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THE CHRISTIAN'S ASSURANCE
By Arthur Pink
"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."
How many of God's children have, through the centuries, drawn strength and
comfort from this blessed verse. In the midst of trials, perplexities, and
persecutions, this has been a rock beneath their feet. Though to outward sight
things seemed to work against their good; though to carnal reason things
appeared to be working for their ill; nevertheless, faith knew it was for
otherwise. And how great the loss to those who failed to rest upon this inspired
declaration; what unnecessary fears and doubtings were the consequence.
"All things work together." The first thought occurring to us is this: What a
glorious Being our God is, who is able to make all things so work together! What
a frightful amount of evil there is in constant activity. What an almost
infinite number of creatures there are in the world. What an incalculable
quantity of opposing self-interests at work. What a vast army of rebels fighting
against God. What multitudes of super-human creatures ever opposing the Lord.
And yet, high above all, is GOD, in undisturbed calm, complete master of the
situation. There, from the throne of His exalted majesty, He works all things
after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). Stand in awe, then, before this
One in whose sight "all nations are as nothing; and they are counted as less
than nothing, and vanity " (Isaiah 40:17). Bow in adoration before this "high
and lofty One who inhabits eternity" (Isaiah 57:15). Lift high your praise unto
Him who from the worst evil, can extract the greatest good.
"All things work." In nature there is no such thing as a vacuum, neither is
there a creature of God that fails to serve its designed purpose. Nothing is
idle. Everything is energized by God so as to fulfill its intended mission. All
things are laboring toward the grand end of their Creator's pleasure: all are
moved at His imperative bidding.
"All things work together." They not only operate, they co-operate; they all act
in perfect concert, though none but the anointed ear can catch the strains of
their harmony. All things work together, not simply but conjointly, as adjunct
causes and mutual helps. That is why afflictions seldom come solitary and alone.
Cloud rises upon cloud; storm upon storm. As with Job, one messenger of woe was
quickly folowed by another, burdened with tidings of yet heavier sorrow.
Nevertheless, even here faith may trace both the wisdom and love of God. It is
the compounding of the ingredients in the recipe, that constitutes its
beneficent value. So with God: His dispensations not only "work," but they "work
together." So recognized the sweet singer of Israel—"He drew me out of many
waters" (Psalm. 18:16).
"All things work together for good to," etc. These words teach believers that no
matter what may be the number nor how overwhelming the character of adverse
circumstances, they are all contributing to conduct them into the possession of
the inheritance provided for them in heaven. How wonderful is the providence of
God in over-ruling the most disorderly things, and in turning to our good things
which in themselves are most pernicious! We marvel at His mighty power which
holds the heavenly bodies in their orbits; we wonder at the continually
recurring seasons and the renewal of the earth; but this is not nearly so
marvelous as His bringing good out of evil in all the complicated occurrences of
human life, and making even the power and malice of Satan, with the naturally
destructive tendency of his works, to minister good for His children.
"All things work together for good." This must be so for three reasons. First,
because all things are under the absolute control of the Governor of the
universe. Second, because God desires our good, and nothing but our good. Third,
because even Satan himself cannot touch a hair of our heads without God's
permission, and then only for our further good. Not all things are good in
themselves, nor in their tendencies; but God makes all things work for our good.
Nothing enters our life by blind chance; nor are there any accidents. Everything
is being moved by God, with this end in view—our good. Everything being
subservient to God's eternal purpose, works blessing to those marked out for
conformity to the image of Christ. All suffering, sorrow, loss, are used by our
Father to minister to the benefit of the elect.
"To those who love God." This is the grand distinguishing feature of every true
Christian. The reverse marks all the unregenerate. But the saints are those who
love God. Their creeds may differ in minor details; their ecclesiastical
relations may vary in outward form; their gifts and graces may be very unequal;
yet, in this particular there is an essential unity. They all believe in Christ,
they all love God. They love Him for the gift of the Savior; they love Him as a
Father in whom they may confide; they love Him for His personal excellencies—His
holiness, wisdom, faithfulness. They love Him for His conduct—for what He
withholds and for what He grants—for what He rebukes and for what He approves.
They love Him even for the rod which disciplines, knowing that He does all
things well. There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which
the saints do not love Him. And of this they are all assured, "We love Him
because He first loved us."
