If you would open your Bibles with me, we're going to go to the eighth chapter of Romans. And when it is time for us to read, we're going to read a single verse. We're going to read Romans chapter eight and verse 28, several years ago, a group of seminarians were asked what doctrine of scripture brought them the most comfort. And they were told to write it down on a piece of paper before anyone answered out loud. And so they each wrote down what he thought, what doctrine would bring him the most comfort. And then the professor had each one tell what they had written to a man. Everyone in the class wrote the sovereignty of God. Now you would think it would be the grace of God or the love of God, or maybe the mercy of God. But it was to a man. Each one wrote. That what brought them the most comfort was the sovereignty of God. We are fire. The R stands for reformed. And as those who hold to the doctrines of the reformation, we know that the foundation of that is understanding. And being committed to the sovereignty of God and all things as our brother who came and prayed for us earlier, remind us, God is in control of all things. Our confession God have to create in himself from all eternity, by the most wise. And Holy counsel of his own will freely and unchangeable all things whatsoever come to pass. Therefore, I want to begin by saying that if it is true, that the sovereignty of God is in fact. The doctrine that is the most comforting and we are by mutual confession, committed to this doctrine. Then the subject of my sermon is simple. I've been asked, how do we comfort anxious saints. We comfort them with the sovereignty of God. So with that, let us read just one passage. And I understand there's a wonderful context here and a wonderful chapter that unfortunately I will not have time to execute. But it says in verse 28 and I'm reading from the English standard version. And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. For those who are called according to his purpose, may we pray father, as I seek to preach your word today? I pray for the same two things. I always pray. Lord, keep me from error and Lord, keep me from cowardice that I might preach with accuracy and boldness is my prayer in jesus' name and Lord that the words that go would be used by the Holy spirit of God to enter not just into the ear or into the mind, but into the heart and be used with him. To change this all in Christ's name. Amen. It would be an understatement to say that this year has been pretty difficult. We have had a global pandemic, which has claimed lives cause mass confusion left many in a state of financial ruin. Our nation is embattled over the question of race and inequality. Entire cities have been shocked by mob violence, murder, and general mayhem in the streets. And because of widespread separation, social distancing, and fear of disease, many people have become disconnected, depressed, and emotionally devastated while it is too early to see the exact data on this. It is very clear that this year we'll probably have the highest rate of suicide that we have seen in many recent years, if not ever. The first person to, to be believed to be a victim of COVID in regard to suicide was a man by the name of Kay Balla Krishna. He was 50 years old and he killed himself because he believed he had the disease. He, he began to have symptoms and he was so afraid that he was going to pass this deadly pandemic onto his family and his friends. He committed suicide. And we Owen was the youngest. She was 19 years old. She didn't have the disease, she didn't have any symptoms, but she did not want to be locked down and be alone and separated. And that fear of being alone caused her to drift into a time of depression. And she, she was in, she was a British teenager. She committed suicide. There is no telling how many. Once the numbers finally come in and the dust settles. There's no telling how many we're going to find that have become factors in all of this. Not the least of which we in our own United States are dealing with probably one of the most contentious presidential campaigns ever. You guys watch last Tuesday when that awful. Maybe you don't want me to talk about it, but honestly it was in my mind. My point is just the distress all over. There's stress everywhere. And it's weighing on the hearts of our people. And even if our people are not saying it to us, many of them are feeling the stress they're taking their frustrations out on social media. They're finding opponents that they can attack and feel justified in doing so because I'm on the side of the righteous, they're finding comfort in conspiracy theories. They're more interested in Q Anon and Malin ballots than anything that we have to talk about on Sunday. And it's not really difficult to provide words of comfort, but the problem is, is they're happier to find comfort elsewhere. They're like Israel, who is constantly going after other gods, trying to find peace in something else, a conspiracy, some answer, some politician somewhere. We have to make sure we have another four years because that's going to solve everything. Part of our duty and consoling our people in the midst of turmoil includes confronting them and challenging them with the word of God. I'm not going to tell you today how to hug your