Posted on 01/11/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** none posted this week ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD
What a mighty God we serve
what a mighty God we serve
Angels bow before Him
heaven and earth adore Him
What a mighty God we serve!
HE IS THE KING OF KINGS
He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
O, He is the King!
His name is Jesus, Jesus
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prison door
And He's able to deliver evermore!
FATHER, SPIRIT, JESUS
Father, I adore You
Lay my life before You
How I love You
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of today's message is "All Things," and the key Scripture for today is found in Romans 8:28.
Let's read this together. Romans chapter 8, verse 28.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Lord, speak to us today through your Word, and may we grow by it.
You know, I think this verse would be easier to believe to the carnal mind if it said "many things work together for good" or even "most things work together for good." But it doesn't say that, does it. It says "ALL things work together for good to those who love God."
ALL things? Wouldn't this include the holocaust? Millions of people were slaughtered, and even more went through hell on earth and were scarred for life. Has God worked THIS together for good?
How about human trafficking, in which little children are sold for sex and are horribly abused. Has God worked this together for good?
How about world hunger, pestilance, and disease, where worm-infested children have no food to eat or clean water to drink. Has God worked this together for good?
Not too long ago, we talked about pain and suffering, and our brother Garron spoke about free will and sin, pointing to the fall in the garden as the source of all suffering and death.
Did God cause the holocaust? Does God cause child abuse? Does God cause murder and rape? Does God cause starvation and disease? Does God cause death?
There is the judgment of God, but that's not what we're talking about here today.
I don't believe God orchestrated the holocaust, but instead empowered the military forces that overthrew Hitler and set the Jews free.
God does not cause child abuse, and warns very strongly about the judgment he will execute against those who would bring harm to children.
God does not inspire murder and rape, nor is he the agent of hunger, disease, and death. All of these things are the result of sin. We are not puppets. We have free will. And this is good. Nothing else would be as good, for God is the author of good. He writes the definitions.
James 1:17 says,
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning."
Wickedness comes when we deviate from the commands and the ways of God, and we are often greatly affected by others who turn to their own ways instead of his.
Disease and death come because our bodies are under the curse of sin, as is all of creation, cursed because of sin. As it says in Romans chapter 8 verses 22 through 23,
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors in birth pangs together until now.
23 And not only they, but we also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
What does that mean? Creation groans and labors in birth pangs? In verse 23 it says that we also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Is this the birth pangs? Awaiting the redemption? If so, the creation also awaits the same redemption. And what is this redemption?
We can read about it in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, which says:
51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So our mortal bodies will be glorified, changed, made immortal, and the creation as well will be changed, as the old heaven and earth pass away, and everything is made new by the radiant glory of the risen and glorified Jesus, and the blazing splendor and power of God.
But until that time, we suffer under the curse of sin, and all creation suffers right along with us. It's a constant reminder of how desperately wicked sin really is. It's not just a choice. It's not just a matter of opinion. Sin is the antithesis of everything truly good, everything that truly brings life, everything that is of God.
This is the root of the evils we see in this world. And even THIS falls into the category of "all things," and "all things" work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, my wife and I spent two weeks in Kentucky with my parents. The second week was filled with sickness, as one by one everyone in the house caught a really nasty virus. We visited no one. We didn't play games. We didn't even talk that much. All because of a stupid virus.
But that fits in the category of "all things," doesn't it.
Then we got a flat tire, and it was a puncture in the side of the tire, so we had to buy a new one. A couple of days later, due to a lag in mail resulting in a late bank deposit, we had some checks bounce. We barely had enough money to get back home.
But that fits in the category of "all things" too.
Next, our web server was hacked, and on top of already being in a financial hole, I had to spend three days moving data over to a new server and reinstalling everything, instead of working and earning some income those three days.
This too fits in the category of "all things."
What good will come of all this? I can see one good thing resulting from the hacking: we have greatly increased the server security and are much more protected from potentially worse attacks.
But what good can come from a week lost from sickness, days of income lost from a senseless cyber attack, a flat, unpatchable tire, and bounced checks?
