And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God, to them who are the called
according to His purpose.
Thus far in our examination of Romans 8:28, we have noted
the meaning of the "we." They are those walking in the Spirit
and relying on His intercessory ministry for the will of God.
Those walking according to the Spirit "know" that all things will
work together for their good. They "know" because they "see"
with the eyes of faith that such is true by the Spirit.
Additionally, they know [see] that "all things" are used by God
to accomplish His will in their lives. How do"all things," good
and bad, up and down, right and wrong, "work together" for our
good becomes our next consideration.
The Greek rendering of "work together" is (a fellow labor -
co-laborer). God chooses to use "all things" together,
collectively, to shape us in the image of His own Son. Such is
only true, however, for those submitted to the leading of the
Holy Spirit in their life. What happens if one is not submitted?
Then the Devil is liberated and will use anything and everything
in a person's life against them to destablize their relationship
with God. He, the Devil, may bring sickness, disease, heart
ache, death, depression, discouragement, mental illness,
financial failure, marital instability and divorce, and anything
else he desires into the Christian life. Why? Because the
Christian was walking outside of the protective will of God.
What happens if that same Christian repents of his sin, making
confession, and begins a new? Immediate spiritual reversal.
God even turns what the Devil meant for evil into good. He God,
through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, works together, utilizes
as a co-laborer, those things into the Christian life for our
good. The word "good" in our text means exactly that - (good) -
or one could say: All things work together for our benefit. We
need to keep in mind, however, that this Spirit walk for the
Believer is a process experienced by conviction and not by
The dictionary defines a process as: (A series of actions,
motions, or operations leading to some definite result). If we
remain faithful as we walk in the Spirit through prayer, the
Holy Spirit will take hold with us to bring everything into
subjection to God's perfect will for us.
When I was still very young, we took a trip to Michigan and
while there, we visited the Ford Motor Plant in Detroit. The
most captivating aspect of the plant was the assembly line. We
walked the line with a guide who perfunctorily annunciated the
various stages of construction. He said that cars were built by
special order and each car was design controlled as it lumbered
slowly down the assembly line. I watched as red, blue, green,
black, gold, and brown engine hoods hung like huge trapped moths
in large metallic spider webs over the assembly line. As each
car passed beneath, a hood swung over and down and was quickly
bolted into place. The car rolled slowly down the line;
receiving each of its appropriate parts: windows, doors, seats,
stirring wheels, dash boards, wheels and tires, trunk lids, head
lights, tail lights - everything needed to make it a car.
As we stood at the end of the line listening to our guide
finish his description of how the line functioned, we saw the
completed automobiles roll off the assembly line. A man stood
waiting. As one approached and was freed from the line track, he
jerked open the driver's door and leaped in. The engine fired
immediately and he sped away to a nearby parking lot. As the
guide continued to speak, the driver came running back just as
the next car rolled from the line. Again he leaped in and drove
"Occasionally," I heard the guide say, "a car will fail to
start and will need to be pushed to the side to await a
Just then the driver returned to drive another finished car away.
The engine failed. He sprang from the car and with the help of
an assistant, they pushed it from the path of another car which
was rolling from the line.
Leaving the semi darkness of the building, we walked into
the bright sunshine and stood curbside.
"If any of you like," the guide announced, "we offer free
test drives to give you an idea of how each car is road tested
before leaving the plant."
My family and I climbed in a shiny new Ford, the doors slamming
solidly behind us. The small test road was inculcated with tight
turns, wash board surfaces, steep hills, and winding avenues.
The driver spun the wheel expertly, taking the turns quickly and
excellerating part way through the turns. Gears shifted at the
precise moment, breaks were often applied, then quick
excelloration again when needed.
Climbing from the test car, we walked into the show room and
saw "the car of the future." "This is what we have to look
forward to," the guide said, pointing to the glistening vehicle;
a tone of profundity in his voice. It was peculiar but somehow
beautiful and powerful by nature.
