Romans 8:28-29. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28 is one of the best known and most quoted verses in all the Bible. Maybe you’ve even quoted it to others in times of stress. Or maybe you’ve had it quoted to you. Some people find Romans 8:28 to be too cliche. Like “God is good all the time.”
But the truth is that Romans 8:28 is quite possibly the most glorious promise that we have in all of scripture. For those of us in Christ, it should never be called cliche. Rather, it should be claimed every day and poured deep into our weary hearts and souls.
The problem might come because we tend to divorce verse 28 from verse 29. If all we read is verse 28 – all things work together for good – we might assume that good means that every situation in our lives will work out. We won’t have any problems. We should buy one of those “life is good” t-shirts and smile our way through life.
But verse 29 tells us what the good actually is – predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers. Verse 29 reveals a very grand and very glorious truth – God is restoring humanity through our union with Christ, changing us into the likeness of Christ, and placing us into his family as the brothers and sisters of Christ forever.
This is our destiny in Christ! This is the outcome of our lives, and therefore the outcome of every single thing that happens in our lives. This is the good that happens to those who love God.
When we see the plan of verse 29, we can rightly claim the promise of verse 28. Because we are destined to live forever in God’s family, we can know that all things will move us toward that good. Because we are being gloriously transformed into the same likeness as Christ, we can know that all things will produce that good in us. Because our future is this secure, this spectacular, we can know that everything that happens to us is preparing us for that final good day.
If we know the outcome of our lives (and we do), then we can also know that everything leading up to that final outcome, must contribute to that final outcome – the conforming of our lives to Christ’s life.
This is the limitless good news of God for us in Christ. Look at this promise again and soak in its glory:
All things. The infinitely seen and unseen. Known and unknown. Every single thing in our lives contributes to our transformation into the sons and daughters of God who image Christ. Every success. Every failure. Each sorrow. Each joy. Even when we sin.
Work together. Nothing is wasted in your life. God turns it all into part of the beautiful tapestry of Jesus in you.
Good. In scripture the concept of good means more than just nice, or acceptable. When something is good it is living up to the purpose for which it was made. God is good because he always lives up to his perfection. And now we too are being made good. We are being conformed to the good man, Christ Jesus. The ultimate loving, serving, trusting human. That’s Jesus, and that’s what we are becoming. And that’s good.
Let’s pause and note that this verse doesn’t say “all things ARE good.” Nope. As you know, many things in this life are very bad. And Christians will experience the worst of evils in this life (look at Jesus). The promise of this verse is that all things, from the senseless tragedy, to the perpetrated evil, will be used by God to conform us to his image. But this does NOT change the thing itself – it is still evil.
Nor does this verse make our suffering good. It does not make difficulties something to be embraced or sought after. But it does mean that we no longer have to despair in our suffering. We no longer need to doubt God’s love for us. The cross proves this. Our union with Christ proves this. In Christ, everything now has ultimate meaning. Everything serves his purpose when you are called according to his purpose. When you are called to being conformed to Christ.
“To live is Christ” means that all who love God, all that are in the Spirit, can claim this most marvelous of promises – God WILL work everything out for your ultimate good and glory in Christ. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is random. All worry and fear can melt away. The eternal plan of God has not been thwarted by our mistakes, our sins, or our suffering. It all works out in the end.
Is that too cliche? Or is it Christ?
Be honest, have you found Romans 8:28 to be cliche?
You in Christ
How might your life be different if you truly claimed the promise of Romans 8:28-29?
Christ in you
Christ is being formed in you. Can you see the evidence of this in your daily life?
Playlist: Conformed to Christ