We can often mislead ourselves and others not just by twisting scripture, but simply failing to cite a passage in its entirety. In this short series, I want to focus on some of the most frequently omitted passages. This week, it’s Romans 8:28:
“For we know that all things work together for the good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes”.
This is perhaps one of the most wonderful promises to the Christian. It reflects our security in God’s control over whatever happens in our lives, and gives us hope that there is a purpose to both the good and difficult times in our lives.
I often hear this scripture quoted as a reminder that each experience will weave together for our ultimate benefit, often to the oversight of the second part of that verse: that it is “to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”.
To be honest, it was sobering to me when I began to ponder the meaning of that phrase. It’s clearly a conditional promise made only to the believer, that is, those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation and living for his glory. While this seems harsh to say, it simply follows that this would exclude those that are not believers. It is logical that and evident that not everyone on Earth loves the God of the Bible, nor called by Him (Romans 8:29-30).
By no means am I saying that non-believers cannot, or do not glean good out of bad circumstances. It actually happens all the time. This is God’s common grace and yet another reason to praise Him. What I am pointing out, however, is that the promise of Romans 8:28 is not to be thrown around without noting the entire passage and its specific message to the believer. It is not meant to be distilled into a generic “everything happens for a reason” catch-phrase.
You see, for the Christian, God’s purpose in us is to mold us more and more into His image…it is an eternal purpose that transcends any earthly circumstance. I anchor my hope in knowing that the sorrow and anguish of life is not ever wasted from this perspective.
To those who call ourselves believers, I admonish you to consider the scriptures we read in its entirety, and challenge each of us to examine our lives to see if we are truly in the faith.
To the reader who may not be a believer, I ask only one thing: Answer the call to repentance today and confess Christ as Lord and Savior. Don’t waste this life or the next.