As I studied Romans 8:28 to attempt to understand it's true
meaning and application to the Believer, I recalled our visit to
the Ford Plant and realized that the life we live as Christians,
especially those dedicated to walking in the Spirit, is much like
the process I saw on the assembly line. We are "made to order"
by God. That is, "His will" is our design. As we rely upon the
ministry of the Holy Spirit through prayer, God brings "all
things" in to play for our benefit. If we pray in partnership
with the Holy Spirit, He, God, searches the hearts and knows what
is the mind of the Spirit. He, the Holy Spirit, in turn makes
known to the Heavenly Father our prayers and designs them to
conform to the will of God. No matter what we face, whether it
is of God or Satan, God will, to those led of the Spirit, work
all things together for the good of His own children. He will
wisely and cautiously manage our affairs for His glory through
the ministry of His Holy Spirit.
Perhaps this explains why often we are unable to function
properly when facing various difficulties in our relationship
with our Heavenly Father. God chooses to give us a certain size
of spiritual motor, (I.E., gift), with which we can function
properly in His body; The Church. We, on the other hand, desire
something bigger, something greater, something more powerful.
"I know! I'll be an apostle. I'll be a prophet. I'll be
an evangelist. They're great and have a lot of power and
authority. That's what God wants me to be."
Later, perhaps through great hardship and discouragement, we may
discover that was not God's design or plan. We no doubt
questioned God all along the way as to why He allowed all these
terrible things to occur.
"Where was He? Why didn't He answer when I prayed? Why did
He cause it to happen to me? Why am I made to suffer? Why did
He cause me to sin? Why isn't God's Word working for me? Why is
God trying to hurt me?"
All such questions plague those attempting to explain God's will
by unfavorable, difficult, or impossible circumstances. We roll
to the end of God's assembly line, only to discover that perhaps
some parts are missing. There is no spiritual ignition and we
often have to be moved to the side for Holy Spirit analysis.
Even those who stay in place on the assembly line will find
they will be test driven. There will be hills to climb, valleys
to plunge through, and sharp curves to negotiate. There will be
mud and dirt and water and cold and heat. Gears will change,
speed will vary, and even breaks applied. Eventually the drive
will be over and then there will be the Christian of the future -
The Church without spot or wrinkle. Then Jesus will come for His
own and will say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
Over the years, through preaching and teaching, the idea
has been somehow conceived that all Christians should be alike,
equal, identical, or the same. The uniqueness of God's creation,
in my opinion, is its dissimilarities. We are all created
differently, as are the stars and snow flakes. Somehow, and for
some reason, we loose awareness of this when considering the
Church - the Body of Christ.
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the
household of God. and are built upon the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being
the chief corner stone; in whom also the building fitly
framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord:
In whom you also are builded together for a habitation
of God through the Spirit.1
As I mentioned, their is a controlled design. The control
is "the will of God" and the design [pattern] is the image of
God's Son. If we are "fitly framed together" in this Body of
Christ, we must be uniquely designed with purpose. Thus God must
have a blue print in order that we might become more like His
Son. The blue print is performed through the implementation of
Romans 8:28. God uses all thing jointly to bring us into sharp
image which causes us to look like Jesus when we walk in the
Spirit. The promise of Romans 8:28 is made reality through
prayer partnership with the Holy Spirit.
Paul illustrated the importance on Body placement in I
Corinthians 12:12-31. In his example, he found it necessary to
point out that we should not concern ourselves with where we are
placed in the Body but be content with the placement itself. If
we are content, we will not desire the possessions of others nor
be concerned about our personal placement - the foot compared to
the hand, the ear to the eye. It is God who sets each member in
its exact place within the Body of Christ.2 If we attempt to
struggle for relocation, outside of God's will, others in the
Body may be spiritual injured and perhaps even dislocated. Such
disjointedness induces pain and discomfort.
In light of such revelation, we need to pray in the Spirit
to gain a better understanding of our placement within the
framework of that Body. Such knowledge is impossible without the
intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit. Although we may be
unsure of our location in the Body, or if we feel change is
needed to better serve the Lord, the only way such revelation is
available is through the perfect intercessory prayers of the
In a course I had in Bible college, the professor gave a
short quiz at the end of each week. The quiz grades were, of
course, averaged with our quarterly and semester examines for a
final grade. I remember doing extremely poorly on one quiz. I
was heart sick. I so much wanted to achieve high marks in that
particular course. Now it would never happen!
