God Works For The Good

October 17, 2021

David Sorn

The Bible says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” What does that famous verse actually mean?

God Works For The Good

October 17, 2021

David Sorn

The Bible says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” What does that famous verse actually mean?

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Romans 8: 26-30


Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here.

Years ago there was a shipwreck, and the only survivor washed up on a small uninhabited island.

He was exhausted, and he cried out to God to save him.

Every day he scanned the horizon, searching for help.

Finally, he managed to build a rough hut and put his few material possessions in that hut.

One day, coming home from looking for food, he was devastated to see his little hut in flames and a cloud of smoke.

The worst had happened.

And yet, shockingly, not long after, a ship appeared to be coming closer and closer to the island

And he was rescued.

When he got on board, he asked the crew, "How did you know I was here?"

They replied, "We saw your smoke signal."

We’re going to talk today about how God can use anything, even the really hard things for our good.

And we’ll talk about how sometimes that’s easy to see, sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes we won’t see it this side of eternity.

And we’ll do so as we continue our God Never Fails series in which we are teaching verse-by-verse through Romans Chapter 8 in the Bible

Romans was a letter written by a man named the Apostle Paul who wrote to the earliest Christians in Rome about 25 years or so after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Everybody grab a Bible

(Page 772)

There is a lot, and I mean A LOT packed into our passage today of verses 26-30

So, I won’t be able to hit every interesting theological tangent here, but we will hit the main and most important point.


Let’s start reading in verse 26

(Romans 8:26-27) – NIV

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Paul is continuing his discussion on suffering, which we started talking about last week in depth.

Paul says that the Holy Spirit (who’s God) intercedes, that is, He prays for us in our sufferings, through wordless groans.

Some take that to mean speaking in tongues (a heavenly language) while others say it is simply praying the emotions of our hearts

And if we had 30 more minutes, I would LOVE to talk about this, but we don’t.

So…don’t hate me.

The most important thing to get from these 2 verses is that in your deep suffering, God loves you so much, that the Spirit searches your heart, and is guiding you towards praying God’s will.

Again, wish we could dive further into this, and I probably should’ve added another week to the series for this, but I’m not perfect. J


Okay, let’s get to the most famous part of the passage, and maybe even the most famous part of this chapter or even this letter…but it’s also at times the most misunderstood verse, or for others, the most frustrating verse

That’s quite the introduction

(Romans 8:28) – NIV

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.

This is an incredible promise from Scripture.

That even in all of your suffering, in ALL things it says, that God is working for your good

Now that’s a promise exclusively for believers in Jesus…because notice it says it’s for those who love God

So let’s talk about this, because sometimes it’s easy to see how God works things together, and sometimes it’s not

In fact, to frame our discussion, let’s think of understanding suffering on 3 different timelines

3 Timelines to Understanding our Suffering:

1. Suffering we understand quickly

Sometimes, you know, almost instantly why you’re suffering and maybe even what God’s doing with it

More times than not, this first timeline is related to our own foolish choices

Maybe you had a time as a young adult when your temper got the best of you and you lashed out at your boss

And you were promptly fired

And walking out to your car, shaking your head, you already know the reason you’re suffering

And this, by the way, is not to say that all suffering is a result of our sin (sometimes it is…sometimes it’s not, read John 9)

Other times God just seems to resolve things quickly (and thus our suffering makes sense to us quickly)

Let’s say you’re dating someone, and you have a terrible breakup.

But the very next week you meet the person who becomes the love of your life

And you can say, “oh, I went through that awful suffering of that breakup, so I could meet this wonderful person”

“In all things, God works for the good”


However, I think that 1st timeline, where suffering quickly makes sense, tends to be the exception to the rule, not the norm

For much of our suffering, we don’t understand how God is “working for the good” often until years, sometimes decades later.

This is the 2nd timeline

3 Timelines to Understanding our Suffering:

1. Suffering we understand quickly

2. Suffering we understand later

This is the story of Joseph (the one in the Old Testament) in Genesis 37-50

Joseph’s brothers are so jealous of him that they throw him in a pit, and then sell him into slavery in Egypt

Joseph manages all right as a slave, but then is wrongfully accused of sin and thrown in prison

Where he is forgotten.

But one day God helps him interpret Pharaoh’s dream, and Joseph learns 7 good years are coming followed by 7 years of famine.

So Joseph goes to work for Pharaoh, helps Egypt store up crops, and saves Egypt from ruin.

