says everything is spiraling downward. Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good.” God is the one who is in control of every circumstance in your life. In fact, God is the author of your life plan. Every detail of your life has been planned by God.

The Content of the Bible’s Greatest Promise

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

[Proverbs 16:9]

Romans 8:28 is perhaps the greatest promise in the Bible. It says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” What is this promise actually saying? Many people misunderstand this promise, so it would be helpful to examine what this verse is not claiming.

First of all, this promise is not claiming that all things are good. Some people say, “There is something good in every situation.” Try telling that to a parent whose child has been killed. No, Paul was not saying there is good in every situation. Dark is not light. Sorrow is not joy. Death is not life. Paul is not saying that all things are good. Some things that happen are absolutely evil.

Second, this promise is not claiming that we can see good in all things. Some people say, “If you just look hard enough or wait long enough, then you will be able to find that silver lining in the cloud.” Paul was not saying that either. He was not saying that we can see good in all things. My parents often quoted this verse when I was growing up. When things did not go my way, they would quote this verse to me. For example, after I lost a contest at school, they would say, “Robert, don’t worry about that; God had His reason. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” But that was not the case in every situation.

My dad worked for an airline, so we got to travel free of charge, unless paying passengers showed up to take our seats. Many times, we would be on our way back from vacation, eager to get home, but at the last minute, the airline would say, “Sorry. A paying passenger has shown up, so you are bumped.” We would end up spending the night in the airport. Whenever we would get bumped off a flight, my parents would say, “All things work together for good; there is a reason God did not have us get on that airplane. Maybe it was going to crash and burn, and God spared our lives.” I remember as a little kid wondering, “What about the people who did get on the airplane? How did that work out for them?” I appreciate what my parents were trying to do. They were trying to help me see the bigger perspective in life and not judge everything by an individual circumstance. But there are some problems with that kind of reasoning.

There are two basic problems with saying that if you just look hard enough you will find good in every situation. First of all, sometimes we go our entire lives without ever seeing the good in the situation. Life is not like a television program that resolves everything in 30 minutes. There is not a happy ending to every story–not in this life anyway. Second, perhaps the biggest problem with that kind of reasoning is that it is based on a wrong view of the word “good.” We are trying to define good in our own terms. But what God says is good and what we think is good are not always the same.

Practical Principles About Suffering

But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

[Romans 8:25]

There are two practical principles about suffering in Romans 8 that I hope will be an encouragement to you.

Principle number one: present suffering enhances future joy. Imagine it is a hot summer day, and you decide to host a party at your house. Half of your guests are outside on the patio. The smart half are inside enjoying the air conditioning. As a good host, you decide to walk around with a tray of iced tea. First, you serve tea to your guests outside, and then you come inside and serve tea to your guests there. Which group do you think is going to enjoy that tea the most? It is going to be those who are outside in that sweltering heat. They are the ones who are the thirstiest. It is the same way with suffering. Those who suffer most in this world are going to be those who enjoy Heaven most in the next world. I think that is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:6 when He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Principle number two: present suffering is real, but it is also temporary. In Romans 8, Paul compared the suffering in this world to the pains of childbirth. If you are a mom, I want you to remember the pain of being in labor: the suffering, the screaming, and the groaning. Now imagine that your husband is standing by your side as you go through that experience. He is gently holding your hand. And as you are screaming out in pain, he says, “Honey, what is the fuss about? Your suffering is just in your mind.” Or, “Honey, this is not unusual–lots of women have gone through this.” Would that make you feel better? What would be your reaction? The suffering you are experiencing is very real, and the only thing that makes it tolerable is the knowledge that it is temporary and that it is going to produce something better–a child. It is the same way with suffering. Look at what Paul said in Romans 8:25: “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Make no mistake about it: the suffering you are experiencing is very real. When you go alongside a loved one who is suffering, do not diminish the reality of that suffering. Do not tell people that if they had more faith they would not suffer as much as they do. No, the suffering they feel is real. The word of hope you can offer to those who are suffering is this: it is temporary.

Some of my favorite words about suffering were written by Philip Yancey. He said, “The Bible never belittles human disappointment [or suffering], but it does add one key word: temporary. What we feel now, we will not always feel. Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better. And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness–for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”