Monday, 15 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 2) - Sufferings.

Continuing on Romans 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

"We know that in all things..." How do we know? Well the bible of course. We need to be readin it, we need to spend time reading God's word and spending time with him in prayer. Often people talk from experience and not directly from the bible - experience has worth, but it has no worth when compared to the words of God who is in control of all things and created the universe. He knows everything, our experience and our knowledge is nothing compared to the bible.

"All things" Everything. There is absolutely nothing which is out of God's control. Good times, hard times. Wealth and poverty, sickness and health, death, life, friends, family, pets. God is in control of it all, of every situation, of every moment of every hour of every day since creation. There are those who would disagree with this, and perhaps I am wrong about it all (I am human after all), but it seems to me that this is clearly shown throughout the bible and is consistent with the whole of scripture. God is in control, and that should be a great comfort to us! If he is in control then we have this promise ringing through any situation we are in: He works in it all "for the good of those who love him". Surely knowing that promise from a faithful and unchanging God should have us shouting for joy! Yet it's so easy to read and not apply to our lives. So what's going on in your life at the moment? Sick friends? Dying family members? Family Breakdowns? Broken bones? Financial hardship? Or is everything great? Is life easy at the moment? Whatever the situation, it is from God, for our good if we are his people. 

How can he possibly use hardship for good? In plenty of ways! He never lets a needless tear fall from the eyes of his people. Whatever sufferings we are facing, he will use them for his glory, to help us, to grow us and develop us. It may not be good for us materially or physically, but it is good for us spiritually, and that is what matters most - our eternal state before God matters far more then health or wealth or any sort of earthly prosperity. God never promises his people wealth - in fact he promises us that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12 - In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted)

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If we know God is in control and working it all for our good and for his glory then we can rejoice! If he wasn't then what reason would there be to rejoice? But we can rejoice because through trials and sufferings God will test our faith, making us persevere and thereby making us mature and complete.
1 Peter 1:6-9
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Again, we can rejoice in sufferings because by them God purifies us - he gets rid of our sin and makes us love and trust him, instead of loving the world and sin. He shows us it is only by his power we are sustained and by them he brings us to eternity with him in heaven.
Psalm 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
Again: by sufferings we learn to trust God and obey him instead of living our own way.

There are countless verses on the topic! God is in control and he allows sufferings. We suffer because of sin, we live in a sinful world, and to end our suffering God would have to deal with sin. It is his mercy which stops him from returning to judge yet, giving people the chance to repent and calling in all his elect. We have comfort in our sufferings though - God is in control and he works for our good in all of them! What an awesome God! Heres a common passage which has the same theme: Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

But does this apply to all people? No way. Not at all - he works for the good of 'those who love him'. We either love God or we hate him - we either follow him and submit our lives to him or we reject him. We are either Christians or not christians."The devil owns the fence". So the obvious challenge: Are you a Christian? Do you personally submit to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, as the only way that we can be saved? Do you repent of your sin and put your faith in him? Are you sorry for disobeying God? We all deserve God's wrath (i.e. hell), and we will all get it unless we turn to Jesus. So have you? Or are you still under condemnation?

  1. The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

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