Traditional Worship Online (7/12)
Basics: Last week we talked about well-known Bible verses. Back in the day it was Genesis 1. 1 and John 3. 16. No, in the tolerant era, Matthew 7. 1 and “Judge not” has taken on a broad familiarity and even popularity.
This week’s theme takes us to another verse that is pretty well-known among Christians. You likely know it: Romans 8. 28. The King James Version, which the senior generation of our church (and maybe even some baby-boomers) grew up with, offers this version of that passage:
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.
Here is how the Revised Standard Version reads: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
Here is how the New International Version puts it: “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.”
You see how the King James Version misleads us a bit. It makes something a simple principle: “All things work together for good…” But the newer translations of the RSV and the NIV read differently -- and more accurately. And their difference makes a big...well, a big difference. “In everything” or “in all things” God works!
But it doesn’t say all things are good. And it doesn’t say all things just happen to work together for good. Rather, the point is that God is at work in our lives for good -- for his good -- in our lives.
It doesn’t say that everything has a purpose, or that nothing happens by accident or that everything happens for a reason. Rather, it says that God works for good in all things.
Note as well, this is not a general principle for all of humanity. It is for people who are characterized in two ways: those who love God and those who are called according to his purpose.
God is not directly responsible for everything that happens. His permissive will -- what he allows -- is different than his perfect will for our lives. He does not will evil. He doesn’t want us to sin. But he is able to use all things to work together for his plan and purpose in our lives. But that doesn’t make everything that happens in our life and our experience good.
As with so many other “dumb ideas” we find that it involves a misreading and a misunderstanding of the Bible. The Covenant Church has a simple statement about the Bible: “We believe the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.” The Bible is the Word of God. It provides perfect direction and authority for our lives. But that doesn’t mean that our interpretations are perfect! It matters so much that we read the Bible carefully and that we read favorite verses in the context in which we find them. When we understand what they really mean, they become powerful and life-giving words that don’t mislead us and all too often actually beat us up.
Thrive Group Conversation
Dumb Idea #6: Everything Happens for a Reason --- Thrive Group Notes
Message July 12, 2020
There is more material here than you will be able to cover. Read the questions, and consider which you will use. Add a question or topic of your own.
- Use conversation starter/ice-breakers (10-15 min) to get your group talking. We want to build connections and relationships with each other.
- Share with your group: “So listen to this phrase: ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ You’ve heard that before. What do you think of it? What did you think of it before you heard this week’s message? What sounds good and right when you listen to it?
When you think about that phrase, and how you thought before listening to this week’s message, how would you have responded to that statement that “Everything happens for a reason”? Mostly agree? Mostly disagree? Why?”
- Larry Osborne tells the story of the time his wife got cancer. One group of people came with “helpful words.” Ideas and explanations and suggestions were everywhere.
But he notes in particular those who came with positive words. Read Larry’s description to your group:
“Yet more disconcerting than all the unsolilcited advice was the ‘happy talk’ of those who tried to assure us that Nancy’s cancer was a blessing in disguise, an essential part of God’s great and wonderful plan for our life.
We never quite knew how to respond. If this was God’s best, then he could sae it for someone else. We were willing to take a pass. We also noticed that none of those who were so quick to proclaim it a blessing seemed very eager to get blessed the same way in their own life.
Their words varied, but the message was always the same someday you’ll be glad this happened. We were told….
- “God must be up to something.”
- “God doesn’t make mistakes.”
- “You must be very special for God to trust you with this.”
- “Won’t it be great to see how God uses this?”
- “Isn’t it good to know that everything happens for a reason.”
- Lots of people mean very well when a friend or family member is in a touch situation or a moment of crisis or tragedy. They mean to say something helpful and life-giving, something true that will also help. But they actually succeed in saying something that hurts.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of well-meaning but ultimately hurtful cliches from someone else? If so, how did you respond?
In a very different way, have you ever been the one passing on the happy talk to someone else in an attempt to be hopeful?
How did people respond to you?
- Romans 8. 28 has a condition. There is a promise involved, but there is also a condition. Actually two conditions. If...then… So what are the conditions?
What do the following verses tell us about those two conditions?
“Who love him…”
John 14. 15
“And who are called according to his purpose…”
Romans 1. 5-7
I Timothy 6. 12
2 Timothy 2. 10
- Take a moment and look at the main verse, but intstead of reading it by itself, read it along with verse 30:
“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. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
What does verse 28 say God is working for in our lives?
Verse 29 tells us what “the good” is that God is working for. What is that good?
How do you see God working in your life to make you over again “to be conformed to the image of his Son”? How does God take the bad in the “all things” to make us like Jesus? How does God take the good?
- Why do you think we like phrases like “everything happens for a reason” and the implied “everthing will turn out good”?
The call of Jesus -- and of the New Testament -- for Christians isn’t to try and figure out the reason for everything and how it all works for good. Rather, our call is to trust and obey. To follow Jesus. To lean on him, and to “obey all that I have commanded you.” When we obey the Lord and trust him “with all our heart” we are in a position to experience his work in our lives for the good!
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