Amazing Love pt. 2 - Romans 8:28 - 39

Dr. Steve Viars August 14, 1990 Romans 8:28-39

- we've been studying favorite Bible verses

- let's do something different tonight - let's see if you can

quote one of the favorite Bible verses we've studied

- Zech. 4:6 - Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,

saith the Lord

- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave His

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should

not perish but have everlasting life

- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ and I no longer

live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live

in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved

me and gave himself for me

- Isa. 40:31 - But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew

their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles,

they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not


- last week we started looking at Romans 8:28-29 - And we

know that all things work together for good to them that

love God, to them that are called according to His

purpose. For whom he did foreknow, them he also did

predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.

- let's remind ourselves of some of the things we talked

about last week

- we said that the context of this verse is:

- chap 7 - Paul talking about the believer's struggle with

sin - vs 24 - O wretched man that I am, who

shall deliver me from the body of this death?

- in chap. 8 he says there's hope for the struggle for 2


1) there's no condemnation to those who are in

Christ - you're no longer a slave to those habits

2) you've been adopted into the family of God as an

adult son with all the resources of heaven at your


- then we said that the passage took a radical shift

- because you'd expect Paul now to say - you're no longer a

slave and you've been adopted as a child of God, so your

life situation will get better and better

- but instead he says - if you're a child of God, you'll

have to experience suffering, difficulties,

- wrestling with sin

- experiencing the pain that comes from living in a

sinful world

- the reason Romans 8:28-39 was written was to give us some

things to use to argue with our minds when we are going

through difficulties

- we looked at two of those main points last week

I. God Can Work All Things For My Good

- instead of immediately allowing my mind to think thoughts

like - this is bad

- I wish this would have never happened

- everything would be OK if it wasn't for this

event, this person, this problem

- this is bad, bad, bad

- I have to argue with myself - God can work all things for

my good

- let me ask you - did you have some opportunities to be

reminded of this passage?

- I know I did

- a couple of times I thought - Why did you speak on that


- if you can point to some times this week where either:

1) you went through a difficulty - didn't handle it

well, but were reminded of this verse and asked

God's forgiveness or...

2) you went through a difficulty - remembered this

verse changed your response

then you should be encouraged

- thats one of the things we're attempting to do with this

series - to help all of us become more adept at using

Scripture to govern our actions and reactions

- a second argument we gained from this passage is that God

foreknew us

- INPUT - what did we say "foreknew" meant? (enter into a

loving relationship with)

- INPUT - how can this help us handle a trial in a way that

would please the Lord? (sometimes in trials we're tempted

to think - God doesn't love me, He's not concerned - but

God didn't just start loving you yesterday

- you better believe that he can work out all things for

your good

- why else would he have loved you all these years?

- now let's move further into verse 29 and learn 2 more

arguments to use when you're suffering or going through a

difficult time

II. God Has A Purpose

- today we live in a world that has been influenced greatly

by existentialism

- that philosophy in part would say that life is

meaningless - non-reason

- as a result, there are no absolutes

- INPUT - What examples can you think of today that

communicate that life is meaningless, there's no ryme or

reason to it (varied answers)

- anything goes

- sugar pops come blasting out of the front of the box

- a guy is sitting in his living room eating a

snickers bar and a train comes through

- INPUT - how will that attitude affect the way a person

handles trials?

- this is ridiculous

- I'm the victim of fate

- nothing good could possibly come out of


A. What is that purpose?

- Romans 8:29 cuts right across that line of thinking

- every time I have an upset, a trial, a problem, a


- every time someone sins against me, things don't go

my way

- every time - I need to tell myself - God has a


- the purpose is - to conform me to the image of Christ

- there's only one person in the Bible that God is ever

said to be pleased with – that’s His son, and God's goal

for you and ....

- we studied back in our end times study that man was made

in the image of God to be a dominion haver,

- where under the authority of God he would exercise

dominion over himself and his world

- but when man fell, that image was marred

- instead of being a dominion haver, he was dominated

by sin, and self

- but now, after a person is saved, God wants that image to

be progressively restored

- let's break this phrase down some

1. its goal - "the image" of his son

- in Greek, there are least two words that can be

translated image

- first one - (homoi-oma) - accidental likeness

- like when 2 people who aren't related to

each other kind of look alike

- or when you pick up two eggs and they have

a similar shape

- that would be an accidental likeness - a

similar image

- but that’s not the word that’s spoken of here

- the word here is "eikon" - identical likeness

- Matt. 22:20 - Jesus told the Pharisees to bring

him a denarius, he said - whose image is on

it? - word "eikon" - exact likeness

- Plato used that word to describe what a person

saw when he looked into a pool of water?

- what would we call what he saw?

(reflection) - exact likeness

- sometimes the word is used to describe children

who looked just like their parents

- eikons - exact likenesses

- Paul says that God has a plan for every

believer - that is that that person be growing

and changing and becoming more and more like

Jesus Christ

- let me just pause there and ask you this question - could

you point to definite ways that you are more like Christ?