Upon the conclusion of the first semester, the professor
announced that he deleted the single poorest quiz grade before
averaging the others with the examines. The desired grade was
thus achieved. I still had to take the course along with the
quizzes but the worst was discarded. Do you see it? The course
was a "learning process." The quizzes were the proving, or
testings, of what I learned day-by-day. The quizzes were used as
markers to indicate my progress. They were not offered to prove
how stupid, how dumb, or how ignorant I was, but rather offered
direction, or placement, in the process of learning. Now compare
this to most Christians attempting to live out the Christian life
without the ministry and leading of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
They give up in discouragement and drop from the course because
they missed it somehow, they think, or perhaps someone told them
they did so.
"You've gotten a poor grade. You'll never make it now.
God's best is no longer available for you."
Let me take this example one step further. What if indeed I
would have flunked the entire course? Would that have indicated
total failure and an inability to achieve? Should I have dropped
out of school all together? Similarly, the course [process] is
always available for the Believer. Simply stay enrolled by
taking up your partnership with the Holy Spirit in prayer. There
is no way you can loose since God discards the bad as He forms us
with His will through the ministry of the Spirit.
One of my cousins used to drive trucks across country and
once told me the following story. He and his partner were
driving in a rain storm, barely able to see, wipers slapping
angrily at the wind shield and providing little relief. Not
wishing to loose time, they drove slowly and cautiously, the
powerful headlights failing to penetrate the darkness. He said
he noticed all the construction equipment parked along the road
through the sheets of driving rain as they drove but never
thought much about it until Suddenly the heavy eighteen wheeler
catapulted from the end of the highway, landing in thick mud.
Because of the heavy rain, they had missed the detour sign and
drove right off the end of the road. He said it took them
several minutes to stop the big truck, now nearly out of control,
as they fought desperately to keep from jack knifing. A mile
passed before they were able to stop completely. Their problems
just began, however, because there was no way to turn around.
They now had to spend several hours slowly backing the metal
monster back inch-by-inch to the highway. Standing on the
running boards in the driving rain, they squinted into the
darkness and called out to each other through the open doors to
insure they would not slip from the treacherous road and be
hopelessly stranded. It was cold, wet, and dark, and the only
illumination was that of their own running lights. Finally, near
total exhaustion and soaked to the bone, they negotiated the
truck on to the asphalt. Jumping to the harden surface, they
inspected the heavy machine for damage and although there was
none, the truck was covered with several inches of thick mud from
Most Christians experience similar situations in their
relationship with the Heavenly Father. Somehow, no matter how
faithful, how consistent, how careful, we may occasionally miss
the road sign. We may even see the evidence of our mistake along
the way but simply over look or ignore it. Suddenly, we are off
"How did it happen? Why did it happen? Why didn't I see
All these accusations loom out of the spiritual darkness
surrounding us and we cry out in fear.
Jesus warned Peter that he would experience defeat and
denial in Luke's Gospel. He said, however, that He, Jesus, had
prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Then He instructed
his servant that when he was converted he was to strengthen his
brethren.3 This word, "converted," means (to revert). It comes
from two words meaning (to twist) and a little Greek word epi
which might be best translated (to "layer). This can be compared
to Luke 19:35 where we are told that the people "cast" their
garments upon a colt for Jesus to ride. In another words, they
layered their garments upon the colt to provide Jesus with a
Now, in light of such revelation, consider what Jesus was
trying to tell Peter when he, Peter, missed the turn on his
spiritual walk with the Lord. Jesus said Peter would be
"converted," that is, reverted, or twisted about in layers, or we
could say, in degrees or stages. Once we have missed a turn as a
Christian, we have the option of reverting, to go back, to
return, to change. That return, however, may take some time and
will no doubt be arduous. Certainly there is instant forgiveness
and instant cleansing for one who confesses his sin before the
Lord.4 We must, however, recognize personal responsibility in
our failure to remain on the "will of God" road. The restoration
process, although provided for instantly in forgiveness, may take
time and thus supernatural patience is needed as we retrace our
steps. I believe the retracing [reverting] process is one of
spiritual maturing and one will find that once back to the main
highway, we will be farther up the road than anticipated. We may
often experience heart ache, the sense of failure and defeat. We
may suffer the freezing cold of rejection by others and the muddy
residue of the world. The illumination of our retrek my seem
poor and we may even discover helplessness when others forget us.
