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Bible Search
The Security of Salvation #5

 

The Extent of the Believer's Security
Romans 8:28
 
One of the great chapters of Scripture to try and understand is Romans 8. In fact, someone has said that Romans is like the Himalayas; Chapter 8 is like Mount Everest, and verse 28 like the pinnacle of Everest. It is there that I want to focus our attention today.
 
We've been working our way through some thoughts about the security of the believer back in chapter 5. We discovered six links in a chain that bind us to our Savior forever. That is somewhat of the theology of the doctrine. 
 
For the next several weeks, I want to zero in on the practical side of security by looking at the closing verses of chapter 8.
 
8:28-30
 
 
The whole of chapter 8 is summarized in those three verses, and these three verses actually serve to prepare the heart for what follows. 
 
Beginning in verse 31, and going to the end of the chapter there is one long chorus of praise and it comes immediately after this summary in verses 28 through 30.
 
Now remember that Paul is discussing the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. He talks about man's condition in sin in the first three chapters, and starting toward the end of chapter 3 and all the way through chapter 7 he talks about justification and its effects.
 
Then in chapter 8 he gives to us the great reality that justification is eternal, that whoever the Lord justifies He glorifies. Anyone that is saved in the beginning will be saved in the end. We are eternally secure and will persevere in faith to the end.
That great truth of chapter 8 is summarized in those three verses that I just read to you. They sum up the whole doctrine of eternal security. "Whoever the Lord foreknew He predestined, whoever He predestined He called, whoever He called He justified, and whoever He justified He glorified."
 
And I might add, nobody is lost in the process because it is "God (who) causes all things to work together for their good." That is the sum of this wonderful text. Justification is eternal.
 
Now if we had the time to look at all of chapter 8, here is what we’d discover: 
 
Justification and its eternal character is secured to the believer by the marvelous ministry of the Holy Spirit whose work is outlined throughout this chapter.  It is the Spirit who secures us in a no- condemnation status. We will never be condemned. 
You would find in verses 2 and 3 that it is the Holy Spirit who frees us from sin and death. In verse 4 it is the Holy Spirit who grants to us the fulfillment of the law by giving us the righteousness of Christ.
 
 It is the Holy Spirit in verses 5 to 11 that changes our nature. It is the Holy Spirit in verses 12 and 13 who empowers us for victory over sin. It is the Holy Spirit in verses 14 to 16 who confirms our adoption as children of God.
 
And then in verses 17 to 27, it is the Holy Spirit who guarantees our eternal glory.  In fact, ultimately the Holy Spirit guarantees our glory by what it says in verse 27, He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. It is the ongoing intercessory work of the Holy Spirit that secures our eternal glory.
 
Now, as I said, in verses 28 to 30 is a summary.
In this summary a great promise in verse 28, and that's where we want to start our look.
 
Verse 28 just may be the best promise God ever made because it is so comprehensive. It says that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him.
 
Now that promise deserves our close and careful attention. And we're going to give it our close attention for a few weeks.  I’m anticipating spending seven weeks on these verses.
 
These verses 28-30 divide very nicely into four sections.
 
Verse 28 talks about the extent, recipients and source of our security, and then in verses 29 and 30 you find the certainty of security, the Purpose and Progress of Salvation. 
Then in verse 31-32, there is a three-part argument for salvation being irrevocable.
Look at how this is spelled out: 
 
The extent of security: He says “all things”. 
 
The recipients of this security: those who love God.
 
The source of their security: they are called.
 
The certainty of their security: whoever He foreknew and predestined and called and justified He glorified.
 
Listen: if anybody ever asks you where in the Bible it tells them about being eternally secure, this is a great place to begin the discussion. 
 
Now let's take that first point and talk about the extent of our security.
Just how secure are we? Well, here is the answer in one simple statement,
 
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good."
That is a tremendously comforting and reassuring statement. No statement made to a believer could contribute more hope, more happiness, more freedom and more joy in the heart than that statement because what it says is that no matter what pain, what problems, what failures, what difficulties, what disasters, what sin, what suffering, what temptation, all things work together for good.
 
That is an extremely comprehensive promise. And the context puts no limits on it. That means there's nothing that limits the "all things,". It means absolutely what it says, all things work together for good.
 
God takes anything and everything that occurs in a believer's life and rather than it making possible the believer's loss of salvation, God makes it work together for the believer's ultimate good.
 
Look back at the verse again. The verse starts with this confidence, "And we know..."
 