Eventually Joseph’s brothers come from Canaan (where there is also famine) starving and begging for food

And Joseph, the brother they sold into slavery is able to save them from death.

And as he does so, Joseph says this to his brothers:

(Genesis 50:20) – NIV

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

We believe, as Christians, that God is in control.

That He is working out His sovereign plan.

That He “works for the good of those who love Him,” but often (like Joseph) we don’t discover what the good is until years later.

However, it’s important that we dive deeper into this passage so that we don’t abuse this verse…because it’s often abused

I think one of the most pressing heresies in the American Church nowadays is the false idea that God’s main purpose is to help you have your best life

Which is really just the Prosperity Gospel repackaged.

And so sometimes people hear this verse and think, “Okay, I didn’t get the job I wanted, but it’s only because God has a BETTER job for me in the future!”

Or, “We didn’t get the house we put an offer on, but it’s only because God has an even better house for us!”

Could be…

Or could not be.

God might have a lower paying job for you next

Or a house that’s going to absolutely fall part after you move into it

You say, “Why would He do that, and how is that ‘God working for the Good’”

Well, let’s look at the Scriptures.

The question we need to ask is “What is the word GOOD actually referring to?”

Well, let’s look at the next verse

Because we need to be careful of not taking Romans 8:28 out of its original context

(Romans 8:29) – NIV

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Okay, let’s put it together

God works for the good of those who love Him.


There are really two ways. The first is here in verse 29, and the 2nd will be in verse 30

Verse 29 says that God works for our good by predestining us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus)

Okay, let’s unpack that

God has predestined, planned, determined that you, His follower, will be conformed to be like Jesus (that you’d act like Him, speak like Him, think like Him)

The Greek word here for Conformed is “symmorphos,” which shares a root word with the word metamorphosis

So Paul is saying that God has promised that He will do what it takes to “work things together” to change you to become like Jesus.

And that is for your good.

God is not necessarily promising you better circumstances here.

Too often, in our culture, we equate “good” with comfortable…comfortable circumstances (like marriage, health, food on the table)

But remember who is writing this.

Paul, who didn’t really have any of those things

He never got married, struggled with his health, and sometimes didn’t even have food on the table!

But God was working for His good, conforming Him to look like Christ

Isn’t it at least intellectually interesting that Paul, the man that many call the greatest Christian of all time, the one who looked more like Christ than any of us…

Suffered more than any of us?

Do you remember who Elisabeth Elliot was?

I’ve mentioned her a few times.

She was the wife of Jim Elliot who was martyred for his faith in South America trying to bring Christ to the tribes of the Amazon rainforest.

Elisabeth later lived with and shared the Gospel with that exact tribe that killed her husband

But her life continued to be difficult

She later remarried, only to watch her 2nd husband die of cancer 4 years later

And Elisabeth Elliot who was a prolific writer once said:

“God will not protect you from anything that will make you more like Jesus.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Let me share with you another quote…this one from John Newton

Newton wrote Amazing Grace, after being forgiven by Jesus even though he was once a brutal slaver trader.

And Newton said this on this passage and topic:

“Everything is necessary that God sends; nothing can be necessary that He withholds.” – John Newton

And so sometimes we groan out, “Why God? Why would you do this to me? Why would you withhold this good from me? I thought you were good! You’re supposed to work for my good!!”

But remember what your good actually is.

It’s to be conformed to look like Jesus.

God often withholds from us things that look good, but if we got them, they would destroy our heart with pride and selfishness in the long run.

God often allows things into our lives, that in our brokenness will shape us to look like Jesus more than any success ever could.

God is not committed to making you happy, He is committed to making you like Jesus

Which, is a far deeper joy anyway

And due to the nature of this process, we often can’t make sense of our sufferings until years later when we can finally see how God was shaping us all along


I want to pause now before we get to our 3rd and final point on the timeline, and I want to share with you a story of someone who also had God working in their life, through good and bad, all for an ultimate purpose

In fact, I want to call our Baptismal Team on stage right now, so they can get our baptismal ready

Because we are going to hear a testimony of coming to Christ and see a baptism!

Baptism is a symbol of what Jesus did for you when you, personally, believed in Him (that you were washed clean)

It doesn’t save you.

But it’s an important step for every Christian once they’ve made a decision to follow Jesus

And so we’re baptizing 4 people this morning who’ve made a decision to follow Jesus… (1 at 1st, 2 at 2nd, 1 at 3rd

Every person you see baptized at Renovation Church is baptized by two sponsors (people who’s had a spiritual impact on them)

And so, we’re going to begin!



