Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scripture Correction

Scripture Correction
May 19, 2014
Romans 8:28  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The New Testament was not written in Hebrew.  There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels or letters that make up the New Testament, so no one really knows what language everything was originally written.  The best guess is that most of the epistles of the New Testament were written in Greek.  But regardless of the language of the original manuscripts, translation and then interpretation has been applied to our modern day versions of our Scriptures.   While I am in no place to offer an alternative to our translation of our Scriptures, I can shed some light on a few common misperceptions we perpetuate.  One such perpetuation of Scripture is found in quoting Romans 8:28.  Please read it in the translation provided above.  Most people, not all, but most people think that this scripture has to do with our own personal "good," regardless of the definition of good.  By reading it in the above translation, the most common translation, it is easy to think that the Lord works things out for our "good."

However, if you read the full verse in conjunction with the verses around it, there is a huge clue at the end of the sentence most of us miss.  The clue reads, "...who have been called according to his purpose."  This is not singling out a few people, maybe strategic prophets, but rather speaking about each individual's participation in the Lord's design for mankind and His master plan for everything, "his purpose."  You and I have a role to play in the Lord's master plan.  That role is as specific and unique as every individual out there.  I doubt anyone of us will know until we reach Heaven, what tasks we performed were perfectly strategic on the Lord's behalf.  If you are Christian, you have specific tasks the Lord requires of you, whether you know it or not, to accomplish for Him.  The Bible says the Lord causes us to will and to act according to His good purposes.  If you are reading this devotional, there is no doubt in my mind that you have participated in the Lord's master plan, both knowingly and unknowingly.  That is huge.  You have been used by the Lord for His good purposes, most of the time without being quite clear what that is exactly.

In reading or quoting Romans 8:28, we must keep the Lord's master plan in mind.  John the Baptist was a man for whom everything worked out for the Lord's perfect plan, but it did not include John's personal "good" as we'd like to understand it.  John was beheaded for the Lord's benefit!  This certainly was not for John's personal good but for the good of the gospel.  Messed up as it sounds, it is true.  The Lord allowed John's beheading and somehow it benefited the Lord's master plan for mankind's salvation.  If you are intent on understanding Romans 8:28 to include your personal benefit, then it is only a small stretch to maintain the belief that it would and could include your personal spiritual benefit.  But this understanding is only in keeping with Scripture if you understand that the Lord desires to keep you in His fold in order to effectively utilize you in His master plan.

The famous Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, likens elements in this verse to a "golden chain," keeping us tethered to the Father.  Henry suggests the Lord is intent on your spiritual enhancement, even if that means severe discipline.  If you must maintain the "good" in Romans 8:28 pertains to you, then this is the understanding you must perpetuate.  The Lord IS intent on keeping you in His flock and would go to the ends of the earth to maintain you as His child.  If you stray, He is willing to use every means necessary to keep you from Hell.  This certainly is for your "good," as ultimately you will be in Heaven with Him someday.  But "good" does not mean, nor was it ever meant for your personal enjoyment.  The word "good" in Romans 8:28 has nothing to do with your physical ease and EVERYTHING to do with the Lord's passion for the salvation of mankind.  This should excite you to understand the difficulties you might experience are intended for His glory and your participation in His master plan.  You are integral toward His goal!

I would like to suggest an alternate understanding of Romans 8:28, an understanding you could even memorize.  Consider it this way: But we understand that everything works out for the benefit and perfection of His plan by Him who calls upon us toward His glory.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Acts 13:36, Romans 8, Phil 2:13

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