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Good Things Happen to Us Due to God’s Grace

Romans 8:28-39

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?.

What is life all about? At best, life is a puzzle made of events we don’t understand and circumstances we can’t control. Then, sprinkled over it are joys unspeakable and full of glory. Life is full of mystery, misery, and magnificence, but it doesn’t seem to make sense.

In Romans chapter 8, we’ll find God bringing incredible sense to life, and we’ll learn of the magnificent grace of God in and through it all.

A while back, a rabbi wrote a best-selling book, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Great title, but its premise is wrong: The Bible says there are no inherently “good” people. (See Romans 3:10.) No less than 24 Bible passages say that mankind is born sinful. We’ve all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

We should be asking the opposite question: “Why do good things happen to bad people?” When they do, it’s the grace of God. Everything good that’s come to us is purely His grace (See James 1:17.) in spite of our sins.

So why do good things happen to sinners like us? Because of God’s divine plan and His incredible promise.

If You’ve made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, here are four wonderful truths about life:

Truth #1. You are graced by His purpose.

“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” (Romans 8:28).

Why did God create the Universe? Why did the Lord Jesus step out of Heaven to suffer and die on a cross? Why are we here? What is God’s eternal purpose? To make us like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Adam and Eve, created in God’s image, were intended to know God personally, to worship and fellowship with Him. But when they fell, His godly image in them was marred.

Jesus came to restore that image through…

  • regeneration, when we’re saved and made partakers of the Holy Spirit
  • sanctification, as He uses life’s circumstances to make us more like Jesus
  • glorification, when at His Second Coming, we’ll be made just like Him.

Where are you in this process? Are God’s purposes being fulfilled in you? Are you becoming more like the Lord Jesus?

God isn’t primarily concerned about making you healthy, wealthy, or popular. His purpose for you is to become more like Jesus, and His purpose will be fulfilled—you can bank on it. “He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

It’s settled in the council halls of eternity: you’re predestined to be like Jesus.

“Predestined” means it’s already done in the heart and mind of God once you’ve received Christ as Savior. God never predestines anyone to Hell. Predestination doesn’t deal with the lost; it deals with the saved. When you make the decision to receive Christ as your Savior, He predestines you to be like the Lord Jesus. You may make many smaller choices in your life, but once the greatest decision is made, your final destination is already settled.

If you don’t understand predestination, that makes two of us. That makes all of us. Vance Havner said, “I don't understand electricity, but I’m not going to sit around in the dark until I do.” You don’t have to understand everything in the Bible. Rather, start believing the Bible. It’s not a book first and foremost to be explained but to be believed.

Truth #2. You are guided by His providence.

God fulfills His purpose by His providence. “Providence” means to see ahead of time and make provision for what’s coming. God sees ahead and moves everything toward the goal He has in mind, working all things together toward that goal by His providence.

We may not see it in all that takes place, and often appearances are deceiving, but get this if you don’t get anything else: We don’t live by appearances; we live by promises.

There is much evil in our world. Mankind has free will and an evil heart. Don’t think for a moment that God causes all things to happen or that everything that happens is God’s will. That’s not what Romans 8 says. God doesn’t cause murder, kidnapping, racial hatred, adultery, sodomy, or a bridge to collapse. None of that is God’s will. But even when man commits evil in the lives of the victims, if they know the Lord, God’s providence is still going to overrule and take care of those precious families.

In other cases, sometimes God will engineer circumstances by His providence that at the time look to be evil, but they’re not evil at all. You might read about a new subdivision being planned, and families signing up for a home in that tract. Then the project’s financing falls through. Everyone is upset. But then it’s learned that the ground in that area is unstable. If homes had been built, their foundations would have cracked, and the homes rendered unlivable. What we viewed at first as wrong or evil sometimes turns out to be for good in the long run.

Have you ever grieved because your sweetheart broke up with you, or the job you’d counted on didn’t come through, or a scholarship to a specific school didn’t happen? Ten years later, you look back saying, “Thank you, God, I didn’t marry that person! You had in mind someone so much better!” “Thank you I didn’t get that job—you saw where I needed to be.” “Thank you I didn’t go to that college—now, at this school, my life’s on a better track. Now I see Your plan!”