He’s not talking about some remote possibility. This isn’t just potential. This is reality. We know that God causes all things to work together.
 
Now here is where we the confusion enters sometimes: While all things are woven together by God in order to produce good, not all things are good in and of themselves. But the promise is God takes all things and weaves them into what is good.
 
To understand that, we need to understand the word “good”.
 
It means "good in the purest and truest sense," what is morally good, what is practically good. This is inherent goodness.
 
 
 
Now follow the thought: God is taking everything that happens in the believer's life, no matter what it is, and bringing out of it ultimate good, moral good, practical good, real good.
 
Here is God’s promise: no matter what happens in your life it will turn out good. And that is the reason you could never lose your salvation because no matter what happens it turns out good. That means that nothing can happen in the life of a believer can end up “bad”.
 
It's another way of saying what is in verse 31, "If God is for us, who is against us?"
 
It's another way of saying what is in verse 34, "Who is going to condemn us?"
 
It's another way of saying "Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ," down in verse 35.
 
If everything works together for good, then nothing could possibly cause us to lose our salvation. That's his point. God calls, justifies and glorifies and nobody falls through the cracks, everything is causing ultimately their eternal good.
 
That is exactly consistent with God's nature. I’ve been saying it to you for 15 years: God is a good God! It is the character and nature of God to express Himself in goodness toward those that love Him. He is a God of goodness.
 
God makes things turn out good.  It’s not coincidental; it’s not happenstance. It is by the working of the Holy Spirit that it happens.
 
We don't know how to hold on to our salvation. We don't know how to maintain righteousness; we don’t know how to secure our faith. We don't know how to confront the issues of life and how to battle the kingdom of darkness and how to avoid the temptations that would absolutely overwhelm us.
So the Spirit of God is there constantly interceding for us before the throne of God, always praying for us, always coming before the throne of God in perfect harmony with God's will. And what is God's will?
 
That we go all the way from being predestined, called, justified, to being glorified. That's God's will, that nobody get lost in the process.  
 
Listen: we are secure forever in a no- condemnation status. 
 
How can I be sure?
 
Because of the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit and because of the ongoing intercessory work of Christ at the right hand of God and because it is the plan of God and the whole of the trinity is in harmony so that all who have been predestined before the foundation of the world will be brought to glory, and now that plan is unfolding.
 
Listen, it’s happening! It’s not just empty words. It’s not just because it was said, but because it was said and it is being done.
 
Due to the work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, everyone who truly comes to faith in Christ will be brought to glory.
 
That's why John says, "They went out from us," when somebody departs from the faith, denies Christ and leaves, "they went out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would have continued with us." Why?
 
Because that's the Father's plan, that's the Father's will, that's the Son intercessory goal and that's the Spirit's intercessory goal...to sustain us in a non-condemnation status to bring us to glory.
 
 
And what we have in verse 28 is the fact that because of this plan of God, everything that happens in your life will work out for good.
 
Now to better understand that, we need to qualify “good”. 
 
What is the reference here? The good here is eternal glory. That doesn't mean the only good that’s ever going to be ours will only be received in eternity. Instead, it means that the good here is going to sustain you into eternity. It involves your eternal glory, but it also getting you to that glory.
 
You say, "Well, what does he mean by 'all things' here?" Well, since there are no limits, let's talk about it. I'll give you two points because that’s how many there are to make here.
 
There are only two kinds of things that can happen to you in this life. What are they? Good things and bad things. Pretty simple, isn't it? Didn't take me long to figure out the outline here.
 
The only things that can happen to you are good things or bad things and in either case, God promises they work together for good.
 
Let's talk about the good things that work together for good. That's obvious, but maybe so obvious if I asked you what are the good things that work together for good, you might not know what to say.
 
Let's start with
 
1. God's Nature
 
That's the best thing in the universe cause God is perfect and perfectly holy. He is pure goodness and His nature works for our good.
 
Think about some of His attributes:
 
For instance, His great power works for our good. How does it do that? Well His great power supports us in trouble.
 
Think about men like Daniel and Jonah and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, all supported by God's great power.
 
It is God's power that provides all that we need. It is God's power that conquers our great enemy Satan and all other enemies. It is God's power that carries us to victory. It is God's power by which we overcome the flesh and sin. It is the goodness of God's power then that works for our good.
 
And let’s not forget about His kindness. It is His great kindness leads us to repentance, it says in Romans chapter 2. God is kind and His kindness works for our good.
 
Now just for the sake of time, we can safely say that everything in God's nature works for our good: 
His grace, His mercy, His compassion, His law, His power, His kindness, His omniscience. Every thing about God is for our good. 
 
