(091)Thesis: Believers can be greatly encouraged by the fact that God has always been "intentional" regarding their "good".
Introduction: We have all heard multiple versions of "God works all things out for good" in settings where the "good" is pretty much invisible. In our last study, we looked into the first of the "qualifying" statements where God's "work for good" is true. Only those who "love God" will find that everything has worked out for their good. This "qualifier" is both cautionary and encouraging. Nothing good comes of not loving God, and nothing bad is allowed to determine outcomes for those who do love Him.
This evening we are going to look into a second "qualifier". The way the sentence is put together, the second "qualifier" not only "qualifies" the reality that God works all things together for those who love Him, but it also "qualifies" the concept of "those who love Him". In other words, "loving God" is a result of the reality of this second "qualifier". "Loving God" is not a characteristic of anyone who has not experienced His love. John plainly said, "we love Him because He first loved us". Thus, for it to become a characteristic of a person, His love must be expressed to them in a significant way. This second "qualifier" tells us what He does/has done to express His love toward us: He has called us according to purpose.
I. The Underlying Reality: Purpose.
A. The term "purpose" means "intent to accomplish" in eight of the twelve times it is used in the New Testament
1. The other four times it is connected with "the bread" that was placed in the sanctuary every day.
2. The point is that the term points toward a goal that is established to be pursued.
B. In our text, the particular "purpose" is left open ended so that the point is that God does things with "intention".
1. Every action taken has an "intention" driving it.
2. When God is the One with the intention, we have to ask "to what degree is He committed to whatever intention is indicated?".
a. When Paul wrote Galatians 2:21, he made it clear that "intentions" are not always fulfilled even when God is the "Intender", making it necessary for us to understand that a "degree" question is involved.
b. The answer to this question in our text/context is found in two specifics.
1) The declaration that all things work together for good is not very helpful if there is a way for those things to not work together for good.
a) Thus, the intercession of the Spirit for us becomes very important.
b) Thus, the searching of the heart is not to find out what is there to keep God from working things together for our good, but to connect with the thinking of the Spirit.
2) In the next verse, the heavy duty issues of predestination are brought to bear so that we can be assured that, in this case, God's intentions are back by omnipotence.
3. Because the specifics of "purpose" are somewhat unidentified, we fall back to the basic fact: God is intentional in His calling.
a. Saul of Tarsus is the classic New Testament example of divine intention (Acts 9:15).
b. This same person now asserts that God acts the same way toward all those for whom He acts "intentionally".
C. The New Testament sets forth more than one "intention" because some "intentions" are servants of other "intentions" so that there is one ultimate intention and all the others serve that one.
1. The references to God's intentions in the New Testament focus upon His ultimate goal of "Life" for those who trust Him in some form.
2. That intention is then served by His intention to establish His Kingdom with His Anointed King over it.
3. And that intention is itself served by His particular intention in giving the heirs of that Kingdom specific stewardships for use in it.
II. The Methodological Reality: Calling.
A. In our text, the articular form of the adjective "called" turns the adjective into a noun: the called.
B. The concept of "the called" is addressed in multiple places in the New Testament so that even "calling" can sometimes be frustrated (many are called but few are chosen: Matthew 22:14).
C. But, as with "intention" in our text, so also "calling" is, in our text, effective and not frustrated.
1. The point is this: God's "calling" is the effective demonstration of His love for us that, then, sponsors our love for Him.
2. This love-based "calling" is according to the standard of "purpose" and that means that God has someone in mind for every task that will ever be necessary in the Eternal Kingdom and that He goes about in this age "summoning" those for whom those tasks are intended.