people. I'm not going to tell you today how to, how to make their boo-boos go away. What I am going to tell you, is that, okay? I do not need the pablum of pop psychology. They do not need movie theater, Christianity. They do not need a sermon series on which Avenger is most like Jesus. They do not need five ways to have better sex or 10 principles for a more prosperous bank account. They need a rowboat, a robust theology of God upon which to rest their minds and their hearts. They need to be consistently brought to the throne of the God of scripture who is still in control in the midst of a world. That seems to be out of control. Simply put they need less Joel Olsteen and more Charles Spurgeon. Yeah. They need less Facebook and more of the word of God. They need fewer stories and greater substance, as I said earlier, and most of you know, this it's, I think it's in the bulletin. My, my topic is comforting, anxious souls. And so my brother Mitch asked me to preach that. I said, well, if I'm going to preach comfort, I'm going to go to Romans chapter eight. Because I'm sure most of, you know, this preaching to preachers. One thing I thought about when I said I'm gonna preach Romans eight, I said, every one of you is probably preach Romans eight. Every one of you is probably probably preach Romans eight 28. And so I'm probably not going to say a whole lot of things that you haven't already heard, but maybe I can challenge you in a new way to think about a few of the things that you already know. And one of the things I want you to keep in mind is that Romans chapter eight by itself is a passage of constellation. It begins with no condemnation. It ends with no separation. And in between we have the promise of the Holy spirit who enjoys us. We have the promise of adoption as sons, by which we cry Abba father. And we have the promise that our present sufferings are not to be compared with the joy or the glory. That is to be revealed in us. So this whole chapter, I want one commentator said this. He said if the whole Bible were like a wedding ring, he said Romans would be the, would be the stone in the ring. And Romans eight would be the sparkling tip of the stone. Well, I would, I would take that analogy a step further, I would say at the book of Romans wear a wedding ring and Romans eight, where the stone, I believe verse 28 is the sparkling tip of the stone. Because Romans eight reminds us Romans eight 28, rather reminds us that all things in the believers life are part of the eternal purpose of almighty God. So we're going to look at this passage in three parts today, and yes, they all begin with C. I took my good homiletics class where I have my outline and it's three points. Three cause that's important. I don't have a poem, but I do have three points and all three start with a C. We're going to look first at the constellation of the tax. We're going to spend most of our time there. But then we're going to look at the confidence that we see in the text. And then we're going to look at the concern who is this passage concerned with? So that is our three main headings for today's message. And we're going to look first at the constellation and this is where we'll spend most of our time. The passage clearly says. All things work together for good. Now immediately we began to try to reconcile in our minds what that means with our limited understanding, because we know that there are many things in this world that are far from good by anyone's estimation. Have you ever seen a child die from cancer? Have you ever seen a marriage destroyed by infidelity? Have you ever seen a life plagued by drugs and alcohol? As I was preparing for this message, I read a book by da Carson called how long? Oh Lord. And it's his book on suffering? And I thought that would be a good way to sort of prepare myself to preach about comforting, anxious saints. And so I, I took up the book and in the very first part of that book, he just tells story after story, after story of suffering, I mean, you can't hardly get through the first chapter without just weeping, just from, and these are all true stories. He tells a story of a. Pastor who was cutting his grass. And as he looks across the street, he sees the toddler child of his neighbor walk in front of the tire of a dump truck. And he was pulled underneath and crushed before he could even let out a scream. No one would look at that and say, that's good. And it's essential that we do not misunderstand Paul in that way. Paul is not denying the presence of suffering. Paul is not looking at this world and the suffering of this world with some form of Rose tinted glasses. He's not, he's not expressing to us some type of blind optimism of Pollyanna. He's Paul, not Pollyanna. And this is why I would not necessarily run into the room where a child is dying and say to the parents, remember all things work together for good. I don't, I don't think that that's the proper place to throw this passage about. Paul does not deny the presence of suffering, but he does contextualize it. Earlier in Romans eight, he tells us we have present suffering. This present suffering is not to be compared. He tells us we will suffer with Christ. And that's what makes this passage so compelling because when we get to verse 28, he doesn't say some