Let's take, secondly,
 
2. God's Promises.
 
God's promises work for our good. He keeps mercy for thousands. He promises to be gracious to the humble.
 
When we disobey His Word and disobey His law, we have the promise of Hosea 14:4, "I will heal their backslidings." The promise of Micah 7:18, "Who is a pardoning God like Thee?" There is grace with Him. There is mercy with Him. There is forgiveness with Him. There is pardon with Him.
 
When trouble comes we have the promise of Psalm 91:15, "I will be with him in trouble."  
 
Psalm 37:39, "I will give him strength in the time of trouble." When deprivation comes and we're out of human resources, Philippians 4:19 says, "My God shall supply all your needs."
 
Psalm 37:25 says, "I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread." Jacob said, "Lord, Thou hast said Thou wilt do me good,"
Genesis 32:12.
 
God's promises bring the goodness of God to us. So, God's nature is good and brings us goodness. God's promises are good and produce for us goodness.
 
Not only does the nature of God and the promises of God work for our good, but
 
3. God’s Word
 
works for our good.
 
It says in the Acts 20:32, "The Word of His grace is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified."
 
These are good things. In fact, we can safely say that all that the Bible calls for: prayer, worship, the Lord's table, obedience, submission, the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, anything in the Scripture, anything that it calls for, any means of grace becomes a source of good.
 
God in His nature works for our good, God in His promises works for our good. God in His Word has produced all kinds of means spiritually to produce our good.
 
And then I would add another category, and that's
 
4. God’s People.
 
Other believers work for our good. In 2 Corinthians 1:24, Paul says, "We are workers with you for your joy."
 
The Lord has distributed through the entire body of Christ spiritual gifts. I have gifts in the area of preaching and administration, you have gifts in various areas, and those gifts are to be used for the strengthening of believers.
 
Simply put: God has designed that we be better off because you are a part of His church. You ought to be good for us, and I for you!
 
Here’s the way that is to work: I’m in this church to express my spiritual gift  and my life and my ministry is to work for your good, for your spiritual edification, for your greater knowledge of Scripture, your greater love for Christ, your greater love for God, your greater service to the Lord, your greater grasp of truth so that you can honor Him in His Word.
 
So good can be brought about by good things. Our good God is doing good for us constantly as an expression of the goodness of His character and His nature. Our good God has made to us great and precious promises.
 
Our God has given us His Word which brings good to us as we learn it and apply it and obey it. And God has designed that saints within the church minister goodness to each other. These are the good things.
 
And all of that is important and all of that is true. But that is not really the main message of the passage. What the passage is really trying to say to us here that it's not just good things that work for our good, but it's bad things that work for our good.
 
If everything went exactly the way we would want it to go, it would never enter our mind that we could possibly lose our salvation. We wouldn't even ask the question.
But in spite of all that God is, in spite of all that's in His Word, in spite of all the goodness of believers around us, there is still a lot of bad that comes into our lives. 
 
And the bad things in our lives become the real issue. Can bad things separate us from God? Can bad things condemn us? Can bad things cause Christ not to love us anymore? Can bad things cause God to remove our salvation?
 
Well, since I’ve asked the question, we really ought to answer it, so let’s do that. There are three categories of bad things that I want you to see.
 
Category number one, we'll just call
 
1. Suffering
 
Suffering is bad. Life is just full of it. 
It starts out at the beginning and stays there and maximizes itself at the end in the horrors of death. Life is just full of suffering. 
But if the promise of God is true, that all things work together for good, then  suffering which is bad has to work for good. 
 
Suffering produces good. How?  It is through suffering that we learn how to deal with pain, and therefore we learn how to help others deal with it. We learn compassion. We learn patience. We learn gentleness. We learn trust. We experience grace from God and mercy and sustenance.
 
We learn to understand the devastating results of sin, and how to depend upon God through suffering.
 
So suffering is bad, but it brings good.
 
Secondly, let's talk about
 
2. Struggling
 
You may say, “What’s the difference?” 
 
Suffering has often to do with our physical being, while struggling has more to do with the spiritual battles we fight. Struggling is battling temptation. Even that works together for good.
 
You say how? Well first of all,
 
it sends us to our knees to pray.
 
You know, when the animal sees the hunter coming, he runs to safety. And certainly when the believer sees the enemy coming, he runs into the presence of God. Psalm 42, "Tempted to despair, David was driven to God." The struggle with temptation drives us to our knees.
 
