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 [contributes toward] good
The idea is not that all things are intrinsically good, because many things in our lives are intrinsically bad. Molestation of a young girl is intrinsically evil. There are many unpleasant things that happen to us. The idea is that these things will be turned to good. This will especially be true when God glorifies our bodies. However, it is also true in present time that God works according to a concurrence principle. This knowledge buttresses us to face any situation in our lives.
The “good” in context is confirmation into the likeness of Christ (v. 29). This good is not to become rich, successful, or at peace with oneself. This verse does not say that God will prevent His people from undergoing harm or difficulties. We should not take “all things work together to those who love God” as a condition. The promise applies to those who characteristically love God as believers. No matter what situation we may face, God will take that issue and ultimately produce “good” in our glorification.
God’s providence works all events in time and eternity for His glory.
We commonly hear the statement that “everything will work out for the best.” That statement implies fatalism for good. Scripture denies this concept. Neither are all things good in themselves. Evil is not intrinsically good. Also, “all things work together for good” does not mean that everything a believer experiences is God’s will for them. It is not biblical to say, “Someone cheated me; it must be God’s will.” This Scripture must be understood in the light of the context.
The “good” here is for our life both in time and eternity. God uses every event, temporal or eternal, for our good. He allows surd (natural, not sinful) evil to come into our lives because of the fall of Adam. Cancer is a way of getting our attention. God allowed Satan to inflict serious problems even on the “righteous” man Job. Thus, surd evil can come as chastisement or character building.
The working together for good does not imply that God causes “all things” but that He brings good out of them. This is a function of His providential care over all creation. Neither does this promise guarantee that personal suffering will have an immediate good as a result. The “good” here is ultimate good, not instant good; neither is grief, sickness, suffering, or death intrinsically good. God can bring good out of these things, but these things are not good in themselves.
The ultimate good is more than our completed salvation; it includes ultimate glorification but is not exclusive to it. The good also involves spiritual good that contributes to our sanctification and character.