things work together for good. He does not say that only good things work together for good, but he says all things work together for good. And because he says that we know that in the context he's talked about present suffering and our suffering with Christ. We know that he's including suffering in the all things. And so this leads to a question. What good. What good is he referring to? I mean, what possible good could come from? Nazi-ism from child abuse from abortion, and by the way, I'm not trying to be argumentative with the apostle I'm. I'm telling you what your people feel. This is the question they feel when they read this passage on the way to the hospital. John Gill and his commentary on this passage, I think made some very good remarks because he said there really are. There are different types of good. He identifies three types of good. He says there is temporal. Good. There is spiritual good. And there is eternal. Good. And often we confuse which one Paul is talking about. Temporal. Good. According to Gill is the good, that is the good of the world. Temporal worldly. Good. This is what he says. He says temporal good is what the men of this world are seeking after. And generally have the greatest share of it. And the saints have the least, and yet they have as much as it's needful for them and what they have, they have with a blessing. And even sometimes afflictions work for the temporal. Good of God's children. Notice what he says there at the end. Sometimes afflictions work for temporal. Good. Not always. We're not always going to experience worldly. Good. And our suffering. I don't call me a heretic. Don't throw tomatoes at me. Because I really think that's true. I think sometimes we try to force some kind of temporal good into suffering. I'll give you an example. Somebody is going through something horrific child dies. Somebody goes to them, God's gonna use this one day. He's gonna make you a minister to people whose children have died. Is that the good that Paul's talking about here, that they're going to become ministers one day to other people who have, and you may have said that before, and I'm not attacking you. I'm just saying, is that the good Paul's talking about. He said, well, that is good. But is that the only good? Is that the, is it the greatest good? Is that the good? When Paul says all things work together for good, is he talking about the fact that one day you'll have a ministry to hurting people? I don't think so. My wife and I have suffered together. Um, and many of you have suffered through miscarriage. That's a very painful thing to experience to see the baby alive and then to go back the next time and the baby has perished. And what do people say God's going to use this for, you're gonna have a ministry. Is that what Paul's talking about? I think that that's a very superficial and I would add temporal way of looking at the good. So Gill goes on. He says, well, what he says, there's also spiritual. Good. Not everything is going to be discernible in a temporal sense. He said, there's spiritual. Good. And this is what he says. He says spiritual, good lies and a lively exercise of grace and a conformity of the soul to God. And it's what the men of this world least regard and the saints of the most remember temporal good is what the men of this world, most regard they want the temporal good, but the, the child of God understands there can be spiritual good in this. One of our elders lost the child many, many years ago, and it was through that, that he became a Christian. God saved him after the loss of his child. He was so in despair that he didn't know where else to look. So God caused him to look up and he looked to God. And since then there he's become a man of God, 25 years in the ministry. He has served when I was six years old and my parents got a divorce and. It was very difficult and I mean, it's difficult on any child, but I remember being at night crying that my mom would come home. And when my dad met my stepmother, I didn't like her. I mean, it wasn't her fault. I didn't want anybody to replace my mom, you know, and. My step mom made me go to church. I didn't want to go, but she made me go. And so I went to church seven years old. I started going to a church. I am now the pastor of that church. I've never been a member of another church. I've never even really, I've never joined another. I've never really been a part of any other church as a six year old boy, I would have bagged God, anything to bring mom home. But instead, God had good for me, but now am I not still stepping back to the whole temporal idea? I mean, but maybe we could say that spiritual good, right there was spiritual good in that. Not only did God save me through that, but he's using me now and the ministry of the church that I was reared in, but Gil goes on. He says there's a, there's even a greater good than that. He said, not only can there be temporal good in our suffering and not only can there be spiritual good and there will be spiritual good in our suffering. He says, but there's an eternal good that we may not ever discern in this life and the eternal. Oh, good. Okay. It's so hard for us to wrap our minds around because we do not look with an eternal perspective. Because in a way we can't, we're so limited by our own