- have you , ever in your life, had someone come to you and

say, you're really different than you used to be, you've


- God's goal for you is that you become reflection, an

eikon, showing clear and strong resemblance to the Lord

Jesus Christ

2. its process - "conformed"

- the passage also gives some ideas about its


- Paul says we're to be conformed

- the original word is "sommorphoo"

- we know that words from our words that have

morphe, or morphesis in them

- in fact, you probably remember studying that

word in elementary science class

- INPUT - what was that in connection with?

- metamorphosis (caterpillar into a frog)

- "change in form, structure, function"

- that’s important for a believer to remember for

at least two reasons

a) we're talking about becoming something


- a caterpillar doesn't come out of that

coccoon and now he has 150 legs

- he's something completely different

- let me tell you why that’s so important

- so folks view salvation as another apendage

- they're a father, engineer, golfer, member of

the elks club, they're a Christian

- salvation is almost like another ID card they

carry in their wallet

- That’s not God's view about salvation

- God's view is that salvation affects every

aspect of a person's life

- he'll never be the same kind of father


- he'll never be the same kind of engineer


- he'll never even be the same kind of golfer

again (not that his handicap is going to go

down - but the way he looks at recreation

and sports has to change)

- see, God says he wants us to be conformed,

to go through a metamorphosis, to be

changed in every aspect of our lives

- its also important to remember this point

because metamorphosis is:

b. its a process

- one of the things we struggle with the

most with counselees is that they want to

have a zap/or a decision mentality when it

comes to growth

- folks talk about laying it all on the

altar and now everything is going to be OK

- illus - lady came in - good week

- husband - she threw a vase at me

- wife - went forward - laid it all on

the altar

Paul also tells us about:

3. its timing - "predestinated"

- compound word - propizo

hirizo - "to mark out the boundaries"

prefix pro - before, ahead of

- word literally means - to mark out the

boundaries ahead of time

- the idea is of a builder who's going to build

a building

- because that building is so important, the

builder goes out well in advance and stakes

out the area and makes his plans

- let me ask you to think about this from the

perspective of time for a minute

- think in your mind - what's the longest you

ever planned for anything before carrying out

the plan?

- or, how long would a person have to have

planned something before you would say - hey,

you put a lot of planning in that?

- 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 about 20


- you know why that’s important - because the

length of time a person spends planning often

is often an indication of how important that

project is to him

- if a person spends very little time planning,

you conclude - he's not very concerned about

how this project turns out - its not very

important to him

- Paul wants us to note that this goal is important

to God because of its timing

- God didn't just decide He wanted you to be like

Christ 2 months ago, 2 years ago, 20 years ago, 200

years ago, 2000 years ago...

- before the foundation of the world, God

entered into a loving relationship with you,

personally - he foreknew you, and then...

- he predestined--marked out beforehand, his

goal for you, how he wanted you to be becoming

more like His son

4. its purpose

- INPUT - according to verse 29 - what is the purpose

of this process? (that he might be the first borne

among many brethren)

- INPUT - who is the He? (Christ)

- the purpose of this process is that Christ would be

the first-born among many brethren

- now, its just like "only begotten" son in John 3:16

- Paul is not talking about first born in order -

like Christ was the first but later there will be a

second, third, etc

- the point is - this process will magnify the

supremacy of Christ

- maybe it would be best to think of it this way -

how would an unbeliever know that Christ was the

great and powerful Son of God today?

- He's not going to come and do miracles for them

- He's not even going to come and live among them

and show them His Holy life

- the best and primary way for an unbeliever today

to be convinced of the majesty of Christ is to see

a believer striving to change and grow to become

more like him

- one of the things that we wrestle with when we're

working with pastors in the pastor's training

program is men who say "I can't take all this time

to help people change and grow and solve problems

biblically, because then I'll have no time for


- that approach to the ministry won't work - because

you'll have people out on visitation on Thursday

nights who are known in the community for their

arrogant spirit, for the way they argue with their

wife, for the fact that they don't pay their bills

on time

- their witness is nullified by their life - no one

is caused to consider the greatness of Christ

because of their lifestyle

- see, its true that God's plan and goal is that we

be becoming more and more like His son--but that

process has a purpose

- to bring glory and honor to His Son

- I think, in general, that's one of the strong suits of

folks who come to our church, but I have to wonder of

there are folks who are here tonight who would have to

say - PV, that purpose isn't being accomplished in my


- "because I haven't been focusing on the goal of

becoming like Christ, He hasn't been glorified or


if I told someone at work about him, someone in

my family about him, someone in the

neighborhood about Him - they wouldn't listen

- if that true, I hope that would be both sobering

and convicting

- now, we want to tie some of these things together by

answering three important questions

B. How does this fit in with Rom. 8:28?

- in other words, how does the fact that God has

predestined you and I to be conformed to the image

of His son fit in with my ability to say that all

things work together for good?

