Sunday, March 01, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "We Know"

“We Know”
All Roads Lead to Romans
March 1, 2015 :: Romans 8:28-30 

I said last week that we’ve reached the pinnacle of Romans where every sentence could be its own sermon. Every verse could make at least one full sermon from here to the end of the chapter, especially this one in front of us. Romans 8:28. It’s justly famous and, for those understand it and live inside of it, incredibly comforting and encouraging.

But that word “for” in verse 29 made me decide to preach these three verses together in one message. Romans 8:28, 29, and 30, under this title: “We Know.”

Paul begins to take off and soar here and to remind the Christ-followers at Rome of what they know for sure, for certain, for absolutely, definitely, inescapably, indisputably, undeniably true.

Paul reminds these Christians of what they can count on, what they can take to the bank, what they can be sure of and assured of.

And these things Paul assures them of are true for us today.

So today’s going to be an encouraging one.

I hope you’ve been encouraged all along in this All Roads Lead to Romans series. At least that you’re growing in being unashamed of the gospel.

But that means learning about the bad news.

Today, I have nearly all good news to share.

It’s where Paul has been driving at all along: Just how good is the good news?

Well, that’s what we’re going to see this morning.

Romans 8:1 began our chapter with this confident declaration:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”


We need to hear that because the world, the devil, and our own flesh want to condemn us, but Jesus has sacrificed himself to be the sin offering to pay for our sins.

So there is now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

And more than that, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit. The Spirt of life.

And having the Spirit in us means life and peace now and forever and the obligation and ability to kill sin.

And more than that, He’s the Spirit of Sonship.

Somebody told me after church last week that they thought I was saying the “Spirit of Sun Chips” last week.

But I was actually saying “Spirit of Sonship.”

He’s even better than a bag of chips!

The Spirit of Sonship assures us that we belong to God the Father, that we are going to inherit all of God’s promises, and that He will help us when we pray.

And then Paul drops 8:28 into our laps.

It’s one of the biggest, most sweeping, promises in the whole Bible.

And he says that it’s something that we can know, that we do know.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Point number one of two this morning:


Do you see how sweeping that is? How comprehensive and inclusive?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good...”

That’s “all things” as in “all things.”

Now, it doesn’t say that all things are good.

Don’t make that mistake.

I hear some people saying, “It’s all good.” In fact, I almost titled this sermon, “It’s all good,” but I didn’t want to cause anyone to think I was teaching that error that all things are good themselves.

No. Some things are very bad.

Twenty one Coptic Egyptians being beheaded by ISIS is not good.

Natural disasters like tornadoes that upend whole towns and kill people left and right are not good.

Traffic accidents are not good.

Bad, abusive relationships are not good.

I just got done submitting my sermon on the rape of Tamar to the Journal of Biblical Counseling for their next issue.

Do remember what happened to David’s daughter Tamar at hands of David’s son Amnon? That wasn’t good.

Some of you here have been mistreated in terrible ways, and that’s not good. It’s bad.

Romans 8:28 is not saying that everything is awesome.

No, it’s saying that everything will be worked to our good. V.28 again.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good...”

Now, it’s not certain that the word “God” was in the original text of Paul’s letter.

That’s why the King James says, “And we know that all things work together for good...”

But it’s the same thing because Paul is not teaching that all things work out by fate or karma or cosmic convergence. We know that God is doing the work. God is doing the weaving of all things to our good.

Even the confusing things.

Even the parts of the life that we don’t understand.

Why did I have to go through that?

Did you ever ask that question? Why did I have to go through that painful experience?

I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. I don’t what that was all about.

There will be many things like that in your life if you are a Christian.

You won’t know why.

But here’s what you will know. You will know that God is working it to your good.

You might not know how to even pray about it. V.26, “We do not know what we ought to pray for...”

But you can know this. You can know that God is working that confusing thing, that bad thing to your good.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you will see that good in this life.

Some people have misused Romans 8:28 to teach that “Just wait. God’s going to give you that blessing, just wait a little bit.”

God might keep the okay parking spot away from you to give you a better one.

Romans 8:28

Have you ever heard anyone teach like that?

This is not about parking spaces. The good here is ultimate good. Which is a lot better than both potato chips and parking spaces!

You might have to wait what seems like forever to get to that good. This is not promising a quick fix to any problem on earth.

What it is promising is that every problem on earth that a Christian faces will be eventually turned around and worked to their benefit. In the end, it will all be good.

Even the bad things.

Even our sins.

Now, that’s no excuse to go sinning. Don’t sin all the more so that grace may abound (may genoita!), but God is able to use the most horrific things to accomplish His purposes, even sins.

Look at what happened to Jesus. That was the greatest sin ever, putting Jesus to death, but God brought out of it the greatest good.

And He can do that with your past, as well.

Don’t think that you can upset the good of God’s apple cart by your bad past.

Jesus can work even that into good.

Isn’t that good news?  That’s how good the gospel is.

We know that all things will be worked to our good.

Now, that’s only true for those who believe the gospel. It’s only true for those who are faith followers of Jesus Christ. That’s the point Paul makes at the end of verse 28.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, [those] who have been called according to his purpose.”

There is a specific group of people in the world for whom all things work together for good.

Not everybody can say that.

Who can say this? Who knows this?

Those who love God, that is those “who have been called according to his purpose.”

That’s two ways of describing true Christians.

Those who love God and those who have been called according to God’s purpose.

Now this is all Christians. Sometimes a true Christian will go through periods where they don’t feel all that loving towards God.

But this is not an indicator of whether or not things will be worked out for us. It’s not like “love God, love God, love God.” So that He’ll do His bit.

