References: Romans 8:28
Love for God, the single distinction
Again, here’s what the catechism states: “…Indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation.” The essence of this statement is drawn from Paul’s letter in Romans 8:28 (ESV): “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
All things work for good for those who love God. Ultimately, good means nothing other than salvation. There is nothing good apart from salvation.
Beware of lurching away from what God accomplishes toward what you must accomplish. Resist the temptation to say, “Because you love God, things will be good. So when they appear not to be good — well, maybe your love for God was weak.” We haven’t suddenly returned to depending on our personal effort.
God is still focused on revealing His glory through those who love him. This raises a very simple question: where does love for God come from? How does anybody love God? How can your love for God be more intense today than last year?
This is not (and can never be) about God responding to what you have done. We are still talking about the single focus of God, which is to work the love of God in you. That, simply, is salvation. That you love God.
When God works salvation in you, then you have the love of God. And that love of God is evident in your life.
The focus of God for you
What are the struggles in your life? How do the politics of the day affect you? How much have you struggled or rejoiced concerning the economics of the day? How has the pandemic affected you?
When we confess that all things “work together for my salvation,” or as Paul puts it, that “all things work together for good,” it does not mean God will turn everything into a positive experience, nor that we just totally ignore all life’s problems. The issues are real. Every day in your life you will face real challenges and struggles. But this truth does mean these things will not derail God’s purpose for you. Which in itself is pretty great. No matter what the consequences or outcome is (and some are quite serious), we rejoice in everything because it has to do with our salvation. Nothing is going to ruin that. Nothing will take God’s eyes off that focus.
But more than that, when we think about how we respond, we need to ask this ourselves some hard questions. Are you going to keep your eyes on what you know is God’s focus? Are you going to let difficult issues turn you away from what you know is God’s focus — your salvation, your love for God and the things of God? Or will you turn toward God in all things, letting Him use them to work on your salvation, growing in trust, growing in faith, and growing in service to God? The confession of “all things” working together for my salvation encompasses all your life and everything you do.
In Ephesians 5:20, Paul says this about all things: “…Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You see, this isn’t a blanket admonition to say an obligatory “thank you” to God. Rather, it invites you to truly understand that all things are for your salvation.
I want you to understand I am not making light of any hardship anyone is dealing with. I do want to encourage you regarding what to keep in mind when we face trials in life.
All things in your life will have one of two possible effects. It will either drive you away from God, manifested in allowing the things to get between you and God. Or it will strengthen you in your faith, expressed in your greater and even bolder exercise of your life of faith.
I am convinced that God has brought a real test upon the church. And yes, ultimately because of the single focus of God, the church will be strengthened.
You need to ask yourself the question, is that love of God truly alive in your life? I trust that it is, and I trust it will be seen in the church.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.