ability to think only in terms of the right now, but what if you never in this life learn why your suffering was good? Does that mean it? Wasn't good. We know that our present sufferings are not to be compared with the glory. That is to be revealed to us. So we have good, but it's not always the good we want. We have good, but it's not always the good we expect. We have good, but it's not always able to discern this side of eternity. Most people understand Romans eight 28 is some, some form of God's going to take your lemons and turn them into lemonade. That's not the real heart of what Romans eight 28 is about. This is not a simple platitude or a sentiment. Romans eight 28 is rooted in a divine theology of Providence and sovereignty. Now what's the difference? What's the difference between sovereignty and Providence sovereignty is God's rule over all things. God is sovereign. He rules all things. Providence is how he rules all things. The Providence is the outworking of his rule. And how does OD work his rule out as a loving father? Now, I don't know how many of you in your churches has catechisms. But in the Heidelberg catechism question 27, it asks this, what do we understand of the Providence of God? And the answer is this the almighty everywhere present power of God. Whereby as it were by his hand, he upholds heaven and earth with all creatures and governs them that herbs and grass, rain, and drought fruitful and barren years meat and drink health and sickness, riches and poverty. Indeed. All things come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand, that's what we mean by Providence. And Romans eight 28 is steeped in the doctrine of Providence. Do our people understand this? Do your people understand a theology of Providence? Do they understand that their lives are not lived by chance? Do they understand that all things are under the command of almighty God? Dr. RC Sproul was my hero. I had a blessing of spending some time with him on several occasions and it hurt my heart when he died, because I knew I wouldn't get to talk to him again until we see each other in heaven. And dr. Sprawl has a wonderful illustration in regard to the doctrine of Providence and the sovereignty of God. You've probably heard this, or if you have a. I apologize for the repetition, but it's, you know, repetition is the key to learning and the key to learning is repetition. So it's always good to hear things more than once. He said one nail in the shoe of a horse can cause a horse to fall. One horse in a battle can cause a battle to be lost. One battle in a war can cause the war to be lost and one war can cause a nation to fall. Therefore, we can extrapolate from that, that one nail in the, in the shoe of one horse can cause a whole nation to fall. And therefore we have the doctrine of divine Providence. God is not just in control of the rising and falling of nations. God is in control of the nails and the shoes of the horses. This reminds us that nothing is insignificant. If God is in control of the horse's foot, then God is in control of your life. And if God is in control of your life, he promises that all things work together for good. The question then becomes, do you trust that promise? The anxious Saint will only be consoled as their trust and the Providence of God grows. And that is the constellation of Romans eight 28. But now let us look at the confidence. The second heading. Notice it says, and we know I could have started with that. And as a good exposure, I would have started with what it says first, but I I'm going backwards because I wanted to talk about the constellation first. But now I want to look at the, the first part of the verse. It's actually one word in the Greek. It simply says, and we know, and it's, it's one word. And that word means in the Greek. And we know. Just so just in case you have a lot of people like to fancy their sermons up by saying in the Greek means the very same thing is the English. How many times have you heard us do that? Yeah, I know, but this leads to a question. How do we know? How do we know all things work together for the good of those who love God? Say what what's written right there. No, that comes after the end. We know. So this Paul is saying, we already know this. How do we know all things work together for the good someone might say, well, the scripture we have so much scriptural testimony go back to the life of Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. Take it into the house of Potiphar, mistreated by Potiphar's wife sent to prison. He ended up the second of Pharaoh. And the Lord over all the kingdom of Egypt, they're gods, it's his example of Providence. Yes, it is. What about Joe? His life was so hard and he went through all these trials. We even have a title for it. We called the trials of job. And yet at the end of his life, he's vindicated, it's restored. They said, there's God working that out. And that is true. I, I I'm, I'm not neglecting the idea that it is scriptural testimony that tells us that we can say all things work together and we know because of scriptural testimony, but might I say this? We also know for another reason we know because of the character and nature of God. In fact, I want to point out something here. If you have an English standard version, it