I Am Not Ashamed: All Things ...

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God had this purpose in mind when He saved us. No one and no thing can keep Him from His goal—or us from our destiny in Jesus.

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I Am Not Ashamed: All Things ...
Text: Romans 8:28; Genesis 45:1-8; 50:2
Theme: God had this purpose in mind when He saved us. No one and no thing can keep Him from His goal—or us from our destiny in Jesus.
Date: 09/18/2016 File name: Romans_2016_24.wpd ID Number: 218
This morning we’re going to focus like a laser beam on one verse in Romans chapter 8. Ask a Christian to quote any verse from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and this would be the one most likely quoted. Because God has imputed the righteousness of Christ to us, justifying us in His sight ... because God has sent the Spirit of life to indwell us ... because we no longer are controlled by the sinful nature ... because we’ve been adopted into the family of God ... because of all these things are true in our lives we know. What do we know? We know that God has called us and has a purpose for our lives. And it’s His purpose. The Apostle asserts that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that every aspect of our lives is in God’s hands, and we will be divinely used by the Lord not only to manifest His own glory, but also to work out our own ultimate blessing.
I also want to us to look at the life of the Old Testament character Joseph this morning. His life is the most perfect example of this verse at work. He was the eleventh son of Jacob, the firstborn of Rachel, and the immediate ancestor of the Hebrew tribes of Manasses and Ephraim. His life is narrated in Genesis 37-50.
When first introduced to us, Joseph is portrayed as a spoiled brat, constantly capitalizing on his most-favored-son status with daddy. While his 10 older brothers work, he parades about in an elegant “coat-of-many-colors” given to him by his father Jacob. When he does spend time with the siblings, he "tattles" to their father about their various misdeeds.
Joseph also is a dreamer. In his most famous dream, the sun, the moon, and 11 stars bow down to him, a singularly unsubtle hint of the authority that he will one day exert over his family. Small wonder, therefore, that his brothers come to resent and despise him.
The greatest life-changing event in the Joseph story is, of course, the vengeance his brothers wreck on him. Determined at first to kill him, they resolve instead to sell him to some Arab traders who just happen to come into view. The brothers then return to their father, Jacob and tell him that a wild animal has attacked and killed Joseph. They show him the coat-of-many-colors torn and bloodied. They then go on with their lives as if nothing has happened.
In time, the Arabs sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Away from his family and among the Gentiles, Joseph grows into greatness. The spoiled child becomes a disciplined, highly moral man. Most of you know the story. Sold to Potiphar, a high-ranking Egyptian military commander, Joseph's talents lead him to become the steward over his master's estate. In time, Potiphar’s wife repeatedly attempts to seduce him, but Joseph refuses. She exacts a cruel revenge for his rebuff: She tells her husband that Joseph tried to rape her, and Joseph is incarcerated. In prison Joseph again emerges as an interpreter of dreams, first those of his fellow prisoners, then of Pharaoh. Eventually his organizational talents lead to his becoming Viceroy of Egypt — second in authority only after the Pharaoh. After a lot of bad, life is now good for Joseph.
Three decades after selling their bother into slavery, a terrible famine in Canaan forces Joseph's brothers to come to Egypt to buy food. They end up at a royal storehouse, where Joseph recognizes them, although they do not recognize him. He tests them to learn whether they have changed. Joseph plants his silver goblet among Benjamin's bags. Benjamin is the youngest of Jacob’s sons. Reporting that his cup is missing, Joseph has soldiers arrest all 11 brothers, then tells them they can return to Palestine as freemen, and with food, but that they must leave behind the "thief" Benjamin as a prisoner and slave. The brothers refuse to abandon Benjamin, and Judah asks that he be taken as a slave in his place. That is when Joseph breaks down, and cries: "I am Joseph your brother." There is utter shock, but by the end of the story there is also complete reconciliation.
With an extraordinary insight, Joseph tells his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20, ESV). From Joseph’s experience we lean about the meaning of Romans 8:28.