Okay, we’ve looked at two different timelines for how and when our suffering makes sense to us, and now let’s look at the 3rd and final timeline

3 Timelines to Understanding our Suffering:

1. Suffering we understand quickly

2. Suffering we understand later

3. Suffering we won’t understand this side of eternity

This is really important.

Some of the things we go through, won’t ever make sense to us until we meet God face to face.

Why does a child die in their crib?

Why dementia for your mother?

Why is a family member lost in a car accident?

Even when you take into account all of the other truths of Scripture…

…that our creation is broken (like we read last week)

…that we are sinful people in a sinful world

…that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion trying to wreck our lives..

Some things will just never make sense this side of eternity

And listen, we do spiritual harm to people when we look at their deepest of sufferings and say, “NO worries, it’ll make sense soon enough!”

It might not.

Not in this lifetime anyway.

Remember earlier when I said that we need to study what Paul means by “your good” when He says that God works for the good of those who love Him?”

The first “good” was that He conforms us to be like his Son, and the 2nd “good” comes from verse 30

(Romans 8:30) – NIV

30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

That means, that if you’re a believer in Christ, no matter what happens to you on this earth, that God has called you to Himself…

He has justified you (that means He has washed you clean because of our faith)

And you will be glorified

That’s what we talked about last week

That in the end, after your death, your body will change, and you will be resurrected and you will live forever in paradise

And so even if the worst should come, your reward far outweighs any momentary suffering

And in that future place where doubts are erased and confusing story lines now make sense, the definition of “our good” will make sense as well.

But I know too many people who, with the evidence they have thus far in life, declare that God is not good…that their suffering is too much and all for nothing.

And in a sense, they tap out before they are able to see the resolution of all things.

But I wish they could understand how limited their perspective truly is

I read this years ago, and I often think of it this way:

I learned that British shepherds often take sheep and put them into a dipping trough, a huge vat filled with an antiseptic liquid.

The shepherd must completely submerge each animal, holding its ears, eyes, and nose under the surface.

It is of course horribly frightening for the sheep.

And if any of the sheep try to climb out of the trough too soon, the sheepdogs bark and snap and force them back in.

But as terrifying an experience as it is for the sheep, without the periodic treatment, they would become the victims of parasites and disease.

It is for their good.

But the thing is, it’ll never make sense to them.

It just won’t.

Their shepherd’s ways and thoughts are higher than theirs

And my friend, there will be things that happen in your life, that you, this side of eternity, won’t be able to make sense of.

But that doesn’t mean that the Good Shepherd isn’t working for your good.


You may even be here this morning and your life has been incredibly hard

And you’ve been wondering how any of these people in this room could seriously follow a God who allows suffering.

I want you to know that Jesus is not unfamiliar with suffering.

He willingly came to this earth and lived a perfect life as the Son of God

And yet, He was arrested, and mocked, and hung up on a cross.

Where he suffered in agony as they pounded nails through his hands and feet

And what good could come of suffering like that?

The greatest of good!

For in suffering for us, Jesus was dying in our place.

And the great truth of God’s Word is this:

(John 3:16) – NIV

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Whoever believes that Jesus Christ suffered and died for them, will be forgiven.

That’s the great promise.

Forgiven because Jesus is then taking the punishment of sin for them, while their faith washes them clean.

And raises them up to new life!

And not just new life, but a relationship with Jesus who rose from the dead.

And, it says, we can have eternal life…life with God in heaven where all things are restored and all things make sense

That is the incredible offer God sets before each of us

But to take it, to open it, is to surrender.

It’s to turn from your old ways of relying on yourself and living however you want, and to cast your life upon your Savior Jesus

It’s to let Him take the keys of our life.

And so if that’s you, I want to give you an opportunity to do that.

Let’s just have everyone close their eyes for a moment.

If you need to make that decision today…

To believe Jesus Christ died in your place, to turn from your old life of sin, and to trust in Him as the leader of your life..

And accept His gift of eternal life

What I’m going to ask you to do in just a second is to stand up where you’re at

No one’s looking at you, it’s just a way for you to symbolically mark this moment for God

To say, “yep, I believe…I believe everything has led me up to this moment”

I want you to be my Savior

If that’s you, and you’ve never done this before, would you stand up where you are at?

For those of you standing, we want to pray with you.

Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.

As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you that are standing, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…

So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.

You won’t walk out there alone.

There are others who are stading, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you

And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.

If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.

All right, you can all go now.

As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer.

Let’s pray

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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