Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8.28-30).
The question of the moment (at least within the focus text), is this: “How do we know that all things work together for good?” It is a matter which we cannot know through the physical senses, nor is it one which we can deduce from our observations of the physical realm. Yet, Paul left no doubt about the fact that he and his readers could know the matters of which he spoke. In knowing that, of the things addressed, they all work together for the good of those who love God, Paul and his readers knew what others did not. Their knowledge came from a different source and the proof of the matter lay in a realm which was out of the ordinary. Had this not been the case, their knowledge would have been common knowledge, but it wasn't! So, how did they know unquestionably that things in the heavenlies were working for their eternal good, much less knowing that all things were so working?
The answer to our question is right in the text; we will search it out in today's message and then comment on it in the remaining two installments of this miniseries. Little words mean just as much as larger words; regarding our question, the key to the answer is found in such a little word. Romans 8.29 begins with the word for. This little word introduces the reasons Paul gave for their absolute knowledge of that which was otherwise unobservable. The word translated for in this text could have just as easily been rendered because (as it was in 173New Testament instances). Reading the verses with this legitimate substitution, Paul said, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Because whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (emphasis and substitution mine; jb).
At this point, the reader is encouraged to look back at the verses that immediately precede the text under consideration. Specifically, you are to observe the tenses of the verbs in the passage. They are all in the present tense and indicate ongoing actions. The King James Version adds the suffix eth to each of these verbs to show the primary actions of the text as continuous actions (e.g. helpeth, maketh, searcheth, and knoweth). While this may seem a small thing, it takes on larger proportions when viewed in its context. With these observations, we will close our consideration of these verses until tomorrow.
A moral of today's message might be this: Pay attention to small things, especially when God says them. Every word that God says is important, even the tiniest one! Take away a not where God has placed one, and we find ourselves in direct conflict with His will; add a word and the results are the same. God wrote the book from which we are studying and it must be respected for exactly what it says, even the small things. In interpreting the Scriptures, look for tiny clues to meaning; more often than not, they hold treasures that are otherwise hidden!
How sure can our knowledge of a thing be just because the Bible says so?
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” What parallel do you see between the things we are considering and the sentiments of this all time children's favorite?
Does faith mean we cannot know? Do we have faith that Jesus loves us? Can we know He loves us? Does faith mean that knowledge is not possible?
Find five biblical examples of small words that have tremendous meaning, or where the meaning of a text is made clear by a small word.
"Word from Scotland" from
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