I think it was that great saint, Corrie Ten Boom, who said, “When I look at the world, I am distressed. When I look within myself, I am depressed. But when I look to God, I am at rest.” What words to live by!
Any systematic study of theology will begin with the doctrine of God…and for a reason: All things begin with God. Nowhere is that more clearly spelled out for us than in Romans 8.
When we are “distressed” or “depressed” with the things of this world and the limitations of our human flesh, we love to read Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things, God keeps on working for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” And rightly so. God does help us all the time and in all things. But we tend to limit the meaning of this verse to God’s working in all the “stuff” that happens in our lives in order to make us “happy” or to protect us. And He does do that. But a careful reading of the verses of Romans 8 will give a much fuller meaning.
It is interesting to note that some scholars define “our good” in verse 28 as “our glory as we are conformed to the image of Christ.” God’s goal for us…His purpose for us…is that we be conformed to the image of His dear Son…that we be glorified like Jesus…and, like Jesus, live eternally with Him. Reading further in Romans 8, we see the rhetorical question: “Who (or what) can separate us from the love of Christ?” Who (or what) is going to stop us from becoming like Jesus? Who (or what) is going to stop God’s plan and purpose? No one! Nothing! And why? Because we are holding on so tightly? Behaving so well? Living up to all God’s expectations?
No! And here is the “good news”…the “gospel”. The reason is because God is working. It is because He has decided to do it. (I Thess. 5:23). Therein is our “rest”. Not in the world…not in ourselves…but in Him.
In verses 18-25 of Romans 8, we see that we “hope in eager anticipation”, waiting for our salvation to be completed…waiting for that glorious day when faith becomes sight and our adoption as sons is complete, body as well as spirit…when we shall be like Him.
In verses 26-27, we see that God’s Holy Spirit helps us in that wait…when we don’t even know what to pray, He speaks for us to God with groans that words cannot express.
“And we know…” verses 28 and following say: God works in all things toward the goal of our being conformed to the image of Christ. For those whom He foreknew (before time even began), He also predestined (before time even began). That means He marked us out as His own and set boundaries for us and permanently wrote our name in His book.
Then, in our lifetime, He calls us and He justifies us…giving us Jesus’ righteousness…making us legally right before Him. And, ultimately He glorifies us. And the tense of the verb “glorifies” indicates that it is a done deal…no question about it. It will happen.
Are we perfect now? Are we glorified now? No…but Jesus is. Jesus is glorified and God sees us in Jesus…already glorified.
Wow! What a thought to wrap our heads around! What a truth to ponder! What a blessing to rest in: that we are already overwhelmingly more that conquerors through Him who loved us from before time began.
Nothing…not life, not death, not angels, not demons, not powers, not height, not depths…not anything will be able to separate us from the love of God…because it is in Jesus, our Lord, and we are in Him. What a place to rest!
About Carol: It was early in her life that God put a love for His word in Carol’s heart. Having been saved as a child in a precious Sunday School class, the daughter of committed Christians, she has devoted most of her adult life to teaching the wonderful truths of God’s word in Sunday School as well as in other forums.
Carol married her pastor’s son, Bill, in 1965 and they have two children and five grandchildren. Together she and Bill have been involved in most every facet of church life including worship choir, leading children’s choir, men’s and women’s ministries, and missions. Besides teaching women’s Sunday School classes for more than 35 years, Carol has joined Bill in deep commitment to world missions, particularly in Romania where they helped build and support one of the only Baptist churches in Southern Romania. But she will quickly tell
you that no work is more important than opening the hearts of her grandchildren to the love of God through His word. Sharing the love of God through the truth of His divine word is a blessing beyond measure.