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28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


for [contribute toward] good

All things work together for good because God sovereignly works by concurrence (concursus). In context, the phrase “all things” refers to the groanings of the preceding sections of chapter eight, which include suffering and tribulation. These things are “good” from God’s viewpoint. Paul is not Pollyanna here and neither is he offering a stoic approach to suffering. The principle is that God personally governs events of the world and the situations of our lives.


God personally governs every event and situation of our lives.


God’s providence operates under three categories: sustaining, concurring, and ruling. God functions in all of these in an unconditional and unlimited manner.

God concurs (not agrees) with every motion of His creature. This is because God is everywhere present, controlling all events great and small, necessary and free. Everything is under His sovereign action or permission.

We receive independence from God by His design and under His superintendence. People can operate in a manner unique to themselves. However, no one can operate independently from God’s providential processes with them. He influences (not dictates) each action and thought. This does not mean that He leaves everything to the creature and goes on His way but that He allows man to operate as a secondary cause of what happens. What he does is not mechanically produced by God’s sovereignty.

God is the first cause; man sequentially is the second cause. Man cannot step outside God’s overarching plan for him. God may or may not allow man to choose to go in a given direction. His sovereign providence concurs with each and every volitional decision we make; thus, even choices are under God’s superintendence.

There is nothing outside “all things.” God’s superintendence is more than a detached, general direction-giving to man. Man has true freedom of will but within the sovereign concurrence of God.