We know that the book of Romans is the Holy Spirit inspired explanation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In it we find God’s solution to the dilemma of how a holy God can pardon sinners and remain just in the process. It is here that we discover that there is one and only one way that God can extend His mercy without violating His Law and being unjust in the process. It is the high and holy doctrine of penal-substitution or you could say penalty-substitution. For God to pardon sinners and remain just in the process there would have to be a mutual agreement between Him and a willing sinless substitute who would live a sinless life; die a sacrificial death; and experience a supernatural resurrection on behalf of God and sinners. We know that this is exactly what God has accomplished through Jesus Christ His Son and that on this basis there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved other than Jesus Christ.
The implications of this truth are enormous and are explicitly taught in the Bible – unless people trust Christ based on His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection, they cannot be saved because there is no other way for God to forgive and remain just in the process.
This is the Gospel; this is the message of truth that the church must know and guard because “he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). Jesus is the door of the sheep (John 10:7). No one comes to the Father except by faith in Christ and Christ alone (John 14:6).
So unless men hear the message about Christ and respond to Christ by trusting Him as Lord and Savior, they cannot and will not be saved. By this we know who the thieves and robbers are: the ones who say that there is another way or who tamper with the message about Christ in any form or fashion by adding to it or taking away from it. Those who would offer Christ as Savior only are libertine liars. Those who would say that you have to make Christ Lord are legalistic liars. Those who would say that God saves through Jesus and also has other ways to save are lunatic liars.
Only those who have trusted Christ for penal-substitionary atonement are saved and all others are climbing up some other way. Anyone who trusts Christ for penal-substitutionary atonement will love and obey Jesus as Savior and Lord and the two cannot be separated. Just as love and obedience cannot be separated neither can Savior and Lord be separated.
Those who have been justified on the basis of their faith in Christ will live in loving, loyal obedience to Christ and will be hated by the world because of it. It is this faith that is always tested by the enemies of Christ. Christians will be persecuted for desiring to live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12). This brings us to our text, Romans 8:28, where we see that God promises to protect Christians in and through their suffering for the sake of their faith in Christ.
For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God – how do we know? We know by the testimony of two witnesses.
First we know because of the testimony of Scripture. We can look at the Biblical record and see how God has always protected His people by protecting their faith. This means that the suffering that comes to the child of God only strengthens his faith rather than diminishing it. Remember Joseph! Remember Daniel! Remember the three Hebrews! Remember Job! Remember Jeremiah! Remember Jesus! Remember the apostles!
Second we know because of the testimony of the saints. We can speak with anyone whose faith is genuine and 100% will testify of the unfailing faithfulness of God. The resounding chorus that will come from the lips and heart of every genuine child of God is “Great is His faithfulness!”
To those who love God – the promise of God’s protection is only to the redeemed. God doesn’t cause all things to work together for good to everyone because not everyone has saving faith. God will never prove a false faith to be true for then He would be a liar. I’ll remind you of what Adrian Rogers used to say, “The faith that fizzles before the finish was faulty at the first.”
So who are those who love God? Those who love God are the saved. Anyone who does not love the Lord Jesus does not love God and anyone who does not love God does not love the Lord Jesus. That is why we read, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22).
Those who love God do not do so in their own power and of their own accord. Those who love God love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). No person who does not have saving faith loves God no matter how loudly he or she proclaims it. A person must come to know and believe (trust) the love which God has for us (1 John 4:16) and that love can only be known and believed by God’s demonstration of His love for us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Those who love God are those who obey. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). There is no love for the Lord when there is no obedience to His Word. The implication of this is that there is no love for the Lord when we will not trust and obey His Word. When we will not trust and obey His Word there is no faith and it is written that the righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17).
Those who love God are those who obey His Word and because we obey His Word the world hates us. This is why the true believer experiences suffering and persecution for the sake of righteousness – but it is in and through this that God has promised to work all things together for God to those who love God. True Christians will be kept from stumbling (John 15:18-21; 16:1).
Great is His faithfulness!