27/11/2007

Sermon All things for good

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
The things which an apostle had to deliver were not mere matters of opinion, or of doubtful disputation, but of absolute certainty. Primitive Christians received the word in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; and in this manner primitive preachers delivered it. "We know," said Paul, "that all things work together for good". We are confirmed in this important truth, and wish others to be so too. We know it by divine revelation : it is what the scriptures abundantly testify. We know it by immediate inspiration; for we also have the Spirit of God, and are under his special influence. We know it by experience and observation : "that which we have tasted and handled of the word of life, declare we unto you." In this truth all the saints in heaven and on earth are agreed. It is appointed of God that all things shall work together for good to them that love him, and his counsel shall stand. It is promised, and he will not alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth. What unerring wisdom ordains, almighty power will accomplish. Such also is the love which God bears to his people, and such his concern for their welfare, that he will make all things subservient to their salvation.


1. Attend to the description given of true believers: they are such as "love God," and are " called according to his purpose."
1. They are such as love God. Carnal men love the world, and the things that are in the world but Christians love God, and savour of the things that are of God. He is the first object of their esteem and all his perfections appear to them infinitely amiable.
2. They are called according to his purpose. This is expressive of the change wrought upon the soul in regeneration, whereby the calls of the gospel are rendered effectual. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power."
Three things are implied
(1) That this call is under the special direction of God, being "according to his purpose." Many are called by the gospel, and but few chosen.
(2) That when God calls a sinner he does it effectually: it is easy to him whose work it is. Herein' he acts as a Sovereign.
(3) This call implies that the sinner was once afar off, but is now made nigh: he is turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
2. Consider the peculiar privilege of such as love God, and are called according to his purpose: "All things work together for their good."
1. Let us observe what things are here intended. The believer has an interest in all good things, and these we are sure will turn to his advantage. Spiritual blessings are good in themselves, and cannot but be so in their tendency and effects: to be blessed with them is to be blessed indeed. But the apostle is not speaking of good things, but of evil things; which, in their own nature, tended to injure and annoy. Hence he asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us." Evil things, therefore, by the overruling providence and grace of God, shall be productive of good to his people.

Among these we may notice the following:
(1) All the plots and contrivances of their enemies, however artfully formed or executed.
(2 ) All the evils and stratagems of Satan to ruin and destroy, shall be overruled for good. He can do no more than what God permits him.
(3) The withdrawment of spiritual comfort and the hidings of God's face shall terminate in the good of them that love him.
(4) All manner of afflictions, whether ordinary or otherwise, shall be overruled for good. Pain and sickness, worldly losses and disappointments, the unkindness of friends, and the opposition of enemies, shall all be overruled by a wise and holy Providence.
(5) Death itself, of whatsoever kind it may be, is the Christian's gain.
I have not mentioned moral evil as among the things which work for good, as the apostle does not appear to have had any reference to it, but to those natural evils which are common to all believers, and which are noticed in different parts of this chapter. It is true indeed that God may and often does overrule even the sins of his people for their good; but as this is not within the compass of the promise, so it is more than in ordinary cases we are warranted to expect. The spirit wounded for sin is often made more watchful against it; and the saints when recovered from their falls are known to walk more circumspectly, and become more useful. But the nature of sin itself is evil, only evil, and its natural consequence is wrath.
2. Notice in what manner all things are productive of good to them that love God, and who are called according to his purpose. They are said to " work together" for this purpose.
More particularly
(1) Things do not work together for our good by any inherent or physical efficacy, but by virtue of a divine appointment and designation.
(2) Not always visibly, though really. Jacob said, "All these things are against me;" but it was not so.
(3) Not immediately, but eventually. In Abraham's vision the smoking furnace went before the burning lamp: one indicated the sorrows and sufferings of the church, and the other their happy issue.
(4) Not apart, but in conjunction : all things "work together" for good. It is not one single event that produces the desired effect, but all the providences of God in connexion with each other, like the different parts of a machine which is at work for one great end.

IMPROVEMENT
1. If all things work together for good, let this be an antidote against impatience and unbelief. Did we but fully credit this important truth, how easy and happy would it make us in every condition! It was this which taught Paul how to be abased, and how to abound; to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. No situation in life could distress him overmuch, for he knew that however it might fare with him by the way, it would be well with him at last. When providences are dark and intricate, we should wait the issue, to see the end of the Lord. Amidst all our present troubles and infirmities, there is something better behind. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
2. What encouragement is here to true religion! "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." The cross is the worst part of religion, and yet even this is better than the best of this world. It is better to suffer with Christ, if we can but suffer like him, than to reign with Caesar. If we be chastened of the Lord, it is that we may not be condemned with the world. If we have but little peace by the way, we shall have it at last. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace" (Ps 37:37).
3. If all things work together for good to them that love God, it is to them only, and it will be otherwise. with them that love him not. If we be his enemies all things will work together against us, and end in our final ruin. Our table will become a snare, and our prosperity destroy us. The doctrine of the cross will be a stumbling-block, and a savour of death unto deal to us. In this world we may be comforted, but in the other world we shall be tormented. Here we may receive our good things, but there our evil things. God will be better to his people in the end than they expected, and worse to the wicked than they feared. If we be right in ourselves, every thing will be right to us: but if we be wrong, every thing will be wrong to us. "Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled." Titus 1:15. 4. If our good be God's end, let his glory be ours: if he seeks our happiness, let us seek his honour. Let us be thankful for all his dispensations in providence and grace; for "whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me." Let us also be fruitful; for "herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit." The more we aim at his glory, the more we possess of true religion, and the brighter our evidences of interest in him. Let our great concern be that Christ may be magnified in us, whether it be by life or by death : then we may say with Paul, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain'. (Ps 50:23; John 15:8; Phil 1:20).

No comments: