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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 28
Verse 28. And we know. This verse introduces another source of consolation and support, drawn from the fact that all things are under the direction or an infinitely wise Being, who has purposed the salvation of the Christian, and who has so appointed all things that they shall contribute to it.
All things. All our afflictions and trials; all the persecutions and calamities to which we are exposed. Though they are numerous and long-continued, yet they are among the means that are appointed for our welfare.
Work together for good. They shall co-operate; they shall mutually contribute to our good. They take off our affections from this world; they teach us the truth about our frail, transitory, and dying condition; they lead us to look to God for support, and to heaven for a final home; and they produce a subdued spirit, a humble temper, a patient, tender, and kind disposition. This has been the experience of all saints; and at the end of life they have been able to say it was good for them to be afflicted, Ps 119:67,71; Jer 31:18,19; Heb 12:11.
For good. For our real welfare; for the promotion of true piety, peace, and happiness in our hearts.
To them that love God. This is a characteristic of true piety. To them, afflictions are a blessing; to others, they often prove otherwise. On others they are sent as chastisements; and they produce murmuring, instead of peace; rebellion, instead of submission; and anger, impatience, and hatred, instead of calmness, patience, and love. The Christian is made a better man by receiving afflictions as they should be received, and by desiring that they should accomplish the purpose for which they are sent; the sinner is made more hardened by resisting them, and refusing to submit to their obvious intention and design.
To them who are the called. Christians are often represented as called of God. The word (klhtoiv) is sometimes used to denote an external invitation, offer, or calling, Mt 20:16; 22:14. But excepting in these places, it is used in the New Testament to denote those who had accepted the call, and were true Christians, Ro 1:6,7; 1 Co 1:2,24; Re 17:14.
It is evidently used in this sense here—to denote those who were true Christians. The connexion, as well as the usual meaning of the word, requires us thus to understand it. Christians are said to be called because God has invited them to be saved, and has sent into their hearts such an influence as to make the call effectual to their salvation. In this way their salvation is to be traced entirely to God.
According to his purpose. The word here rendered purpose (proyesin) means, properly, a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others; and is thus applied to the bread that was laid on the table of shew-bread, Mt 12:4; Mr 2:26; Lu 6:4.
Hence it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, or purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or hap-hazard. God does not convert men without design; and his designs are not new, but are eternal. What he does, he always meant to do. What it is right for him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is his purpose or plan. That he has such a purpose, in regard to the salvation of his people, is often affirmed, Ro 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Ti 1:9; Jer 31:3.
This purpose of saving his people is
(1.) one over which a creature can have no control; it is according to the counsel of his own will, Eph 1:11.
(2.) It is without any merit on the part of the sinner—a purpose to save him by grace, 2 Ti 1:9.
(3.) It is eternal, Eph 3:11.
(4.) It is such as should excite lively gratitude in all who have been inclined by the grace of God to accept the offers of eternal life. They owe it to the mere mercy of God, and they should acknowledge him as the fountain and source of all their hopes of heaven.
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