One great tragedy in the church today is biblical illiteracy. Among Baptists, we believe the Bible, but we often don’t know it. An unfortunate feature of the King James Version is that each verse is set apart of a separate paragraph. It makes the Bible look like a book of disconnected sayings and phrases. We often treat it as such. When life gets hard, we turn to a verse or two we have memorized and expect comfort from it. The truth is the Bible is a book where God reveals Himself to us. It contains several genres of writing. The Letter is one of those genres. No one writes a letter with disconnected thoughts and sentences.
There is a verse that most Christians know, it is Romans 8:28. We quote to our friends when tragedy strikes, we quote it to ourselves in those times as well. It is a good verse. No, it is a great verse. But it’s greatness is seen in light of verse 29 and 30.
(28) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. (HCSB)
Verses 29 and 30 tell us why we can rest at peace that God will work all things together for good. Because God has an overarching plan for believers. It is a 5-fold plan. The believer is foreknown (God knew who would put faith in Christ), the believer is predestined to be made into the image of Christ (this is our growth as believers. God working in our lives to make us like His Son), the believer is called (we cannot come to Christ apart form being called to Him), the believer is justified (God declares the believer “not guilty” because of his faith in Jesus), and the believer is glorified (he will one day be perfected in Heaven with the Father and Son). This is God’s plan. Because of this plan, we can be at peace knowing He works all things together for good.
It goes one step further. All five parts of this master-plan are in the past tense in our English Bibles. When Paul wrote this, he used the Aorist Tense. This means it denotes a completed action. Here’s the dilemma…how is it a completed action that we have been glorified while we are still here on earth? Simple. In the mind of God, it is as good as done! You can count on it, you can live your life believing it without reservation! In fact, it is also a completed action that we have been made into the image of Jesus. So know that our trials and struggles are being used by God to make us more like His Son. This is a task He will spend the rest of our lives working out for us to see. We’ll see it unfold as He has already seen it happen!