Of course these are relatively small things. I'm just using them as examples. You might be facing things many times worse than this, and you probably know others who are going through truly horrible things.
But let's take another look at our theme verse for today:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
Do you love God? And I don't mean, do you feel love for God... I mean, do you demonstrate love toward God? Do you spend time with him in prayer, praise, worship, and reading his Word? Do you obey his Word, and follow his Spirit when he speaks to you and leads you?
I'll be the first to tell you from personal experience that even when I wasn't where I should be with God, he still turned around the bad things in my life and worked them out for good. But this promise is for those who love God. Not those who are perfect. Not those who never stumble. Not those who never fall. But those who get back up again and return to the Lord any time they may stray just a little bit off the path.
So God works all things together for the good of those who love him. And the second part says this: "to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose."
What purpose is this? And are you called according to that purpose?
Let's read a little bit further, Romans chapter eight, starting with verse 28:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
31 What then will we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Are you predestined? That all depends on what choices you will make. God knows all the days of your life, and he foreknew them from the foundation of the earth.
This passage follows a progression. First, we see that the promise is to those who love God. Loving God, once again, is not a feeling, but a way of life. Everything else follows this love.
Those who love God are called according to his purpose. Those who are called according to his purpose, he foreknew. Those he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Those he predestined, he called. Those he called, he justified. And those he justified, he glorified.
The foreknowledge and subsequent predestination is God's part. Loving God is our part. And this predestination means that God, knowing from the foundation of the earth that you would choose to love him, fashioned a destiny for you. You have a solid purpose. You have a glorious destination. And everything that happens in your life, ALL things, God will work them out to your good.
Diamonds aren't formed on the beach sipping a cocktail. Gold isn't purified in the cradle of comfort. And you will not be conformed to the image of God's Son without adversity.
God may not bring the adversity in your life, but he has already promised that he will use that adversity to bring about good. You might not see it. You might not understand. But it will come. Just keep loving God, and trust in him to take care of everything else.
You know, sometimes we are tempted to question God. Sometimes we are tempted to question why he doesn't put a stop to all the evil in the world, and just transform us and bring good to us without all the suffering.
But who are we to question God? How did we obtain such a high and lofty sense of morality that we can dare to judge the author of all that is good and right?
We are but dust. Our hearts and minds are twisted by the sin that runs through our veins, passed down from generation to generation by Adam. Will the creation who has gone astray say to the creator, "I know better than you?"
But sadly, those who will not choose to love God, but will instead exalt their own ideas and their own hearts above the one who created them, they do not have this promise. The things to which they point as being proof of God's absense will overcome them, simply because they are walking in the way of that which is the root of those things they so despise, instead of walking in the way of life, loving God, and living in his promise that he will turn all this temporary evil into good, carbon into diamonds, and rocks into gold.
We who choose to hear God's voice and follow where he leads have the promise that we will shed mortality and will take on immortality. We will see the heavens and earth pass away, as corruption takes on incorruption. And in the meanwhile, the things through which we must endure on this earth are forging within us the image of perfection, the sons and daughters of God, and the heirs to an eternal and incorruptible inheritance.
I'd like to open up the altar, and I'll ask the ministry team to come stand at the front.
Have you chosen to love God? Have you accepted his sacrifice for you, his free gift of forgiveness and everlasting life? Have you chosen to walk in that love relationship with him?
If not, the way is open for you today. Jesus opened the way to the Father so that whosoever will, can find everlasting life, and can walk in the promise that no matter what comes, God will turn it around to your good.
Matthew 5:45 tells us that "He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." The sun can both warm and scortch, and the rain can both water and flood. And they both come to the good and the evil.
Things will happen in your life regardless of whose side you're on. But when you're on the right team, God will work them all for your good. And you have the promise that If God is for you, who can be against you?
Turn to Jesus today, and allow him to make all things new in your life.
If you're ready to turn to him today, or if you already know him and simply want to turn your worries and cares over to him today, you're invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the front, as we have a time of prayer, worship, and ministry.
If you need to go, you're free to do so, and you're all invited to come to the room on your left for a time of fellowship. But first, let's gather at the altar.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.