Secondly, it destroys our spiritual pride.
 
It shows us how weak we are. 
 
 
 
Anybody who parades their pride and thinks they've arrived spiritually and they're more spiritual and more pious and more godly and more virtuous than somebody else really doesn't understand how far from God they really are. A person who is truly godly is really humble because they’ve had their spiritual pride devastated.
 
Struggling with temptation is the way to do that. Just when you think you've arrived spiritually, here comes that wave of temptation and that struggle and when you lose the struggle and you have to go back and ask yourself whether you have really as much spiritual maturity as you think you have. And embarrassed and ashamed you go back to God to again find forgiveness. Listen: that’s a good place to be.  On you knees, broken before God. 
 
So, even the struggle with temptation is good for us. It causes us to lean on the strength of Christ.
But let's get to the real issue here. Suffering is bad that produces good. Struggling is bad that produces good.
 
But all of that is really not the point:
 
It’s true that good produces good, and it’s even more to the point that bad produces good. It’s a little more focused to think about suffering and struggles bringing good to us. But this is the most notable thing of all: 
 
3. Sin
 
Even the sins of believers work for their good.
 
You say, "How in the world could sin work together for good? How can God cause sinful things to come out for good?"
 
It's not by the nature of the sin, but it's because of that sin that we can discover the nature of God's grace and mercy. 
This in no way lessens the vile, filthy nature of sin. Instead it shows that sin cannot ultimately triumph in the believer because God overrules it with His grace and it turns out good.
 
How can it be good?
 
Because it gives an opportunity for God to demonstrate grace and that's good. , because it is covered by the righteousness of Christ and that's good.
 
Should we sin that grace may abound? No. Our sin deserves eternal hell. In fact, now that you are a believer, your sins still deserve eternal hell as much as it did before you were saved.
 
It doesn't change. It's still wicked. It's still sin. It's still an offense to God. It's still deserving of damnation and eternal punishment but God in His mercy through Christ overrules that.
 
 
Understand: the point here is not just that through the struggles and suffering of life, God brings good. That’s there, but that’s not the main point. 
 
The real point here is everything that happens in life, the worst of which is sin, is not able to overrule the saving purpose of God. That's the main point.
 
So much so that even our own sins can have a good result if they cause us to be humble, if they cause us to be repentant, if they cause us to praise God for His forgiveness, if they cause us to long for glory, if they cause us to pursue holiness, if they enhance our prayer lives, if they drive us to the Word of God, if they drive us to spiritual accountability and drive us to faithfulness, if the weariness with our sin moves us toward a greater devotion to God and Christ, more worship, more prayer, more Bible study, more faithfulness, more ministry, then there's good out of that.
 
But even that’s not the main point. The good that He's talking about here is the good of eternal glory.
 
Listen: there isn't any suffering in life that can alter your eternal glory and there isn't any struggle in life that can alter your eternal glory and there isn't even any sin in life that can alter your eternal glory. Everything works together for your good in time and your glory in eternity.
All the matters of life, whatever they are, good or bad, all are being worked together by God. Good things like God's nature, God's promises, and the Word and prayer and believers are working for your good.
 
Bad things like suffering and struggling and sin work for your good by teaching you to hate sin and see your fallenness, and be humble before God and desire God, to conform to Christ, to pray, to be repentant, to long for God's grace, be grateful for forgiveness.
But beyond all of those things which are here and now things, all that can happen to you in this life good and bad will ultimately be used by God to bring you to eternal glory. That is the monumental truth here.
 
Bottom line: nothing can separate us from the love of Christ because everything works together for good which means our eternal glory.
 
And that's why in verse 31 you have this explosion into this great concluding benediction of praise.
 
If everything works for our ultimate glory, then nothing can alter that. So that's the first point, the extent of security.
 
There is, however, a limitation here and we’ll develop it next time, but it needs to be mentioned here: 
 
To whom is all this available? 
Is it some random promise to humanity in general? The answer is found in It’s given in verse 28. "To those who love God and are called according to His purpose."
 
Listen: while there is no limit at all on the "all things," there is a limit with regard to whom the "all things" applies.
 
Everything in the life of a believer works for their good. On the opposite side of that, nothing in the life of an unbeliever works ultimately for their good.
 
Their good or their bad is before God wickedness and it only produces eternal judgment. This is the distinction that Paul is making. Who are those who love God? Who are the called?
The only way to get in on the “good” of verse 28 is to be as part of those “that love God and are the called” of verse 28. And that means you must be saved. . .
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