says, and we know that for those who love God, all things work together, but there's an action. There's actually a very significant textual variant in Romans eight 28. And that's one of my hobbies is studying textual variation and the history of the Greek and the, the, the new Testament texts particularly. And I like it when I find interesting textual variants and the variant that's here. And it's in Vaticanus, it's an Alexandra. This, the, the, the, the, the, the variant is in the new American standard Bible. If you're carrying a new American standard Bible, it doesn't say all things. It doesn't say. And we know all things work together, what it says, and we know God causes all things to work together for the good. Now, here's the thing. Here's the big question, right? Is that Paul wrote or did Paul write the other? There's a little bit of a debate among scholars and historians as to which one came first, but I'm of the mind that actually the variant is not the original reading. I think the variant could possibly be a scribal emendation where somebody was writing and they wrote in the reason why things work together is because God makes it work together. Now could that be the original? Yes. And if you want to debate any later estimate as to the merits of which tax we should be looking at the point I'm simply making is the reason and why all things work together is because God is working all things together. God is the subject here. He's the one doing the action. And whether that's the original or whether that variant is the original or not, that is Christian theology. God is not some form of being who spins the top and walks away. But God is the one who is conscious instantly working always and in every way to bring about his perfect. Will, can I tell you this brothers and, and maybe you pass this on to your people. God is currently actively. And consistently working in your life currently, actively and consistently working in your life years ago, there was a book written entitled when bad things happen to good people. It was written by a man by the name of Harold Cushner. Harold Kushner was a rabbi. The conclusion basically of the book, God could not save my son. And this is what he said. This was basically a direct quote. He says, I can worship a God who hates suffering, but cannot eliminate it more easily than I can worship a God who chooses to make children suffer and die. You see the answer Cushner came to was I would rather, God just not have control. I would rather be able to say, God is just as upset as I am. God is just as out of control as I am. God is just as hands off as I am. God couldn't have stopped the disease anymore than I could stop the disease. And I'd rather worship that God, and you know what? His book was a bestseller. When bad things happen to good people. We've if you've never read it, you've heard of it. Can I tell you brothers that, that attitude permeates your people more than you realize every time a hurricane comes, God, wasn't in control of that. Every time someone is sick and dying and you say all my people are better than that, are they really. Are they not too caught up as Kershner was in the attitude of it's better to have a weak God who can't do it. Then a strong God who didn't brothers. We have a job and it's a hard job. We have a job of proclaiming a God who is sovereign and does as he chooses. And sometime he does not do as we think he should. Sometimes he does not do as we wish he would. So, what do we say to our people that we take Kushner's route and just step back and say, God doesn't have the power or do we proclaim the truth that God. Is actually greater in wisdom and purpose than we can ever understand that God is greater in his choosing and his sovereignty and his bringing about all things in his decree of all things. And that that decree is better than we could ever understand. You said that's hard to say to someone. It is hard to say to someone I'm not saying this is easy and we have to be careful not to fall into the pit of fatalism, because there are people who will see the sovereignty of God and they will begin to look at their lives in a very. Very stoic way and they'll think I shouldn't cry. I shouldn't hurt because all things are working together for my good, that's not true. The Bible says God is near to the brokenhearted. It doesn't say that we don't get broken hearts. It says, God is our refuge and our strength that doesn't say we don't need a refuge. The very thing that we need. The very thing that we are desperate for is a place to run to as the Psalmist did cry, how long the Lord and when our people are hurting. And they're saying, how long, Oh Lord, there is a time to come near them. And comfort them, not with platitudes, not with near sentiments, sometimes with silence. And might I say this from a practical perspective? My first job, when I was growing up, I worked at a funeral home. My first two years, I was 16, 17 years old. I worked for a funeral home for two years. I thought I was going to be a funeral director. That's what I thought I was gonna do. God saved me, put me into preaching, but now I work with a local funeral home and I've done over 150 funerals just in the last 10 or 15 years, because I do funerals all the time for unbelievers. I tell them two things. I said, I'm