- the answer is - my goal in a given situation makes

all the difference in the world, in terms of

whether or not I'll be able to handle trials with a

"All things can work together for good" mentality

- see, if you and I are to grow at the rate God

intended, we've got to become more adept at asking

the question, "What was my goal in a given


- God wants our goal in every situation to be the

same goal He has for us - to become more like


- all other goals have to be submitted to that one

- all other plans...all other desires

- I sin when my goal to be like Christ is either

ignored or put second

- let's think of some examples - let's start with the

person who has certain financial goals (by the way,

we would encourage you to have those)

- but let me ask you - can that goal become more

important than the goal of becoming like


- INPUT - what might happen in the life of

the person where that goal becomes too


- INPUT - how does Romans 8:28 factor into

that? (they are going to have trouble

thinking that all things work together for

good every time something doesn't go their

way financially)

- INPUT - how should we structure our

financial goals and our goal to be more

like Christ? (I'd like to save a


- let me give you another one - what about the person who

has goals for his job or his vocation

- let's say the person decides - I want to be supervisor

of my department in 4 years

- could that ever get more important than becoming like


- INPUT - what might that person be like?

(backstabber, ignore God or family)

- let's think about this person would handle a trial

- INPUT - how's he going to handle the trial of a

supervisor who's manipulative and not giving him

proper credit for his work?

- INPUT - how would he handle the trial of his

department being scaled down and his job being

cut out?

- on the other hand, if he did have his goals in proper

order, how would he handle the boss mistreating him

(this is an opportunity)

- see, the bottom line is, the wealthiest person in the

world is a failure in God's eyes if he's not like


- going way up the ladder is failure in God's eyes if

the person hasn't become more like Christ

-let's take one more (this one may surprise you)-how about

the person whose goal is to have a happy marriage,

fulfilling marriage (if that was the most important thing

to them, could that ever cause problems?) -When?

- see, all things can work together for good if I have the

right goal

- even when things aren't going weel financially

- even when people at work are mistreating me

- even when my spouse is having a bad day

- those situations can be good because they can be

opportunities to be more like Christ

- see, anybody can be happy on a holiday, but if you've had

trouble responding properly when trials come, I need to ask

you - is it because you've been living with the wrong goal

- there's another question we need to ask

C. How Does That Fit In With Chapter 7?

- the reason I went through all the material on the

context last week and reviewed it again tonight was

primarily to make this point

- Remember, in Rom. 7:24, Paul was talking about how

he did the things he didn't want to do, and he

didn't do the things that he wanted to

- as he described that struggle with sin - he said -

Oh, wretched man that I am--who shall deliver me

from the body of this death?

- one of the answers to that question is one that we

don't like - but its this

- trials, properly handled, will help you win the

battle against sin

- thats one of the major points we would have to

get following the argument of this passage

- not only are trials bearable - but they are

good, because they will help strengthen us

against our war with sin

- let me ask you - do you believe that?

- do you believe that one of the evidences of God's love

for you is the trials He brings?

- let me put it to you this way - what would happen if you

were given the attribute of sovereignty for 24 hours

- you could your life situation any way you want

- you could choose your financial condition

- you could choose how well known you were

- you could be married to anyone on earth

- you could choose your wardrobe and accessories

- you could choose the size of your house, boat

- especially - you could decide whether you would ever

have to face another trial the rest of your days

- now let me ask you this - If we checked up on you in six

months - would you be more godly or less Godly

- would the situation make you more like Christ or less

- especially - would the amount of trials you chose help

you achieve God's goal or would it cause you to miss it

- see, sometimes, we get it in our minds - "I would be a

more godly person if it wasn't for so and so always

making me mad"

- or if it wasn't for that lousy car breaking down...

- This passage would say - no - all things can work

together for good because those events have the potential

of helping me achieve God's goal

- I think there's one more question we need to ask and

that is - Is this your goal?

D. Is This Your Goal?

- while its true that God planned before the

foundation of the world that you would be growing

and becoming more and more like his son

- that process will only be effective if you have

also adopted that goal and are actively

pursuing it

- let's think of it this way - if we made a transparency of

God's goal, then made one of yours, compared, how closely

would they be aligned?

- you may here tonight, relatively new, have never heard this


- perhaps the best thing for you to do tonight

- ask forgiveness for pursuing wrong goals (maybe not

wrong in and of themselves, but wrong because they were

more important than God's goal)

- promise

- you may be here tonight - been around a long time - you're

familiar with this concept

- let me ask you this - is it possible for a person to

accurately answer the question "what is God's goal"

without really putting much effort into that process on

a daily basis

- see, you might be here tonight and would say -PV - I

knew that concept but I'd be hard pressed to give a

recent example of how I've aggressively pursued it

- what do I tell myself when I'm going through a difficulty?

- God has a great purpose for you and I, to be conformed to

the image of his son

- we won't have time to develop this last point, but let me

just give it to you

Iii. Nothing Can Separate Us From The Love Of Christ

- the bottom line of the rest of the chapter is this -

"What shall we say to these things - if God be for us - who

can be against us - nothing can separate us from the love of


- soccer illus (greatness of being chosen, knowing the coach

had me in his plan)

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video