Fortunately we have, as my cousin, a Partner - the Holy Spirit -
who is willing and ready to "make intercession" for us if we will
but submit ourselves to His leading. As we find ourselves being
squeezed by circumstances and even what others might consider
failure, those walking in the Spirit will look more like Jesus
their Lord when they exit to the other side.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on
your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge
Him, and He shall direct your paths.5
Notice that this wonderful promise is to those who are
continually acknowledging Him as they go. He confirms,
interestingly enough, that he will direct our paths." That's
right! He will, by His Holy Spirit, direct us as we walk our
paths. It is, after all, our life - personal responsibility -
but for the Christian walking in the Holy Spirit through prayer,
our life belongs to Him. He paid for it with the blood of His
Son Jesus, thus we no longer desire to live of ourselves.
"Even if it means allowing God to work all things together
for our benefit?"
Yes! Such demonstrates submission to the will of God to process
us as members of His Body.
Many people have added an addition to their home, built a
new garage, or constructed a storage shed in the backyard without
obtaining a city building permit. When discovered, the city
often fines one for failure to purchase a building permit. This
even occurs spiritually. We sometimes find ourselves attempting
to build in areas for which we haven't been licensed, or
permitted, to build in.
On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus was glorified before
His disciples. His face, we are told, shown as the sun and His
clothing radiated as bright light. Moses and Elijah also
appeared and spoke with our Lord on the mount.6 Peter became so
excited that he immediately wanted to build three tabernacles,
dwellings of worship, right on the spot in honor of the Lord and
the two witnesses with whom He spoke. Peter, in effect, sought
to build upon something for which he had no permission.
Speculation... What if indeed Peter would have, although
His Lord instructed otherwise, built such houses of worship in
honor of his Lord? Would God have blessed it? God always honors
His Word; but He is never obligated to bless if, such is done,
outside of His will. "What does this mean for the Christian?"
We must always be keenly aware that we do not always "know
what we should pray for as we ought." This means that, if we fail
to harmonize with the Holy Spirit when we seek the will of God,
we may build without a permit on ground not set aside by God for
construction. One might suggest in such cases there would be no
fruit. There most certainly will be fruit in evidence since God
always honors His Word; but the problem is, however, the fruit
will not remain because it is not "blessed."
"What should be done?"
We should get back into fellowship with the Father through the
ministry of intercessory prayer provided by the Holy Spirit who
always prays that God's perfect will is accomplished in our
As mentioned, for those who build without a permit, there is
normally a fine. The structure is not, I might point out, torn
down nor is the builder placed behind bars for life.
"What is the fine for the Christian building without a
The loss of intimacy with God.
"For how long? Until one returns to the road or pays the
No! The fine has already been paid by our Lord Christ upon the
cross nearly two thousand years ago.
"But what about the Road?"
For one who harmonizes with the Holy Spirit as he prays, the road
is immediately restored.
"Won't I experience, suffer, loss?"
Perhaps, but it is only what you feel because God sees no loss in
one who is conforming to the image of His Son through adverse
circumstances. "Why?" Because "we know - spiritually see by
faith - that all things work together for our benefit."
There is another aspect of a building permit which we should
consider. We often fail, when attempting to apply Romans 8:28
properly, to consider giving God license, or permission, to "work
all things together" for our good. We quickly praise Him
vociferously for all the good and wonderful and exciting things.
We thank Him repeatedly for the blessings, the prosperity, the
miracles, and the successes experienced. The bad things,
however, are quickly condemned as devilish and even considered as
funereal. To do so would be negating the power and promise of
Romans 8:28 to "work all things together for our good - well
being. God is telling us that He indeed can and will use "all
things" if we will submit - give permission - to "work" [build]
in our lives. To refuse the bad would be rebellion. It would
also be denying the power of God to indeed use all things -
everything - to bring us to conformity [identity] with His Son
Jesus. Keep in mind, however, that I am not suggesting God
brings the bad, the evil, the wicked, to His own. James confirms
that God does not do such.7 I am simply pointing out how God
promises to use "all things" for our spiritual benefit and growth
when we are side tracked - off the road - and build upon - plant
in - unfertile [unprepared] ground.