not going to tell you, I'm not going to say your, your, your, your person's in heaven. Cause I don't know, but I'm also gonna preach Jesus. So if I can't, if, if you make me do the first thing or say I can't do the second thing, I can't come either way. But as long as I can talk about Jesus, I'm good. And most people will. I've only had one family tell me not to, but I bring this up. I bring up the funeral thing because sometimes when people are going through the worst time in their life, they don't need your words. They need your silence and your presence. But your people getting back to your church, your people need to have been given a robust theology of Providence before that, so that when the hard time comes, they have something upon which to rest. When everything begins to clear. In the midst of it, they need silence. They need presence and they need comfort. But after things begin to clear, they need a solid and robust theology of God upon which to rest their hearts and minds. And this leads me to the third thing and I'll begin to draw to a close because we have looked at the constellation of the text. God causes all things to work together for the good, we have seen the confidence of the text. We know God causes all things to work together for. Good. But now we will look at the concern of the texts. Notice it does not say that this promise applies to everyone. It says, and we know all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. This passage is not a promise to everyone. This passage isn't even a promise to everyone in our church because you know, you have people in your church that don't love God. Oh, don't sit there. Don't you pretend, you know, you got people that say Jesus with their mouse, but don't love Jesus. Maybe I'm the only one. But the reality is you can't apply this passage to everyone. For some men, all things do not work together for good. In fact, for many men, all things ultimately pile up toward their judgment. And the sad fact of the matter is that some men will have horrible lives and even worse. Eternities they have no reason to expect good from God apart from the common grace that they experienced while they are still in this life. But for the person who does love God, and this just, this is the key, the person who loves God, the person who has been called according to his purpose, this person has a promise that there is all ultimate eternal good in every thing that they experience in this life. Jesus Christ said in this world, you will have trouble, but take heart for, I have overcome this world. Therefore, we can look with a different perspective. We're so journeyers here. This is not our home. Bunyan's famous character. Christian made his Pilgrim's progress through all the difficulties of the world, the slew of despond, vanity fair and doubting castle. And he finally arrived at the celestial city in there and he found that all of his suffering was not in vain. Likewise are people who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose will make their way one day to God's presence. And in that moment, the sufferings of this world will not compare to the glory. That is to be revealed to them. So brothers, we must remind our people of that promise. We must remind our people of the final eternal. Good. We mustn't let them forget. And as my brother last night says, it's all wrapped up in the gospel for, if they believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ though, they need, they may get their three score in 10. And though those three score and 10 may be tough. When they enter into the presence of the Lord, the weight of burden of suffering will melt away. Jesus said, come to me all ye who are weary and are heavy Laden. And I will give the rest several years ago off the cost of off the coast of Massachusetts, a submarine sank. And as it rested on the ocean floor, the Navy sent divers to try to see if there was anybody alive. Did anyone make it? And as the divers reached close to the submarine now, powerless and desperate on the bottom of the floor, they heard tapping on the hole and the tapping sound was Morse code. And it was three words. Is there hope when your people come to you in the midst of a pandemic, when your people come to you in the midst of the struggles of life, often the sound of their heart is that. Is there hope brothers give them Jesus, give them the hope of Christ so that they may know that in fact, all things do to work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Let us pray, father, I thank you for your word. It is the truth. I thank you for your son for he is the way and the truth and the life. And I thank you for the promise that we have in him. He told us, let not our hearts be troubled for, if we believe in God, we should believe also in him and in our father's house, there are many rooms and if it were not, so he would have told us and he says, I go to prepare a place for you. Lord, let us long for that place. Let us know, as Paul said that in the end in eternity, we will know the good. And even if we don't see it now, even if we can't discern it, now we trust in you Lord, the great Redeemer of this world who will show us in the end. That you have caused all things to work together for our good, we thank you. And we praise you in Jesus name. Amen.