1. when I read the writings of Christians from earlier centuries I am struck by the multitude of references to God’s providence
a. providence simply means that God is active in, and in control of His Creation and orchestrates all things to accomplish His will to His own glory
b. God providentially works in every single event in our life the “all things” — for our good, and His purpose
2. the Bible teaches us that we can know with certainty that God is in control
a. we don’t hope, or hypothesize
b. we don’t postulate or speculate
c. we don’t toss or turn with anxiety
d. we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord
1) believers can walk in confidence and hope, taking God at His word
2) we do not believe in luck or fate or chance
3) there are no blind, impersonal forces at work in human history or human lives
4) all things are brought to pass by the invisible hand of God’s providential workings
3. according to Romans 8:28 All things work, and all things work because God is active in His universe
a. what God creates, He also sustains
"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:16-17, NASB95)
b. the universe is not only dependent upon God for its origin, it depends upon God for its continuity of existence
ILLUS. Ever since scientists have split the atom, they’ve wondered, “What hold everything together?” They really don’t know what holds atomic particles together, but they have a name for it: “The Strong Force.” The strong nuclear force is one of the four fundamental forces in nature; the other three are gravity, electromagnetism and the weak force. As its name implies, the strong force is the strongest force of the four. It is the attractive force that keeps the protons together in a nucleus since by nature of their same electrical charge, they want to repel each other. If the strong force didn't exist, there would be nothing but hydrogen and neutrons floating in space.
c. the bible tells us what that “strong force is” — it’s God
1) the universe can neither exist nor operate by its own power
2) God upholds all things and holds all things together by His power


1. all of humanity shares in physical blessings irrespective of their individual relationship with the God of the Bible
" ... your Father who is in heaven; ... causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45, NASB95)
2. the central point of the Doctrine of Providence is the stress on God’s government of the universe
a. He rules His creation with absolute sovereignty and authority
1) Sovereign, means sovereign — unrestricted, uncompromised rule, and absolute control
a) God is either sovereign over everything, or he is sovereign over nothing
2) His sovereignty means that not a single molecule anywhere in the universe moves without God’s knowledge or permission
b. He governs everything that comes to pass, from the greatest to the least
3. nothing ever happens beyond the scope of His sovereign providential rule
a. His sovereignty extends over nature
1) He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine
"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man’s heart. The trees of the Lord are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees." (Psalm 104:14-17, NKJV)
b. His sovereignty extends over earthly kingdoms
1)He raises up kingdoms and brings them down
"Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding." (Daniel 2:20-21, NASB95)
c. His sovereignty extends over the lives of men
1) He numbers the hairs on our head and the days of our life
“Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain . . . Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass. “Turn Your gaze from him that he may rest, Until he fulfills his day like a hired man." (Job 14:1-6, NASB95)
4. God is at work through general providence


1. God’s special providence is the working of events that seek to specifically accomplish His will in the lives of His people
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread." (Psalm 37:23-25, NKJV)
a. sometimes that even means that God may allow evil people to commit evil acts against His children
"Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt." (Genesis 45:4-8, NIV)
2. providence means that God is actively at work orchestrating the affairs of this world and guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end for His glory the believer’s ultimate benefit
"For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:15, NKJV)
b. this is an amazing verse to me
1) the Apostle Paul tells us that all things — not some things, not a few things — but all things that take place in this world are done for the sake of God’s people, and for the spreading of the Gospel of grace, and for the glory of God
c. remarkably, the “all things” of Romans 8:28 even includes our sins and failures
ILLUS. Look at David and Bathsheba . David committed adultery, conspiracy, and murder, yet it’s because of his sin and later contrition, and confession that we have Psalm 51, and the marriage of these two adulterers brought forth the messianic line that lead to the birth of Jesus.
1) God hates sin and evil, but His purposes are not stymied by it
2) God is able to turn things inside out and uses them for good
3. All things work

II. JOSEPH’S LIFE IS AN EXAMPLE THAT “All Things Work Together ... “

1. according to Romans 8:28 All things work and all things work because God is active in His universe
2. every time God does something, He does it or allows it in order that the next event on His cosmic calendar that might occur
3. as these seemingly isolated events occur they all come together to form the picture that God is working on
a. and, according to Eph. 1:11, He accomplishes all these things after the counsel of his own will
1) in other words, God does not call together a council of angel and ask, “OK, what do you guys think I ought to do next?”
2) nor does He seek the council of men in His decisions


