Lord, our God, give us the Spirit’s light and joy. Amen.
Text: Romans 8:28-32
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. 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. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
A wonderful speech of the soul! A victory song in the midst of all kinds of dangers and troubles! We so often lament with David: “Lord, how long will you continue to forget me? How long shall I carry troubled thoughts in my soul and cares all day long?” – God grant that the Spirit of joy in our Bible passage may enter our sad hearts, that we also, despite all our troubles, may sing: “Who shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ?” – We are among those who “love God,” when we daily entrust ourselves to Him and pray for grace to deny ourselves, but do His good pleasure “for this is love for God, that we keep His commandments” (1Jo 5:3). We are called by God’s eternal decision in Christ and have received the call. So the glorious comfort of our Bible passage also belongs to us.
We know that all things work together for good to us; we know it; we do not see it and we do not understand it, but we “know it” in faith. “All things,” yes, it really says all things, fortune and misfortune, yes, sin and temptation and danger and death, all things work together for good to us, for encouragement, for humility, for strengthening and cleansing. In Romans 5:3-5 Paul speaks about the benefit of tribulation, and James says that we should “count it all joy when we fall into various trials” (Jam 1:2). When it seems to us that we do not love God, that we are not called to glory and do not have the gift, but are the shame of all, even this serves for our good. “All things,” just listen, all things serve our best interest. God’s eternal love in Christ embraces us in all our ways. Before the world existed, He knew us and chose us – in Him to be humbled and to be uplifted, to lose everything and to die, to have everything and to live. In the Son He loves us eternally. From this love He gave Him to be our Savior, reconciled us to Himself and made us brothers and sisters of His only-begotten Son.
And what He began, He shall complete; so our sanctification is just as certain as our calling and our justification. He has called and justified us, “He has also sanctified us.” “What shall we say to this?” Should we sigh and complain? Yes, over our unbelief! But otherwise we should say: “God is for us,” He is with us, right beside us; God is our Friend, our Father. God, the Almighty, is on our side; “who can be against us?” Who or what can harm us? Our cause in all things is His, so doesn’t everything have to be given to us? Troubled Christian soul, why are you troubled? Isn’t everything well? Listen to what else the Apostle says: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” “The Only-begotten” was not too dear to Him to offer up for us; “He delivered Him up for us all,” for the best for us, for reconciliation, while we were still enemies. So it’s impossible for Him to spare anything that is needed for our good! Utterly impossible! “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” “With Him” we have already gotten everything, for isn’t He the Father’s beloved Son, and doesn’t everything belong to Him, all grace, all salvation, all victory, all treasure, God’s heart and all things in heaven and on earth? And Him we have gotten beforehand to have a share in all: how shall He not also freely give us all things? It is impossible to be otherwise, – my unbelief must be silent and fade away before the clear light of the Spirit of Truth.
Ponder our text, speak in private with your God about it, and lay the words before Him, and you will come to sing with Paul Gerhardt: “If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy; For when I pray, before me My foes confounded fly. If Christ, the Head, befriend me, If God be my support, The mischief they intend me Shall quickly come to naught” [ELH 517:1]. Help us, merciful God, to such faith and confidence. Amen.
So rest, my soul, with no more sadness
And fall asleep in Jesus’ side!
Let no one take away your gladness,
Not even till the day you die;
God has you in His gracious keeping,
And numbers all your tears and weeping.
He measures all your journey’s way;
Your mind this truth shall be receiving;
Never can God be you deceiving,
For only God cannot betray.
Bonin: Hvad er det godt i Jesu Arme L 524:8 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Hvad er det godt (Jensen’s Koralbog); alternate hymn: Who trusts in God, a strong abode ELH 261