"To those who love God." But, alas, how little I love God! I so frequently mourn
my lack of love, and chide myself for the coldness of my heart. Yes, there is so
much love of self and love of the world, that sometimes I seriously question if
I have any real love for God at all. But is not my very desire to love God a
good symptom? Is not my very grief that I love Him so little a sure evidence
that I do not hate Him? The presence of a hard and ungrateful heart has been
mourned over by the saints of all ages. "Love to God is a heavenly aspiration,
that is ever kept in check by the drag and restraint of an earthly nature; and
from which we shall not be unbound until the soul has made its escape from the
vile body, and cleared its unfettered way to the realm of light and liberty"
"Who are called." The word "called" is never, in the New Testament Epistles,
applied to those who are the recipients of a mere external invitation of the
Gospel. The term always signifies an inward and effectual call. It was a call
over which we had no control, either in originating or frustrating it. So in
Romans 1:6,7 and many other passages: "Among whom are you also the called of
Jesus Christ: to all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints." Has this
call reached you, my reader? Ministers have called you; the Gospel has called
you; conscience has called you—but has the Holy Spirit called you with an inward
and irresistible call? Have you been spiritually called—from darkness to light,
from death to life, from the world to Christ, from self to God? It is a matter
of the greatest consequence that you should know whether you have been truly
called of God. Has, then, the thrilling, life-giving music of that call sounded
and reverberated through all the chambers of your soul? But how may I be sure
that I have received such a call? There is one thing right here in our text
which should enable you to ascertain. They who have been efficaciously called,
love God. Instead of hating Him, they now esteem Him; instead of fleeing from
Him in terror, they now seek Him; instead of caring not whether their conduct
honored Him; their deepest desire now is to please and glorify Him.
"According to His purpose." The call is not according to the merits of men, but
according to the Divine purpose: "Who has saved us, and called us with an holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to this own purpose and
grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Tim. 1:9).
The design of the Holy Spirit in bringing in this last clause is to show that
the reason some men love God and others do not—is to be attributed solely to the
mere sovereignty of God. It is not for anything in themselves, but due alone to
His distinguishing grace.
There is also a practical value in this last clause. The doctrines of grace are
intended for a further purpose than that of making up a creed. One main design
of them is to move the affections; and more especially to reawaken that
affection to which the heart oppressed with fears, or weighed down with cares,
is wholly insufficient—even the love of God. That this love may flow perennially
from our hearts, there must be a constant recurring to that which inspired it
and which is calculated to increase it; just as to re-kindle your admiration of
a beautiful scene or picture, you would return again to gaze upon it. It is on
this principle that so much stress is laid in Scripture on keeping the truths
which we believe in memory: "By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory
what I preached unto you" (1 Cor. 15:2). "I stir up your pure minds by way of
remembrance," said the apostle (2 Pet. 3:1). "Do this in remembrance of me" said
It is, then, by going back in memory to that hour when, despite our wretchedness
and utter unworthiness, God called us, that our affection will be kept fresh. It
is by recalling the wondrous grace that then reached out to a hell-deserving
sinner and snatched you as a brand from the burning—that your heart will be
drawn out in adoring gratitude. And it is by discovering this was due alone to
the sovereign and eternal "purpose" of God that you were called when so many
others are passed by, that your love for Him will be deepened.
Returning to the opening words of our text, we find the apostle (as voicing the
normal experience of the saints) declares, "We know that all things work
together for good." It is something more than a speculative belief. That all
things work together for good, is even more than a fervent desire. It is not
that we merely hope that all things will so work, but that we are fully assured
all things do so work. The knowledge here spoken of is spiritual, not
intellectual. It is a knowledge rooted in our hearts, which produces confidence
in the truth of it. It is the knowledge of faith, which receives everything from
the benevolent hand of Infinite Wisdom. It is true that we do not derive much
comfort from this knowledge when out of fellowship with God. Nor will it sustain
us when faith is not in operation. But when we are in communion with the Lord,
when in our weakness we do lean hard upon Him, then is this blessed assurance
ours: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because
he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).
A striking exemplification of our text is supplied by the history of Jacob—one
whom in several respects each of us closely resembles. Heavy and dark was the
cloud which settled upon him. Severe was the test, and fearful the trembling of
his faith. His feet were almost gone. Hear his mournful plaint: "And Jacob their
father said unto them, You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more
and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against
me!" (Gen. 42:36). And yet those circumstances, which to the dim eye of his
faith wore a hue so somber, were at that very moment developing and perfecting
the events which were to shed around the evening of his life the halo of a
glorious and cloudless sunset. All things were working together for his good!
And so, troubled soul, the "much tribulation" will soon be over, and as you
enter the "kingdom of God" you shall then see, no longer "through a glass
darkly" but in the unshadowed sunlight of the Divine presence, that "all things"
did "work together" for your personal and eternal good!