"And we know that all things work together for good to
them that love God."
The Greek word for "love" in our text is the common word
with which most Christians are familiar: (friend), or (brotherly)
love. For one walking in the Holy Spirit through harmonized
prayer, God becomes our friend as we face "all things."
Unfortunately, spiritual immaturity and a basic lack of Biblical
understanding, stunts spiritual growth. Often we become
irritated, angry, even down right mad, at God for permitting such
heinous things to come against us. We bind the Devil, curse
circumstances, trade upon scorpions and serpents, and claim God's
power while secretly wondering what happen to God in all of this.
Such authority and power has been given to us and we indeed must
exercise such as we walk in the Spirit, but prayer is the
illuminating light which gives us the "know" - spiritual insight
(I.E., vision). Spiritual frustration is generally the result of
our inability to "know," or see it, God's way. If we will but
submit to his will through the Spirit, we will become intimate
friends with the One who has our best interest - His perfect will
- at heart.
It is always easier to see circumstances rather than God.
It is even more convenient to dump every unexplainable situation
into the bottomless pit [black hole] of Romans 8:28.
"There you go! That explains why God hasn't answered my
prayers, changed my impossible situation, performed a miracle, or
remedied my difficulty."
In a very real sense, such a philosophy relieves one from
personal responsibility; confusing and frustrating one's
relationship with the Heavenly Father instead of edifies -
builds. We, on the other hand, must continue to walk by faith
with the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer. We must consider all
things; good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure, up
and down, back and forth, to be usable by God for our benefit.
We must even allow such things to enrich, developed, intimacy -
friendship - with our Lord. We must see with the eyes of faith
that God's will is working together for our own good that we
might be called the children of God. Since in such adversities,
we often find it difficult, even impossible, to pray, we all must
rely upon the intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit to cause
God's perfect will to be accomplished. We must learn to pray in
Sermons are preached, lectures presented, and Volumes
written, on God's eternal grace; and yet it seems impossible to
comprehend. Some have defined it as "God's unmerited favor."
Others use the letters of the word itself to form an acrostic:
I simply define God's grace as "undeserved blessing." All of
these fall hopelessly short of showing us what God's grace is all
about. In the light of Romans 8:28, however, perhaps we gain
some glimpse of its nature.
God takes everything, whether good or bad, and somehow
incorporates it into the life of one walking in His Holy Spirit.
How can this be? The answer is, because He is God. He is the
only one with the power to cause such to happen. It is the
nature of His person which affords oneness with those submitted
to His will. This character trait of His person, when revealed,
is called "grace."
Though I am not a poet nor very musically inclined, I wrote
the following during a very difficult time in my life. As I sat
at the piano in our living room and began to play, I realized
God's grace shines its brightest during times of impossible
circumstances. I trust the following words will provide
illumination for those reading this book as they attempt to see -
know with spiritual insight, that all things are worked together
by the wisdom of our Heavenly Father to benefit us spiritually,
and that such illuminates the friendship we have with God the
Creator of all things.
Life provides no hiding place, every day must come.
There's no way to stop the race, you must always run.
Step by step is all you need to take,
Turn and look into the Saviour's face.
Never look behind,
To your past be blind.
Storm clouds gather, thunder rolls, see the lightning
In the darkest cloud above, find the rainbow light.
Both were made for us to see His grace,
Turn and look into the Saviour's face.
Fear and guilt will fade,
Sin's debt has been paid.
FOOTNOTES FOR CHAPTER 6
1 Eph. 2:19-22
2 I Cor. 12:28
3 Luke 22:32
4 I John 1:9
5 Prov. 3:5-6
6 Matt. 17:1-9
7 Jam. 1:12-16
End Of Chapter 6
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
By Phil Scovell
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