I've not had time to read blogs lately. In fact, for many weeks, I have only skimmed them. No time to do what I call "lolly-blogging". Thankfully, I have good friends who send choice bits directly to my email box, and that is how I've recently spent any computer-research time I might have. I've been checking out the choice bits, already pre-screened for me by friends who know what I like!
I salivate and weep over the thought that some teachers have paid research staff. I rely on a few Dear Ones who keep an eye out for me. They are the best, and I want to thank them...they know who they are.
Far, far more than anything, in recent weeks (ask my man!) I've had my face buried in my Bible. I'm telling you, I almost don't come up for air! When I do come up for air, I am furiously scribbing with a pen, or I am blogging about what I've seen in the pages of Scripture. I'd be so excited to blog the pages and pages of hand written notes I have - nothing but thoughts and revelation as I've poured over Isaiah, Zechariah, Psalms and the Epistles. But two or three blog-articles, sent to my email of recent weeks, have piqued my interest. I try to save them for later, and hope to read them. One such article, was the piece I already posted in its entirety, by Blake Coffee on Earning the Privilege of Healing Each Other.
Here is another, by the enduring John Piper. I share a part of it here, it comes from his blog "Desiring God". I am smiling in utter satisfaction, because it matches many of my own thoughts regarding the same passage in Romans - want to see my notes??
If you have lucked out like me today, and have a window of time to read this whole message, it is well worth the investment. Entitled "All Things for Good, Part III", you'll find it at desiringgod.org. I have actually had time this evening to read the whole thing, every word.
Here is a portion:
"All things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to his purpose."
So there are two things that must be true of us if this promise is to be ours. It does not come true for everybody. It comes true for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.
These are not two groups of people. This is one group of people with two things true of them: 1) they love God; 2) they are called according to his purpose. Why does Paul mention these two things instead of just one of them? Here is my suggestion.
If he had only said that all things work together for good for those who love God, it would have sounded like the promise rests on pretty flimsy ground. My love for God is a flimsy ground for this promise. It is an experience in my heart. And my heart is notoriously fickle and variable and weak. To make such a massive promise rest on such a fragile human experience alone would be to make a mountain rest on a marshmallow.
So Paul says, this promise does not just rest on your marshmallow heart, it rests on God’s calling and purpose. "All things work together for good . . . for those who are called according to his purpose." Here we have God’s work, not my experience. God’s call, not my consciousness. This is solid. This is divine. This is powerful and deep and strong.
But what if Paul had only said, "All things work together for good for those who are called"? Then we would want to ask, How do I know if I am called? We would want some sign that God has in fact done this great and powerful and wonderful thing: he has called me.
So Paul gives both. He tells us the objective, solid, divine work of God that makes the promise unshakeable: he called us according to his purpose. And he tells us what happened in us when God called us so that we can know it has happened: we love God and all that he is for us in Jesus Christ. So we have two things that must be true of us if this promise is to be ours. Our love is subjective, and God’s call is objective. Our love is our act, and God’s call is his act. Our love is an effect, and God’s love is the cause.
In other words, the call of God according to his purpose is part of the massive, deep, unshakeable foundation Paul is laying in Romans 8 that keeps this promise from falling and makes it believable. You are not the key here. God is the key here. His work will keep this promise true for you, or it won’t be true for you. Because your love is too fragile and uncertain. But God’s call is not fragile and not uncertain. And it not only brought your love into being but will keep it in being so that the promise of Romans 8:28 will be true for you forever.