by Arthur W. Pink, 1952
THE CHRISTIAN'S ASSURANCE
"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."
How many of God's children have, through the centuries,
drawn strength and comfort from this blessed verse. In the midst of trials,
perplexities, and persecutions, this has been a rock beneath their feet.
Though to outward sight things seemed to work against their good; though to
carnal reason things appeared to be working for their ill; nevertheless,
faith knew it was for otherwise. And how great the loss to those who failed
to rest upon this inspired declaration; what unnecessary fears and doubtings
were the consequence.
"All things work together." The first thought occurring
to us is this: What a glorious Being our God is, who is able to make all
things so work together! What a frightful amount of evil there is in
constant activity. What an almost infinite number of creatures there are in
the world. What an incalculable quantity of opposing self-interests at work.
What a vast army of rebels fighting against God. What multitudes of
super-human creatures ever opposing the Lord. And yet, high above all, is
GOD, in undisturbed calm, complete master of the situation. There, from the
throne of His exalted majesty, He works all things after the counsel of His
own will (Eph. 1:11). Stand in awe, then, before this One in whose sight
"all nations are as nothing; and they are counted as less than nothing, and
vanity " (Isaiah 40:17). Bow in adoration before this "high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity" (Isaiah 57:15). Lift high your praise unto Him who
from the worst evil, can extract the greatest good.
"All things work." In nature there is no such
thing as a vacuum, neither is there a creature of God that fails to serve
its designed purpose. Nothing is idle. Everything is energized by God so as
to fulfill its intended mission. All things are laboring toward the grand
end of their Creator's pleasure: all are moved at His imperative bidding.
"All things work together." They not only operate,
they co-operate; they all act in perfect concert, though none but the
anointed ear can catch the strains of their harmony. All things work
together, not simply but conjointly, as adjunct causes and mutual helps.
That is why afflictions seldom come solitary and alone. Cloud rises upon
cloud; storm upon storm. As with Job, one messenger of woe was quickly
folowed by another, burdened with tidings of yet heavier sorrow.
Nevertheless, even here faith may trace both the wisdom and love of God. It
is the compounding of the ingredients in the recipe, that constitutes its
beneficent value. So with God: His dispensations not only "work," but they
"work together." So recognized the sweet singer of Israel—"He drew me out of
many waters" (Psalm. 18:16).
"All things work together for good to," etc. These
words teach believers that no matter what may be the number nor how
overwhelming the character of adverse circumstances, they are all
contributing to conduct them into the possession of the inheritance provided
for them in heaven. How wonderful is the providence of God in over-ruling
the most disorderly things, and in turning to our good things which in
themselves are most pernicious! We marvel at His mighty power which holds
the heavenly bodies in their orbits; we wonder at the continually recurring
seasons and the renewal of the earth; but this is not nearly so marvelous as
His bringing good out of evil in all the complicated occurrences of human
life, and making even the power and malice of Satan, with the naturally
destructive tendency of his works, to minister good for His children.
"All things work together for good." This must be so for
three reasons. First, because all things are under the absolute control of
the Governor of the universe. Second, because God desires our good, and
nothing but our good. Third, because even Satan himself cannot touch a hair
of our heads without God's permission, and then only for our further good.
Not all things are good in themselves, nor in their tendencies; but God
makes all things work for our good. Nothing enters our life by blind chance;
nor are there any accidents. Everything is being moved by God, with this end
in view—our good. Everything being subservient to God's eternal purpose,
works blessing to those marked out for conformity to the image of Christ.
All suffering, sorrow, loss, are used by our Father to minister to the
benefit of the elect.
"To those who love God." This is the grand
distinguishing feature of every true Christian. The reverse marks all the
unregenerate. But the saints are those who love God. Their creeds may differ
in minor details; their ecclesiastical relations may vary in outward form;
their gifts and graces may be very unequal; yet, in this particular there is
an essential unity. They all believe in Christ, they all love God. They love
Him for the gift of the Savior; they love Him as a Father in whom they may
confide; they love Him for His personal excellencies—His holiness, wisdom,
faithfulness. They love Him for His conduct—for what He withholds and for
what He grants—for what He rebukes and for what He approves. They love Him
even for the rod which disciplines, knowing that He does all things well.
There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which the saints
do not love Him. And of this they are all assured, "We love Him because He
first loved us."
