Romans 8:28 may be one of the most famous verses in Scripture. The Apostle Paul encourages his readers:
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
This verse causes many to name, claim and expect God to make earthly lemonade out of lemons. If one has sufficient faith, God will heal them. If two or more agree in faith, God will enrich them. If one uses the tongue and speaks forth his desired reality, God will grant them the promotion and popularity for which they pant. For such Prosperity Theologians, Job is the ultimate example of one who had a dream, sowed the seed of faith, and enjoyed the harvest provided by God:
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold. And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days. (Job 42:10-17)
There is no doubt that the Lord harmed Job. However, following “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him,” (vs. 11) God prospered him with health, wealth, prosperity, progeny and popularity. God restored the fortunes of his faithful servant and allowed him to die as an old, respected, wealthy, and happy great-grandfather. For faithful Job, “all things worked together for good” during his days on this planet.
However, what about Job’s children and servants? The last thing Job’s servants saw was the prosperity of the satanically induced raiding hordes. The earthly story of Job’s children ended as they were buried alive under a pile of rubble. They never received their miracle. All things did not work together for their temporal good while on earth.
Therefore, how ought one to rightly reconcile the story of Job, the story of Job’s servants and children, and Romans 8:28? The wise student of Scripture will understand and apply Romans 8:28 from an exclusive and eternal perspective, and not from an exhaustive and earthly one.
Romans 8:28 is exclusive and not exhaustive. All things do not providentially work out for the good of all beings. In the end, all things do not work out well for Satan, demons, and rebels who will stand before the Judgment Seat of God. While they might enjoy a vapor of prosperity on this earth, they will eternally be separated from the good God who is enjoying his good worshipers in his good paradise. Ultimately, Romans 8:28 applies to those who are called or regenerated. It applies to those who find themselves to be lovers of God.
Romans 8:28 is eternal and not earthly. While it is true that some receive undeserved blessings on this side of death (I.e. Job, Joseph, Ruth, David), most only receive health, wealth and prosperity on the other side of the Heavenly Jordan. Job’s sons, daughters and servants did not see bliss on the earth. Neither did Jesus, Stephen, the Apostles, or the early Christian community. Romans 8:28 is an eternal verse of Scripture. Prosperity is promised to all of Christ’s friends, but it is promised after one has been foreknown, predestined, called, justified, sanctified and GLORIFIED. (Romans 8:29-30)
Friends, Prosperity Theologians are correct in theory. God will make all things new. Health, wealth and prosperity await all who make it to the New Heavens and the New Earth. Job’s bliss is promised to all who are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. Mansions of glory, streets of gold, perfect bodies, crown jewels, and festal banquets are characteristic of Paradise. However, while our TBN friends are correct in theory, they are errant in timing. True, God may grant one the lifestyle of the rich and famous here on earth, but he may not. Perhaps his will is for his children to suffer like Joni Ereackson Tada and be paralyzed for life. Perhaps his will is for his church to be tortured and executed as Christians were recently in North Korea. Romans 8:28 is truth, but it must be understood and applied properly. Do not fall for the lie of Satan. Do not fall for the lies of Prosperity Theologians on TV. Do not disbelieve in God because your bank account is empty. Do not turn away from the faith because your loved one is not miraculously healed. Do not reject the faith because God sends evil your way. Do not doubt your faithfulness if God does not make earthly lemonade out of your lemons. In the end, he will always make it right. In the end, all Christians will glorify God for what he has done. In the end, all things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. This is Romans 8:28, as understood by Job, his children, his servants and the sinful pagans who took their lives.