ILLUS. Every two years Americans go to polling stations and vote for the political candidates of their choice. Through those choices God providentially works to elevate the exact people He desires as leaders of our local communities, states, and nation. To believe otherwise implies that God is not in control, the Bible is errant, and blind chance rules the universe.
1. this illustrates the next law found in this verse – that the providential acts of God do not take place willy-nilly
a. in other words, God does not act haphazardly
b. the events that take place in the world around us all work together to bring history to the ultimate conclusion that God has for it
1) how do I know?
2) cause I’ve read the Book and I know how the story ends! Rev. 21:1-7
2. God is working in the world, bringing events to pass, so that everything moves in one direction — to bring to Himself glory and honor, and the praise of angels, and men, and even creation itself
a. you and I both fit into that plan somehow and some way
b. but God’s purposes for each of us can be very different
3. even though God is at work in your life and in my life, how He goes about that work in our lives is unique to us
a. every one of us has been distinctly formed with talents, abilities, personalities, desires, interests and emotions that God uses to accomplish his purposes
ILLUS. The providence of God is like a puzzle that has many pieces to it. The pieces of God’s cosmic puzzle includes individual men, family groups, nations, churches, governments, and almost any other subgroup of the culture you wish to name. Each piece in the box is shaped with its own individuality and colors, but God takes each piece and fits them all together to form the bigger picture. When you’re putting a puzzle together, what’s the most important part? It’s the box lid isn’t it? Without the lid you would have a very difficult time of putting the puzzle together. Most people keep the box lid propped up so they can see what they are working toward. That’s what the Bible does for us as Christians. It gives us the big picture. While it doesn’t give us all of the specifics about everything God is up to in our lives, one thing is still clear, God is actively at work every moment using our actions, our behavior, our decisions, and every part of who we are, to bring glory to Himself, and spiritual benefit to us.
4. the theological word for all the pieces of the puzzle coming together is concurrence
a. we are creatures who make choices
1) we make things happen
2) God has given us freedom within the parameters he has set for His creation
3) yet the causal power we exert in this world is secondary
b. God’s sovereign providence stands over and above our actions
1) He works out His will through the actions of human choice
ILLUS. Take, for example, the biblical story of Esther. The name of God does not occur anywhere in the book of Esther, but His hand of providential working is seen everywhere in that story. The story of Esther is a confirmation of Romans 8:28. Consider the four main characters of the story. There is Vasti. She is the self-willed queen who rebels against the king and refuses to attend a banquet held in her honor. There is Esther. She is an unlikely candidate for becoming the queen of the great nation. She is an orphan and she is a Jew. Through a series of circumstances she becomes part of the King’s harem, and ultimately Queen of the nation. There is Mordecai. He adopts Esther – who is his niece – and raises her as his own child. After Esther is made Queen he becomes a trusted adviser to the king. While holding that office he discovers a plot to assassinate the king. The plot is defeated and he gains even more stature in the monarch’s eyes. Then, there’s Haman. He is the chief adviser to the king. He is a very proud man. When Mordecai refuses to bow to him, Haman is incensed and begins to plot the death of Mordecai, but not only his death, but the death of every Jew in the country. Mordecai discovers this plot and communicates it to Queen Esther. Through her bold intervention before the king, Haman’s plot is thwarted and he is hung on the very gallows he has erected to hang Mordecai. Not only are Mordecai and Esther saved from death, but the nation of Israel is preserved. In memory of this great deliverance, the Jews to this day celebrate the feast of Purim.
c. all of these characters made choices and God used those choices to accomplish His desired end – the preservation of His people
1) which, by the way, brought glory and honor to His name
d. from the huge, earth-shattering events, to the smallest, most mundane events God uses all things to affect His purpose for our lives
5. God is so great that He weaves together the choices of billions of human beings and waves of cause and effect, and then blends them together to accomplish His purposes
6. all things work together

III. JOSEPH’S LIFE IS AN EXAMPLE THAT “All Things Work Together for Good ... “

1. not only do all things work together, but all things work together for good
2. now here is were the Doctrine of Divine Providence can be difficult to comprehend
a. if God is able to make everything that happens to us work together for our good, then ultimately everything that happens to us is for our good even though some of those things may be bad
1) we must be careful here to stress the word ultimately


1. many of you know Romans 8:28 — it’s a very popular verse
a. but how many of you know Romans 8:29?
"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." (Romans 8:29, NKJV)
b. the good of all things work together for good, is the constant and continued conformity of the believer to the image of Christ
2. how God causes conformity to occur is sometimes a mystery to us because it includes events in our lives that are not always easy to understand nor endure
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34, NKJV)
3. on the earthly plane things that happen to us may indeed be evil
a. we encounter difficulties, misery, injustice, and a host of other afflictions and woes
b. yet God — in His goodness — transcends all of these things and works them to our good
ILLUS. Wicked men may plot evil against us and may even enact their plots, but in due time God will overrule their schemes and lift us up to the glory that he promises we will share in His Son. Just ask Joseph: "Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Genesis 50:19-20) NKJV
c. we could never say that the bad things that happened to Joseph weren’t really bad
1) but we must say, without a doubt, that the bad things happened for his ultimate good, and the good of many others
d. sometimes it may take years for us to come to that conclusion
1) Joseph was a teenager when he was sold into slavery and he was probably 40 years old when he rescued his family from starvation
4. for the Christian, ultimately, there are no tragedies
a. ultimately, the providence of God works all these evils, and travails, and difficulties for our final benefit, and His ultimate glory
ILLUS. Martin Luther — bless his heart — understood this aspect of God’s good providence. In his earthy way of communicating spiritual truth, Luther said, “If God told me to eat the dung from off the streets, not only would I eat it, but I would know it was good for me.”
b. it would behoove us to remember that the ultimate end that God seeks in your life and my life is our spiritual good and not our material benefit
1) material blessings may well come to us as a result of God’s special providence
2) Jesus said that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that material blessings will come to us
3) yet, God may also allow financial hardship, illness, or other trials to occur if — in His wisdom — He deems them essential to our spiritual maturity
5. all things work together for the good