"To those who love God." But, alas, how little I love
God! I so frequently mourn my lack of love, and chide myself for the
coldness of my heart. Yes, there is so much love of self and love of the
world, that sometimes I seriously question if I have any real love for God
at all. But is not my very desire to love God a good symptom? Is not my very
grief that I love Him so little a sure evidence that I do not hate Him? The
presence of a hard and ungrateful heart has been mourned over by the saints
of all ages. "Love to God is a heavenly aspiration, that is ever kept in
check by the drag and restraint of an earthly nature; and from which we
shall not be unbound until the soul has made its escape from the vile body,
and cleared its unfettered way to the realm of light and liberty"
"Who are called." The word "called" is never, in
the New Testament Epistles, applied to those who are the recipients of a
mere external invitation of the Gospel. The term always signifies an inward
and effectual call. It was a call over which we had no control, either in
originating or frustrating it. So in Romans 1:6,7 and many other passages:
"Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ: to all that are in
Rome, beloved of God, called saints." Has this call reached you, my reader?
Ministers have called you; the Gospel has called you; conscience has called
you—but has the Holy Spirit called you with an inward and irresistible call?
Have you been spiritually called—from darkness to light, from death to life,
from the world to Christ, from self to God? It is a matter of the greatest
consequence that you should know whether you have been truly called of God.
Has, then, the thrilling, life-giving music of that call sounded and
reverberated through all the chambers of your soul? But how may I be sure
that I have received such a call? There is one thing right here in our text
which should enable you to ascertain. They who have been efficaciously
called, love God. Instead of hating Him, they now esteem Him; instead of
fleeing from Him in terror, they now seek Him; instead of caring not whether
their conduct honored Him; their deepest desire now is to please and glorify
"According to His purpose." The call is not according to
the merits of men, but according to the Divine purpose: "Who has saved us,
and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but
according to this own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus
before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9). The design of the Holy Spirit in
bringing in this last clause is to show that the reason some men love God
and others do not—is to be attributed solely to the mere sovereignty of God.
It is not for anything in themselves, but due alone to His distinguishing
There is also a practical value in this last clause. The
doctrines of grace are intended for a further purpose than that of making up
a creed. One main design of them is to move the affections; and more
especially to reawaken that affection to which the heart oppressed with
fears, or weighed down with cares, is wholly insufficient—even the love of
God. That this love may flow perennially from our hearts, there must be a
constant recurring to that which inspired it and which is calculated to
increase it; just as to re-kindle your admiration of a beautiful scene or
picture, you would return again to gaze upon it. It is on this principle
that so much stress is laid in Scripture on keeping the truths which we
believe in memory: "By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what
I preached unto you" (1 Cor. 15:2). "I stir up your pure minds by way of
remembrance," said the apostle (2 Pet. 3:1). "Do this in remembrance of me"
said the Savior.
It is, then, by going back in memory to that hour when,
despite our wretchedness and utter unworthiness, God called us, that our
affection will be kept fresh. It is by recalling the wondrous grace that
then reached out to a hell-deserving sinner and snatched you as a brand from
the burning—that your heart will be drawn out in adoring gratitude. And it
is by discovering this was due alone to the sovereign and eternal "purpose"
of God that you were called when so many others are passed by, that your
love for Him will be deepened.
Returning to the opening words of our text, we find the
apostle (as voicing the normal experience of the saints) declares, "We know
that all things work together for good." It is something more than a
speculative belief. That all things work together for good, is even more
than a fervent desire. It is not that we merely hope that all things will so
work, but that we are fully assured all things do so work. The knowledge
here spoken of is spiritual, not intellectual. It is a knowledge rooted in
our hearts, which produces confidence in the truth of it. It is the
knowledge of faith, which receives everything from the benevolent hand of
Infinite Wisdom. It is true that we do not derive much comfort from this
knowledge when out of fellowship with God. Nor will it sustain us when faith
is not in operation. But when we are in communion with the Lord, when in our
weakness we do lean hard upon Him, then is this blessed assurance ours: "You
will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he
trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).
A striking exemplification of our text is supplied by the
history of Jacob—one whom in several respects each of us closely resembles.
Heavy and dark was the cloud which settled upon him. Severe was the test,
and fearful the trembling of his faith. His feet were almost gone. Hear his
mournful plaint: "And Jacob their father said unto them, You have deprived
me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want
to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!" (Gen. 42:36). And yet
those circumstances, which to the dim eye of his faith wore a hue so somber,
were at that very moment developing and perfecting the events which were to
shed around the evening of his life the halo of a glorious and
cloudless sunset. All things were working together for his good! And so,
troubled soul, the "much tribulation" will soon be over, and as you enter
the "kingdom of God" you shall then see, no longer "through a glass darkly"
but in the unshadowed sunlight of the Divine presence, that "all things" did
"work together" for your personal and eternal good!