Those earlier circumstances at first seemed evil, but they weren’t.

Young Joseph in the Old Testament suffered terrible injustice for years, including false accusations and even prison. Yet in the end, what does he say to his brothers? A verse we must remember: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

God overruled and brought Joseph through in triumph. Listen carefully: don’t read Romans 8:28 as saying all things are good. Some things in this world are terrible, but God has a plan for your good.

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

You are guided by His providence. Robert Ketchum said, “God is too good to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake.”

Truth #3. You are guarded by His power.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

Many people will be against you if you serve Jesus. This world will break your neck if it can. But God is there, not only on your side but in your place. God is your substitute in the Lord Jesus Christ, and whoever comes against you is really coming against the One who stands for you.

Satan wants you to doubt. Just as he did with Adam and Eve, Satan inserts insinuating questions in your mind. But there are five questions right out of the Word of God the devil can’t answer.

  1. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)? God is in our place. Jesus died for us. When Satan comes to accuse, he’s literally coming against God Himself.

    “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’….says the Lord and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:13-14).

  2. A second question for the devil: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32)?

    If while we were sinners God loved us enough to give His Son, what’s He going to do for us now that we’re His children? He gave the greatest gift when we didn’t even ask. Would He withhold anything else?

  3. Satan is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). Paul asks, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).

    The devil would like to bring a charge against you, but how can he condemn you? Who can lay any charge against us, when Jesus took all those things out of the way and nailed them to the cross (See Colossians 2:14.)? When He died, He said, “It is finished”—paid in full.

  4. Paul is full of questions for Mr. Devil, isn’t he? “Who is he that condemns” (Romans 8:34)? Answer: no one. Romans chapter 8 begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

    The only One qualified to condemn us is the One with nail‑pierced hands who died for us and is praying for us. (See Romans 8:27, 34, and Hebrews 7:25.) He’s not going to condemn us—read Romans 8:33 again.
  5. What can separate us from the love of Christ? (See Romans 8:35.)

    Satan thinks any number of things could separate us. Paul says, “Devil, you’re bluffing; nothing can do it.” Paul doesn’t say these things won’t happen to us. They happened to him; they may happen to you; but they don’t separate you from the love of Christ. They draw you all the closer.

When you see these five questions Satan can’t answer, you’ll say, “Thank God, no matter what happens, I know God is watching over me.” We’re guarded by His power. We’ll never be condemned by Him or separated from Him. This is why good things happen to bad people—because of the grace of Almighty God.

Truth #4. You are gladdened by His presence.

No matter where, the darkest night, the loneliest road, God’s presence is with you.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

In case he left anything out, Paul adds “nor any other created thing.” In all life’s circumstances, God is there. He’s never stopped loving you. You are a conqueror in all things. Trouble can’t cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy peace, shut out memories, silence courage, invade the soul, reduce eternal life, quench the Spirit of God, or lessen the power of the resurrection. You stand encircled by His love.

These four wonderful truths are for those who love Him.

  • We’re graced with His purpose—He’s going to make us like Jesus.
  • We’re guided by His providence—all things are working together for good to those who love God.
  • We’re guarded by His power.
  • We’re gladdened with His presence—for nothing can separate us from His love.

Aren’t you glad good things can happen to bad people like us?

You may want to step into the circle of God’s love, be His child, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. If so, let me lead you in prayer. Don’t let your weakness or fear keep you from praying, because He loves you. He died for sinners, for people like us. And good things can happen to bad people when they trust Jesus.

Pray, “Dear God, I’m a sinner. My sin deserves judgment, but I want mercy. Jesus, I believe You’re the Son of God. I believe You paid for my sin with Your blood on the cross. I believe God raised You from the dead. And You promised to save me if I would trust You. I do trust You. I trust You right now with all of my heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Forgive my sin. Cleanse me. Save me, Lord Jesus.”

If you asked Him to forgive you and save you, then pray, “Thank You for doing it. I don’t look for a sign, I don’t ask for a feeling, I stand on Your Word. You’re now my Lord, my Savior, my Master, my God, and my Friend. Begin now to make me what You want me to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”