This is the general stance of someone who knows and trusts God.

Last week, we learned that the Spirit of Sonship lives in us so that we cry out, “Abba, Father.” It’s verse 15.

That’s what all true Christians do. They call out their love to God.

They know that they belong to Him. They love Him.

They don’t always feel it the with the same force. But they know it. They love God.

And that’s because He first loved us, right? That’s the second part of Romans 8:28. Those who love God are those who “have been called [to God, summoned to God] according to His purpose.”

Now, there is a sense in which every single person on the planet is called by God. There is a general call, an invitation that goes out to all.

But this isn’t talking about all, is it?

It’s talking about some. Specifically, those who love God.

And not everyone loves God. Only those whom God has specifically called to Himself love God. V.29

“For [see how’s he’s connecting it?] those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Now, don’t let all of those big words get you confused.

This truth is pretty simple.

Paul just reaches back into history and even into eternity to ground this amazing promise in God’s unstoppable actions.

He says that God foreknew His people. That word means to know beforehand. So it’s a knowing word and a time word.

Many people think that it means that God knew beforehand who would trust Him and those are the ones that He then destined beforehand (or predestined) to be saved.

And it’s true that God did know that because He knows everything.

But I think this is saying something a little deeper. The kind of knowledge here is not just the knowledge of a fact but the knowledge of a person. It’s knowing someone, relating to someone, before they ever existed. It’s a kind of covenantal or relational knowing.

It says He foreknew them not just something about them.  He knows everything about everyone, but these folks it says he foreknew them, I think relationally.

We talk about a relationship with God? This is God’s relationship with us before we ever even existed!

And follow the chain now. Many preachers have called the this the Golden Chain.

Those God foreknew he also predestined to what destination? Where are these folks He has predestined headed? V.29

“ be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Point number two of two this morning:


Paul says that we’re on our way to being “conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son.”

What does that mean?

Well, it means we’re going to be like Jesus.

Not in every way, I’m sure, but in all the most important ways.

We’re going to have character like His.

We’re going to be remade so that we don’t sin any more.
We’re going to be remade so that we hate sin one hundred percent.
We’re going to be remade so that we love the Father and everything that the Father loves...perfectly.

We’re going to be perfected in our hearts to be like Jesus.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.

That’s what the Spirit is producing in us now.
And that’s what we will be like perfectly then.

Conformed to the likeness of Christ.

And more than just spiritually, we’re going to be remade to be like Jesus physically.

Not that we’ll all look like a Jewish man.

But we’ll get those new bodies.

Bodies like Jesus’ body.

That’s one of the things we celebrate when Resurrection Sunday comes around. It’s just a month away!

We get new bodies like Jesus’ body.

Paul said it this way in Philippians 3.

“[O]ur citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control [all things worked together for our good!], will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (vv.20-21).

The biblical word for that transformation is glorification.

We will be glorified.  Made glorious like Jesus in every way that counts.
Now, watch Paul link up the golden chain. V.30

He reached back to predestination. “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Now, that is awesome news!

Because it allows us to say, “We Know.”

We Know.

We know that we will be remade to be like Jesus.

It’s a certainty. It’s a fact.

Do you see how that is from this verse?

There are no dropouts from the beginning to the end.

“And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

Everyone who starts this chain gets to the end.

We know that will be remade.

Isn’t that good news?

That’s awesome news.

Let’s look at the chain little more.

“And those he predestined [which we also know are those he foreknew], he also called [there’s our word from verse 28. “Called” or summoned according to God’s purpose]; those he called, he also justified [And that’s our big word for Romans, isn’t it? Those he declared righteous. How did that happen? Through works of the law? No way! By faith. We maintain that a man is justified by faith alone and not be works of the law. So these folks who are justified exercise faith in Christ. They trust Christ. That’s our part. Trust Jesus. And...]; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Now, that last one hasn’t happened yet, but Paul talks about it like it has.


I think it’s because it’s a “done deal” from God’s perspective.

It’s settled. It’s certain.

Those who are on this chain will reach the end, for sure.

We KNOW that we will be remade to be like Jesus.

And what a day that will be!

Can you imagine?

Every single thing that’s ever happened to me (including all the bad things) worked  together for my ultimate good.

And every single thing about me (including all the bad things) remade so that I am like Jesus.


Just wow.

What are the applications and implications of these two things that we know for sure?

Well, Paul’s going to get into that in the next few verses.

But let me tease out a few of my own.

First, rejoice in what you know.  

This is the best of news.

All things will be worked to your good.  You will be made to be like Jesus.

That’s cause for celebration!

So lift up your voice.

Rejoice in what you know.

Second, trust in what you know.

Because it sure doesn’t feel like this all of the time, but here is this promise.

Paul reminds us of what we know so that we will rest on it.

The dark days be here and more might be coming. But don’t forget the light that is on  the way.

And third, tell others what you know.

There was a little phrase in verse 29 that I don’t remember ever noticing before I studied it for this message.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

I never saw that before.

Jesus wants lots and lots of brothers (and sisters) to be like Him.

Not just one or two or twelve.

But he wants to be the firstborn (the Son with all of the rights and powers and inheritance) that serves as the perfect one for us to copy and for MANY of us to be a copy of.

So, we need to share the gospel with people so that they can join “the many.”

Don’t hide it under a bushel, but instead tell others about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Because all who embrace Christ. Who love God through Jesus, can KNOW that all things will be worked to their good and they themselves will be remade into the very image of Christ.


Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham
09. The Blessings of Justification
10. How Much More
11. New You
12. Slaves Of...?
13. A Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ
14. No Condemnation
15. If the Spirit Lives in You
16. The Spirit of Sonship