“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The first part of this verse emphasizes God’s work. This is God’s providential work in our lives.
“both to will and to do for His good pleasure”
God is providentially working in us for His pleasure. Note how another verse emphasizes the same point:
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21).
“Both to will and to do”: God wills it; God does it. God is omniscient, and therefore He can will exactly; God is omnipotent, and therefore He can do anything consistent with his nature. He can perfect His plan in us. God has a plan for our lives:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
We often miss a significant point in Romans 8:28-30 because we focus so much on predestination. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” All things are not good, but they work together for good to serve God’s designs. There are no pure second causes (human volition). God concurs with all human volition. Therefore, God is in control of everything that happens to us.
God is working according to a blueprint. The project is to make us conform to the image of Jesus Christ: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (8:29). The “for” indicates that verses 29-30 are the ground for verse 28.
God has predestinated that every saved person will be just like the Lord Jesus. It is incidental to God how many years we live. It is negligible in the light of eternity. But God has taken an oath that we will be just like the Lord Jesus, no matter the cost. And we do not have a thing to say about it! This is the doctrine of glorification. Once we are born again, that triggers a process that will not conclude until we are glorified.
God is working on us providentially so that ultimately we will be glorified.
If we decide to rebel against God’s providential work in our lives and say, “I am not going to submit to the Lordship of Jesus,” then we need to be broken like a bronco. God will either break my physical body or my spirit. He will bring us to the point where we submit to His will.
God is working according to a blueprint with all its specifications. With some of us, the work is going rather slowly. Therefore, He has to send His “providential agencies.” If we do not respond to God’s Word, then He sends providential situations into our lives to get our attention. It may be a tragic accident, a terrible mistake, a calamity, or a catastrophe. There are no accidents. Everything is by divine design in the life of the child of God. God’s timing is exquisite. He does not wait for us to approve of His methods, either.