IV. JOSEPH’S LIFE IS AN EXAMPLE THAT “All Things Work Together for Good for Them That Love the Lord, and who are called according to his purpose”

1. the good that God seeks to accomplish in us is not for all men
2. in the original language of the New Testament, the phrase them that love the Lord stands at the beginning of the sentence
a. so literally the verse reads, “For those who love God, we know that all things work together for good”
b. but because it translates awkwardly in English we have it as it is found in most translations
3. the meaning is this: believers, and believers alone, have a right to be comforted by God’s providential working
a. only in the case of those who love God is it true that all things work together for good
b. that final, ultimate good is the resurrection of the believer’s body and our eternal life in His Kingdom
4. our trust in the providential grace of God enables us to endure
ILLUS. Christian history resounds with testimonies of those saints who triumphed over their circumstances. Few contemporary stories are as inspiring as that of hymn writer, Fanny Crosby. Fanny was only 6 weeks old when she developed a minor eye inflammation. The doctor who treated the case was careless and she became totally and permanently blind. Fanny Crosby harbored no bitterness against the physician, however. In fact, she once said of him, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a providential gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen. According to those who knew her, Miss Crosby probably would have refused treatment even if it could have assured the restoration of her sight. This talented woman allowed her tragedy to make her better instead of bitter and she went on to write some 8,000 hymns.


1. what do we do with this?
2. as a Christian, you need to realize that all ... ALL the events of your life are meant for your ultimate spiritual benefit, and God’s glory
ILLUS. Most of us will have earth-shattering good things happen to us. Multiple graduations, career advancements, engagement and then marriage, births, financial successes, meaningful friendships, continuing education and memorable travel. Most of us will have earth-shattering bad things happen to us. Broken relationship, and even divorces, death of loved ones, serious illness — our own or of family members, financial hardship or even ruin, miscarriages, debilitating accidents. In between the big events of life will be the regular, every-day, mundane, routine events of life: Going to work, paying bills, cleaning the house, loving the spouse and kids, fighting with the spouse and kids, mowing the yard, fighting traffic, going to school, visiting with family or friends, worshiping with your church family, fussing about politics, (kissing goats) and the list goes on.
3. AND IN “ALL THINGS” GOD IS ACCOMPLISHING HIS PURPOSE IN YOUR LIFE — your conformity to His Son, and our Savior
a. it means that — for the believer — there are no dead-end streets in life
b. it means that — for the believer — pain and suffering do not have the last word
c. it means that — for the believer — there are no situations in which there is no meaning
d. it means — for the believer — there are no circumstances in which God is not at work, and in control
4. when you find yourself right in the middle of a great situation, don’t forget that , it may be that you're right where God wants you at that moment — enjoy it!
5. when you find yourself right in the middle of a difficult situation, it may be that you're right where God wants you at that moment
a. when bad things happen to believers, it's not always because we've sinned
b. when bad things happen to believers, it's not always because someone else has sinned and we got caught in the middle
c. when bad things happen to believers, it may be the providence of God at work
ILLUS. As the Apostle Paul pens his letter to the Philippian believers, he does so as a prisoner of Rome. In one form or another, he has been incarcerated for three years, first in Caesarea by Felix and now he is chained to a Roman guard 24-7 while he awaits his appeal before Caesar. And yet he sees his misfortune is a unique way.
"But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14, NKJV)
CON. As I conclude this message, let me ask you something: Do you believe God knows what He is doing? Do you believe that He knows what He is doing in your life? Do you trust Him to use all the events in your life for your ultimate good? Then trust Him as He works in your life even when the things He is doing don’t always make sense.
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